The LORD is known by his justice (Psalm 9:16)
Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? That was the famous plea of Abraham to God in Genesis 18. God had come down to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s concern was that there might be some righteous people still in those cities. It wouldn’t be fair to destroy them too. It wouldn’t be just of God to treat the righteous the same way as the wicked. In verse 25 Abraham says,
“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 what is right?”
You don’t sense any doubt in Abraham that God is anything less than just. “Far be it from you!” he implores. The idea that God would treat the righteous and the wicked the same was incomprehensible to Abraham. Because Abraham knew God as a just and righteous God. Psalm 9:16 asserts: “The LORD is known by his justice”.
Do we know God that way? Do we know down in the bones of our soul that God is just? We have to know this. We absolutely must know this. There is no way to love God, trust God, worship God or obey God if we deep down don’t believe He is just. We must know what Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a righteous judge” and what Psalm 9:8, “He will judge the world in righteousness; He will govern the peoples with justice.”
Here we could talk about the Moral Law and the need for a Moral Lawgiver. This is the idea that since we are moral beings, and we have a moral dimension to us, that is we think there are things that are morally right and things that are morally wrong, things we ought to do and things we ought not to do, the question must be answered: Where did this moral aspect of who we are come from? How did we become the kind of beings that think in terms of right and wrong, ought and ought not? The answer would be God. God is righteous. Uniquely made in His image we then are moral creatures, thinking and acting in terms of right and wrong.
GOD IS JUST
Scoffers may say God is unjust, but the Bible says God is just. Deuteronomy 32:4 is preeminent when it pronounces:
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
The verse both declares and defines God’s justice. He is just. He does no wrong. He is right and He does right. He is right not because He does right, but, the other way around: He is right and so therefore He does right. To sound a little Tozer-ish: God does not line up with some standard of justice outside of Himself, but, He is that standard. Everything is or isn’t righteous, is or isn’t just, based on how it lines up with Him! “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?” Job 4:17 asks. No, because man is not the standard, God is. And nothing is “more” righteous than the One who is the standard.
Divine Justice, it is said, is God’s holiness exercised towards creatures (Strong). Or another way it is said, is that God’s righteousness means He demands from all moral beings conformity to the moral perfection of God. When justice visits non-conformity to that perfection of God it means loss or suffering. In other words, God is the standard and justice means that when people are judged and found not in line with God’s moral perfection they receive punishment, loss and suffering. The holiness of God does not allow for moral corruption to be rewarded or gotten away with. It means there will be consequence
This thinking is important because a lot of people – most people – sit in judgment on God. Most people consider themselves more just than God, always in conversations sentencing God for what they think are His unjust crimes against humanity. Anytime someone says God did something wrong they are doing so from a posture where they think they see justice more clearly than God and they go on issuing their judgments on what they perceive is God’s moral inferiority. Listen to how people talk about God’s actions to wipe out the Canaanites. Listen to how people respond with disgust at the idea of an eternal Hell. “God would send someone there, but not me.” People who think that way have their words bleeding with contempt and condescension towards this horrible “unjust” God.
Turn to Job 40:7-8..
What’s my point? My point is that those who don’t know God don’t know He is just. Those who do know God know He is just. We as Christians know that God is just, that we are not, that we know nothing, that He knows everything, that He infinitely surpasses us in righteousness, that we would not have a clue about how to execute justice in this great big complicated and corrupt world if we sat in God’s place. My point is “Who are we?!” Really?! Who are we!
To be just requires perfect knowledge by the way. “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.” It takes perfect wisdom to act with perfect justice. It requires knowing everything to know how to be just in everything. You see His perfect knowledge of all things – of all moral beings – at the Great White Throne. Turn with me to Revelation 20:11-15. READ.
- The Books were opened
- Everyone was judged according to what they had done.
- It didn’t matter how great or insignificant you were. Your status means nothing. It’s like what Jehoshaphat said to the judges in Israel. In 2 Chronicles 19:7 he said, “Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” In other words you better judge how God judges – He’s no respecter of men. He is impressed with nothing.
Your position in the world will not exonerate you from evil. You will not have been so great on the world stage that you will be excused. Neither will you have been such a nobody that your sins will be ignored. It will be God and you, and that’s it.
- The only way to do that right is if you know everything about everyone. God knows. And what happens on that day will be right. It will be JUST. Why? Because He knows perfectly everything that has been done. Would not God have discovered it” Psalm 44:11 asks, “since He knows the secrets of men’s hearts?” He also knows perfectly every thought (1 Cor. 4:5) and every word spoken (Mt. 12:36). Contemplate how Hebrews 4:13 warns us: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”
GOD WILL JUDGE SIN BECAUSE HE IS JUST
God will judge sin for the very reason that He is just. Sin, which is an affront to His moral perfection, a violation of His moral perfection, rightly deserves punishment.
When will God do this? First we see God doing it in “real time” – meaning God Sometimes people get what they’ve got coming to them in their lifetime. But the grand event where perfect, utimate and final justice will be executed is on a day we call Judgment Day.
- Paul declares in Acts 17:31, “For God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice…”
- Romans 2:6 says “God will give to each person according to what he has done.” Then after unpacking that truth verse 16 says, “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my Gospel declares.”
