While we all claim to have a standard of right and wrong, that justification can only come from God. If God exists, and I believe He does, then He is the only one with the right and responsibility to determine what justice is.
As God’s immense and unflinching standard of justice sweeps over the souls throughout history, this measurement has practical implications for us today. If I am not the standard of justice, then I must stop trying to be the avenger of transgressions against me. If someone has wronged me, it is not my responsibility to make it right. We are expected to leave the administration of justice into God’s capable hands. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). God will have all accounts settled in the end. Trust him to do his job in his time. His retribution will be just and timely.
In addition to the practical wisdom and patience that God’s justice brings to our interpersonal relationships, it also provides the peace needed for our relationship with God. The death of Jesus satisfies God’s requirement for our justice yet never violates it. Through his sacrifice, Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). The believer does not need to live in fear of coming judgment if Jesus already settled the accounts. Through this justification, we are saved from his wrath since Jesus already experienced it. When Jesus comes, he will “inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:8). Yet for those who have received the gospel, they will “be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9).
In administering justice, we don’t have to worry about God’s outlook. God is not like us – he is not emotionally torn regarding what to do. We must not attempt to bring God down to our level (Ps. 50:21). He is returning one day to bring appropriate justice related to every person’s individual response to the gospel (Matt. 25:32).
There exist only two categories of people. Every one of us will pay for our sins eternally, or Jesus has already paid for them entirely.
For those rebelliously bent on receiving justice for eternity in hell, this life on planet Earth will be as close to heaven as they will ever experience. For those humbly receptive to trusting by faith for eternity in heaven, this life on planet Earth will be as close to hell as they will ever know. Has Jesus paid the penalty for you, or does your record still show a debt that you cannot afford? You don’t have to die! God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and would instead have you turn back from your evil ways and live (Ezek. 33:11)!
The soul who sins will die (Ezek. 18:20), but God is eagerly desirous to show us grace. “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore, He waits on high to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who long for Him” (Isa. 30:18). His justice and mercy are satisfied in the person of Jesus.
Thank God that, in Christ, we will not get what we deserve. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is not a pushover. Sin must be paid, but Jesus has enough in his account to cover you. This mercy he delivers is free but not cheap.
The payment your sins required was not overlooked in part but paid in full.
The Just Injustice of the Cross
God possesses both lavish extensions of grace and unwavering standards of holiness. These two seemingly competing principles find their peace at the cross, where Jesus takes the just punishment unjustly for our sins.
The Attempt to Remove Divine Authority Creates Moral Anarchy
When a culture tries to rid itself of the notion of God, it finds something more disturbing than authority. Attempting to remove divine authority from our lives actually creates moral anarchy among us.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.