God’s Glorious Attributes
HE IS JUST
By Rayola Kelley
No one who claims they believe the Lord is just would debate with you openly that He was in any way unfair about something; but the truth is, for those of us who possess a western perspective and approach to matters, we can find ourselves becoming very confused about this subject. The reason why is because we westerners judge a matter based on what we perceive to be fair according to our own ideas of what would constitute justice in the situation. However, we fail to realize that our calculations are greatly limited by the fact we are not all-knowing about such issues. We do not see that we are sometimes judging the consequences of a situation without knowing the history of it, or we may be judging on the basis of the personal conclusions of another without being fully acquainted with the other side. It is hard to remember that all conflicts among people are like a two-sided coin, and each side has a way of changing the look of what is going on. It is for this reason that to avoid complicating the matter, many end up going along with their feelings about something or sticking with their limited or perverted opinions about it, thereby, subjecting their personal boat to be constantly rocked by the truth of a matter.
The truth is we think more highly of what we think than we should (Romans 12:3). We never start out to be wrong in our conclusions so it is hard to think that we would end up being wrong in our final estimation of a matter, but the truth is we either start out from a limited premise or a wrong one. Either one will lead us into tumultuous waters that will leave us ultimately looking foolish or being thrown under the bus by those we have defended or sided with.
This brings us to God being just. Isaiah 45:21-23 says, “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me: a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is going out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
We already know that being just is associated with justice. When I looked up “just” in the Strong’s Concordance, it had various meanings attached to it. The first one we will consider is lawful. God’s justice will uphold that which is lawful. Fair laws are moral and will prove to be fair to all, and we know God’s holy Law is lawful. This clearly establishes the holiness of God and His upright standard that will ensure the ways of righteousness.
All law is to create a foundation to ensure justice for all and is capable of rendering a fair verdict where the law has been blatantly disrespected by a lawbreaker. It is able to verify a crime to present a proper verdict to cause a fear in others when it comes to breaking the law in that particular arena. The problem with God’s just law is that it can only indict and condemn, not justify. Romans 3:20 verifies this fact, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The prophetical verse in Zechariah 9:9 tells us this about the promised Messiah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of ass.” We know this prophecy is in relationship to Jesus Christ. As we must note, it is recorded in the Gospels that He fulfilled this prophecy in every detail. But note, He is just and having salvation to offer to all who believe.
This brings us to another word associated with “just” and that is righteousness or rightness. “Rightness” has to do with one being in right standing, while “righteousness” has to do with being right before the Lord, to ensure right actions. Ultimately, righteousness entails the ways of what is virtuous. For example, a righteous king will be a just ruler, and 2 Samuel 23:3 confirms this, “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord.” Just leaders will prove to be wise leaders because they recognize the One who has all authority and with fear will walk in His righteous ways.
Another important word associated with being just, is the word, “judgment.” Good judgment points to the ability to bring a proper separation between matters that are confusing or subtle. To properly judge a matter, one must examine the spirit behind all such judgment. When John and James wanted to call fire out of heaven on the Samaritans because they did not receive Jesus in Luke 9, Jesus rebuked them and told them they did not know what spirit they were of (Luke 9:55). The spirit in which we do something is the real determining factor behind all matters.
Jesus made this statement in John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent me.” I know that not all judgments are just, but all judgments that find their origins in righteousness will be just. In this Scripture, Jesus is clearly stipulating two important aspects about His judgments. The first one is that they are just. In other words, they are pure or clean from any moral deviation, they are wise because they have heavenly inspiration, and they will prove to be right in the end.
The second aspect of what is just is that it will ensure that the will of God is done. There is very little justice in this world due to the fact that man, for the most part, proves to be unjust in his doings. The reason why is because man lacks integrity and can prove to be treacherous. He can be easily bribed, which will pervert all judgment, as well as bullied and intimidated, causing him to betray the innocent to preserve self. In the end, he will often bend to the will of others, but because he lacks faith towards God and integrity, he will often fail to give way to that which is right and honorable in light of God’s will. Lining up to God’s will can bring clarity to a confused mind, while doing God’s will can develop true discernment in a person’s life, and walking in His will, will bring about authority. Zephaniah 3:5 states, “The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” It is clear that the Lord is just.
Another definition of “just” is morally right, which ensures being clean in motive (spirit), aligning the person to the ways of righteousness. As eluded to already, there can be no justice without moral integrity present. A man who is not morally bound to what is right and good will not be morally bound to be just in what he does or the judgment calls that he makes in regard to others.
Job 8:3 asks this simple question, “Doth God pervert judgment? Or doth the Almighty pervert justice?” God will not pervert judgment because He can’t be swayed from righteousness and He will not pervert justice to gain some kind of standing or popularity.
Psalm 89:14 states, “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” God’s throne sits in the habitation of justice and judgment. In other words, all matters declared from His throne are morally upright and possess integrity. True mercy will bring balance to judgment, while truth will ensure the integrity of justice.
Now God may not pervert these two virtues, but we can’t say the same about man. The problem with justice in America is that some judges are activists favoring liberal causes, and are void of any moral character or integrity that would ensure the moral prowess of the Law. Because they are judging on the basis of a cause and not law, their judgment will be perverted and cruel. In a sense, they are blinded by the cause, and the fact that they lack moral rightness allows them to disregard real justice while justifying their perverted cause at the expense of truth.
