A West Texas reader responds to my comment that God forgives repentant people who do not conform precisely to his commands. “Is that really just?” he asked.
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Yours is a most perceptive question which takes us to the very heart of the gospel. For without considering what God has done in Jesus Christ, the answer must be an emphatic “No!” We do not deserve God’s kindness and we never will. No one who is finally saved will receive “justice” based on his or her own performance. Yet the “good news” of the gospel is that God gives us sinners what we do not deserve. He treats us in a way that is not “just” — viewed only as between God and us, and apart from Jesus Christ.
Paul sums up these very points in Romans 3:23-26 when he writes that: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness . . . that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
In Jesus Christ, justice and mercy, two ancient and apparently-irreconcilable adversaries, meet — in broad daylight, for all the world to see! The perfectly just God of the universe now looks at sinners who deserve to be destroyed, and He forgives and embraces them instead. Yet, despite this apparently immoral act of universal proportions, even Satan himself cannot impugn God’s character, because of the perfect “doing” and “dying” of that Man on the middle cross. Thus is God simultaneously just, and the justifier of everyone who relies on Jesus Christ for right standing with the Father.