Is It Not for You to Know Justice?
“And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel!
Is it not for you to know justice?”
A people who know mercy but who do not know justice are a people who are unjust. And this is precisely what so many of us are guilty of today. We think of mercy, mercy, mercy, yet God tells us, “Is it not for you to know justice?” While there absolutely is mercy to be had within justice, we make a great error when we believe that mercy replaces justice.
It is a great sin for us to not be occupied with justice. This happens because of our own laziness and wicked hearts, but another way this happens is when we listen to the doctrine of the world rather than to God. In this we are often very busy with ideas about compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and good works, but if we are not careful to take these things only in a biblical way, then we can actually be deceived into injustice.
Often when we hear words of this type: mercy, compassion, love, grace, forgiveness, and the like, we seem to think we can’t go wrong in them. And here begins the deception. We must always ensure we walk biblically in each of these things. Christians are not called to be idealistic, they are called to be followers of Christ. If we don’t walk in these things rightly, the terrible irony is that we can actually be led into the opposite of what we suppose we are standing for.
We must believe that the ways of God are balanced. If we aren’t careful to hold to all the characteristics of God, we become unbalanced. This is shown clearly in the cross—God was merciful towards us, saving us, and He did this justly. He was just within His grace. That is why the blood, death, and penalty upon Christ were necessary. If God had simply pardoned us by removing the law rather than fulfilling it, this would have been a grievous injustice. But with Christ, holy and blameless, stepping in our place, God is just in forgiving us, making Him both just and the justifier of those who come to Him through Christ (Rom 3:26).
Yet this is precisely where so many people go wrong in their ideas of mercy: they deny the element of atonement, payment, and cost that equally belongs with forgiveness. That while it costs us nothing, it cost God His own Son. Our failure to comprehend this, to not reflect God’s mercy in the same matter of upholding the law, and instead attempt to remove the law, proves us to be transgressors, not merciful.
We fail to understand the whole of the Gospel when we only see the mercy of God but not also the judgement of God. And today this half-gospel has spread like wildfire, and it is what fills many of our idealisms in place of right and balanced doctrine.
We are all for compassion, forgiveness, and love, but have thrown aside rebuke, repentance, and hatred of sin and evil. We’ve become quite convinced of these things failing to realize that these biases come from our fallen nature and from the world, not God. And many people can become quite passionate about a half-gospel while despising the true, and rightly balanced Gospel.
Our hatred of any part of God: His judgement, wrath, rebuke, holiness, law, or commandments should reveal to us our hearts that are sinful and foolish. We may not yet understand God in these things but we should be convicted by this, not kick against the goads (Acts 26:14). Resisting Christ in these things reveals to us that we are in rebellion against God and even actively working against Him, persecuting Him, all while imagining that we are serving Him, just like Saul, “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”
We must see that if we are not actually walking in justice, this only comes from an evil heart, not a righteous one, no matter how convinced we are of our own ways and no matter how much we deem what we’re doing to be “merciful”. True mercy is one with justice, it is not opposed to it. The mercy we speak of outside of justice is a perverse “mercy” that is only a bias towards ourselves and to mankind as a whole—in which we stand against God and perceive Him as the enemy (Gen 3:5, 11:4). This is no true mercy that puts off the call to truly live as God commands, loving Him with all our soul, heart, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It is no true mercy that wants to put these great commands off and yet go unchecked for doing so.
If we are people who look for forgiveness without repentance, compassion without truth of sin, love without hate (Rom 12:9), freedom without the fear of God (Jer 32:40), grace without holiness (Eph 1:4), and mercy without justice, then we are people who are corrupt and not people who do good. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
September 30, 2020