Text: Genesis 3; Amos 5:24 | Listen to Message
The notion that God would punish literally every sin – including ours – is repulsive to modern culture. Truth be told, we don’t want a righteous and just God; we want a God who’s nice. [Nevermind the fact that a God who is unjust is not actually good, kind, or nice to the victims of injustice.] But we can count on this: God, by definition, is only and always just.
Just: God always responds rightly to both good and evil because he himself is righteous.
Key Verses: Genesis 3; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 96:13; 97:2; Isaiah 28:17; 53:11; Amos 5:23-24; Micah 6:8; Malachi 3:18; Romans 3:10, 26; 2 Corinthians 5:21
A just person makes a distinction between good and evil – and repays each with exactly what each deserves. Evil deserves a curse and punishment. Good deserves a blessing and reward. And, because God is just, he does both of these without fail.
So the justice of God is bad news for unrighteous people. And, unfortunately, that’s all of us; we’re all unrighteous. We’ve all sinned against the holy and righteous standards of God more times than we can count. That means we’ve all earned judgment; we’ve all earned hell.
But this is where the good news about God’s justice comes in. The Gospel is not that God ignores or “just forgives” our sin. The Gospel is that, in/through Jesus, God does something that makes it just for him to save sinners.
What is that something? First, Jesus lived the life that you and I have failed to live. His life conformed to the righteous standard of God’s law. Second, Jesus died. Let that sink in: the only perfect person who ever lived, died. Why? How is that even possible?
The Bible’s answer is that Jesus voluntarily took our sin on himself and absorbed the punishment we deserve. Our sin was imputed to him so that his righteousness could be imputed to us. If you simply trust in Jesus, God justifies you – that is, he counts you righteous. He treats you as if you’d never sinned.
So before you judge God for being just (ironic, huh?), remember this: the Judge you stand before at the end of time is the very same one who offered himself in your place to give you his own righteousness as a gift.
So how do we respond to a God like this?
1. Live justly, not to earn God’s blessing, but because you already have it.
The Gospel replaces performance-based righteousness with gratitude-based righteousness. It’s not moralistic to pursue right living in obedience to God’s law; it’s evidence you want to please the one who was judged in your place.
2. Seek and do justice for others.
Justice is active, not passive. And doing justice for others is an act of true worship. So look around: who is on the receiving end of injustice? How are they vulnerable and maybe unable to stick up for themselves? What are you doing to seek justice on their behalf?
3. Hope and trust in the final justice of God.
A snapshot of your life almost certainly reveals injustice. At any given moment, the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. It may appear as if God isn’t all that just after all. But God doesn’t settle all of his accounts at the end of every day. What he promises is that he’ll return one day to set everything right. In the meantime, don’t despair; don’t doubt; don’t seek revenge. Entrust yourself to the one who promises to reward those who hunger and thirst for true righteousness.