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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]?
“And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished;” Exodus 34:6-7a
God is faithful. That is, He is constant, steadfast and resolute. He sticks unwavering to His purposes and promises.
Faithful is a good trait. Yet in this day and age, where bad is called good and good is called bad [Isaiah 5:20], God’s faithfulness is exactly why many choose to turn their back on Him. In general, people want God to be faithful in His love, goodness, kindness, mercy and grace–as long as it applies the way they expect it to, satisfying each of their desires. But they don’t want Him to be faithful when it comes to His sovereignty, justice and holiness, for example. Because justice means that there is a moral law that we each must adhere to, and that there are consequences if we don’t.
In our self-as-god mentalities, we want to be our own sovereign and determine what is just for our situation–especially if it means opposing God’s holy precepts to fit our perceived needs. In this way, we are not being faithful–steadfast and constant–as God must be.
With God, who is transcendent, moral compliance is black and white–no shades of grey. Either we have forgiveness of sins or we don’t. Either we behave in godly ways or godless ways. Either we glorify Him with our lives, or we dishonor Him. Either we obey or we disobey. It’s like building a house with a rubber band for a ruler, stretching the measuring stick to make it say that the boards are the right length even when they’re truly not. And if every board is slightly off from the true measure, the house will never stand!
Consider that the opposite of a faithful God is one who is careless, cold and corrupt. One who is dishonest, fraudulent and negligent. One who is undependable, unscrupulous and untrustworthy. But these are all words that describe unfaithful human beings. These are the marks of sin in our world, not the hand of God.
God is faithful, we can depend that He will always forgive the repentant sinner. We can trust that He will maintain the seasons, days and years until He renews and restores His Creation [Genesis 8:22]. We can rest assured that He will keep His promise never to destroy the earth again in a worldwide flood [Genesis 9:11]. He was faithful to send His Son, Jesus, to carry out the plan of redemption instituted from the advent of sin [Genesis 3:15] despite the rampant unfaithfulness of human kind in every generation since. And He will be faithful, when the time has reached its fullness, to send Jesus to gather us home [Matthew 13:32 & 24:36].
God is infinitely and eternally faithful. And we are made in His image. We were made to return His faithfulness–to be steadfast in our love for and faith in Him. Do you?
We were made to reflect His constant love and forgiveness to others in our lives. Do you?
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
God is omnipresent. He is everywhere here with us, His Creation. When the mantle of leadership passed from Moses to Joshua, God promised His presence to remain with His people and His chosen leader [Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8].
Yet He knew the day would come when the generations would deny Him.
When His people turned their face to worthless wood and rock carved by human hands [Deuteronomy 31:16-18], His presence would faithfully remain. When He Himself averted His eyes from their shame, allowing them the very life and dead gods they insisted on, still, by His nature, He remained everywhere present with them. When He Himself could not take up the defense of His chosen people because they denied Him with all their heart, still God’s presence did not forsake His Creation, the apple of His eye. He did not then refuse to carry out His plan of redemption.
But you see, when we live as our own gods, we cannot then demand that God continue to work on our behalf.
Either we are our own gods and capable of commanding all the sovereign might and justice on our own behalf or we are not. We cannot live both lives. We cannot have all of the goodness and love of God, if we deny His existence. If we refuse to carry His cross and bear His name to our generation. We cannot be our own sovereign, and expect God’s sovereignty to control everyone and everything else around us to our specifications.
We cannot live our whole lives running away from God, turning our back on His presence, and then also expect His presence–though it is always everywhere here with us–to go before us like a bubble-wrap fairy godmother, keeping every other human’s choices from interfering with our self-as-god plans and desires.
Sin is an abomination for a reason. It separates us spiritually from God, though not physically from His omnipresence [Isaiah 59:2]. It’s the most awkward of awkward situations that can ever be. To be unable to hide from God, so that we continually and flagrantly deny Him to His face. So that we continually defy Him right before His very eyes. So that we stand everywhere here in His presence and proclaim that He’s not really there. Proclaim that we ourselves are better suited to be god than the one who lovingly created us. The one who set and keeps the universe in motion on our behalf.
