The Knowledge of the Holy: The Justice of God
[Editor’s Note: This is a 23-Day Series exploring different aspects of God’s nature and personality, using Tozer’s “The Knowledge of the Holy” as a discussion starter. You can read the introduction of the series here.]
We all want a God who gives us our fair share and protects us from who would wrong us. We also deeply want a God who forgives us for the evil that we participate in. And if we have a bad view of God, one who is injust, we will either be terrified of God because of the wrong we have done or we will attempt to take advantage of Him for the forgiving God that He is. Either way, at the end of the day, only by understanding God as a God of justice will we relate to God as He truly is.
To understand God’s justice, we first have to understand that righteousness and justice are the same thing. God is just because He is righteous in all He does. Psalmists and prophets of the Old Testament called out to God to judge the world and when they did they made an appeal to God to make the whole world right again. Justice, as Tozer tells us, contains the idea of moral equity. God’s judgments (and therefore His justice) are His way of setting the world right.
Tozer is also faithful to point out where we have elevated someone or something above God. He takes aim at the places where we have constrained God and said “he must do such and such because it’s just.” And it’s in this place where we have made justice something God is bound to. God is not bound to justice. Justice is bound up in God. Justice is the way God does things. Its part of His nature that we have learned and applied to things, but nothing is just if it isn’t found in God. God acts the way He acts, and we on the outside view that and call it justice.
All of this talk of justice, of God acting just all the time, could be used to persuade us that God is only just and never merciful. It can produce a kind of fear of God that would dread Him but never run to Him, that is to say, an unbiblical kind of fear of God. But God’s justice is never at odds with His mercy. To quote Tozer “goodness without justice is not goodness.” And whenever God acts justly, He is also acting with mercy. No more clearly is this seen than in the cross of Jesus. Justice was done and mercy was given, but neither justice nor mercy was diminished. Both attributes of God’s nature are in full force simultaneously manifested without the least bit of contradiction. And the result was the justification of you and I.
And this is where I feel like the real meat of our discussion is today. God is just and He makes just decisions. So many today say things like “only God can judge me” or “judge not, lest you be judged,” and in the ultimate sense these statements are true. But they tare an attempt to escape God’s judgment and treat Him as if He is not just. They treat Him as if He does not see sin or as if the sin doesn’t matter to Him. But sin matters deeply to God. It cost Him you. It cost Him His son. It’s not a light thing. So we must tremble before God. We must believe that He really takes this issue called iniquity very seriously.
And yet simultaneously, we cannot run away from God because we have sin. The justice of God is most fully displayed in the death of His son. He crushed sin in His Son to draw us closer to Him. How awful would it be to know remorse for your sin but to hate it so much you never received its cure?! In Jesus we have both Judge and Attorney. He helps us and vindicates us. And our victory over sin is never accomplished until we run to the judge who will stand in our place for us.
So acknowledge today both the places where you have treated sin lightly and where you haven’t run to Your judge with Your sin. If you deal with both issues, You will find a just God who gives mercy. And in that place, we find freedom.
That’s my takeaway today. What’s yours? Leave a comment so we can all grow together!
Day 16: The Goodness of God
Day 17: The Justice of God
Day 18: The Mercy of God
Day 19: The Grace of God
Day 20: The Love of God
Day 21: The Holiness of God
Day 22: The Sovereignty of God
Day 23: The Open Secret