Attributes of God: Justice

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 24, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This is the second post of my series of the Attributes of God. I again want to emphasize that this series is to help us understand who God really is and how those attributes should help us understand reality and how to live our lives. But like any study of God, entire libraries could be written on each of these attributes and it still would not cover the subject appropriately, and I am trying to do this within two pages. This week the attribute of God is justice.

I talked about how God is love last week and I left with a question: how can God be loving without also being just? To answer this question, we have to get a good grasp of what it means to be just. When we hear the word “justice” most of us will have this image of “the bad guy got what he deserved” or “a person who administers justice.” In our court system, a judge is someone who hears a case and then determines, in accordance to the laws of the land, who is right and who is wrong. In Christianity, God is both the Law Giver and the Law Enforcer. Now many argue this point is not fair because how can God judge fairly if he both writes the law and then enforces it? This argument is on the basis that God is arbitrary and can change what he meant on a whim. One of the attributes I will discuss later is that he is immutable, which means God does not change. Another attribute I will discuss is that he is faithful and stays true to his word. So when God writes the Law, which is based off his character, he enforces it based off his character. And he is not a man that he should lie. God does not pick favorites nor show partiality in his justice.

Now many may argue that God’s methods of punishments do not fit the crime. I have heard numerous people ask, “How could God punish a person for eternity for a finite crime?” This question has two flaws. It does not take God seriously, and it does not take sin seriously. It also does not recognize that the criminal does not get to choose what he thinks is his appropriate punishment. The word for sin is actually an archery term. It means to “miss the mark.” It’s not just missing the bull’s eye, it’s missing the whole target. And some cases are so bad the arrow wasn’t even shot towards the target. But there is another way to describe sin: betrayal, treachery, treason. Sin is not merely doing something against God’s will. It is not merely a personal injury, a personal disappointment. It is much worse. Much worse. It is the type of thing that puts you on the tier of Benedict Arnold. In most nations, an act of treachery bears the penalty of death. Changing citizenship is one thing, but to claim to be for one nation and then betraying that nation to an enemy is treason. Most who get caught in this are executed. And sin is at THIS level: that of treachery.

Because God is a God of Justice, he must punish that sin. CS Lewis fully understood this treachery and described it in an allegory called The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In this book, Edmund betrays his siblings to the White Witch. He did not realize what he was actually doing, but he betrayed them anyway. He also did not realize that in Narnia, the penalty for treachery was execution on the Stone Table, lest Narnia be overturned by fire and water. The treachery had to be dealt with, but Aslan, knowing the Deeper Magic that the White Witch knew not of, paid the penalty himself. Only he could do that because only he knew of the Deeper Magic and only he had not committed the crime for which the death was required.

The same idea is true for us. God must punish sin because of his character. If he did not, that would make him a liar, but also his holiness would still wipe out that sin anyway (more on that next week). God is full of mercy and grace (two more attributes) and he can delay the punishment in times of repentance. He did it for Judah when King Josiah repented. He did it for Israel even for wicked King Ahab. He did it for Nineveh when Jonah preached to them. He even offered it to Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous people could be found. But none of these nations kept that repentant spirit, and all received the justice they were due.

God used numerous people to be the ones to carry out his justice. For the exile he used Babylon, but then to administer justice to Babylon, he used Cyrus, King of Persia. In Canaan, he used Joshua. His conquest was not merely supposed to be “go wipe them out” so you can have it. Scripture tells us that their sin had not yet reached its fill. One analogy I have heard describes that as we sin, God’s wrath is poured into a cup. Until that cup is full, we can repent and God will relent. But once that cup is filled, then the time of justice is at hand and there will be no remedy.

God knows precisely what his wrath can do and he curbs it for as long as he can because he knows we cannot handle it. But he provides a way out. Eric Ludy showed me something very interesting I had not thought of before. In 2 Kings 9:14-29, God anointed Jehu to be King of Israel and to kill the family of Ahab (which, by marriage, included Joram, King of Judah). Jehu was charging in to Samaria to carry out God’s orders. Jezebel and Joram sent messengers to Jehu to find out his intentions. Jehu asked each messenger which side he was on and the messengers joined Jehu.

The same question is asked of us as we approach the End of Days and the King of Kings’ arrival to administer the final justice on this earth. Whose side are we on? Are we going to side with God as the messengers sided with Jehu and thus escaped the doom? Or are we going to continue in our rebellion, our treasonous rebellion, against God, despite the oncoming judgment that will overtake us, whether we believe in it or not?

God is a God of love, but he is also a God of justice. In his love, he sought to get us out of the way of his justice and there is only one way he could do that: by sending his Son to the cross. We will all face the judgment seat of Heaven and give an account of what we did through our lives. Will we be able to defend ourselves by pleading the Blood of Jesus? Or are we going to try to handle it alone? What will you say to God Almighty, the Judge of All Things, in response to what you did with your life? It’s not an issue of how often you’ve sinned. Just one act is enough to make you guilty. And that will lead us to next week’s attribute: God’s holiness.

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