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Faith in Focus: Longing for justice and in need of mercy
Faith in Focus

Faith in Focus: Longing for justice and in need of mercy

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In recent months, our nation and even the world have been captivated with issues of justice. People the world over have taken to the streets crying out for justice to be done. When a wrong has been committed, or at least perceived to have been committed, there is an innate desire in every human heart for justice that demands the wrong somehow be put right.

These cries for justice are another reminder that we are living in a world where unjust acts are committed every single day. This situation is not how it was when the world began, made by our just and loving Creator as a world that was very good (Genesis 1:31). But when humanity rebelled against God, then humanity and the world were plunged into a fallen condition in which evil and unjust acts are committed.

Adam and Eve disobeyed their Creator, and unjustly blamed one another, and even God, for their wrongdoing (Genesis 3:12-13). Cain unjustly murdered his brother Abel and pretended to know nothing about it as Abel’s blood cried to God for justice from the ground (Genesis 4:10). Lamech unjustly retaliated against a young man who wounded him by murdering him (Genesis 4:23). This world continued to degenerate to the point that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” and “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. (Genesis 6:5).

Where was justice in such a world? Where was the God of justice? He was always there patiently enduring and sustaining the world until the time He appointed to enact his justice. And for the world that then was, God brought sweeping justice through the waters of the flood to wash away the wicked from off the face of the earth.

God, the just judge of all the earth, brought justice. And yet at the same time, he showed mercy to eight people: the family of Noah. They were not without sin, but God did not give them what their sins deserved. Instead, he preserved them that the world may continue on as he planned. And to restrain the world from degenerating to the degree of wickedness as before the flood, God instated governing authorities to bring about a measure of justice in this fallen world.

As the Apostle Paul states in Romans 13:3-4, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Governing authorities in this world are to act justly and with equity.

But as we are all aware, ever since the days of Noah through to today, many governing authorities themselves act unjustly. Consider David, the great king of Israel, who abused his kingly authority to commit the evil acts of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). Or consider King Herod, who abused his authority in slaughtering hundreds of infants in his murderous envy of the child Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18). In this fallen world, even those who are charged with enacting justice sometimes act unjustly.

So where is justice in our world? And where is the God of justice? He is still here patiently enduring and sustaining the world. In his kindness, sometimes justice does come in this fallen world through the means of governing authorities and the rule of law. Sometimes God brings about his poetic justice presently in our world apart from such means (Esther 7:7-10 and Acts 12:20-24). But sometimes in this fallen world, justice is imperfectly applied and injustice remains.

But a day is coming when all wrongs will be made right and perfect justice will be enacted by the perfect Judge. For God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). This man is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is just and true and is the searcher of hearts and minds. When he returns to the earth from heaven, he will righteously judge everyone who has ever lived, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”. (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Jesus will usher in a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no injustice. Those who are “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murders, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars,” will be justly judged by Christ and not be allowed to enter this new world. Instead, “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

But who among us can stand before the scrutiny of such a just Judge, who knows not only all of our words and actions, but even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts? Who can claim to be blameless before the One who knows every careless word we have uttered and every angry or lustful imagination? None can stand. So, what hope can we have?

Our only hope we can have on the day of just judgment is in the just Judge who is also a merciful Savior. Knowing our plight and refusing to compromise his justice, God made a way for guilty unjust people to be shown mercy. How? Through the work of his Son, Jesus, willingly taking the just punishment for the sins of all who put their faith in him.

In this way, God’s justice is satisfied, and repentant believing sinners can receive mercy. God worked this marvelous salvation through his Son, so “that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). As you long for justice, do you also know the just mercy of Christ?

Pastor John Miller is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle.

Pastor John Miller is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle.

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