Summary: Fourth in an eight part series on the attributes of God.
Opening Illustration: 9/11
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do good things happen to bad people?
1) the quality of being righteous
2) impartiality; fairness
3) reward or penalty as deserved; just desserts
Justice embodies the idea of moral equity, and iniquity is the exact opposite; it is in-equity, the absence of equity from human thoughts and acts. Judgment is the application of equity to moral situations and may be favorable or unfavorable according to whether the one under examination has been equitable or inequitable in heart and conduct.
We live in that brief segment of time during which a good, sovereign, holy, wise and just God is interacting with a fallen world. Our world is already under judgment due to sin and no part of our lives is untouched by sin. That’s the nature of life within the parentheses:
God’s justice is revealed very early on in the Bible:
• Cain is judged for Abel’s murder
• The world is judged for the epidemic of sin by the flood
• The arrogance of man is judged at Babel
• God is determined to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness and reveals to Abraham what He is about to do:
Far be it from you to do such a thing - to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Genesis 18:25 (NIV)
Life during the brief segment of human history may not always be fair. But when life inside and outside the segment are taken into account together, God’s justice will be perfect. In the big picture, he makes all things right…Between this life and the life to come, you and I can know that no person who has ever lived will get a raw deal – even if it looks that way right now.
How does God reveal His justice?
• Through the natural order
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:18-20 (NIV)
“Whatever goes around, comes around” – this higher law of justice is ingrained in God’s natural order. While we can all cite exceptions to the rule, we can’t deny that is the “normal” pattern.
• Through the human heart
Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone’s secret life. This is my message.
Romans 2:14-16 (NIV)
God has built into the hearts of all men an internal law that tells them right from wrong. In other words, the human heart internalizes what is observed in the natural order. Again, this doesn’t always work perfectly in a fallen world, but it is the normal pattern.
• Through His role as judge
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Acts 17:31 (NIV)
Not only does God have the ongoing role as judge throughout history, the Bible is also clear that one day he will be the final judge over all people for all of history.
We often use a statue of a blindfolded woman to picture the idea of impartial justice. But God is not blinded when he judges. He judges with goodness, sovereignty, holiness and wisdom.
• Through the cross
God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:25-26 (NIV)
Why did God allow His Son to die on the cross? To demonstrate His justice. Because God is just, He had to judge all the sins that he had left unpunished up to the time Jesus came to this earth and died on the cross. But instead of bringing that punishment upon us, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ became a sacrifice of atonement for us.