The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5 NIV
Like in the verse above, God’s justice is highlighted throughout the whole Bible. And whenever it is mentioned, people rejoice in it. However, in this day and age, people seem to argue about or distort what the Bible tells us about the justice of God. I can see this all around me and have realized the danger of it. This is why I want to encourage you to trust in the truth of the actual description of God’s justice. It is all we need and none of our modifications is helpful to those listening. To show you what I mean, I want to tell you about some experiences of mine.
The Distortions of God’s Justice
From the conversations I had, I can tell that people distort the justice of God in two directions. Some claim that it is “too forgiving” and the others say it is “not forgiving enough”. Neither of them accept that God’s justice is perfect the way it is.
“God’s Justice Is Too Forgiving”
Upon first reading, this seems like a good awareness of the fact that we don’t deserve God’s mercy. It sounds like the people saying this know about the stunning goodness of God. These are not the people I’m talking about though.
In my circle of (unbelieving) acquaintances, many describe God’s justice as, “It doesn’t matter what you have done, when you ask for mercy on your deathbed, you will be saved”. They don’t see the required sincerity of this request and that salvation comes from God. A simple “sorry” in passing is not enough to escape eternal punishment!
Because of their misunderstanding of God’s justice, most of them don’t even believe in the reality of hell. It further makes them seek for revenge when they experience wrongdoing, which is against the scripture saying,
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 ESV
Thus, their distortion of the truth can lead to the harm of others and shows how little they know about God. They live their life without any awareness of how short and fragile it is and of what is to come. All that matters to them is the here and now and all they care about is their reputation and how much money they’re making. That way, they are blocking their own way to salvation, freedom and peace in the eternal love of God!
“God’s Justice Is Too Harsh”
Other acquaintances of mine, look at the vengrance of God from a human perspective. All they see is the destruction of nations and eternity in hell. As a result, without seeking to know the bigger picture, many unbelievers say, “God is cruel” and use this as an excuse for not believing. Even some believers doubt the righteousness of God’s punishments. Consequently, I’ve heart them downplay his prophecies to “You can be saved though (baby) baptism” or “Hell is just a warning and not the final sentence”.
All three of those statements distort the truth about God’s justice. They can drive people away from their trust in the goodness of God! On top of that, the people believing in those distortions won’t find rest. Those I met were constantly fighting against the enemy who was trying to convince them of the injustice and cruelty of God. He will only shut up, if we know the truth in our hearts and cling to it. A good starting point for this are the following verses:
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18 ESV
Every word of God proves true.
He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
Do not add to his words,
or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar. Proverbs 30:5 NLT
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV
Hence, you can trust in God’s word and goodness. And staying close to the truth in the Bible will set you free. Truly, I’ve experienced this myself. I used to judge God because of the distortions above. Through reading and believing in his word though, I found peace — even in the matter of eternal punishment! To strengthen your faith and trust in the Lord, too, I want to shine some light on his perfection.
What I Found Out About God’s Justice
As I was reading the Bible, I came across Psalm 110. There, the following verses made me pause:
The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you.
He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts.
He will punish the nations
and fill their lands with corpses;
he will shatter heads over the whole earth.
But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way.
He will be victorious. Psalm 110:5-7 NLT
Those verses speak about Jesus and the time of his return. They reminded me of the prophecy in Revelation 19:11-20:15. Both scriptures describe the final judgment and how God will punish his enemies. They make it clear that not everyone will enter into heaven. This is further confirmed by Jesus proclaiming,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 NIV
Considering the alternative, that might sound mean or unfair, but our God is neither! Instead, He is truthfully described as,
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. Revelations 19:11 NLT
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy; Psalm 111:7 ESV
Thus, God is not mean, but perfectly just. He will give to everyone what he deserves, forgiving those who trust in him. Unfortunately, this trust is often attacked by the world. We are tossed between evolutionists who challenge the truth of God’s word and people who are throwing scriptures about destruction at us, demanding answers on how God can be good. Well, to stand firm against those people, we must learn to see the world from the God’s perspective.
