The Nature of God: He Is Just — and Merciful

The Godhead Together

Jesus is referred to in Acts 7:52 as “the Just One.”  Justice is one of those things we like to savor when someone else has wronged us, but when we are the offending party, we would sincerely like to avoid it!  It is fortunate for us that God has the capacity to be completely just, and at the same time, limitlessly merciful.

Each of us has an innate longing for fairness and justice within us, because we carry the stamp of God’s likeness as part of our human nature.  Remember that in the beginning, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

Justice requires that wrongs be made right.  This is why we do not pat murderers on the back, tell them it’s OK, and send them on their merry way without demanding any consequential payment for what they have done.

Our sense of justice agrees with the “reap what you sow” principle: we expect that if we work hard or do right, we will be blessed in return, and if it doesn’t seem to happen that way, we feel some level of disappointment or even outrage.  When we have been falsely accused, we long for vindication.  Unfortunately, because our sin nature has twisted our sense of  justice, our natural tendency is to reason that we can earn salvation or God’s approval by attempting to be good.

Because God is perfectly just, all wrongs must be righted in some way.  Sin must be paid for.  This is where His mercy comes in: He decided to pay the price for us through Jesus dying in our place, so that we would not have to pay the consequences ourselves.  Justice has been served — on Jesus.  Jesus, Who is God, bore the satisfying of His own justice by substituting Himself for us.  Had there been any other human who was completely innocent (and there was not), that person still could not have been required by God to take our place — because for the innocent to pay for something he did not do would be unjust.  Only God could satisfy His own justice by putting Himself in our place of punishment.  This is an unfathomable mystery.

Psalm 100:5 states that “The LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting.”   God’s mercy toward us is without limit or end, and it goes beyond salvation to constantly repairing and restoring our lives, sin after sin, mistake after mistake, so that we can still experience a life of purpose and fulfilled destiny, as long as we continue to yield ourselves into His hands.

If God were not just, neither would He be good.  Our inherent sense of right tells us this.  But without His mercy toward us, life would be hopeless and miserable beyond endurance.  Both are necessary for our well-being, and both are equally important components of the goodness of God.

The Nature of God Index
Previous: He Is Entirely Truthful
Next: God Is Holy 

Excerpted from Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God — available in print from Full Gospel Family Publications and Amazon and in e-book form from many fine ebook sellers.


5 responses to “The Nature of God: He Is Just — and Merciful

  1. Pingback: The Nature of God — Intro | Out of the Fire

  2. Pingback: The Nature of God: He Is Entirely Truthful | Out of the Fire

  3. I think that so often we miss that Jesus is God when we talk about the crucifixion, so it was good to see you mention that here. Claiming that Jesus is God’s son gives the opponents of grace a foothold for criticizing God as an unnatural Father or even as a child abuser.

    Yet I looked at the Greek for the word translated as ‘Son’ and it is uihos… son. How do you account for this?


    • Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I will be talking more about each person of the Godhead and their distinct roles in the days to come. The mystery of the Godhead and how the three Persons within it interact in perfect harmony is so great. What we must grasp is that God the Father did not send a reluctant Son to the cross, but that this was a plan that was in place and fully agreed upon by Father, Son, and Spirit, since before the worlds were created. The Son loved mankind so much that He willingly laid down His life for us. To look at God the Father as an unnatural father or child abuser is to see things from the limited perspective that we humans have. We cannot always see the greater glory picture that God sees. I will try to write further on this when I get to the posts on the Son’s function in the Godhead.

      Blessings, Lee Ann


  4. Pingback: The Nature of God: God Is Holy | Out of the Fire

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