Monday, July 20, 2015

How Can God Be Both Loving And Just?


It would seem that love and justice are incompatible.

If God is just, He must punish sin.

But if He is loving, He would forgive sin.

How can He be both?

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

These attributes of God are not contradictory.

He is both absolutely just and unconditionally loving.

Each of these characters of God complements the other.

God is “justly holy” and “holy just”.

His justice is administered in love, and His love is distributed justly.

God is the author of all good and people have the free will to follow Him or separate from Him.

God is completely righteous and morally perfect (Psalm 18:30).

"God acts mercifully, not indeed by going against his justice, but by doing something more than justice; thus a man who pays another two hundred pieces of money, though owing him only one hundred, does nothing against justice, but acts liberally or mercifully."
St. Thomas Aquinas

He always does what is right—there is no “darkness” in God, not the smallest speck of imperfection (1 John 1:5).

God Himself is the standard for what is right, good, and moral.

But if God is perfectly righteous, then anything that falls short of said perfection is sinful, and every human being who has ever lived, since Adam’s fall from grace, has committed sin (Romans 3:23).

Because Adam sinned, the entire human race now has a sinful nature (Romans 5:12).

But people do not go to hell because of Adam’s sin; they go to hell because of their own sin, which they freely choose (James 1:13–16).

If someone chooses to live a life separate from Him, they have chosen to separate themselves from the provider of all that is good.

In this world that is not always an observable condition, for God has extended a blessing for all based upon His promises and His longsuffering.

When you leave this life behind and you've chosen to separate yourself from God, He will not violate your free will either.

The only difference is that you are now going to eternally exist in that chosen state.

If you choose to be separate from everything that is good, then what will you have left?

What kinds of options are open to you if any good thing isn't one of them?

Man chooses to suffer in eternal torment because he chooses to reject God and all His goodness.

If you have nothing that is good (no rest, no comfort, and no peace) then eternal torment is your only option.

He has given us His written word to point the way.

God is also merciful.

The perfect example of God’s love and justice is the cross.

In His rich mercy, God made a way for sinners to avoid the punishment of hell by trusting in the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16).

God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins because of His love, so that His justice could be satisfied and His love released. (Romans 6:23)

When Christ died for our sins, the Just suffered for the unjust so that He might bring us to God. (Romans 5:8) (1 Peter 3:18) (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“The case is the same with one who pardons an offense committed against him, for in remitting it he may be said to bestow a gift. Hence the apostle [Paul] calls remission a forgiving: "Forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven you" (Eph 4:32). Hence it is clear that mercy does not destroy justice, but in a sense is the fullness thereof. Thus it is said, "Mercy exalts itself above judgment" (Jas 2:13).”
Summa Theologiae I:21:3

For Christians, the penalty of sin has been removed and placed upon Christ on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

Because of the sacrifice of Christ, God is still just—the sin is punished—yet He is also merciful to all who believe.

We may rest assured that no one will suffer in hell who could by any means have been won to Christ in this life. God leaves no stone unturned to rescue all who would respond to the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit.
Dave Hunt

God’s justice demands that sin be punished.

But His love compels Him to save sinners.

So by Christ’s death for us His justice is satisfied and His love released.

There is no contradiction between His absolute justice and unconditional love, thanks to Christ’s sacrifice.

“God is like the judge who, after passing out the punishment to the guilty defendant, laid aside his robe, stood alongside the convicted, and paid the fine for him. Jesus did the same for us on Calvary. Surely justice and mercy kissed at the cross.”
Norman Geisler

We know that God's attributes work harmoniously.

The idea that justice and love conflict, is the result of the attributes being defined in isolation from one another.

In other words, in order to understand justice, we need to understand God's love.

In order to understand His love, we need to understand His justice.

"Justice means that love must always be shown, whether or not a situation of immediate need presents itself in pressing and vivid fashion. Love in the biblical sense, then, is not merely to indulge someone near at hand. Rather, it inherently involves justice as well. This means there will be a concern for the ultimate welfare of all humanity, a passion to do what is right, and enforcement of appropriate consequences for wrong action. Actually, love and justice have worked together in God's dealing with the human race. God's justice requires that there be payment of the penalty for sin. God's love, however, desires humans to be restored to fellowship with him. The offer of Jesus Christ as the atonement for sin means that both the justice and the love of God have been maintained,"

Millard Erickson.

This is Good God Questions Monday. A series dedicated to those good, and difficult, questions about God, universe, life, sin, Christ, love, and everything related.

Why is it so important to answer questions about God?

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
1 Peter 3:15

Even little children can ask tough question, but there are good answers for all of them. The Bible exhorts us to find them and give them.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:6

This post is based on the book “How Made God? And Answer To Over 100 Other Tough Questions Of Faith” by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler.

The First Monday we wondered:

The Second Monday we wondered:

The Third Monday we wondered:


The Fourth Monday we wondered:


The Fifth Monday we wondered:


The sixth Monday we wondered:


The seventh Monday we wondered:


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