Justice in this life can be elusive.
Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme went undetected for decades, ultimately defrauding investors of billions. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to jail through our justice system.
Though Mr. Madoff was brought to justice, his punishment did not return the savings of those who lost everything. We also can experience injustices not fully accounted for in this life.
But, in His sovereign love, God will ensure ultimate justice at the end of this age.
Observe how Jesus describes this principle of God’s kingdom.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (ESV, Mt 13:47–50)
Jesus explains that the kingdom of heaven is like first-century fishing. A large drag net was pulled between two boats and brought together in the middle, gathering every sea creature into its carefully woven fibers. Only some fish were suitable for sale, requiring the fishermen to sort out the good fish from the bad.
Similarly, both good and evil people live together on earth. When God's final judgment comes, He will employ angels to sort the righteous from the unrighteous. The righteous will enter eternal joy with the Father, while the unrighteous receive eternal separation and torment.
It's common to hear the understandable objection that eternal punishment for sin is too severe. For example, for those who did not plot evil continually. For those who treated their fellow man with dignity and respect. To those who gave and served selflessly. And those who were betrayed by clergy or have experienced other types of injustice and abuse.
Even though these are understandable objections that come with real experiences and trauma, thinking that God is unfair respectfully misses the mark. It is a perspective that sees ourselves as the masters of our fate, unaccountable for how we live.
But, as our Creator, God determines the nature of the created being’s relationship with Him. Simply speaking, the relationship between God and man starts with God and not us. God is Holy and cannot tolerate sin. And, He also loves every single human being. Simply speaking, God loves us but hates our sins simultaneously.
To resolve this dichotomy, the Father lovingly gave His only Son to receive the just punishment that our sins deserve, providing a pathway for reconciliation with the Father. Gospel writer John shines a light on this pathway through Jesus when he says, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
Jesus is the only cure for our sinful nature, a cure that came at the ultimate cost. A price so great that people receive eternal punishment by rejecting God's infinitely valuable love and sacrifice in Christ.
God will judge all of mankind’s sins. Sin is rejecting God's plan for human flourishing, as scripture describes. Compared to God’s perfect standard of holiness, the verdict is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Ro 3:23) Even though we fall short of God’s perfect standard, The Father sent Jesus to be our Savior and rescue us from condemnation.
Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live, received the just punishment for sin on our behalf, and was raised from the dead on the third day. Those who repent of their sin and trust Jesus to serve as the boss of their life receive Jesus' perfect life, His substitutionary punishment, and his victory over death.
Those who turn and trust Jesus are considered righteous before God, not because of good works, but because of the complete work of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ alone.
In this age, we must live with broken people, and people must live with the broken parts of us. But, through Christ, we can experience everlasting joy with the Father, knowing He will make all things right.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being a loving and just God, making a way for me, through repentance and faith, to be reconciled to you. Heal the parts of me bruised and broken by others and keep my heart soft to them, knowing that you will bring justice in your sovereign way and time.
Questions for Application
1. What injustice is God inviting you to release to Him?
2. Is God revealing the need to trust Jesus as your Savior?
3. What objections make being open to God’s love difficult for you? Who can you talk to about this?