What does it mean that God is just?

To behave justly means "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good." The concept of justice is connected to that of merit: those who behave morally corrupt will be punished, while those who are morally upright will be rewarded. God is the creator of justice, and God is perfect. He does not show partiality to anyone (Acts 10:34). Therefore, His judgments, His ways, and the justice He enforces are also perfect. Not only does He enforce justice, He loves it: "For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face" (Psalm 11:7, NIV).

The Lord is both perfectly righteous and perfectly just (Psalm 89:14). Psalm 33:5 says: "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD." Throughout the Bible, God commands us not to mistreat others (Zechariah 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7; James 1:27; 2:1–8), and He enacts vengeance in opposition to oppressors (2 Thessalonians 1:6; Romans 12:19). He justly rewards those who are upright: "For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do" (Hebrews 6:10). In a similar fashion, He justly doles out punishment for wrongdoers: "For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality" (Colossians 3:25).

If the Bible is so clear that God is a just God, why do we see so much injustice in the world that He so carefully created? This goes back to the original sin (Genesis 3). Since Adam and Eve, all humans have been born sinful (Romans 5:12–21). God's perfect justice has no longer been perfect on the earth because sin is a reality with devastating effects on our world. Yet He has allowed the earth to continue because He longs to redeem and restore us (2 Peter 3:8–10). Because God is just, He cannot overlook sin. But because He is merciful, He has made a way of redemption—Jesus Christ.

While in the Old Testament people had to provide animal sacrifices for the propitiation of sins before God, in the New Testament, God sent His son Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and the shedding of His innocent blood provided us with the opportunity to be justified before God once and for all (John 1:12, 29; 1 Peter 3:18). Romans 3:24–26 sums this up when it says that we are "justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." We are not deserving of eternal life, but we may receive it as a gift. The blood of Jesus Christ has justified us in God's sight, and when we put our faith in Jesus, God sees us as His children (John 1:12; Romans 8:15–17). This is the miracle of salvation!

Those of us who have trusted in Christ are children of God and filled with His Spirit; it is our responsibility to walk justly before Him while on this earth: "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).

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