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Doctrine of Justice of God

December 26, 2012

Introduction

The justice of God is that infinitely righteous perfection of God’s essence whereby He perfectly governs His creation. God has imposed righteous laws on all His created beings. God’s perfectly fair justice judges all deviations from His laws. God’s justice is an unchangeable and intrinsic principle of His very essence. God demands conformity in all respects to His righteous laws. The justice of God acts as a watchdog of His perfect and unchangeable attributes and strictly protects them from compromise.

All created beings have been given a free will by God and are thus accountable to their Creator for their decisions and actions. For created beings whose free will decisions result in sin, God’s righteousness condemns those decisions as disobedience against His perfect and righteous laws. His justice then immutably and impartially administers the penalty that His righteousness demands. God has always been and will always be the only perfectly fair judge as stated in the following verses.

“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

And the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge. Selah. (Psalms 50:6)

“Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.” (2 Chronicles 19:7)

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. (Psalms 19:9)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. (Psalms 89:14)

Divine Justice and His Creation

For created beings whose free will decisions result in strict adherence to His laws, God’s righteousness always approves of the action. His justice then immutably administers the blessing that His righteousness demands as seen in James 1:12, 2 Timothy 4:8, and 2 Timothy 2:13.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12)

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

God has absolute dominion over all of His created beings. He is absolute law. He is the perfectly righteous governor and judge of all that exists. He judges all that fails to conform to His perfect and unchangeable righteousness. All judgments He pronounces and blessings He conveys are perfect and just as stated in Psalms 36:6, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, and Revelation 16:7. It is impossible for God to render an incorrect decision or to unfairly administer punishment. God’s perfect omniscience insures that His judgments are fair and impartial.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O Lord, You preserve man and beast. (Psalms 36:6)

Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  (Acts 10:34)

For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:11)

And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” (Revelation 16:7)

Justification From Christ’s Redemptive Work on The Cross

Divine justice is most clearly evident in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross for all of mankind. The justice of God must punish all who sin. Sin is defined as all thoughts or actions that fall short of the perfect standard of God’s righteousness. Since all of mankind are born into sin through Adam (except for the virgin birth of Jesus Christ), the justice of God must punish all of mankind for their sins. That is, of course, unless there is a perfectly qualified person who is willing to be their substitute. In order to qualify, that substitute would have to be both perfectly sinless man and possess a righteousness equal to God’s perfect righteousness. Moreover, for the substitution to be fair, that substitute would have to do so willingly and without any type of coercion. Jesus Christ was that perfectly qualified substitute for all of mankind. For this to be acceptable, the Justice of God would have had to be satisfied with that work.

God’s satisfaction with Christ’s work on the cross is called justification. You cannot earn or deserve your justification. Justification means to be declared righteous in the sight of God. God’s perfect love found a way to provide grace blessing to sinful mankind without compromising His perfect attributes. Now, the only issue is acceptance of Jesus Christ’s atonement for your sins. Rejection of this grace work means that judgment will remain as presented in Romans 8:1, John 3:18, John 3:36, and Romans 3: 24-26.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1)

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

God’s justice was satisfied because of His grace provision of redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ, through his substitutionary spiritual death on the cross, transferred the guilt of all sinners onto Himself (Unlimited Atonement), thus satisfying the justice of God. God is now free to pardon the sinner and justify the ones who accepts His saving grace as in Romans 6:23. Conversely, God must continue to justly condemn all who reject His perfect grace gift of salvation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The basis of the unbeliever’s indictment and resultant eternal condemnation will be their imperfect works of human righteousness. God cannot ever again condemn any human beings because of their sins. Jesus Christ paid the penalty that God’s righteousness demanded for all of mankind’s sins – even for those people who would reject that perfect substitutionary payment according to Colossians 2:14 and 1 Peter 2:24.  Eternal condemnation will always be for their rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior – never for sins.

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  (Colossians 2:14)

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus Christ as the lamb of God was qualified to go to the cross because He remained perfectly sinless in His humanity throughout His entire 33 years on earth. He remained in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit the entire time.

He remained, in His humanity, sinless while on the cross voluntarily accepting the imputation of all of our sins to His body from the omnipotence of God the Father. He continued to remain sinless even while enduring the unimaginable punishment from the Justice of God the Father for all of those sins. The humanity of Jesus Christ voluntarily received the punishment deserved by all of the rest of the human race. He was our perfect substitute. There never has been a sin committed in the history of the human race which was not judged on the cross (Unlimited Atonement).  That is why anyone who believes in the work of Jesus Christ will never perish but will have eternal life. The decision from the justice of God to judge our sins on the cross is the basis for our eternal salvation according to the following verses.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  (Romans 5:6)

Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.  (1 Timothy 2:6)

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

God’s perfect righteousness demands perfectly fair judgment for all sin. All sins had to be judged on the cross. The justice and righteousness of God were Jesus Christ’s points of contact with God the Father while on the cross.  His humanity had to be judged for our sins.  This was His purpose for being on earth.

God the Father presented the humanity of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins. He was there for us, as a perfect atonement for the sins of the entire human race.  How does this benefit us eternally?  Only through faith belief in Christ’s work on our behalf. Nothing more. Nothing less. God the Father did this to demonstrate His justice, His fairness to all.

