Several weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled “Christians: WAKE UP!!”. It was a pretty direct and pretty firm expose on the present-day “brick and mortar” church condition, most notably in the United States. I followed it with “But What About Hope?” and then “But What About Grace?” both articles that were exploring the attributes and foundations of our walk with the Lord as it relates to our spiritual journey. I thought it only appropriate to follow-up with an article on God’s Justness. Now you might be asking, why did/do I call it Justness and not Justice?
I did feel conflicted, for just a minute, mainly because the word justness is not in the least bit common, whereas, justice is well-known. BUT, God, our Heavenly Father IS a Just God and the best description is the noun Justness. Just like Grace and Hope are nouns describing an aspect of His Character, so is Just-ness!
Here, for some contextual reference is a simple definition:
The quality or state of being just and unbiased:
detachment, disinterest, disinterestedness, dispassion, dispassionateness, equitableness, fair-mindedness, fairness, impartiality, impartialness, justice, nonpartisanship, objectiveness, objectivity.
*The American Heritage® Roget’s Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
God IS love. Those who “believe” in God know this to be true; some may question; but if you are a Christian, you don’t just believe, you KNOW this to be undeniable. I don’t mean the world’s idea of love, or even the theological “mumble jumble” that passes for what some THINK love is. Yes, I know, I have taught on this subject many times, besides, this was supposed to be about a Just God, right?
First, let’s lay a foundation for which to build upon God’s Just Character. What is the Character of real love? We know the results of love given; we know it is more than just a feeling as some believe, for there is a real cause and effect to true love given, but what, if any, are its attributes; what makes up real love and especially Godly, Agape Love?
Now, let me ask another question; have you ever considered or thought about what justness, or true Godly justness is? Justice perhaps such as your mind conjures up concerning crime and punishment maybe? It’s usually the first thought that comes to mind. Sounds like a famous piece of classic literature, but still not what can be described as Godly Justness.
Our Heavenly Father’s justness or His JUST character is said to be neither swayed by passion or the change of His “mood or behavior.” It is unwavering and true, regardless of circumstances going on in the natural or spiritual realms. Deuteronomy 32:3-4, “For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Also as an attribute, an absolute aspect of His nature, His justness is shown in the pursuit of what is right and reasonable and not disposed or inclined to seeking revenge for wrongs done. In other words, as the Scripture’s state in James 1:16-17, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (Bold emphasis, mine).
So many of the Characteristics, Attributes and the very Nature of God are intertwined, but we need to remember that we ourselves are an image, be it an imperfect image, because of our carnality, but an image none-the-less of God, our Heavenly Father, Himself. Many of the attributes and character traits we have are a direct “seeding” from God Himself. We have the capacity to attain greater attributes than what our characters display, but only because sinfulness has held us back from who we are truly meant to be. Thankfully, because of the Atonement of Christ Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to push towards that higher calling and become more and more like Christ Himself and, justness in our character, is one of those attributes. The problem with our carnality is that by ourselves we often allow our passions, mood and our temperament to sway us. But the same love that makes God Who He is, resides within us, and if we can “practice” that kind of loving, the very essences that make up Godly Love can be expressed in our relationships with one another and those around us.
There would be and is no Godly Love without Godly Justness or Justice, for as Love is an action relating to others, so Justice is a part (or essence) of that very Love that is also an action in our relationships with one another and especially as God’s Justness applies and relates to us as His children.
Because God’s Justness has no partiality and He doesn’t let mood or behavior determine what is right and just, His Justice towards us is a part of His Love in action. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t just for the atonement of some men, but for ALL mankind, and sometimes we as Christians tend to forget that. Isaiah 45:21b-22, “Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
Therefore, as our Heavenly Father loves ALL and shows no partiality in that love, so it is in the dispensing of His Justice! Whether we receive God’s Justice through His Love though, is a choice that He still allows us to make individually. We will ALL be judged, not just some, but with what ESSENCE of His Character that judgement is applied is and always will be an individual choice.
Now we can’t speak of justness OR justice, without also taking into consideration the penalties for those situations or actions that are unjust. Justice, true impartial justice cannot be justice without some sort of reparations to atone for the “injustices” that we do with our actions. We need to understand that injustice in the eyes of God IS sin and it is abhorrent beyond what we can comprehend, so we NEED to realize that to God, there is no excuse from sin. This is where God’s love can be seen in its full capacity.