But yeah, we keep doing us. Awkward as it is, and awkward as it will be when we see God face to face and have to explain all they whys that He already knows.
He is everywhere present with each of us. Will you, today, reach out your hand and take His? Will you, today, acknowledge His presence not only in the larger Creation but in your individual life? Will you, today, be the light of His presence to everyone around you?
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12
God is omnipresent. He is everywhere here. There is no place where He is not, no place where we can step out of His presence or hide from Him. And why should we want to?
It is the sin in our lives, the guilt and shame when we recognize that He is holy and we are unworthy, that lead many to try to run away from the presence of God. But it’s like running on a treadmill–though miles and days and years may pass, running from God gets us nowhere good, fast. We find ourselves still bound by the same guilt and shame of the same sin, still seeking to hide ourselves from God’s presence but still having to face Him all the same.
So what about the adage: Where sin is, God cannot be also? Doesn’t that mean that there are places where we can hide from God? That we can bury ourselves deeper in the muck and mire of sins and God will never be able to look on us again. Not so. This adage is not a scripture verse, but rather a pithy distillment from a sermon taken out of context. It is the message that sin separates us from God [Isaiah 59:2] twisted to an inaccurate point.
A more accurate scriptural statement would read: Where sin is, God is not embodied. Though He does see us in our sins, He is not embodied in the temptations that lead us to sin [James 1:13-15]. He does, however, envelop us in that everywhere-here-omnipresence even while we are still blatantly sinning [Psalm 139:11-12], indiscriminately doling out love and grace and mercy so that all may see Him and come to a saving faith in Him [Matthew 5:44-45].
Because as long as we have this life, the Lord may be found, His salvation accepted [Isaiah 55:5-7]. And being omnipresent, He is everywhere here with us so that when we seek Him we find Him right beside us. And so that when we turn in repentance to give Him our hearts, He is right there to accept us–to redeem us–and to make us clean and whole. No lines. No waiting. No crossing the world on fire and waves to find a distant, impersonal God.
Do you know the God who goes with you? Have you met Him? Have you called out to Him and made Him your closest friend and constant strength?
From The Student Question Board: Why Did God Make Us if He Knew We Would Make Bad Choices and Be in Distress All Our Lives?
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 147:10-11
Since God is, always will be and always has been omniscient, He knew perfectly well that Adam and Eve would choose to disobey in the garden. He knew that their choice would usher sin into His perfectly created world [Romans 5:12]. And He knew that in the broken sinful world, we would have trouble [John 16:33].
So why did God bother creating us at all?
Because He also knew that He would love us without fail [John 3:16]. Because He also knew that He would send His Son Jesus to redeem His fallen Creation [Genesis 3:15]. And because He also knew that love comes only by choice.
And He desires our love just as He desires to lavish His love on us.
God considers us the apple of His eye [Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8]. This term of endearment more literally equates us to the pupil of the eye. The pupil allows light to enter so that the eye can perceive. When God calls us the light and salt of the world, it is a double entendre–that is, it has two meanings! We are light and salt to the lost around us, but we are also a light of joy and the salt of good pleasure to our Creator God.
He delights in us [Psalm 147:11 & 149:4]!
Remember His love when you are worried or wearied by the troubles of life [John 16:33]. Remember that everything comes to pass in its season [Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]. And remember that the season of human life is just a disappearing mist or a fading flower in the expanse of eternity [Psalm 103:15; James 4:14; 1 Peter 1:24].
These troubles have not come to stay, but if we stay the course we will find abundant life in this life and eternal peace and rest in the New Creation [John 10:10; Revelation 21:1-4].
Do you know who God created you to be? Are you living as the apple of His eye? Do you delight in your Creator as He delights in you?
“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘You made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed one.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:24-28
Faith without free will is no faith at all. Love without free will is no love at all. And God desires both from the joyful submission of our free will to Him.
