God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
If I were to ask you what the right punishment is for stealing a car, I suspect that we could have hours of conversation and not end up agreeing.
Justice is something that we all intuitively know something about. We all know stealing is wrong.
But justice is also incredibly difficult to nail down.
I think this is because justice requires several things.
Justice requires moral goodness; we need to know what is right and what is wrong.
Justice requires perfect knowledge; we need to know all the facts of the situation.
Justice requires perfect power; we need to be able to execute the just punishment.
No human has all of these things. But God does.
There is one other crucial element required to see justice done. We must have the will to act.
A judge could theoretically have the moral understanding, all the knowledge and the power to punish and still not execute justice. The judge must also want to see justice done. He must be willing to act.
God has this will to act. We see this in a verse like Psalm 7:11:
“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”
God hates sin, wickedness and injustice and he will make all things right.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
This is a great comfort to us. We live in a world full of evil and that evil is rarely (if ever) suitably dealt with by human authorities. Babies are murdered every day and nothing is done; thieves steal property and don’t get caught; sexual abuse is covered up and forgotten; and friends betray one another without the slightest consequence. But we know that God is a righteous judge and will judge all people on the last day. All wrongs will be made right.
But God’s justice should also be cause for great fear, for if the righteous judge were to come and execute justice, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3) The justice of God must drive us to God’s mercy found in Christ.
- Tom Eglinton