We must realize, though most everybody is familiar with the Ten Commandments, that God gave the children of Israel through Moses, those ten commandments as more or less the “headings” for many, many more laws that God gave them. Thankfully, Jesus Himself, condensed them all so that anyone and everyone can understand them; Love God, Love your neighbor and under these are ALL the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40).
First, I must preface this discussion on penalties in conjunction with justice with this thought that you may or may not have heard me speak/write of many times before; we all to some degree or another place God, or our concept of God into a box. A box being the concept of God or His Character and/or nature with which we can feel comfortable in considering. Some boxes are big, just as big as our understanding or conception can be, while other boxes may be a bit smaller, depending upon the size of our faith and imagination. Whatever size, they are boxes none-the-less, little compartments in which we can justify our understanding of Who He is.
This in part is based upon our spiritual maturity, which in no way makes one individual less or greater than another, it only reflects our relationship, our faith at one point or another and our understanding; and realize this, spiritual maturity has absolutely nothing to do with physical age. I have personally seen and had a relationship with young people who had not long given their lives over to the Lord who had more understanding of God than I did at a more mature physical age! This is why we can ALWAYS learn from others no matter a person’s natural age.
What I want to share with you may ask you to “increase” the size of that box, (if not to take Him out altogether) so I ask you to take what I am about to share with spiritual openness, prayer AND meditation and reflection. So with that in mind, I first want to offer you what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:33-39, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Bold emphasis mine).
Now before I am accused of taking this Scripture out of context, the point I am making is not only for those who chose NOT to accept Christ’s gift of redemption, but also for those that have. You see, what I have emphasized in bold is the spiritual PRINCIPLE that the Apostle is writing about. It is the impartial principle to not only those who claim to be disciples of Christ, but the principle is to ALL men, without partiality.
In simplest terms, this Living Word is telling us that it IS God Who justifies AND His love is forever to ALL, no exceptions. The thing we must, must, must not fail to understand or to confuse, is God’s forever, unconditional love goes unbreakably with His “Just-ness.” You can’t have Agape Love (Godly, unconditional) without God’s Justness also applied to everyone equally. If our Heavenly Father demonstrated partiality, then it wouldn’t be Agape Love AND He wouldn’t BE the Character of LOVE Himself.
The other thing is this, and it is a great part of His love for all; if He chose NOT to let mankind have the freedom to choose their destiny, if He chose to ignore those who reject Him and decide not to give them the same justice He applies to all, then He in essence would be negating man’s ability to choose. This can start getting into the realm of what some theologians term, “predestination” and I don’t want to confuse anyone, just suffice it to say that God NEVER takes away a person’s chance to choose their path or their eternity for themselves!
You see, when man chooses to disregard the gift that He so graciously offers, they are saying, in essence, I will trust in myself, I don’t need a relationship with You (God) as my Heavenly Father and, I refuse communion with You! Do NOT confuse God’s desire for communion, with man’s choice to not have it. Remember back in the Garden when God went looking for Adam (He knew where He was already), He was demonstrating to Adam and to us through the written Word that His willingness to commune hadn’t changed one bit, but it was Adam who chose to hide, due to his shame, yet none-the-less, he still chose to not commune with God as had been normal up to that point. Can you imagine for just a moment how things might have been, if despite Adam’s disobedience, he didn’t choose to hide from his Father, but rather greeted God the next day as usual but with a repentant heart and not trying to run from his sin. Yes, this was all part of God’s overall plan, (predestined you could say, in this regard by God) based upon man’s ability to exercise the freedom to choose, and thus bring about His Son’s sacrifice so that man could retain the ability to choose his own way, or God’s way!
The point is that our Heavenly Father had to demonstrate justness with Adam and Eve, or HIS Word and Character would be a lie, and as we know from Scripture, there is no shadow or falsehood in or with God, as the Apostle James has written! (James 1:17). Despite our Heavenly Father’s sadness, His willingness to continue to commune with Adam hadn’t changed, for His LOVING hadn’t changed towards Adam. The only thing that changed was the WAY He had to implement His justice towards Adam and Eve! He therefore cast Adam and Eve out of this perfect Garden, but He still didn’t stop loving them and didn’t stop wanting to have a relationship with them which included communion!
