Man needs justice, right down in his bones. If there is no obvious source of justice, he will invent it. If a man lies and cheats to get ahead, others will mutter about karma, “what goes around comes around.” The idea that a wicked man can be wicked and prosper from it and never be held accountable offends us at the core of our beings. Even when a man knowingly does evil he will justify it to himself, saying that it’s not as bad as others, circumstances forced him to it, or the person he is wronging deserved it somehow, or his evil actions are necessary for some greater good. Cartoon villains may cackle about how evil they are, but in the real world, everyone is right and virtuous in his own eyes.
Our innate sense of justice is one solid piece of evidence for the existence of God. One might say we invented God to satisfy our need for justice, but that leaves unanswered the question of why we have such a need for justice in the first place. The Bible’s teaching that we are made in the image of a just God is a sufficient explanation for that sense of justice.
When we know the God of the Bible, then we can rest in the knowledge that His perfect justice will right all the wrongs, defend the innocent and punish the guilty. The sense of bitterness and agitation we have about wrongs done to us or our loved ones is healed by the knowledge of a perfect Judge who never lets anyone get away with anything. He sees all that happens. He even sees what the evil heart of man would do if given the chance. A man gains no credit at the throne of God for not committing evil when it was only the restraining hand of God that prevented it.
When we reflect on the justice of God, we must recognize that God’s justice is only truly just if it is equal, applied to all men including ourselves. He is no respecter of persons. If we recognize the goodness of God’s justice, then logic demands that we reflect on the relationship we will bear to that perfect justice as well. We will see that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We will desire to get on the right side of God’s justice, and see that His perfect justice is satisfied in the death and resurrection of Christ on our behalf. God’s justice can never be evaded; either we throw ourselves on God’s mercy and accept the righteous sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, or bear the full weight of our own sins.
His justice is a cause of worship and praise. We know in our hearts that a God that punishes evil and rewards good is a good God who deserves our worship. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that God is the rightful judge of all the universe who will right every wrong and punish every sin. We can worship His justice now, as those that are justly forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ, or worship Him later under compulsion as those coming under the heavy weight of that justice, but worship it we will. Now then let us praise and glorify God, who is just and righteous, who never lets the wicked go free, who never plays favorites, who never punishes good or rewards evil, who always does what is perfectly right and good in every situation, and who always vindicates the truth in the end.