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The Foundations of God’s Justice

The Foundations of God’s Justice

My wife and I lost our youngest child at age 29 in a car wreck twelve years ago. The pain we experienced was terrible beyond words and has never fully gone away, but we did not blame God. We know He is just. Please let me explain.

Our understanding of the justice and fairness of God must be anchored in God’s character, especially attributes such as His holiness, His love and His grace. Holiness means no blight can be found in God’s character. This theme is woven throughout the entire Bible. “I the Lord your God am holy,” the Lord told Israel through Moses (Leviticus 19:2; see also Rev. 15:4).

Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of the holiness of God (John 8:46). He achieved the provision for our holiness with His death on the cross. In doing so, Jesus opened the path for all people worldwide to approach our holy God.

The love of God is portrayed with the word agape, which implies that God will do what is best for us, as only He knows what is best, and will do it even though we do not deserve it or even want it. For example, parents routinely try to give their children vegetables that are best for them, even when they aren’t sweet to the taste!

“God is love,” the apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:8. “God commends his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). The love of God manifests itself in grace, meaning the favor of God. God is good and merciful. He is “longsuffering with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). His plan for our salvation is all about the grace that does us favors.

The closer we get to Jesus’ manger, and His Cross, and His empty tomb, the fuller our understanding of His all sufficient grace becomes. Paul wrote, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you” (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9).

God’s forgiveness is the crown jewel of the gospel message. “If we confess our sins,” John wrote, “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…” (Ephesians 1:7-8 ESV).

Justice and Fairness

Fairness is best understood as a synonym of justice. In the creation of man, the God who was just did what was best for us by giving us a free will. God did not want robots with whom He could have no fellowship. For freedom to be truly free, we must be able to say “Yes!” or “No!” even to God.

But then we must also live with the consequences of our free will. Our forefathers all said “No!” and all people since have followed in their footsteps. Worldwide consequences followed. People exchanged God’s righteousness for their self-righteousness.

We think we know what is best. If God had left us in that condition, however, we would all spend eternity in hell because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But, thank God, all who repent are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:4).

Jesus hanging on the cross is the greatest portrait the world will ever see of God acting in our best interests (agape love). Since Jesus loves us this much, should we blame God for the consequences of sin in the world? Of course not.

Jesus hanging on His cross also shows the greatest portrait ever unveiled of the raw evil in the world. Satan himself, the very epitome of evil (worse than Hitler or Stalin), appeared in the Upper Room at the Last Supper. He entered Judas, who followed through and betrayed His Savior (see Luke 22:3).

In the face of this kind of gut-wrenching evil, Jesus said to His disciples: “The prince of this world… has no hold over me” (John 14:30). Jesus gave His life; Satan could not take it. Thank God! The price Jesus paid for our salvation was greater than even death by crucifixion, the worst evil Satan could devise. Jesus took the consequences due to me; He took yours too.

The curse of God on mankind for his rebellion against God was so great it took Jesus’ death on the cross to atone for all sin and offer salvation to the whole world. Since Jesus was willing to pay that unimaginable price, should I blame God when trouble, even raw evil, knocks at my door?  Surely not; instead, we blame Satan, the source of all evil.

Not only is God just, He is also fair. King David turned to God in genuine repentance after his sin with Bathsheba, and God forgave him. David’s testimony was that God is “proved right when [He] speaks and justified when [He] judges” (Psalm 51:4). Yes, justice and fairness are synonyms in heaven’s vocabulary.

“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:2). And “we are sure the judgment of God is according to truth,” making it fair (Romans 2:2). The song in heaven of Moses and the Lamb includes the refrain, “Just and true [or fair] are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

God is the creator and sustainer of all and it necessarily means in an evil world He must protect His creation, including His followers (John 17:11, 17). And He does.

In God’s righteous justice He has decreed sin’s penalty: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). He “will not at all acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3). This is a certainty because “the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).

There is no perverting justice with God (Job 8:3). A point can be reached in man’s rebellion, however, that God is acting in a person’s best interests by turning him over to the eternal consequences of his choices (Romans 1:24-28). Such a person would surely be miserable and out of place in God’s heaven.

The justice of God could, however, accept a substitute payment for the penalty of sin: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. So Christ was offered…” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Jesus is both just (or fair) and the justifier of all who believe Him (Romans 3:26).

Jesus’ crucifixion also shows evil things happen to all, including even the perfectly righteous. Because sin is in the world, life is out of balance and pain and disappointment often come with senseless random. We live in a fallen world in which life is neither fair nor just, but we place no blame at the feet of our God who loves us with perfect love (Romans 8:18).

Ultimately, eternal life with God in heaven will balance all tragedies and prove Jesus does all things well (Mark 7:37).

The baby that Mary wrapped in swaddling clothes and snuggled to her bosom became heaven’s priceless jewel. He made the gospel such good news. At the cross of Jesus, the richness of holiness, the mercy of love and grace, and the fairness and justice of God met together in divine embrace. Calvary satisfied the requirements of them all.

This article was first published in Encourage magazine.

Written By: Dr. Frank Tunstall

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