So it is with mankind today; God is still demonstrating His willingness to commune with His creation, and He is still actively demonstrating His love for each and every one of us! But — because He does love us more than we can comprehend, he also honors our decisions and our ability to choose, whether it is to choose Him and His Way, or ourselves and the path of self-centeredness.
So, what does this mean for those who reject Him? First, I won’t get into a debate about Hell or the “Lake of Fire” or such. I will however add this; if you choose to reject God, He will honor your wish and allow you into a place where there is neither light, nor the presence of His love, even the minutest amount and I firmly believe THAT is why there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth as the Scriptures foretell. Even in the worst places on this earth, there is still a glimpse of light and a glimmer of God’s Love because He allows His presence to be everywhere EXCEPT in the presence of sin! So, there ARE consequences to our unjust ways and the choices we make, and the Bible is full of those examples. The thing we need to remember is, that the consequences are a matter of our own choosing and God Almighty will continue to honor those choices. He WILL continue to love you despite your rejection of His Love and His willingness to commune with mankind.
Here’s the thing and here’s where I need you to “stretch” your faith a bit; if man does not want to commune with God Almighty as Father, God will honor that and those who make that choice WILL be separated from His presence, (He will be forever aware of them, but THEY will not be aware of or sense Him), and those that have accepted His plan of redemption and atonement for mankind WILL forever be IN His presence, in the presence of LOVE Eternal. God, though, NEVER stops loving those that have made their choice, BUT, being a just AND loving God, He must honor their wishes, and even though God continues to love them (actively honoring their wishes for all eternity), those that have made a choice to deny God and His love, will never sense, feel, or experience God’s love and they will be separated because of their choices from wherever God’s love could be sensed. That is justice AND love in action!!
Wait a second you might exclaim! That’s not a loving God, that’s a vengeful God! No, that’s a God who is impartially just and loving in action. That is the power of what we call freedom of choice; we are still to the very point of separation, truly masters of our own destiny! That is why it should cut us to the core of our spirit if any, of their own free will, reject such an awesome and gracious gift. He, as God, will ALWAYS love, no matter the circumstance, but we as free souls may not always sense that Love OR His Light, if we choose to reject His plan for our destiny. God’s justness demands we have the right to choose! God’s love sees that justice is applied!
Now whether you call that Hell or the Abyss or utter darkness, I truly believe it will be worse on the person who rejects God’s love than anything we can even comprehend and the fact of the matter is, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9. God Almighty does all He can to make sure every person born has an opportunity to freely make that choice and this is why so many have a hard time reconciling a God of Love with a God of Justice. The two traits go hand in hand, and you cannot have one without the other!
As the Apostle stated in Romans 8:34 as quoted above, God’s Justness is found in the Christ who is ever interceding on behalf of those who have accepted His gracious gift, for we all still fall and stumble at times, but Jesus Christ IS our JUST Advocate, our Intercessor, our Helper before our Heavenly Father for the restoration and maintenance of our relationship WITH the Father! He bore the pain of that separation from His Father on the Cross at the moment mankind’s sinfulness, past, present and future, entered into Him. He BECAME sin in our stead for ALL our transgressions. He BECAME our penalty, the price we would have to pay for our injustices and unrighteousness. See Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.
I have stated this old cliché often, “you can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” and that is why our Heavenly Father shares with us in His Word His ability to love so unconditionally. In that love, and with the understanding that His justness is a part of that love, we have hope, literally a hope eternal AND as that old Hymn says, a “Blessed Assurance!” We can speak of the consequences of making bad choices, but how much more appealing to share the Father’s willingness to want a relationship with all His creation and His willingness and ability to love each and every one of us no matter what? Besides, I would much rather love out of gratitude and desire than out of fear and force!
In closing, consider these words from the Beloved John as found in his Epistle, 1 John 4:17-19, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”
Fear involves torment, and if there is no fear in love then it stands to reason, that there is no love in fear. If you fear what eternity holds in store, then you haven’t been perfected in LOVE. To be perfected in love, you go to the source of love, the ONE Who is Love. He wants that relationship with you, and He already loves you. The sooner you realize this in your spirit, the sooner you truly start to live! Now THAT is Godly Justness in action!!
Revelation 15:3b, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!”