Is There Justice?
What does the Bible say about justice? What is Biblical justice?
Most of what we read about justice is in the Old Testament. The New Testament is about the fact that we deserve justice, but God shows us mercy and grace. And God is patient, withholding His justice for a time. But, that time will come to an end... possibly very soon.
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. - Proverbs 21:15
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” - Romans 12:19
The GotQuestions web site defines justice this way: Justice is a term used for what is right or “as it should be.” Justice is one of God’s attributes and flows out of His holiness. Justice and righteousness are often used synonymously in the Bible. Since righteousness is the quality or character of being right or just, it is another attribute of God and incorporates both His justice and holiness.
To understand justice, we need to understand sin. Justice is God's response to sin.
Sin is anything that is contrary to God's character and nature. Sin is a violation of who God is. Some people think of the Ten Commandments as a set of arbitrary rules God imposes on humanity. However, far from being arbitrary, the Ten Commandments are a summary description of God's character. They describe God, and because we are made in the image of God, they describe who we should be.
Sin cannot exist in the presence of God. That means that anything that violates, opposes, or does not perfectly conform with the character of God, cannot exist in the presence of God. That is justice. If you, as one of God's image bearers, act or think in a way that is contrary to the character of God, you are excluded from the presence of God. (We commonly refer to being in the presence of God as being in heaven.)
Do You Understand What that Means?
No one... absolutely no human being is able to perfectly conform to the character of God. How can you know that is true?
Therefore the Law has become our teacher [tutor or guardian] to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24
Use God's Law, for example the Ten Commandments, to test yourself. Have you perfectly obeyed all of the Ten Commandments?
For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all. - James 2:10
How many lies have you told? Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, even something small? Have you always honored your parents? Have you ever looked at another person with lust (Matthew 5:27-28) or been angry at someone (Matthew 5:21-22)? These are only five of the Ten Commandments. God's law reveals that you, someone who is made in the image of God, do not have the perfect character of God and are excluded from God's presence.
BUT, That Means NO ONE Goes To Heaven!
That is the correct conclusion. That is justice. We get what we have earned and deserve. However, 2000 years ago Jesus lived a perfect life, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty you've earned (separation from God) for sin. If you repent (turn away from disobeying God) and trust this is true (believe), His perfect righteousness is given to you as a free gift so that, when God looks at you He sees the perfection of Christ. Having that perfection you freely enter the presence of God (heaven).
There has been justice. The penalty you earned for disobeying God has been paid by Jesus Christ. However, what if you do not believe this is true? Then you must pay the penalty for sin yourself. Justice means no free passes. Justice means you get what you have earned, total separation from God... forever.
That doesn't sound too bad, until you realize what it means. Everything that is good comes from God. EVERYTHING. If you are separated from God, there is nothing good. Please think about that carefully. Anything you can think of that is good in any way, you will not have. Food is good. You will not have food and will be in constant, ever lasting hunger and thirst. Being free from pain is good. You will be in pain forever. Having friends, or even someone you hate, but can talk with, is good. You will be in solitary, with no one to talk with, forever. That is what separation from God, what we call "hell," is like. That is justice.
What About Social Justice?
Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1
Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 2