Notice two realities here: First, many will go through this life and not get what they deserve for what they’ve done in this life.
Second, they will get what they deserve at a future day of Judgment. In 1 Timothy 5:24 it says, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”
Some men’s sins are so public and so well-known that the news of what they’ve done was “known” ahead of time at Judgment. It’s like the guy got there and they were like, “Yeah, we’ve heard all about you. Everybody knows about you and what you’ve done.” Their sins have “reached” the place of judgment ahead of them.
BUT, there are many whose wickedness and corruption are not public, are not well-known, or are forgotten or buried or so well hidden. The verse paints a picture where they finish the race of life and arrive at judgment only to have the Judge point over their shoulder. They turn around and those sins they thought they got away with, those sins they thought they silenced or covered up – here they come. They got away from them in life, but they will not get away at Judgment.
All this brings up a very very difficult point: many people will have to wait for justice to be done. Many who have suffered injustice in this life will not taste the satisfaction of seeing justice done in this life.
This will put a Christian’s faith to the test. You say “How?” Because we have to step back and ask whether we really, really believe that God is just and that He really has a Day when He will make every wrong right. It takes faith to wait for justice to be given you in God’s timing.
- Jesus told the parable of the widow in Luke 18. Often overlooked is the moral of the story Jesus gets to. Turn there with me. READ
- The moral of the story is to persist in prayer and not quit.
- One reason to persist is to trust that God will bring justice
- Don’t let injustice, suffering, and persecution prevent you from praying.
- Finally notice the timing associated with justice being served: when the Son of Man comes. When Jesus comes.
- Turn to 2 Thessalonians 1 with me, verses 5-11. READ
- Notice here that saints are encouraged to keep enduring, specifically the persecution they were undergoing for their faith.
- Notice too that God is said to be just, and that His justice will be meted out at the coming of Jesus. THAT TAKES FAITH. You will not persevere through persecution unless you have your eyes on your JUST GOD.
- Turn to Revelation 6:9-11 with me. READ
- Notice that these souls are praying for God to bring His just judgment upon their murderers. By the way there is nothing immoral about praying for God’s justice to be brought upon God’s enemies.
- Notice what they are told: “wait a little longer.” Not right away. Be assured it is coming, because it is coming. But when God says for it to come.
Psalm 27:14 says, ‘Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Recall Psalm 40:1 when it says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Or consider the exhortation of Isaiah 30:18, “For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” For the vast majority of God’s people throughout history the godly virtue of “waiting” means to patiently and trustingly keep focusing on God who will come and will deal with the enemies who have harmed you.
COME TO CHRIST BECAUSE GOD IS JUST
Now I’m pleading with you today to come to Christ. This is the part of the sermon where I struggle with you to bring you to Christ. This is the moment where again this week you will hear the one and only way of salvation explained and this is yet again when you will be called upon by me – your pastor – to believe on Jesus Christ to save your own soul. This is the part where all of heaven looks upon you for your response – what will you do with the Son of God who came to save you?
Come to Christ. Because God is Just. I’ll explain this in 2 ways. First, Come to Christ because God is Just and if you don’t then you will suffer for your sins. It’s that simple. If you die without Christ you are gone forever. Lost. No coming back. Hopelessly lost in the eternal place of condemnation and suffering. And God is Just for doing this to you. It is not that God is less moral than you think He is. He’s not. No, rather, it is that you are far less moral than you think you are. More importantly, you are far less moral than you need to be to be approved by God. And when God brings justice to you it will not be good.
Second, God is in fact Just in the act of forgiving. Maybe this thought has never bothered you, but, it has bothered many. It’s a favorite attack by atheists. Listen to now deceases Christopher Hitchens express his rejection of the idea that someone else could pay for his sins:
“I find something repulsive about the idea of vicarious redemption. I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me; we rightly sneer at the barbaric societies that practice this unpleasantness in its literal form. There’s no moral value in the vicarious gesture anyway. As Thomas Paine pointed out, you may if you wish take on another man’s debt, or even to take his place in prison. That would be self-sacrificing. But you may not assume his actual crimes as if they were your own; for one thing you did not commit them …. for another this impossible action would rob him of individual responsibility. So the whole apparatus of absolution and forgiveness strikes me as positively immoral…”
Yet, that which repulses Hitchens is exactly what the Bible proclaims Jesus did. My how the Rock of Salvation is a stumbling block for the blind. My how His cross is a stench and an offense to those who are perishing. God is not unjust to punish Jesus for your sins. Romans 3 explains:
“God presented Jesus as a sacrifice for atonement…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 Christ.”
That is awesome. God is just to justify us when we believe in Jesus. He is just to justify us. Justify means to declare us righteous. On the one hand to say we are justified means that the charges against us are dropped. Heaven no longer has anything against us. Yet on the other hand to be justified means to be regarded as righteous.
If we confess our sins God is faithful AND JUST to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. When God forgives and cleanses you from your sin because you confess it in faith to Him HE IS JUST TO DO SO. Because all your sins have been imputed to Christ. All the penalty for all the sins you’ve committed have been justly paid for by Jesus the Savior.
He is Jesus THE Savior. But, is He Jesus YOUR Savior?