The Justice Of God

I have a little group of ladies who study the Bible with me. We are making our way through A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, and this week have come upon the attribute of God we call “justice.”

A question that often arises is “How can God declare a sinner righteous if He is truly just?” Would not His justice require that all sinners go the same way, to destruction and hell?

Here is Tozer’s answer.

A simpler and more familiar solution for the problem of how God can be just and still justify the unjust is found in the Christian doctrine of redemption. It is that, through the work of Christ in atonement, justice is not violated but satisfied when God spares a sinner. Redemptive theology teaches that mercy does not become effective toward a man until justice has done its work. The just penalty for sin was exacted when Christ our Substitute died for us on the cross. However unpleasant this may sound to the ear of the natural man, it has ever been sweet to the ear of faith. Millions have been morally and spiritually transformed by this message, having lived lives of great moral power, and died at last peacefully trusting in it.

The message of justice discharged and mercy operative is more than a pleasant theological theory; it announces a fact made necessary by our deep human need. Because of our sin we are all under sentence of death, a judgment which resulted when justice confronted our moral situation. When infinite equity encountered our chronic and willful in-equity, there was violent war between the two, a war which God won and must always win. But when the penitent sinner casts himself upon Christ for salvation, the moral situation is reversed. Justice confronts the changed situation and pronounces the believing man just. Thus justice actually goes over to the side of God’s trusting children.

This is the meaning of those daring words of the apostle John: “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]

But God’s justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.

Oh, what wonderful news this is for those who cast themselves on the mercy of God and repent and believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross. God is just, and because Christ has truly paid the penalty for our sin, the Father is just in forgiving us. We truly have been made righteous – our sins are truly and forever gone!

God would not be just if He failed to judge sin, but because He is good and kind and merciful and loving toward His us, His created beings, He took the punishment upon Himself. Now, in Christ, His justice is satisfied.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Never doubt that God will act in justice toward all men. How that justice is applied depends on your response to the gospel.

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