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The Justice of God

Much is being said these days about “bringing them to justice,” meaning to capture, try and punish those who have committed acts of terrorism or unlawful deeds. Such criminals will be tried according to the laws of man.

There is an even greater justice by which everyone in the world must be judged. God declares that standard of justice to be nothing less than His own perfection—His own sinlessness. Since God also declares that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” it means that every man, woman and child is guilty before Him and subject to the pronounced penalty of eternal separation from God in hell. We need to know, “How then can man be justified with God?” (Job 25:4), for until a soul knows what it is to be justified, he can have no real peace.

In man’s courts of law, only those proven innocent can be justified or proclaimed “not guilty.” The good news for mankind in God’s tribunal is that God has found a way to justify the guilty, “ungodly” sinner. 

A God of love wants to forgive sinners, but a God of holiness must punish sin and uphold His righteous law. How can God be both “just” and the “Justifier” (Romans 3:26)? The answer is in Jesus Christ. When Jesus suffered the wrath of God upon the cross for the sins of the world, He fully met the demands of God’s holiness, and also fully expressed the love of God’s heart.

Since the shed blood of Christ has met all of God’s claims, every sinner—the moment he/she believes—stands invested with all its infinite value and is justified by God. This means that God declares the believing sinner “not guilty!” More than this, He reckons that one to be righteous on the basis of the finished, substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Justification is God’s answer to the faith of him that believes in Jesus. When one is justified, his relationship with God is changed from being a con-demned sinner to a redeemed saint.

Justification is an act of God, once-for-all-forever. There are no degrees
of justification. Justification does not mean that God makes one righteous or sinless, but that He reckons the believer to be righteous on the basis of the work of the Saviour. It is not a change wrought by God in the believer or the bestowal of a quality upon him. Justification is God’s accounting one who believes His Word as to sin and Christ to be righteous or justified.

Scripture never says that the righteousness of God is put upon anyone, for that is a divine attribute which cannot be imputed. Nor are we given Christ’s righteousness, for God does not reckon the righteous life of Christ to the believer. It is not Christ’s life, but His death as the sinless Substiture that enables God to declare one just.

Therefore, in either justifying the repentant sinner or condemning the unbeliever, the justice of God is upheld to His glory.