Justice and Mercy

I’ve recently been reading The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul with my Wednesday night bible study guys, and we’ve all been challenged to think more deeply and hold with higher reverence the holiness of our God.

Last night we had a very healthy discussion about God’s justice and mercy, which I found very humbling. Below are some of the main points I took from the reading and our discussion.

  • The Old Testament law is one of astonishing mercy, not injustice from a malicious God. How could this be? He’s always killing people in the OT – men, women, and children!
  • “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezek. 18:4). The penalty for sin, from the beginning, has been death. The right to life is forfeited by sin. Every act of sin is treason against an infinite, holy, and just God. The appropriate response to this treason is death. Yet here we are eating, sleeping, working, breathing, carrying on. How could a just God allow rebels, who have defamed His perfect name, to go on living??
  • Mercy. God is full of justice and mercy. We live and breathe and eat only by His mercy, because He allows us to. This merciful patience is designed to lead us to repentance. “The most mysterious aspect of the mystery of sin is not that the sinner deserves to die, but rather that the sinner in the average situation continues to exist.”
  • Our tendency, however, is to feel entitled to God’s mercy and grace. Entitled. As if He owed us a good life. As if grace and mercy is something anyone can deserve! The nature of grace and mercy is that we DON’T deserve them! When we talk about “deserving” something, we’re talking about justice – something earned. So, when things don’t go our way, we feel that God is being unjust in not giving us mercy.
  • If ever anyone would have had the “right” to complain about “injustice” it was Jesus. He lived a perfect life, yet what did he receive? The most violent display of wrath and justice the world will ever know – the Cross. If we should be outraged, it should be with the Cross.
  • But for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross. His sacrifice sets before us the same joy. What mercy! Rebels redeemed by the justice and mercy of the Cross! What an intersection, what unfathomable love! When there was no way – when justice demanded death – God made a way, through mercy, by murdering His perfect and innocent Son in our place – cleansing us of our sins AND giving us right standing before God.

Should we be outraged at the Cross? Absolutely.

Outraged that it was not us.

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