Salvation is such a rich and full mystery - beyond our full comprehension here in this life. How God could become at once the Just and the Justifier...solving the greatest dilemma in the whole Bible.
In Proverbs, we are told that a judge who does not punish the wicked is wicked himself. How then can God call a sinner righteous and still be perfectly just? In Christianity today, there is a great lack of understanding of who God is and what righteousness means. Contrary to popular belief, God cannot just "overlook" our sin because He loves us or because He is "kind and loving". Let me give you an example...
Think of the person/people you love the most in the world...now picture coming home to find that person has been brutally murdered and the murderer is still standing there. You would be so overcome with rage and grief, your desire would be to kill him right then and there. But, at the last second, you come to your senses and know that you must turn him over to the authorities for justice to be done. You call the police and anxiously count the days to his sentencing. The day finally arrives - you are so hungry for justice, you can barely sit in your seat. The judge comes out and faces the courtroom. He says that it has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that this man is a murderer and guilty. You shift to the edge of your seat, holding your breath for justice to be done....The judge says to the murderer, "For your crimes, you deserve the death penalty. You knowingly committed this crime and you enjoyed every minute of it. You knew the penalty would be death, yet you chose to do it anyway." The judge continues, "Furthermore, after reluctantly admitting that you have done this, your only sorrow was that you were caught - not that you committed this crime. You have continually tried to justify your actions, even though there is no possible justification for what you have done. You know the law, and you have broken it." The judge pauses as your heart cries out for justice to be done. Finally, the judge takes off his glasses and says, with a smile in his voice, "BUT, I am a loving and kind judge. I know you have done wrong, but I am going to overlook it because I am so kind and loving. You are free to go."
What would you do? Would you be singing the praises of this "kind and loving" judge? Would you be telling everyone that justice had been done and you were satisfied? Would you walk out of there with a smile on your face and be able to congratulate the killer on the justice served in the courtroom?
NO! A thousand times NO! You would be screaming that the judge was even more wicked than the murderer! You would be screaming that this was NOT just and loving - that this was a perversion of justice in the worst way. You would be at a complete and utter loss to understand how such perverted reasoning could even occur to someone. How could that possibly be "just and loving"?
If we, as imperfect humans, can see the flaw in that ruling....how much more of a perversion of righteousness, goodness, and perfection would it be for a perfect, holy, completely righteous God to just wink and nod at our sin? Sin that we have been told both by His Word and our own consciences is deserving of punishment? And truly, our only sorrow most times is in that we have been caught or are suffering the consequences for our sins - not because we have sinned against a holy and righteous God?
Yet, this is how most of Christian culture explains salvation....that a loving God "overlooks" our sin. As a mom, it would not be "loving" for me to overlook abuse that was done to one of my children by another person. If I did so, you would accuse me of not loving my child! In addition, we instinctively know that we must discipline our children BECAUSE we love them, when they do wrong. Yet, somehow we take these instinctive truths and throw them away when we speak of God and salvation.....
God is loving....yet He is also just. You cannot separate the two. It is not loving to be unjust - and it is not just to cover over sins because you love someone. Yet, that is exactly what we say that God does. Another term for this is "easy believe-ism" - that we can just simply acknowledge that we have sinned and that God will lovingly cover it all over - perverting His own nature - which is just as fully just as it is loving.
We do this, in part, because it makes it easier for us to continue on in our sins without having to repent and change. If we truly understood the price of sin - and the price to save us from that sin, we would not be able to so comfortably go on with our sinning.
The truth is that the wages of sin IS death (Romans 3:23) - this is not just death on earth, this is the continual punishment of Hell after death. See, we will all live for eternity - but some will live in the glory of God's presence for eternity and some will suffer in Hell for eternity. BUT God is loving and He does love us....not in overlooking our sins, but in providing the payment for our sins. We cannot pay this ourselves because we have only one life - and the forfeit of that is the punishment for our own sins. We cannot pay someone else's debt, because we already owe. The only One that could stand in our place is One that has never sinned and therefore does not owe a debt of his own....That One is Christ. God in the flesh of man....Christ lived as we do, yet He was and is without sin. God loved us so much that He sent His own Son to pay the penalty for our sins. (John 3:16)
When Christ died on the cross - the payment for our sins was not in His physical suffering - though they were beyond imagining. The payment was in that God poured out the wrath for each and every one of our sins on Him who had no sin. Christ suffered every last moment of that wrath for our every sin. That changes the picture, doesn't it? It isn't just a doddling old grandfather looking the other way as we sin - it is a perfectly righteous God-man suffering for each sin we have committed or will commit. It is a just and powerful God punishing those things that deserve punishment and Christ taking that punishment - even while we despised Him. Wow....there are no words. How will this truth change you?
To Him be the glory, honor, and power forever!