The issue in salvation is divine justice accepted or rejected. You get divine justice sooner or later.  You get it sooner by believing in Christ. You get it later by rejection of Christ. Sin is not the issue in salvation, justice is.  Because of propitiation, God is now free to pardon and justify sinful humanity who appropriates the saving grace of God by faith in Christ.  God is free to save those who believe because of His justice. The basis for the unbeliever’s indictment at the Last Judgment is evil and human good, not sin, according to Rev 20:12‑15.

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15)

Fairness as an expression of God’s Justice

The justice of God is absolute and perfect fairness. This is one thing in life that you can count on.  Life will not always be fair as this is the Devil’s world. As such, in dealing with others in life, they will never be 100% fair, even in a good system.  All people have sinful natures which means that things will not always go your way and that things will happen to you that are not fair. The spiritual life under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit enables the believer to rise above this unfairness and keep a relaxed mental attitude while doing so. Only in this way, through the grace of God can you focus on the one fair point of contact in your life – God’s perfect fairness.

Fairness as an expression of God’s Love

As you grow spiritually, you will come to love God personally more and more because of who and what He is. Based on that love and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, you can be fair to others regardless of their actions. You can be fair to them unconditionally (unconditional love) based on the bible doctrine in your soul and because you are treating them as Jesus Christ would according to Matthew 7:12. By doing so, you are thinking with the mind of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 2:16.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

God is perfectly fair with all of His creation all of the time. There are no exceptions. Ever.  If we feel we are being treated unfairly, it is not because of how God is treating us. It may because of how others treat us, but never God. His plan for your life is a perfect plan that is perfectly fair in all ways. God is fair to us based on His omniscience. He knows everything about everything. God treats us fairly at all times even when He has to discipline us when we have sinned and have not yet confessed those sins to Him. All He wants is for us to admit that we have sinned and confess those sins and be restored to the filling of the Holy Spirit. Only then can we learn more about Him and His plan for us through Bible doctrine. Even when we come under severe divine discipline, it is from His love so that we will wake up and get back into functioning according to His plan.  This is the expression of His Love and His justice.

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)

God’s Love Toward Us

From the time of our physical birth until we believe in Jesus Christ, we are the objects of God’s unconditional love. His unconditional love emphasizes God’s integrity and our complete unworthiness as stated in Romans 5:8.  When we are born, we are spiritually dead, we are in total depravity, we are completely separated from God, and totally helpless to do anything about it.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

Once we personally believe in Jesus Christ, we become the objects of God’s personal love. This is because His has already imputed His perfect righteousness to us at the point of salvation.  Since personal love emphasizes the worthiness of the one that is loved, God’s personal love is always directed toward our imputed divine righteousness. However, the justice of God continues to be our point of reference.  The justice of God is what keeps us alive in this, the devil’s world. However, God’s impersonal and personal love are only motivating factors in our relationship with Him.  The justice of God is always our point of contact.

God’s Justice Is Perfectly Fair

God is absolute fairness.  It is impossible for God to be unfair in how He administers justice. In the court of heaven, divine justice administers divine laws which are compatible with divine integrity and with divine sovereignty.  Divine justice is the function of eternal God as the judge of mankind, rendering daily decisions in the court of heaven with regard to all members of the human race.

The decisions of the court of heaven are always compatible with God’s perfect righteousness.  God is a wise, incorruptible, perfect, and fair judge of mankind.  He has never rendered a wrong decision.  In all the uncountable trillions of decisions God has rendered, not one has ever been unfair or incorrect.  It is impossible for perfect God to render an imperfect decision as judge according to Job 37:23 and Psalms 19:9.

“The Almighty – we cannot find Him; He is exalted in power and He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness.” (Job 37:23)

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. (Psalms 19:9)

We are all personally responsible for our own decisions in life. This is our free will in action that God has promised that He will never coerce in any way. God decreed in eternity past that His sovereignty would operate in perfect compatibility with the free will of His created beings. Whenever you do not like what is happening to you, just remember that God is always fair.

If you have made bad decisions, then you are going to suffer the consequences.  The justice of God administers the penalties and decisions demanded by His perfect righteousness.  If you react with bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, pettiness, jealousy, or any other mental attitude sin, that is the worst thing that you can do. If you want to have an unhappy life, all you have to do is to seek vengeance, be vindictive or seek to hurt someone else. The result will be that you will be the one who will be hurt.  The justice of God does not need any help in dealing with the unfairness and injustices in the world that come our way.

If you do not have a clear understanding of the attributes of God, you are never going to have any true thanksgiving or gratefulness for anything that God does for you.  If you do not have the capacity for thanksgiving, you do not have the capacity to love anyone except yourself.

God’s Justice and the Supreme Court of Heaven

There is a perfect court in heaven where Jesus Christ is the judge and where all judgments are rendered perfectly and with perfect fairness as in John 5:22 and John 5:27. It is the last court of appeals in history, as well as the court for personal justice for the individual believer.  It is a court which administers both personal and collective justice.

