VARIOUS THEOLOGIES

A Theology of Justice
by Greg Williamson (c) revised 2022

Just Introduction
Justice in the Bible
Just Truths
Just Examples
Just Bible References
Just Conclusion
Appendix A: Just Application
Appendix B: Justification
Just Sources

Justice in the Bible is the act of restoring community and healing broken relationships. - Paul Alexander [ref]

JUST INTRODUCTION

 
The Greek Goddess of Justice

While philosophers have long debated what constitutes justice, the essential meaning is at least partially clear. The images of the goddesses of justice in Greek mythology suggest some of the basic themes. The goddess stands sometimes blindfolded -- a symbol of impartiality. Other times the goddess holds up the balance scales -- a common symbol today of law. The scales reflect the weighing to find what is true and fair, testing the true value of what is weighed. These attributes are the basis for the judgment the goddess executes as symbolized by the sword often carried in her hand. In these images we have much of our common notions of justice -- impartiality, truth and fairness. [ref]
 

In the sense in which it is being used in this article, "just" can be defined as: "1 having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason: REASONABLE (a just but not a generous decision); conforming to a standard of correctness : PROPER (just proportions); 2 acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good : RIGHTEOUS (a just war); being what is merited : DESERVED (a just punishment); legally correct : LAWFUL (just title to an estate)." [ref]

It has been observed that "[j]ustice has two major aspects. First, it is the standard by which penalties are assigned for breaking the obligations of the society. Second, justice is the standard by which the advantages of social life are handed out, including material goods, rights of participation, opportunities, and liberties. It is the standard for both punishment and benefits ... Cultures differ widely in determining the basis by which the benefits are to be justly distributed. For some it is by birth and nobility. For others the basis is might or ability or merit. On the other hand, it might simply be whatever is the law or whatever has been established by contracts." [ref]

Corn can't expect justice from a court composed of chickens. - African Proverb [ref]

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JUSTICE IN THE BIBLE

 
God has communicated to human beings his standards of behavior. Within the context of his covenant relationship with Israel, God shared his norms for a people who would live in intimate relationship with him. A nation and a person that was identified with the Lord must do justice and live in accordance with the divine standards of what is loving and right. OT law, which expresses these standards, is an expression of God's own character as well as his explanation of how his OT people were to live a life of love.

Justice in the OT is both a personal and a societal issue. Law not only shows individuals how to act toward each other but also lays the foundation for a moral society. Thus the OT law contains developed legal justice and social justice mechanisms.

The NT says less about society. This is in part because the church, unlike Israel, is not a nation. It is also in part because in the NT the emphasis shifts from just behavior (behavior in conformity to a standard or norm) to righteousness. The NT emphasis on righteousness focuses attention on the character, the inner person, from which behavior springs. And God shows us that his solution to injustice is not to be found in life regulated by law; rather, it is found through God's action in Christ to change human character.

What is the importance of studying the OT for insights into justice? For one thing, we are immediately confronted with the importance to God of the way we treat other persons. Justice is a concept that calls us to loving concern for those who are weak and oppressed, not simply to moral action in our interpersonal dealings. What is more, the social mechanisms that God established for Israel suggest positive ways that our society might act to correct inequities in both our legal and social justice systems. [ref]
 

Old Testament

 
Nature of Justice
Justice in the Bible very frequently ... deals with benefits. Cultures differ widely in determining the basis by which the benefits are to be justly distributed. For some it is by birth and nobility. For others the basis is might or ability or merit. On the other hand, it might simply be whatever is the law or whatever has been established by contracts. The Bible takes another possibility. Benefits are distributed according to need. Justice then is very close to love and grace. God "executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing" (Deut. 10:18, NASB; cp. Hos. 10:12; Isa. 30:18).

Various needy groups are the recipients of justice. These groups include widows, fatherless, resident aliens (also called "sojourners" or "strangers"), wage earners, the poor, and prisoners, slaves, and the sick (Job 29:12–17; Ps. 146:7–9; Mal. 3:5). Each of these groups has specific needs that keep its members from being able to participate in aspects of the life of their community. Even life itself might be threatened. Justice involves meeting those needs. The forces which deprive people of what is basic for community life are condemned as oppression (Mic. 2:2; Eccles. 4:1). To oppress is to use power for one's own advantage in depriving others of their basic rights in the community (Mark 12:40). To do justice is to correct that abuse and to meet those needs (Isa. 1:17). Injustice is depriving others of their basic needs or failing to correct matters when those rights are not met (Jer. 5:28; Job 29:12–17). Injustice is either a sin of commission or of omission.

