Attributes of God Part 7
God's Justice and Righteousness
When determining right from wrong, people have their own opinions. Without a standard, men and women begin to do what is right in their own eyes. My standard and yours at times are two separate things. And some people seem to have no standards at all, considering the amount of people who treat their fellow men with complete inhumanity. There is much inequity that takes place in this world. Further, some people who deserve to be punished for wrongdoing, seem to live good lives, while those who try to live righteously at times seem to get the short end of the stick. Life isn't fair.
But the world wasn't originally intended to be this way. Sin has marred all of life. Our God created a moral universe, characterized by justice and righteousness. As a matter of fact, justice ad righteousness are attributes of God. They are not things that are separate from God.Rather, they are fundamental to who He is.
I. Definition of Justice and Righteousness
When the Bible talks about the concepts of justice and righteousness it usually uses the Hebrew term "tsedek". Tsedek comes from a root word meaning stiff or straight. If we are talking in religious terms, it gives the idea of equity, fairness and impartiality. And when we use the word justice, it is the application of fairness to moral situations. A just judge, for instance, consistently does what is right and fair without partiality when judging an accused person. He doesn't favor the rich and powerful but treats rich and poor alike.
II. Justice and Righteousness Come From God
As we stated, justice and righteousness are central to God's character. There is no outside standard or criteria that He conforms to. He is infinitely just and righteous within Himself. God's perfect law comes from within His own nature. Consequently, anyone who is morally upright is so because he or she conforms to His standards and His laws. And anyone who doesn't conform to God's standards is, by definition, unrighteous and unjust.
In speaking of God, Psalm 89:14 tells us that:
"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Loving-kindness and truth go before You."
God governs His universe fairly and justly. He is always does what is right in His dealings with the creatures that He has created. In Deuteronomy 32;3,4 Moses says of God:
"The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; without injustice. Righteous and upright is He."
In the Lord's judgement He can never clear the guilty, nor can He condemn the innocent. He is the only perfect judge, and will one day mete out justice to everyone.
III. God's Justice and Righteousness Versus Man's Injustice and Unrighteousness
Unlike our God, man is unrighteous and unjust. Because of one man, Adam, sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). Now all men are born in sin. None of us has lived up to the righteous standards which flow naturally from God. We learn in Psalm 53:3 that "there is no human being that does good, not even one." A just God cannot tolerate even a hint of unrighteousness. Anyone who stands before Him must be 100% righteous or cannot hope to have a relationship with Him.
That is the dilemma. God who is righteous, cannot look upon sin. We who are unrighteous cannot ever be anything else on our own but sinful. Even our best deeds are not adequate to stand before a holy and just God. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments. So how can God's righteousness come to man? How can man become righteous before God? The answer is in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. Jesus Satisfies God's Justice and Brings God's Righteousness to Mankind
Jesus, the righteous Son of God, had to become man. He took our sins upon Himself so that man can become righteous like God (II Corinthians 5:21). We deserved death and eternal separation from a holy and just God. Through faith in Christ God's justice is satisfied because Christ took our punishment for sin upon Himself. His death was accepted by God the Father and so we can now be accepted. In the sight of God we are righteous, like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And one day we will be totally free from the very presence of sin.
The more we get to know our God, the more that we will start to understand the importance of His righteousness and justice. God cannot do anything unrighteous and cannot look upon unrighteousness. And He hates injustice. If we love the Lord, it should make us want to live righteously and to treat one another justly. None of us is capable of doing this on our own, so we need the righteousness that comes through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a wonderful thing to know that, in the end, all of the inequities of this life will once and for all be taken care of by the God of the universe, for He cannot allow inequities to stand. Justice will triumph in the end. And it is also wonderful that nothing that the Christian does for the glory of the Lord will ever be forgotten and unrewarded. For the God of justice and righteousness will reward those who faithfully serve Him. We truly serve a magnificent and wonderful Lord!