ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – JUSTICE

Aristotle said:

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Unfortunately, in our world today, it seems that “the worst” has come to the forefront.  It seems that there is injustice everywhere you turn.  We hear of corrupt politicians, of immoral preachers, of lawless officials, of abuse of innocent children, of hordes of homeless and refuges leaving their homes and all that they have to save their lives.  Injustice has always been with us, but now we have instant access to television and media that can vividly show us the extent of injustice that exists.  No longer is it a line in the newspaper or magazine.  Now it is an image on the television screen, a digital reminder on the cell phone that horror is happening, all over the world.  And it never ends.

We look at the statistics and weep because there seems to be no hope; injustice reigns, and it seems that there is nothing we can do to stop it or avoid it.  Where is justice?  Does it exist anywhere?

Beloved – the Holy God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Source of justice.  The God who loved us so much that He gave His only Son to be our Savior, is the God of Justice.

God’s justice is never divorced from His righteousness.  He never condemns the innocent.  He never clears the guilty.  He never punishes with undue severity.  He never fails to reward righteousness.  His justice is perfect justice.  (Emphasis added)

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 110

Scripture says much about justice, as it is one of the immutable attributes of our Holy God.  For example, when Abraham was arguing with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he focused on God’s justice. 

“Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Genesis 18:25

The Psalmist writes:

The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”

Psalm 99:4

While there is an abundance of injustice in our world, we must remember that true justice will not be rendered in this world.  Those who seem to lie, cheat, steal, and kill with no seeming repercussions will be subject to justice in the true realm, the eternal heavenly realm.  At that time, each man/woman will receive justice at the hands of an immutable God who cannot be persuaded or bribed.

“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.  He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

Deuteronomy 10:17-18

Elihu, the fourth speaker in the book of Job, gave this comment about God and His justice:

“The Almighty–we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.  Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

Job 37:23-24

Christ will look at each person’s heart, and if it is not covered by His righteousness, that person, not being pure, will receive justice, but it will not be heaven.   Indeed, Saint Augustine said:

“Punishment is justice for the unjust.”

All mankind would receive punishment because all of us fail the test of righteousness because we are all corrupted by sin. 

But, for the believer in Jesus Christ, we do not need to fear God’s justice, rather we are covered by Jesus’ righteousness and we will be received into the presence of God as His child.  Then we will find comfort for all the wrongs done against us and against mankind.

“For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.  He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.”

Psalm 33:4-5

After hearing of the judgment that King Solomon rendered when two women both claimed to be the mother of a newborn baby, we read:

“And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.”

1 Kings 3:28

In speaking to the Pharisees about their misuse of the Old Testament law, Jesus said the following:

“”But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Luke 11:42

The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross.  If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus, he was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God.  If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross.  Here is where our astonishment should be focused.  …

The Cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God’s wrath. … With the concentrated load of sin [Jesus] carried, He became utterly repugnant to the Father.  God poured out His wrath on this obscene thing.  God’s holy justice perfectly manifest.  Yet it was done for us.  He took what justice demanded from us.  This “for us” aspect of the Cross is what displays the majesty of its grace.  At the same time justice and grace, wrath and mercy.  It is too astonishing to fathom.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 121-122

All will be judged and all will receive justice. This is a scary thought for one who truly knows his heart’s deceitfulness and is not a believer in Jesus Christ.  However, “for us”, those who rest in their faith in Christ, our judgment will be sheltered in Christ, and that we will be accepted by God through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. 

Look to the Lord, the Almighty Holy God.  He will bring justice to all mankind, in His time.  But we can be confident, whether we see justice now or not, that true and correct judgment will ultimately be rendered by our God.  Praise Him for this comfort and for this promise.  Rest in His love, Christian, and don’t be anxious about the injustice you see in the world.  It will pass away because God is victorious!

Next week we will consider the mercy of God, which is also present at the cross of Christ.

Father, I thank You that You execute justice according to Your providence and plan.  Enable me, through Your spirit, to do justice, and to love kindness, and help me to walk humbly before You, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

A STRAWBERRY AND ITS CORE

We were in Florida recently during the Strawberry Festival.  We were not intending to go during a festival time, rather we were visiting family.  But strawberries were everywhere!

Strawberry - with top
A strawberry — sweetness in one small package!

