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“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.'” Revelation 15:2-3
Human minds will never more fully understand God’s justice than when we stand before Him in heaven. Then we will see Him face to face, even as He has always seen us [1 Corinthians 13:12]. Then we will know how all of His essence is one, even as He is also one [Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29]. Then we will see our finite existence from the perspective of a holy eternity.
God is just because all truth is His truth. And justice cannot operate without truth.
God is just because He is also good and loving and all-knowing and unchanging. He is just because He is also holy and sovereign and wise and all-powerful. He is just because He is also transcendent and everywhere-present and faithful and gracious and merciful. He is just because He is also self-existent and self-sufficient and eternal and infinite.
All of His character works together as one unit, rather than as separate entities. He is never more or less any of these qualities, just as none of these traits exists outside of His person. God is just, because that is who He is.
He is self-existent and self-sufficient, so His justice is not counseled by any created being.
He is unchanging and He is holy, so His justice never wavers to the left or to the right [Proverbs 4:27].
He is all-knowing and wise, so His justice has always faithfully extended grace.
He is all-powerful and sovereign, so His justice is precisely exacted.
But He is also good and merciful and loving and gracious, so He provided a substitution for the wages of our sins [Romans 5:8 & 6:23; 1 John 2:2]. A substitute to accept our condemnation so that, by His grace, we could be considered righteous [Romans 3:20-24, 5:9-11 & 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8].
He is transcendent and yet everywhere present, so His justice is always objective while His grace and mercy are always faithfully at hand.
He is infinite, so His justice is not limited in any way. He is eternal, so His justice contains all of our finite existence, but will endure for all eternity.
God is just.
Have you ever found yourself questioning this truth? Do you know others who question God’s justice? Often this is because we don’t like that God’s justice means there is a right way and a wrong way. But as God said to Cain nearly 6,000 years ago, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted [Genesis 4:7]?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
God made human beings in His image [Genesis 1:26-27]. Being wisdom, He endowed us with a portion of understanding that our finite minds could contain. And when sin entered the world, it fractured both our already limited wisdom and our ability to perceive the truth.
Scriptures teach that when we fear the Lord–that is reverence Him according to who He truly is–this is the beginning of wisdom rooting in our finite minds once more [Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10]. On the other hand, when we reject God and dismiss His truth then God allows us to do so and to receive the natural consequence of such self-destructive thinking [Romans 1:28]. When we don’t heed God, we sin against Him and this sin separates us from God both in this life and in the eternity to come.
Again, God says that He will lead us out of our spiritual blindness–if we allow Him to. He will turn darkness to light right before our very eyes if we will honor Him and seek Him first [Isaiah 42:16]. But He warns that if we allow ourselves to be led by others who are spiritually blind, then both the leader and the follower are likely to fall into the troubles of life [Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39]. And, without faith in God, they’ll certainly fall into the bitterness of eternal punishment.
Though we live in a world where the majority have rejected God and been given over to their futile thinking, we have been called to come out from their patterns of understanding. God will renew our understanding when we revere Him and seek His kingdom first. He is true wisdom, and all truth and knowledge are found in Him alone.
Have you started down the path of wisdom? Do you seek God while He may be found [Isaiah 55:6]? Do you regard God with the respect due Him alone?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:18-20
Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge [understanding gained from experience] to make good judgments in any given situation. God is wisdom, and He is infinite.
Therefore, God is the ultimate sound judgment applied in any and every situation we face.
He Himself possesses all wisdom because He is the all-knowing [omniscient], sovereign Creator of all. He is the eternal who can see every minutia from the beginning to the end of human history and consider it all at once. He is the infinite, unbound by the limitations that cause us to need the wisdom that He is.
But long ago, Satan, the adversary of God and the antithesis of wisdom, peddled a shrewd lie–you can be your own god. You can decide your own right and wrong. You need only to look inside yourself for all the wisdom you need.
Paul is writing to the Corinthians that Satan’s lie has been exposed! People created so many schools of thought to try to quantify this world we live in, to predict the uncertainties life holds and even to try to come out “on top,” so to speak.
But academics, without God, are just foolishness. Business savvy, with eyes fixed only on the temporal, is futility. People and emotional smarts are only helpful for the here and now. At the end of it all, only what was done for Christ will last [Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Corinthians 3:11-13].
