Intro- I’m supposed to study with you today the Justice and the Mercy of God. It is hard for me to separate these lessons completely because a study of scripture shows us that God’s justice and His mercy are so interconnected that they can’t be completely separated.
However, If you are someone who is familiar with studying some key texts regarding God’s justice and mercy you will notice that on several levels, they are one in the same. However, in order to appreciate one, you have to understand the other.
We are going to spend our time in this lesson working to understand what we would think of as “displeasing” or “harsh” side of Justice.
It’s important to first identify what we are discussing while talking about Justice.
κρίσις - is the Greek word used in the NT that is translated Justice. This Greek word is used 47 times in the NT, and depending on your translations it is translated Justice only 4-5 times. It is most commonly translated as “judgement”.
While discussing God’s justice, we are really exploring God’s righteous judgement. Justice can be served in our society by punishing a criminal, but it can equally be served by releasing an innocent.
Before we can really study God’s justice or His righteous judgement, we need to take a brief look at His heart.
God hates sin
shows us that God created a world that was a “heaven on earth” if you will. No pain, no sorrow, no death.
We must not confuse God’s desire with His knowledge. Did God know that sin would be brought into the world? Yes. Was that His desire? absolutely not.
Sin had corrupted so much of what God wanted, that by , he was filled with sorrow and destroyed the earth.
Just as parents hate watching their children in pain, God hates what sin does to His people.
We had a new Christian at NW, whose 12 year old son was diagnosed with glioblastoma, brain cancer. He recently passed away. Her thought, like many , was that it was God’s fault that this happened. I spoke to her about the fact that she was blaming the wrong party. Satan was responsible. Nothing like this happened on this planet before sin came.
Can I tell you that no matter how much you hate the pain that sin brings, God hates it more.
It is with that in mind, that we begin to look closely at God’s justice, or His righteous judgement.
His Justice is impartial
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
In context here, Peter was encouraging Christians to prepare their minds for action.
Peter addresses the fact that God judges impartially, according to each ones deeds.
The imperative in this text is to “conduct yourselves with fear” - Meaning, since you will be judged based upon your actions, you need to take great care in what those actions will be.
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
Israel was reminded that what the Lord required was for them to love the Lord and to serve Him with all of their heart
God challenges Israel to circumcise their hearts… For or “because” God is not partial and takes no bribe.
One of the most sobering thoughts, is to realize that an unrepentant sinner standing before God on the day of judgement, will not be able to talk their way into heaven.
His Justice is inescapable
Not only is God’s justice/righteous judgement impartial, it is inescapable.
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Paul was writing to people who had a messed up view of what judgement was all about. Paul was addressing some hypocritical judgements and made clear to those who seemed to puff themselves up based on their strict judgements of others, that they themselves would not escape judgement.
Perhaps some of the most sobering words concerning the inescapability of God’s judgement are found in
God is speaking to Jeremiah about all of the things that he needs to be proclaiming, and no one in Judah is listening. Those dwelling in Jerusalem are deaf to the words of God.
No doubt it was with a broken heart that God spoke these words to
Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.
I want you to think with me about that terrible event that we read about in . This cannot just be a “children’s story” to us. We think of God’s promise that He kept with Noah, and the rainbow after the flood… Do we think about those who were outside of the ark when judgement came? When the Lord sealed the door, it didn’t open for them again. They couldn’t escape.
The Bible tells us in that the waters prevailed 15 cubits (30 feet) higher than the mountains. Meaning if someone was fast enough and in good enough condition to flee to the mountains in the flood and they climbed the highest possible peak, they still had no hope. No escape.
His Justice is infallible
There are high profile cases in our nation, it seems constantly that fail on one level one another to provide Justice. I have always found it interesting how the public is so quick to determine what they perceive justice to be without having all the facts or both sides of the story… But there seems to be a growing sense of distrust in “the system” Will justice be served? With God, this is not even a question.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
After giving them the parable of the dishonest manager the pharisees who didn’t like what He said began to ridicule Jesus
Jesus spoke about the pharisees attempting to Justify themselves before men
The judgement of man is severely flawed.
Most people in our world know what says. They like the idea of “not being judged”. They pay no attention to context in this passage or the fact that we are commanded to make righteous judgements ()
Jesus reminded them that God knows their hearts
The judgement of man, is limited because we can’t judge the heart. There are times that we think we are able to, and sometimes we may be right but it is entirely possible for us to be wrong.
Story about the elder who ignored what his Dr. told him about soaking his feet in wine to relieve pain, because some individuals saw him making the purchase and refused to hear him out… Sometimes we see something and we think we understand, but we are wrong.
God’s judgement is never wrong.
The bad news:
I deserve death. , teach me that very plainly. It was with that in mind that Spurgeon said,
“Ah,” saith he to himself, “God is a just God; and if so, how can he pardon my sins? for my iniquities cry aloud for punishment, and my transgressions demand that his right hand should smite me low. How can I be saved?
That powerful question, along with understanding how Justice and Mercy are not in contradiction but rather are beautifully connected is what we will study in our next session.