The Attributes of God: Just
We are so familiar with injustice in our day and age. It’s not a new concept. Injustice has been prevalent throughout the ages. We cry out for justice when we have been or feel we have been wronged. Why is that? Why does mankind have some sort of sense of what justice and injustice is? Is this something that just comes naturally to us, sprung forth by chance or coincidence? Or is it a direct expression of the fact that we are fashioned, created, with a moral inclination that reflects the truth that we are indeed created?
This points to the origin of justice. And where does it come from? The Bible tells us it comes from the One who created man in His image. The One who is wholly just in the purest sense. A look into this will reveal what real justice and injustice is, and where we need to be corrected.
True Justice Should Make Us Uneasy
The bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3;23). This should alarm us. Everyone on this planet, breathing and living, is guilty of a great offense. We are guilty of a great injustice. Mankind was given all we could ever want in the garden of Eden. We, in Adam, had a perfect relationship with the Holy Triune God and were given a covenantal promise that if we obeyed, we’d maintain this relationship and live forever with Him.
If Adam and Eve disobeyed God, if Adam and Eve failed to love God and His commandments, they’d surely die (Genesis 2:17). Though not audibly given like Moses gave to Israel, the commandments of the Lord, the moral law that kept the relationship between man and God intact, was present in the garden (Exodus 20). And when Adam and Eve failed to obey, just like us, they broke the law. They did an injustice to the just God. And the justice they deserved was a holy justice. Why? Because God is holy. Sin is contrary to God’s holy nature, and His justice flows from His holiness. An offense to a holy and infinite God calls for a holy and infinite justice.
If God fails to be just, He fails to be holy...and if He fails to be anything, He fails to be God. We know He cannot stop being who He is, so if Romans tells us we are all guilty before God and are under the condemnation of His holy justice, we should be very alarmed and terrified because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Eternal death in the lake of fire, where the flame is not quenched and the worm does not die (Mark 9:48). We may cry out in our society for justice, but we should be careful to understand that God’s holiness makes the same cry against our sin and it will be satisfied. Sin must be judged. And the Judge of all the earth will do what is right (Genesis 18:25).
Justice Served and Satisfied
Because of the greatness of our offense to God’s justice, we cannot hope to make amends on our own or pay the penalty that would pardon us. Every person who is presently and justly in hell right now will never fulfill their obligation to God. They will remain there forever. So what hope is there for us who remain and are shaken by our unholiness before a holy God?
Those who put their trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have had their pardon paid. You see, God’s justice is not simply dismissed and done away flippantly. Though we will never experience His just wrath, we would do well to remember the wrath was poured out fully on the Son. Think on this fact: those in Hell will pay for their sin for eternity, never to pay it back in full. But the Son of God paid our sins in full. He who knew no sin, was never corrupted or marred by it became sin in our place, so we may become what we could never be on our own - God’s redeemed children (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God’s justice is always satisfied, either in the condemnation of the sinner or the sacrifice of the Son for them. Why would God pardon us from His wrath while subjecting His Son to it on our behalf? Ephesians 1 tells us in detail about the mercy and grace of God that flows from His justice:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Because the Triune God first loved us - Father, Son and Spirit - Jesus Christ was sent to redeem us by taking the judgement of God upon Himself, satisfying the wrath we deserve (1 John 4:19). His grace and mercy is not in spite of His justice but because of it. We cannot escape the just judgement of God unless we take refuge in the Son.
When God’s Justice Brings Comfort
Just because we are guilty of sin against God does not mean we cannot call out injustice when we see it. Racial tensions, crimes, hardships, and sufferings which are caused by a sin-filled world are all reflections that humanity is fallen and corrupt, even in its attempts at justice. What comfort is there for us to take when the very things we are to trust in this world to protect us fail to do so?
Let us reflect the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 146:3, and never fully trust man to do all that is right. It is better for us to take refuge in the Lord of all of the earth, the incomparably Righteous One (Psalm 118:8). Even when things come into our lives that within themselves are hard and cause us to struggle, let us who are in Christ remember to count all things that we struggle with as joy (James 1:2-8), and remember the One who is seated on the throne is making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
God never unjustly allows things to afflict us, nor does He allow things to come into our lives without a righteous reason. Because God is just, everything He ordains is just, whether we agree to it or not. The greatest offense we have done has been forgiven in Christ. Anything else that could happen, though it should never be looked on as small if it causes great distress, fails to compare what we have gained by mercy in God. And when our Savior returns, His justice will be put on full display. No one can overcome it nor refute Him in His righteous judgement of mankind (Matthew 25:31-46).
When we cry for justice, let our hearts cry out to the Just One. Pray for His kingdom to come, and His will be done in earth as in heaven above.
Born and raised in Texas, Emerald Zimny enjoys coffee, books, and spending time with loved ones. Her favorite breed of dog is a Corgi, and she loves listening to smooth jazz while learning a new word a day from the dictionary. Her heroes in the faith are Elisabeth Elliot, R.C. Sproul Sr., and John MacArthur.