I have mentioned this before, but there is nothing that rips at the fiber of a nation like injustice. Wicked judges oppress the innocent, persecute the lawful, mock integrity, rage against true righteousness, and literally defy the law, while shaking their fist at the Lawmaker. We know the end of these judges. They will be judged by the moral law that they defied, sentenced according to their own insane judgments, and spend eternity paying for their endless misdeeds and rebellion towards the righteous principles of the Law and its Author.
Isaiah 56:1 declares “Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” Think about this statement. The 613 laws in the Torah are judgment calls. Many of these laws have been fulfilled, and in some cases crossed out by the great work of Christ’s redemption on the cross because they served as mere shadows of Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18; Colossians 2:14-17).
We are to keep God’s judgments but we are to do justice. In other words, we are to be just in our dealings with others. Being just does not mean we are working out our salvation; rather, we are doing right because of our faith in what God’s Word says about such matters. It is disheartening when people who call themselves Christians do not see the need to be just in all of their dealings with others. It is as though they wear different hats. They wear their Christian hat at church and act pious, and they wear their “good guy” hat in public to impress others, but at home they can be unloving, demanding tyrants and in business they can prove to be unscrupulous in their practices. It is as though they are saying God only cares about leaving the impression in the right places and is not concerned about the practices that are going on behind closed doors, but let me assure everyone, God sees it all and has not forsaken the earth. (Ezekiel 8:12)
It is important to note the last part of Isaiah 56:1, “and my righteousness to be revealed.” Have you heard or read an explanation of this statement? I have and it is found in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” In Isaiah 56:1, we are told that justice is associated with salvation and in Isaiah 56:1, we are told that God’s righteousness was yet to be revealed, but in Romans we see that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and that in it the righteousness of God has been revealed. This Gospel is revealed from the faith of one who has received it and has passed it on to another, and the reason it is passed down in such a measure is because the righteous shall live by faith. Paul summarized the inspiration behind all active, obedient faith, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
With the previous paragraph in mind, the words of Paul in Acts 17:30-31 may shed more light, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man who he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The man who has been appointed to be Judge over all, and raised from the dead is the Lord Jesus Christ. We know the Gospel is that Jesus died for sin, was buried and rose again three days later. Without the resurrection of Jesus, the preaching of the Gospel and our faith would be in vain and we still would be lost and dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 14,16-17).
Leviticus 19:36 and Deuteronomy 25:15 commanded the people of Israel to have just weights in weighing things. True justice begins with just measurements or weights to ensure integrity in the handling of all matters. Proverbs 11:1 states, “A false balance is abomination to the LORD; but a just weight is his delight.”
In Daniel 5, Belshazzar was weighed in the balances by God and found wanting (Daniel 5:27). The truth is we are all going to be weighed in the balances of justice and if we do not have Jesus present in our lives, the Law of God will find us “wanting.” It is important to remember all matters will be weighed by God’s Law and without Christ and His work of redemption, our works will become an abomination in light of the Law. But, since Christ is the fulfillment and end of the Law, believers will stand justified in Him, no longer subject to the Torah but to a higher more excellent law of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which makes us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). As the Apostle Paul pointed out in Galatians 5:22-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
There are many warnings to God’s people who fail to execute judgment and justice and who unfairly rob from those who are vulnerable and are unable to stand against them. On the other hand, the benefits of being counted righteous by the Lord are immense. Let me point out a few of these benefits.
Proverbs 3:33 states that the Lord will curse the house of the wicked, but bless the habitation of the just. In Proverbs 4:18 we are told, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Meditate on these two Scriptures. We have the assurance that if we are just, God will bless our habitation or lives and that our lives will become shining lights to others. In fact, the more we walk in the way of righteousness, the greater our light will become in the darkness.
Proverbs 9:9 tells us, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” The opposite of wisdom is foolishness and the opposite of just is bias, prejudice, and judgmentalism. You can’t instruct a fool and you can’t teach someone who is already set in their ways. Wisdom causes us to be discreet about how to process a matter and being just allows us the opportunity to discern what is being presented. Proverbs 11:9 goes on to say, “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyed his neighbor; but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”
Being just ensures that we will leave a lasting legacy behind. Proverbs 10:6-7 gives us this insight, “Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot.”
Since the just are consistent in their lives, they can be trusted in not only what they do, but what they say. Consider what Proverbs 10:20 says about this subject, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.” Remember, what comes out of the mouth when one is tested, or not on guard, is what is in the heart (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:16-20).
In Proverbs 10:21-22 we are told that the upright are a delight and their seed shall be delivered, and in Proverbs 10:23, we are given this insightful contrast, “The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” Meditate on this statement. The desire of the righteous is towards the Lord’s will, and it will prove to be good, but the wicked operate from self-serving expectations of how something is going to make them feel and look. As believers, our expectation is in the Lord and we delight in His will being done, for it will bring Him much deserved glory. We are also reminded to think on that which is just to keep the attitude of our heart pure, our mind sound, and our focus right. (Philippians 4:8).
Proverbs 12:13 tells us that the wicked will fall into their own snare, but the just shall come out of trouble. Proverbs 12:21 and 13:22 promise that no evil will happen to the just and that the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Proverbs 20:7 tells us that the just will walk in integrity and as a result, their children shall be blessed.
We finally have Luke 14:14, “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Everyone will be recompensed according to their life and works on the great day of resurrection. The just will not only be able to stand before the great judge in confidence, but they will be rewarded according to their works of righteousness.
The question we must ask is who will we be standing with in the end—the just or the unjust? My prayer is that everyone who reads this can confidently declare, “I will be standing on the side of the righteous!”