Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? Romans 3:6
This verse is in response to the question Paul raised, “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?”
A resounding reply results – “Certainly not!” By no means could God be unjust. Paul doesn’t even address “why” though. He takes it as an axiom that God will, in fact, judge the world. Sin doesn’t determine God’s righteousness. Rather how He deals with it does. Sin is a violation of His holiness. Therefore, dealing with the sin is something that must occur.
As the Creator, everything about God simply is. Because He created time, He is outside of time and thus there is no change in Him. As this is so, God is perfectly righteous – His righteousness is. Any violation of it must be judged – or He is not perfectly righteous. But He is and therefore His righteousness cannot be compromised.
Similarly, God is perfectly just. Because He is, the penalty for a violation of His righteousness must be perfect. The law demands that every violation be punished and “the wages of sin is death.” There is no way around this. We have earned death and we have earned condemnation. If we do not receive this, then God is not perfectly just, but He is.
God is also perfectly holy. Because we are made unclean from our transgressions against His perfectly holy nature, we must be eternally separated from Him – or He is not perfectly Holy, but He is. If a person only committed one moral transgression in his entire life, it is sufficient to eternally separate him from God. God cannot accept 1% unrighteousness. He does not weigh sins on a balance. Nothing but absolute righteousness and pure holiness can be accepted by God.
Adding to the problem is that God is absolutely truthful. He has spoken from His very nature what is and what is not acceptable for man. If God overlooks the words He spoke in absolute truth, then He is not truthful – an impossibility. However, God has promised to redeem His people. Because He has spoken, then it must be so, or He is not truthful – this is impossible.
On the other side of this is God’s mercy; He is absolutely merciful. However, if in His mercy, He overlooks our transgressions, then He violates His righteousness – it would be ridiculous to even consider. Further, God is perfectly gracious and longs to participate in fellowship with His people, bestowing infinite grace upon them. However, because He is perfectly Holy, this cannot occur with sinful man or He is not perfectly Holy; this is impossible.
And finally, God is also love. God loves each person perfectly, but He cannot fellowship with His beloved creatures because of their sins. If He were to do so, He would violate His just, righteous, and holy character. This is also impossible.
This leaves a tension between these characteristics of God and man who has sinned. More terrifying is that Adam sinned and his fallen nature is transferred to his descendants. We cannot go back in time before the sins we’ve committed, nor can we go back before Adam’s sin. Time is moving forward and it is the medium in which we live and interact with God. The separation is complete; God’s holiness has been violated; and there is nothing we can do – judgment must come. This is the certainty of the matter. Therefore, though our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, it in no way negates the judgment which must result.
Life Application: All sin must be judged. However, God in His wisdom and mercy has allowed the sin of man to be judged in a perfect Substitute. By judging sin in this way the tension between God’s eternal attributes ends. God’s perfect righteousness required a sacrifice for payment of our sins. His perfect holiness demanded that no iniquity could be found in that Substitute. His perfect justice says that no unrighteousness can come into His presence, but a perfect payment restores felicity when offered by Him and accepted by man. His perfect grace is demonstrated in the Gift which we don’t deserve. His perfect mercy is revealed in not condemning us as we deserve; His wrath was instead placed on His own precious Son. His perfect truthfulness is upheld in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, by which every promise in every covenant to man is fulfilled in Him. And His perfect love is demonstrated in the giving of His own Son on our behalf. Take time today to think through the enormity of what transpired at the cross of Calvary.
Lord God, what You have done in Jesus is simply beyond my comprehension. I fail to grasp the magnitude of the perfection of Christ. I know that for all eternity I will look to the cross of my Lord and stand in wonder at the immensity of what occurred there. Praises belong to You, O God. Amen.