God and Justice
God and Justice – God cannot sin
How do God and justice relate? Although we say “God is almighty and can do anything,” there are some things God cannot do. Imagine a just policeman who is being bribed. Suppose he says, “Accepting your money would be against the law. I cannot do it.” By that he does not mean he is physically unable to accept the money. He would only need to stick out his hand.
Though obviously much greater, God is like a good policeman. He cannot sin because He will not sin. If God did wrong, He would cease being good. Likewise, if God were to let sin go unpunished, He would violate His integrity. Therefore, because God is righteous, He always requires justice.
Suppose a brutal, murderous dictator is arrested and tried. And suppose the judge, after hearing all the arguments, rules like this: “The evidence proves that this man has done many terrible things. He has murdered our fellow citizens and even some of our own relatives. But I’m in a good mood today, so I’m going to set him free. He may return to his position. Hopefully he will not murder again. But if he does, oh well. C’est la vie. That’s life.”
If we lived in such a place, we would feel insulted, angry, and treated unjustly. We would consider the judge to be as evil as the dictator. God feels about our sins like we would about the dictator’s. God cannot simply ignore wrong or forgive what we’ve done.
Let’s go back to the judge. Suppose that instead of letting the evil ruler go free, he actually states the following: “The crimes committed by this man are worthy of death. The dictator will be guarded so that he never kills again. Being the judge, I have the right to take his place before a firing squad. Instead of his life, I turn my own over to death.” Our anger might still want the dictator dead, but we’d be amazed at the judge. We’d no longer call him unjust. On the contrary, his position in our hearts would exceed any imagination of justice.
God and Justice - Why do we need a sacrifice? Can’t God just forgive?
Finally, suppose that we ourselves stand before a righteous judge. And suppose he says to us: “In my courtroom, not only are murderers found guilty, those who want to murder are also guilty. Not only are thieves condemned, so are those who covet the possessions of others. Not only are convicted liars sentenced, so are all those who have lied about anything. Not only are ….” In such a courtroom, none of us would be set free.
It’s that way with God. Even though he is almighty, he cannot simply forgive us, no matter how small our sins might seem. A pardon for sin might appear to be the nice thing to do, but to God it is plainly wrong, letting evil go unpunished. God can forgive us only because the price for our wrong has been paid. How? Because justice has been served by the sacrifice of Jesus. For as we saw in the discussion about Jesus’ death:
… he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5, 6).
Compliments of Scott Munger, PhD, Biblica, All rights reserved in the original.
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