If you, too, are challenged by evolutionsists, you might be interested in reading about how The Diversity of Creation is nothing less than miracle.
Looking At the World From God’s Perspective
In the books of Kings and Chronicles, the Israelites turned their backs on God over and over again. They did this although God had rescued them from all their troubles and promised to protect them. He had spoken to them through many prophets and given them sign upon sign, but they would not listen.
When I read those books, I felt deeply sorry for our Lord. He had done so much for Israel, yet all they did was accuse, disobey and deny him. However, in his goodness, God did not unleash his fierce anger against Israel, even though they would have deserved it.
You can read more about this in my post about God’s Unfailing Faithfulness.
The measure of God’s mercy on Israel was vast. We can see this now because we have the records in the Bible. I bet some Israelites didn’t always agree with that though. Humans are just so easily consumed by their own troubles (I’m no exception). However, that doesn’t change God’s goodness towards us!
Since there are no records about the 21st century yet, it can be hard for us to step back and think about what God is seeing. For that reason, I have collected some things that are going on right now.
A Comparison Between Us And the Israelites
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Exodus 20:4 NIV
However, the Israelites made idols for themselves and bowed down to them in worship. In our current society, idol statues are not common anymore. Instead, people worship soccer/football, money, fame and — worst of all — themselves. Seriously, some people claim to be unbreakable and in control of everything. They are denying the God who made them, calling him a liar, incapable or futile.
This delusion has even caused some to play god themselves! They are killing the life God has given through abortions, are developing “designer babies” and planning to control the weather. I am not saying that healing diseases is bad, but there is a line which we shouldn’t cross. Determining who will live and who won’t is definitely crossing it. And the Bible taches us that those who dared to challenge God in this way were utterly destroyed (compare for example 2 Kings 18-19).
You see, God has a planfor everyone! Even those who are suffering will find joy in God and He uses them to inspire others.
Furthermore, as if all of this wasn’t enough, we now have laws that allow and even encourage people to sin! Examples are abortions, female quotas, gender transformations and same-sex marriages. (That doesn’t mean that homosexual people won’t be saved! I’m just saying that this is not what God intended for a marriage to be.) Consequently, we are much worse than the Israelites were. And if Israel would have deserved to be wiped out, how much more do we deserve such a punishment…
God’s Grace Saves Us From Destruction
As mentioned above, God forgives those who trust in him. This is possible and in unison with his justice because Jesus paid for all sins when He offered himself on the cross. He knew that we couldn’t save ourselves, so He redeemed us in his overwhelming love. Furthermore, this wonderful gift of salvation is available for everyone and doesn’t even require a repayment! Jesus himself declares,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV
To learn more about this great act of love, feel free to read how We are Forgiven Through the Blood of Christ!
Nevertheless, God will not force us to be saved because He has blessed us with a free will. Hence we can choose to accept or refuse God’s extended hand of mercy. But if we refuse his salvation and keep on sinning, He will not excuse our guilt. This is perfectly righteous and the critical part which we should not omit when we preach the truth to others!
Dare to Speak the Whole Truth About God’s Justice
Through visiting a catholic school, I’ve heard the story of Jesus many times, but I never understood my need for a Savior. The part of us being terrible sinners and facing eternal destruction just never reached me. Only because someone didn’t shy away from making it clear how wicked and lost we all are, did I understand the seriousness of the situation. Hearing the undistorted truth finally gave me an understanding of
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 NKJV
Therefore, I want to encourage all of us to speak up about the perfection of God’s justice. Simply saying that we trust God, like I once did it, is often not enough though. Instead, we should listen to Peter who decrees,
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 ESV
Be prepared to explain your trust and hope, knowing that God’s justice is perfect in every way. It’s not “too forgiving”, because only those with sincere hearts will be saved. It’s also not “too harsh”, because we would deserve much worse!
And when we speak about God’s truth, we should neither embroider, nor downplay it, for none of this will help anyone. In fact, distorting God’s truth can keep others from being saved! Only the actual word of God can bring salvation, as we are told in the verse below.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 NIV
Just trust in God’s perfection and the world will see his light!