According to Wikipedia, the garden strawberry is a hybrid species of the genus Fragaria.  It is cultivated worldwide for its fruit.  The fruit, which scientifically speaking is not a botanical berry but an “aggregate accessory fruit”, is known and loved for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture and sweetness.  The article continues to say that the strawberry is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milkshakes and chocolates. 

All this is true, but the little berry is so much more than a typewritten description presents.  It quite simply is … yummy!

USED Chocolate covered strawberries
We enjoyed these chocolate covered strawberries while on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

We brought two flats of strawberries home so that I could make strawberry preserves and perhaps a pie or two.  In preparing the berries for their intended use, I discovered a number of things.

First, cutting the cap of the strawberry off and discarding the green leaves, results in having a great tasting berry, and it is fast.  But, you lose some of the “meat” of the berry. 

Second, as an alternative, you can pull the leaves off, which then leaves the stem.

Strawberry with stem and core
Strawberry with stem

Third.  Take your fingers and pull the stem out, which will then pull the core out.  Voila, you have the strawberry virtually intact! 

Fourth.  I found that this was much easier said than done.  The stem simply does not want to be pulled and the core really does not want to come out.  (I suppose there is some tool that you can use to “de-core” the strawberry, but I didn’t have one so I just pulled and twisted, etc.)

Fifth.  Once the core is removed, you are left with a tender strawberry — you can tell the core is gone because there is a hole in the center of the berry. (In the picture below, I must confess that I did not pull the stem out, I opted for cutting the top off to remove the core.)

Strawberry without core
Strawberry without the core.

As I looked at the strawberry with the hole where its core had been, my mind went to the story Jesus told of the man who was freed from demon possession.  The story is presented shortly after the Lord’s Prayer was given to the disciples and when the Jewish leaders were questioning Jesus’ ability to cast out demons.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26

How many times have I been going about my life ignoring the sins that I commit on a daily basis?  It may be pride, or gossip, or malice, or lies, or coveting, or all sorts of other things that I know are against God’s law and His will for my life.  I walk around as if I am fine – my life is full, I have my strawberry cap over my core, my heart – if asked about my spiritual life, I would say “Fine – I’m good.” 

Then, one day, I hear a sermon or read some scripture that the Holy Spirit uses to prick my heart to convict me of my sin.  I am ashamed and I ask the Lord to free me from that sin and I know that He will forgive. 1 John 1:9

Therefore, I repent and declare that I will no longer do this sin.  The sin is removed and my core, my heart, is clean through Jesus’ blood. My core that was filled with sin was clean and ready to be filled with spiritual food for power in a life with Christ. 

But I leave the core empty.  I don’t fill my heart with God’s Word; I don’t fill my heart with worship; I don’t fill my heart with fellowship with other believers; I don’t fill my heart with prayer.  I don’t replace sinful habits with godly ones; and, I forget that an empty core must be filled with something!  So it gradually fills up with the same sin that I had confessed … no difference.

One day God uses something to, once again, prick my conscience and I realize that not only have I committed the same sin over again, I now have other sins that have accompanied the former one … just like the man in Jesus’ story.

Strawberry - three contrasting stem and without
Strawberry Stages!

I wrote this post in the first person because I have experienced this cycle.  And, I can testify that He will cleanse you of the besetting sin.  Then He will point to the next sin that you need to repent of so that you can be free from that one as well.  For me, there are quite a few that He is pointing to – He is still working on me.  But I must be diligent to fill my core/heart with His Word and prayer, with His communion and fellowship with other believers, with relationships with godly men and women who will hold me accountable as I strive to grow in Christ.

Do you see yourself in this little strawberry story?  Look to the Lord.  Don’t let your heart be empty or available for sin to come back.  Fill the core of your being with God, with the graces that He gives to His children, with His Word and His love for others.  Avail yourself of the church, fellowship with other believers, spiritual mentors who can guide you in your spiritual growth.

Then be the clean strawberry, full of the fragrant aroma of a loving spirit, sweet to the taste from the sugar of the Lord’s love, beautiful in appearance because of the Spirit shining through your countenance. 

 

Father, I thank You for the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I thank You for the Spirit who convicts of sin and who enables me to be strong to resist falling back into sin.  I pray that I would be a sweet strawberry to those I meet and that interaction with me would point people to my Lord and Savior, in whose name I pray.