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Justice of God (Lesson 13)

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God's Wrath is often looked upon negatively by Christians and unbelievers. Unbelievers scoff at the justice of God and Christians down play the signifigance. Yet, God is ultimately both righteous and just. The signifigance of our God and the signifigance of the cross are bound up in the righteousness and justice of God.

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Perfection of God: A study in Knowing and Fearing God

Lesson 13: The Justice of God

I. Narrative Examples of God’s Justice

What Biblical stories show God’s justice?

A. The Fall

The fall is perhaps the greatest judgement of God up to this point in human history. There is much that could be said about the fall, but really we are looking at this story in terms of God’s justice displayed.
First, we must observe how Adam and Eve sought to avoid the Justice of God.
>>>>>>How did Adam and Eve try to cover up their sin?
How did Adam and Eve try to cover up their sin?
Cover their sin with Fig Leaves
1. Cover their sin with Fig Leaves
Genesis 3:7 ESV
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
2. They hid from God.
2. They hid from God.
Genesis 3:8 ESV
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
3. Blame shifting.
3. Blame shifting.
Genesis 3:11–13 ESV
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
“In Short, they tried to do what human beings have tried to do with their sin ever since. We try to cover it up. We perform our most evil deeds in the dark and secret places so no one will ever find out. We try to run from God. We fill our lives with work, sports, music, films, and all kinds of other distractions so we don’t have to face him. We try to shift the blame. We claim that we are victims or that what we did is not nearly as bad as what someone else did.”
(Philip Ryken, Discovering God in the Stories of the Bible)
Besides the natural consequences of sin, God himself instituted judgement on all 3 guilty parties.
Serpent:
Serpent:
Genesis 3:14–15 ESV
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Eve:
Eve:
Genesis 3:16 ESV
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Adam:
Adam:
Genesis 3:17–19 ESV
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Though in many ways, this is a passage which demonstrates God’s Justice, it also is clear that God’s justice is perfectly balanced with His Mercy.
Genesis 3:15 is a judgement against Satan, but in that he also provides the first promise of a Savior.
Genesis 3:15 ESV
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The New American Commentary: Genesis 1–11:26 (4) God’s Judgments Pronounced (3:14–21)

Christian tradition has referred to 3:15 as the protevangelium since it has been taken as the prototype for the Christian gospel.

It is clear from Genesis 3 that God is just judging sin while being merciful by promising a future redemption from the judgement.
What does this judgement say about what God is like (His Attributes)?

B. Judgment of God.

In righteousness God reveals chiefly his love of holiness; in justice, chiefly his hatred of sin.
(Strong, 292)
Theme of revelation:
Revelation 1:4–8 ESV
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Word Usage of Revelation related to Justice:
Heaven - 52
Throne - 47
Holy - 25
Anger/Wrath - 10 , 6
The Final Judgement of God:
Revelation 20:7–15 ESV
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 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.
First, to clarify this is not a judgment that includes the people of God. Notice the criteria of their judgment,
Revelation 20:12 ESV
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
They are judged according to their personal righteousness, of which no believer could withstand judgment either. Instead, we rest in the imputed righteousness of Christ.
So this is not a judgment of believers, but it is about God judging the nations.
The fact there is a coming judgement demonstrates that God is characterized by justice.
May I suggest this is the second greatest judgement of humanity.
The first, the judgement at the fall.
The second, the last days when all of humanity will face judgement before God.
What judgement is more universal or impacts more of humanity than this one?
What judgement is more universal or impacts more of humanity than this one?
God’s justice is demonstrated in the book of revelation.

C. Others:

Sodom and Gomorrah
King David and Bathsheba
Solomon and his Wives
Exile
Rejection of the Kingdom by Israel
Ananias and Sapphira

II. God’s Attribute of Justice

A. Word Studies related to God’s Justice:

1) OT Words related to Justice

Deuteronomy 33:21 ESV
He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander’s portion was reserved; and he came with the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments for Israel.”
Two words used:
General word for judges.
General word for righteousness or justice (צְדָקָה)
[There are other words which sometimes are translated righteousness or justice, but this word illustrates the close connection between justice and righteousness.]
Genesis 15:6 ESV
And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Jeremiah 51:10 ESV
The LORD has brought about our vindication; come, let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.

2) NT Words related to Justice

General word for righteousness or justice (δίκαιος)
[There are other words which sometimes are translated righteousness or justice, but this word illustrates the close connection between justice and righteousness.]
Revelation 16:5 ESV
And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.
Luke 1:6 ESV
And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Notice the overlap in the meaning.

B. Overlapping Theology and Words of God’s Justice

Holiness, Righteousness, Justice
In righteousness God reveals chiefly his love of holiness; in justice, chiefly his hatred of sin.
(Strong, 292)
Wrath, Anger, Judge
Throughout Scripture, God’s indignation, anger, and fury, which are often spoken of, are judicial; these words always point to the holy Creator actively judging sin, just as wrath does here. The message of coming judgment for all mankind, with Jesus Christ completing the work of his mediatorial kingdom by acting as judge on his Father’s behalf, runs throughout the New Testament (Matt. 13:40–43; 25:41–46; John 5:22–30; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 9:27; 10:25–31; 12:23; 2 Pet. 3:7; Jude 6–7; Rev. 20:11–15). (Concise Theology by Packer)
Sovereignty
The Justice of God is also related to our understanding that God is Sovereign.
Psalm 97:2 ESV
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
His very rule exhibits mercy, power, … and justice.

C. Definition of God’s Justice

1) Definition of God’s Justice

Righteousness:
God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right (Grudem)
(Similiar to His Goodness)
Justice:
“Legislative Holiness”
God’s justice is the vindication of God’s holy standard.

2) Difficulties in God’s Justice

The error of incompatible Testaments:
Incompatabilism (not the same thing as in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit) is a belief that the God of the Old Testament (Vengeful) is different from the God of the NT (All Loving).
God justice demonstrates He is is vengeful (generally):
This is the idea that God is looking for ways he can judge man, a vengeful God.
There is no abstract sin that can be hated apart from the persons in whom that sin is represented and embodied. Thomas Fuller found it difficult to starve the profaneness but to feed the person of the impudent beggar who applied to him for food. Finney declared that he would kill the slave-catcher, but would love him with all his heart. In our civil war Dr. Kirk said: “God knows that we love the rebels, but God also knows that we will kill them if they do not lay down their arms.” The complex nature of God not only permits but necessitates this same double treatment of the sinner, and the earthly father experiences the same conflict of emotions when his heart yearns over the corrupt son whom he is compelled to banish from the household. Moberly, Atonement and Personality, 7—“It is the sinner who is punished, not the sin.”
(Strong, 290-291) Justice and Righteousness
“How canst Thou justify a wicked man and still be just?” (Tozer, 63)
“How canst Thou justify a wicked man and still be just?” (Tozer, 63)
The primary reason is that Christ served as our propitiation on the cross (Satisification of God’s divine and just wrath.)

D. Practical Implications of God’s Justice

God is just in his righteous judgement. Angels in the book of revelation declare that God is holy in his divine judgement and wrath upon creation.
God’s Holy standard (righteousness) should remind us of our deserving punishment (vindicated by the Cross).
God’s ultimate justice (Final judgement) assures the ultimate destruction of evil, sin, and wickedness.
God’s ultimate justice should help us be able to endure injustice on earth.
God’s justice should help us remember the importance of the cross. “Flee to Christ”.
It should cause us to ask the question, Am I ready for the judgement of God?
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