In an attempt to answer this question, part two deals with the justice of God. God is great because of His justice. He is a just God, and that is part of His character; God cannot go against His character. Justice by definition means the quality of being just; fairness; the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law. The law in the context of this part is referring to God’s law; His ultimate standard is by which we will be judged.
I am going to use a real-world example. This case is national news, so I am sure you have heard of it: the Christian-Newsom double murder that happened in Knoxville in January 2007. I knew one of them personally, so it is easy for me to answer the following question. Would I want a judge in this case to let the suspects go free of any penalty? No! That would not be justice according to the law, and the judge would not be doing his job.
Put this in the context of God’s law. God hates sin, and His law says that sin equals eternal death. We, as humans, have a sinful nature and were born in sin (Ps. 51:5). Should we go free without a penalty? No! That would not be justice according to God’s law and God would not be just. As I have already said, God is just according to His character and He cannot defy His character.
It all comes down to this one thing: If God is just, He cannot forgive us.
What had to happen then? God cannot forgive us unless a sacrifice is made. God sent His Son to this earth to die. He had to walk as a perfect man on this earth, God as man (Jesus) could not have sinned on this earth, because then he would not be accepting the sins of His people, He would have been dying for His own sin; so He could not (and did not) sin on this earth.
His judgment had to be poured out on that tree; Jesus Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath. All of this wrath should have fallen upon His people; instead Jesus took this punishment; the justice of God was satisfied; His son has died for the chosen (by chosen, I mean ones who have accepted Jesus Christ and he is the Lord of their life – Jesus did not die for those who won’t accept Him as Savior and Lord). Having died, Jesus made it possible for a just God to declare wicked men righteous and yet still be just.
I think that J.I. Packer sums it up perfectly in his book, “Knowing God”:
“On the cross, God judged our sins in the person of His Son, and Jesus endured the retributive come-back of our wrongdoing. Look at the cross, therefore, and you see what form God’s judicial reaction to human sin will finally take. What form is that? In a word, withdrawal and deprivation of good. On the cross Jesus lost all the good that He had before: all sense of His Father’s presence and love, all sense of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, all enjoyment of God and of created things, all ease and solace of friendship, were taken from Him, and in their place was nothing but loneliness, pain, a killing sense of human malice and callousness, and a horror of great spiritual darkness.” (p. 176)
God is such a just God that He even turned away from Jesus on the cross. He did not turn away because He couldn’t stand the pain that Jesus was suffering; He turned away because Jesus had become sin, and God hates sin. I like what the Amplified Bible says in Matthew 27:46: “And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?–that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me [leaving Me helpless, forsaking and failing Me in My need]?”
By sending His son to accept the sins of the world and die on a tree is the ultimate example of God’s just nature. I will also show a couple of other Biblical examples of God’s justice. In Genesis 18, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, because of their wicked ways. Abraham, being a man, does not understand God’s justice (as many of us don’t understand today). God is unwilling to destroy the innocent among the guilty. You should take some time to read this account in Genesis 18.
Another example is in 1 Corinthians 11:31. Justice is applied for discipline, that we (children of God, saved ones) are spared of eternal death.
God shows more of His power by saving a man (or woman) than he did by creating the earth. The earth was created “ex nihilo” (out of nothing); man was saved, he is recreated out of a corrupt mass. It is easier to create something out of nothing than to transform something corrupt into something (or someone) who loves God.
You must now ask the question, when Jesus died on the cross what have you been saved from? Were you saved from sin? No, sin is an inanimate object; you cannot be saved from an inanimate object. You have been saved from God. You were not saved for a purpose driven life; you were not saved for your best life now; you were not saved for forty days of purpose; you were not saved to become a better you; you were saved for God. Maybe he will tear you down, or exalt you; maybe he will give you a life of ease and comfort, maybe he will send you to the jungle to die as a martyr. It is all for Him!
God is truly a just God, and this is proven in His Word. This is just another answer to the question, “How Great Is Our God?”
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all (1 Chr. 29:11).
– Adam Smith