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,  (John 5:22)

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.  (John 5:27)

This court of heaven fulfills the principle that Jesus Christ controls history. This court has the highest jurisdiction and overrules Satan’s authority as the ruler of this world.  Satan has always been subject to this court. In this court, many of Satan’s plans and policies have been set aside, overruled, and reversed. It is to this court that King Hezekiah appealed to Isaiah for intercessory prayer in Isaiah 37:4.

“Perhaps the Lord your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.” (Isaiah 37:4)

This is why God’s perfect plan for mankind continues to unfold exactly as He planned it in eternity past. History continues in spite of the fact that Satan is the ruler of this world.  Jesus Christ is the perfect judge of human history. In the rise and fall of nations, there are no accidents, prejudice, or favoritism. There is only the function of perfect divine justice consistent with the free will of man.

In the court of heaven are three equally perfect judges:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The court of heaven is the highest court in the universe and hears cases related to the following categories:

  1. Evil in the world,
  2. Sinfulness and injustice in human affairs,
  3. The rise and fall of nations,
  4. Anti-Semitism,
  5. Conflicts among believers,
  6. Satanic accusations against believers, and
  7. Divine discipline of believers.

Jesus Christ as the Perfect Judge

The uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the highest court judge has to do with His hypostatic union – the unity of His undiminished deity and perfect human nature.  In His glorified state, the resurrected humanity of Christ resides at the right hand of God the Father. In that position, He functions as the highest judge in heaven and as our high priest to the Church where He makes intersession for believers. The role of Jesus Christ as the highest judge can be found in John 5:22-23 and John 5:27.

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:22-23)

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:27)

Jesus Christ as the Son of Man emphasizes His hypostatic union, and the hypostatic union emphasizes the substitutionary judgment of our Lord for the sins of mankind on the cross.  The judgment of our Lord on the cross qualifies Him to be the highest judge in heaven and to represent us personally as our defense attorney. He presides on the bench in historical judgments as listed below.

  1. The believer’s self-judgment
  2. Judgment of the believer’s works and Christian service following the Rapture (The Judgment Seat of Christ)
  3. Judgment of the tribulational Jews at the Second Advent (The Baptism of Fire)
  4. Judgment of the tribulational Gentiles at the Second Advent (The Baptism of Fire)
  5. Judgment of all unbelievers of the human race at the end of the Millennium (The Great White Throne Judgment)
  6. Judgment of Satan and all fallen angels at the end of the Millennium (The Great White Throne Judgment)

The deity of Jesus Christ is perfect and eternal God complete with all equal attributes possessed by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This possession of perfect righteousness and perfect justice makes Him qualified to function as a justice of the court of heaven. Jesus Christ judges based on the combination of His perfect divine essence and His perfect resurrected humanity. This means that the integrity and capability of our Lord to preside in the court of heaven is one of eternal and infinite qualifications.

Because our Lord is also omniscient, His perfect deity and perfect humanity make His judgments beyond reproach. Since He knew every fact there is to know in eternity past before He created anything, He knows with perfect clarity and without bias every fact of every case. His judgments are always made in perfect and eternal wisdom.  He judges every case with perfect fairness, totally without prejudice or any form of partiality.

Jesus Christ As Our Advocate

Jesus Christ also functions as our advocate in the court of heaven for the believer as stated in 1 John 2:1-2. The believer continues to sin after salvation as presented in 1 John 1:8-10.  Satan is aware of our sins and periodically, accuses believers before the court of heaven to serve his own purposes or to attempt to thwart the plan of God as shown in Job 1:6-12.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1- 2)

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”  Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12)

Whenever Satan accuses a believer in the court of heaven, Jesus Christ acts as our advocate resulting in the accusation being thrown out because He already paid the penalty for the sin on the cross according to Zechariah 3:1-2.  All sins were judged once and for all on the cross and cannot be judged again by God the Father. Therefore, He cannot judge the same sin twice as stated in Romans 6:10. However, the sins of the believer become a family matter for administration of divine discipline as in Hebrews 12:6.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2)

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  (Romans 6:10)

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,  And He scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)

Application of the Justice of God

You must understand that the justice of God is our point of contact. God is fair to the entire human race because He provided, through Jesus Christ, eternal salvation for the entire human race. Since God is always fair, all human beings will have a chance to accept God’s free grace gift of eternal salvation.  Also, following acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Savior, God will continue to be perfectly fair toward us – always.

God’s justice is the source of all blessing, discipline, testing, judgment, and punishment. God’s perfect justice and righteousness have always existed and are incorruptible.  There is nothing man can do to corrupt the integrity of God. God’s righteousness is the guardian of God’s justice.  Justice guards the rest of the attributes of God. Mankind’s self‑righteousness, sinfulness, good deeds, or morality cannot influence the righteousness or justice of God.

God’s perfect attributes have always remained incorruptible throughout eternity past and into the eternal future without help from any angel or human at any time.  God does not need our help. We need His help.  This recognition is called humility. Our help comes from the imputation of blessing from the justice of God to His indwelling righteousness.  The correct application of the essence of God rationale is that all help and all blessing come from the justice of God to the righteousness in us.