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Ethics: Justice & Being Just

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This is the 5th in a 9-part series on Christian Ethics.

 

The Bible has a great deal to say about the issue of corruption, specifically when it discusses the idea of Justice.Throughout both the Old and New Testaments the Bible condemns all forms of bribery and requires that those who would call themselves Christian must be people who are free of corruption—we must be a justpeople.

 

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionarydefines justice as “the practice of what is right and just” in both law and relationships. God’s justice is defined as his “fair and impartial treatment of all people.” Therefore, Justice,in the biblical sense is that quality of relationship whereby we deal equitably and morally with all people in all circumstances without showing partiality or favoritism. 

 

Justice requires that evil be punished and good be rewarded. Yet we often find that we are capable of both evil and good at the same time. Therefore, how are our lives to be rightly judged? Because no person is fully good, God would be just to condemn every person. Yet he has instead chosen to give some a salvation of eternal life.

 

In this study we will look at God’s character of justice, and learn how we can become more like our Just Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

God, the Just God

 

Justice is the practice of all that is right and just. God’s character is just; this means that God always practices what is right and just.

 

"Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).

 

"Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice" (Job 34:12).

 

"To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice" (Proverbs 21:3).

 

We’ve seen in previous studies that God character is always true, faithful, good, and righteous. God’s good character is always perfectly dependable. Thus when God judges a person, or takes action to discipline us, we can know that he always acts rightly, with justice.

 

How do you sometimes view the actions of others? When you see wrong in others, do you see the same traits in yourself?

 

Justice according to the Bible is that which is fair and impartial. The Bible describes God as “no respecter of persons.” This means that God does not show favoritism or partiality.

 

"You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:15).

 

"You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. "You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 16:19-20).

 

"…and said to the judges, "Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. "Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes" (II Chronicles 19:6-7).

 

"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34).

 

"For there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11).

 

God evaluates or judges all people equally and fairly according to the same standards. He does not have one standard of behavior for different people, nations, or cultures. He does not show favoritism based upon behavior or nationality. God judges all people by the standard of his character, and acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ.

 

Sometimes we want special treatment because of things we have done, or not done. Yet everyone at sometime believes they deserve special treatment. Describe ways this is right or wrong in your view.

 

Should a person receive special treatment such as eternal life if they have lived a moral life, but rejected God’s only Son as their Savior?

 

God’s justice is also his fair and righteous judgment whereby he condemns some people for their sin, and he forgives others.

 

"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy…What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:14-16, 22-24).

 

"And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments" (Revelation 16:7).

 

As the only righteous and just judge, God has the right to judge whether we will be condemned or receive eternal life. What responsibility do you think this truth requires of you?

 

Jesus, the Just Savior

 

Jesus practiced all that was right and just. As the image of the invisible God, all of Jesus’ thoughts, feelings, and actions were always right and just.

 

"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30).

 

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:15, 19-20).

 

Since Jesus Christ is the Son of God in human form, the very nature and character of God are found in him. Jesus is the perfect reflection of God’s behavior toward man.

 

Though it would be right and just for God to condemn us for our sin, Jesus instead chose to take our punishment on the cross. How do you think this was just?

 

Jesus Christ judged all men fair and impartially. He never showed favoritism in judgment to anyone. Jesus was able to judge justly because he saw what was in the hearts of men.

 

"But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25).

 

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:21-26)

 

It is impossible to deceive or persuade the Lord Jesus to do something that is unjust or wrong. Since he knows all things, and sees the hearts of men, he cannot be fooled or negotiated with. He therefore judges us according to all that is true about us.

 

Think about your life, experiences, and behavior. How do you think that God judges your life? Will God judge you based upon your behavior or upon Jesus’ behavior?

 

Since Jesus is the Just Savior, he is also the Just Judge. He has the authority to condemn those who reject him, and he has the authority to forgive those who embrace him.

 

"Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentile" (Matthew 12:18).

 

"Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind" (John 9:39).

 

"For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:22-23).

 

"…in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel" (Romans 2:16).

 

"I charge you herefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom" (II Timothy 4:1).

 

Though Jesus came as our Savior to take the penalty for our sins on the cross, he is also our judge. Since he took our penalty for us, he has the right to determine who will receive the salvation that he purchased on our behalf.

 

How have you responded to the payment Jesus made for your sin?

 

Becoming a Just Person

 

We can know we are living in a right relationship with God, and that we reflect his character in us when we act justly toward others.

 

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).

 

"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29).

 

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).

 

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (I Peter 1:14-19).

 

 A sign that we have a right relationship with God is that our behavior is changing and conforming to his moral character. When we seek to do justice because we understand that God is a just God, then we demonstrate our commitment to knowing his ways and obeying him.

 

Does your character always reflect that of Jesus Christ? What changes do you need to make to your life to become more of a just person like the Lord Jesus?

 

The scripture commands that we love one another and love our enemies, but it also insists that we judge all things rightly, without favoritism.

 

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28)

 

Since God has shown us mercy without favoritism or partiality—meaning that he has shown us mercy based upon his grace and not our good or bad deeds—he insists that we also treat others the same.

 

How can your behavior be like the Lord Jesus’ in your relationship to others?

 

Offering others the good news about Jesus is a way of showing God’s fairness. How can you demonstrate who Christ is to others?

 

Since God, through the Lord Jesus will judge all men rightly and fairly, we must evaluate ourselves right to see if we have a right relationship with God.

 

The scripture teaches that certain people are condemned to eternal punishment while other people are blessed with eternal life. The basis of judging whether we are condemned or saved rests solely on receiving the free gift of salvation from our sins paid for by the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross.

 

Have you received Jesus’ payment for your sins?