All science [knowing] comes from the all-knowing. All philosophy [love of wisdom] belongs to the One who is all love and all wisdom. All true understanding comes from He who was, and is, and is to come [Revelation 1:8]. Earthly wisdom is nothing more than shrewdness, finite judgment, limited in scope and applicability.
Do you need wisdom? Get into God’s Word [Psalm 19 & 121]. Do you need wisdom? Ask God [James 1:5]. Do you need wisdom? Believe on Christ and fear the Lord [Proverbs 9:10; Psalms 111:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30].
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
If predestination is not an actual thing, then how can God’s purposes prevail over mans plans and man still have free will?
All of our plans concern the temporal, or time-bound world in which we live. From a young age, we dream and scheme about our future–houses, cars, jobs, vacations, having lots of money, getting married and having children or not. We love to plan about what we will do with our time, talent and money when we are old enough to choose for ourselves.
But God’s purposes exist outside of our time parameters. For His purpose is one, to redeem His Creation to Himself. None of the earthly effects that we gain or achieve will last, for none of them can pass with us into eternity. But many of them will bind up our hearts and minds in this life so that we lose sight of what we were truly made for.
Look at the life of Samson. Before he was born, an angel of the Lord announced the purpose of Samson’s life to his parents. He would deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines [Judges 13:1-5]. Did that mean that Samson wasn’t free to choose his own way?
Just look at how his story ends. He chose to carouse with a Philistine woman. He chose to indulge her and tell the secret of his strength. He chose to then fall asleep while trusting her after she’d already proved herself untrustworthy on three previous occasions. And as a result of Samson’s choices–made in his own free will–Samson gets captured, put in prison and his eyes gouged out by his enemies [Judges 16:1-22].
God didn’t desire any of that for him! But He did purpose that Samson would deliver Israel.
One day in prison, he remembered his purpose and, finding that his strength had returned, chose to fulfill what God had called him to do. Because of his previous choices, it cost Samson his life [Judges 16:23-30]. But even this was Samson’s choice. God didn’t make him decide to fulfill his purpose in this time and in this way. But God had always known how Samson would choose.
The thing about God is that, we are made in His image. And we were made to hope. The scriptures show us that God hopes too [Deuteronomy 5:29]. And just as our hope is in Him, His hope is in us. He knows that He knows that He knows what we will choose. But He hopes and He hopes and He hopes that we will choose life and to have it to the full [John 10:10]. Because He loves us.
Will you take a lesson from Samson? No doubt your plans are many, but God has a purpose for your life. Do you know what it is? Are you living out your purpose? Or are your choices all the things you want to do because you can?
“(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” Romans 2:14-15
In a world where conscience has become synonymous with being true to self, which in turn equates to self-as-god, let us return to the root meaning.
And as Christians, we can take this one step closer to the reality of eternity and understand that conscience is living with THE Knowing One.
God is omniscient–all-knowing. The fear of the Him is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom [Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10; Psalm 111:10]. Does that mean that we need to be afraid of God? Actually, the phrase the fear of the Lord refers to our reverence for God. If we respect Him to the fullness that He deserves, then we are on the road to true knowledge and wisdom.
He Himself becomes our wisdom [1 Corinthians 1:30]. Because–while we can never plumb the depths of the mind of God [Isaiah 40:13; Romans 11:34]–we have received the mind of Christ [1 Corinthians 2:16]. Therefore, we can tap into the wisdom from on high in any situation we face.
We have His Holy Spirit to remind us of everything that God, the Father and Creator, has spoken to us [John 14:26]. His Word is alive and active, judging every thought and attitude of our hearts [Hebrews 4:12], shaping us–as we allow Him–into the image of Christ.
When we live conscientiously or with THE Knowing One, then we have direct access to the truth of our situation. We do not live reactively. We do not live in fear. We do not live in slavery to our doubt, anger, sinful desires or anything else.
Our conscience, that is our God With Us, counsels us. It’s how we can rejoice always, even in troubled times [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. It’s how we can pray without ceasing while walking through our everyday life [1 Thessalonians 5:17]. It’s how we can give thanks to God regardless of our circumstance [1 Thessalonians 5:18]. And it is precisely God’s will for us [1 Thessalonians 5:18].