Here after Peter and John were released from prison, they prayed with fellow believers. And they acknowledged that, from the beginning, God knew exactly at which point in human chronology He would send Jesus. God sent His Son when the Roman-centric world would swallow up His chosen people, Israel, and both cultures would converge to crucify Him.
Because it was all a part of His plan to redeem His Creation.
Though–being all-knowing–He knew who would carry this out, God didn’t choose to villainize or destine people or force anyone to do the job. Everyone who denied, denounced and destroyed Jesus’ physical body did so of their own free will. Just as everyone who comes to Christ also does so of their own free will.
Faith is absolute certainty in what we hope for but cannot see. But it must stem from the free will of our intellect, for without faith it is impossible to please God [Hebrews 11:6]. So if God chooses who will have this faith and who will not, then it is no longer faith. It is coercion.
Love, by necessity, is a choice. No one can force someone else to truly love them. But each person comes to love another purely as an expression of their own free will. We each choose whom we desire and how to demonstrate that affection. So if God chooses who will love Him and who will not, then it is no longer love. It is coercion.
But God is self-sufficient–He needs no one. God does not show favoritism [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11]. He sent His to die on the cross for whosoever would believe in Him [John 3:16] and He doesn’t want anyone to choose to perish in the lake of fire [2 Peter 3:9].
And even knowing what we will choose, He still acts mercifully with all of us. Indiscriminate of our ultimate decision to accept or deny Him. He still loves each and every one of us. He still lets us choose for ourselves whom we will serve [Joshua 24:15].
Whom have you chosen?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever…to Him who alone does great wonders…who by His understanding made the heavens…who spread out the earth upon the waters…who made the great lights–…the sun to govern the day…the moon and stars to govern the night, His love endures forever.” Psalm 136: 1 & 4-9
Every created thing changes, and these changes precipitate from either our sin nature or our redeemed nature.
As human beings made for eternity we want to believe that our race is evolving and growing bigger. Better. Stronger. Scientists hawk this lie to school children from the youngest age. Television and politics agree. Even history books have been rewritten to conform with non-theistic origins.
But the sad truth is that each of these proclaims the untruth of evolution while also affirming the scientific law of chaos. It’s a conflict. Everything in the universe tends towards disorder, not order. Everything falls apart with time, it doesn’t naturally, or even selectively, improve.
Yet sadly, while youth are being taught that they came from rain on rocks that spawned a slime that crawled out onto dry land and sprouted legs, they begin to act like the very animals they were told they came from. Morals are abandoned. Selfishness–as in survival of the fittest–reigns. Self-as-supreme-authority dictates the cultural values and norms of our day. Defiance and violence follow.
But unlike the fairy tale of human evolution or the truth of our deteriorating sinful nature, God never changes. And His love endures forever.
Though we can never ourselves attain godhood, through His Holy Spirit, we can be redeemed and made more like Christ every day [John 13:35]. While our sin nature seeks to leach our mortal lives until they are utterly destroyed within us [John 10:10], God heals. God restores. God regenerates. God gifts us with eternal life [John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9].
And even though the world around us degenerates into sinful chaos, denying the existence of God and crowning self as sovereign [Romans 1:25], God’s love endures forever.
His love is just as unchanging as He is. He loved us from the moment He created Adam from dust and breathed life into his nostrils [Genesis 2:7]. He loved us from the moment our sins crushed the last breath out of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross [Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30]. He has always loved us. He loves us now. And He will always love us with an eternally unchanging, never failing, infinitely merciful yet holy love [Jeremiah 31:3].
Even atheists want everyone else around them to behave with godly obedience, mercy and love toward them–so long as no one tries to impose any regulations on them. Because everyone wants God’s love and the good things that it produces in their lives. But not very many choose to abdicate their self-appointed throne to get it.
God is unchanging. His infinite love for us never changes and never fails. Will you lay aside your life and be transformed by that love [John 15:13]?