The Unexpected Justice of God


Putting my daughter to bed can be a trying experience.

Charis is three years old, and like most young children, going to bed is on her “least favorite things” list. As bedtime approaches she starts pulling all sorts of tricks and stall tactics out of the bag in an attempt to delay the inevitable. She wants me to put socks on her, take the socks off, adjust the socks so that the seam on the toe is perfectly flat, tell her a second story, pray for her a third time, and on and on.

It doesn’t take long before I can feel impatience beginning to simmer and then boil within me. I want some peace, and I want some quiet, and I want to put Charis to bed without a thirty minute epic battle.

Many times I sin in impatience against my little three year old girl.

Because God is kind, he won’t let me get away with my impatience, and it’s not long before I feel his gentle hand pressing against my conscience and leading me to repentance.

When I repent I’m often aware of God’s mercy. I know that God is merciful, and that mercy ripples out from the gospel to sinners like me, but I don’t usually connect repentance with the justice of God. 1 John 1:9 makes that connection:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This seems backward or something, doesn’t it? God’s justice is displayed in my forgiveness. His perfect, holy, righteous, never flinching, never failing justice is put on display when he forgives my sin. How is that possible?

It’s possible because justice was already executed upon Jesus Christ. Jesus really has received the justice that I should have received. At the cross, God treated Jesus like the impatient father. My sentence has already been fulfilled, and God’s justice has been completely satisfied.

If God didn’t forgive my sins, that would be unjust. It would be double jeopardy, making me atone for a crime that has already been resolved. The just, right, good, wonderful thing for God to do is forgive my sins.

Sometimes the gospel just takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

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