Do you live with The All-Knowing One? Or is your conscience synonymous with self-as-supreme authority? Are you on the path to true knowledge and wisdom?
From The Student Question Board: How Many Sins Are Too Many? Is There a Specific Number of Sins that Will Disqualify You From Heaven?
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20b
God is infinite. In every way. He is not bounded in by anything.
In the long war between God and Satan, God is patient, not wanting any human being–who are the apple of His eye [aka the central object of His affection]–to perish [Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8; 2 Peter 3:9].
Yet in the midst of God’s infinite patience, sin increases. Every minutia of sin manifests and grows. Arrogance, abusiveness, disobedience and ungratefulness increases [2 Timothy 3:2]. Exchanging God for self increases [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14]. Wickedness, evil, greed and depravity increases [Romans 1:29].
But God’s grace is boundless.
There is no amount of sin that can disqualify you from God’s love. And if by grace through faith you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are forgiven. Period.
That’s fantastic news! Because we all sin every day, we all fall short of the glory of God in every way [Romans 3:23].
But there is a caution.
If we can’t out-sin God’s grace, then why not just keep on sinning and asking for forgiveness? Paul wrote to the Roman Christians who were struggling with this very question. The answer? By no means! In other words–absolutely not!
As forgiven believers, we died to sin just as Christ died for our sins. And we live in God’s freedom. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace, [Romans 6:12-14].
It’s like quitting smoking because you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, getting healed, and then continuing to smoke. Smoking destroys our health, just like sin destroys our spirit man. People who have been healed from cancer, are best advised to live a healthier life so that the cancer doesn’t move back into their bodies. And Christians are called to come out of the culture we live in and be Godly so that the destruction of sin doesn’t move back into our lives [2 Corinthians 6:17].
God’s mercy is infinite, just as all of Him is infinite. Sin is limited by human imagination, ability and longevity [or lack thereof]. Choose this day which one will shape your eternity. Finite sin, with even more limited moments of pleasure that lead to death and rejecting God, therefore bringing eternal condemnation [James 1:14-15]? Or infinite mercy, with abundant life now and forevermore [John 3:16]?
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations…Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:1 & 12
We are refugees of time–bound and driven by seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. God is our everlasting refuge through it all. But He also made us to share in His eternity.
When Pharaoh asked the patriarch, Jacob, how old he was, Jacob responded as a refugee of time: The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. They have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers [Genesis 47:9]. Jacob understood full well that life is just a temporal journey with an eternal finish line.
If we see with a heavenly perspective, this world is not our home–as the lyricist wrote–we’re only passing through. We pass through time as time passes over us. We are pilgrims, wanderers who travel long and light across death-dusted roads. We do not share the desires and mindsets of the multitudes around us, rather we share the desire for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 6:10]. And we share God’s heart for the lost and dying world we tread.
Like the heroes recorded in Hebrews 11, we should be described as aliens [aka foreigners] and strangers on earth, rather than foreigners and strangers to God [Ephesians 2:19]. People should hear the lilt of our heavenly accent in every word we say. They should see our Christ-clothing in all we do [Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 2:11]. They should wonder at our heavenly food and drink [Matthew 5:6; John 4:32]. They should burn with curiosity to know where we’re from, what makes us different, and we should be ready to tell them [1 Peter 3:15].
More than pilgrims, foreigners and strangers, we are refugees. Emigrating from our spiritually war-torn earthly home–which belongs to the prince of the air, Satan [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. And emigrating, with restored citizenship, to our heavenly home where we will live with God for all eternity [John 14:2-3].
The King James translation of the Bible uses the phrase it came to pass 456 times. The worries and troubles of life–but also the goodness and blessings–come in time and leave in time [Matthew 6:25-34; John 16:33]. Until the end of the age when time will be no more, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess [Hebrews 10:23], trusting and obeying God in all things [Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 28:20].
The breath of our life has come to us for this season and will pass from us in the next. How we choose to pass our time matters. It matters to God. It matters to us. And it matters to the lost and dying generation around us.
Is Christ your refuge along the road of life? Do wayward travelers see your heavenly citizenship and desire it for their own?