The content of justice, the benefits which are to be distributed as basic rights in the community, can be identified by observing what is at stake in the passages in which "justice, " "righteousness, " and "judgment" occur. The needs which are met include land (Ezek. 45:6–9; cp. Mic. 2:2; 4:4) and the means to produce from the land, such as draft animals and millstones (Deut. 22:1–4; 24:6). These productive concerns are basic to securing other essential needs and thus avoiding dependency; thus the millstone is called the "life" of the person (Deut. 24:6). Other needs are those essential for mere physical existence and well being: food (Deut. 10:18; Ps. 146:7), clothing (Deut. 24:13), and shelter (Ps. 68:6; Job 8:6). Job 22:5–9, 23; 24:1–12 decries the injustice of depriving people of each one of these needs, which are material and economic. The equal protection of each person in civil and judicial procedures is represented in the demand for due process (Deut. 16:18–20). Freedom from bondage is comparable to not being "in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things" (Deut. 28:48 NASB).

Justice presupposes God's intention for people to be in community. When people had become poor and weak with respect to the rest of the community, they were to be strengthened so that they could continue to be effective members of the community -- living with them and beside them (Lev. 25:35–36). Thus biblical justice restores people to community. By justice those who lacked the power and resources to participate in significant aspects of the community were to be strengthened so that they could. This concern in Lev. 25 is illustrated by the provision of the Year of Jubilee, in which at the end of the 50-year period land is restored to those who had lost it through sale or foreclosure of debts (Lev. 25:28). Thus they regained economic power and were brought back into the economic community. Similarly, interest on loans was prohibited (Lev. 25:36) as a process that pulled people down, endangering their position in the community.

These legal provisions express a further characteristic of justice. Justice delivers; it does not merely relieve the immediate needs of those in dire straits (Ps. 76:9; Isa. 45:8; 58:11; 62:1–2). Helping the needy means setting them back on their feet, giving a home, leading to prosperity, restoration, ending the oppression (Pss. 68:5–10; 10:15–16; cp. Pss. 107; 113:7–9). Such thorough justice can be socially disruptive. In the Jubilee year as some receive back lands, others lose recently acquired additional land. The advantage to some is a disadvantage to others. In some cases the two aspects of justice come together. In the act of restoration, those who were victims of justice receive benefits while their exploiters are punished (1 Sam 2:7–10; cp. Luke 1:51–53; 6:20–26). [ref]
 

Old Testament + New Testament

 
The Source of Justice
As the sovereign Creator of the universe, God is just (Ps. 99:1–4; Gen. 18:25; Deut. 32:4; Jer. 9:24), particularly as the defender of all the oppressed of the earth (Pss. 76:9; 103:6; Jer. 49:11). Justice thus is universal (Ps. 9:7–9) and applies to each covenant or dispensation. Jesus affirmed for His day the centrality of the OT demand for justice (Matt. 23:23). Justice is the work of the NT people of God (James 1:27).

God's justice is not a distant external standard. It is the source of all human justice (Prov. 29:26; 2 Chron. 19:6, 9). Justice is grace received and grace shared (2 Cor. 9:8–10).

The most prominent human agent of justice is the ruler. The king receives God's justice and is a channel for it (Ps. 72:1; cp. Rom. 13:1–2, 4). There is not a distinction between a personal, voluntary justice and a legal, public justice. The same caring for the needy groups of the society is demanded of the ruler (Ps. 72:4; Ezek. 34:4; Jer. 22:15–16). Such justice was also required of pagan rulers (Dan. 4:27; Prov. 31:8–9).

Justice is also a central demand on all people who bear the name of God. Its claim is so basic that without it other central demands and provisions of God are not acceptable to God. Justice is required to be present with the sacrificial system (Amos 5:21–24; Mic. 6:6–8; Isa. 1:11–17; Matt. 5:23–24), fasting (Isa. 58:1–10), tithing (Matt. 23:23), obedience to the other commandments (Matt. 19:16–21), or the presence of the temple of God (Jer. 7:1–7). [ref]
 

If we do justice to our brother even though we may not like him, we will come to love him; but if we do injustice to him because we do not love him, we will come to hate him. - John Rushkin [ref]

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New Testament
"Several persons are 'just' in that they have upheld God's justice within the covenant community. Mary's husband Joseph is 'a just man' in this sense (Mt. 1:19). Both the piety and actions of Joseph from Arimathea mark him off as 'a good and righteous [AV 'just'] man' (Lk. 23:50). Another such person is 'Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation' (Acts 10:22). There is also 'righteous Lot' (2 Pet. 2:7)." [ref]

Jesus
Besides the fact that Jesus himself "is described as righteous, just, 'the Just One' (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; 1 Jn. 2:1; 3:7; cf. Jn. 5:30)" [ref], he taught his followers to seek justice in several areas:

 
• Jesus criticized the injustice of greed and called for justice for the poor and hungry. He told Pharisees, the wealthy religious elite, that they "justify" (dikaiountes) or "righteousify" their "love of money" while they devoured widows' houses (Luke 16:14–15; Mark 12:38–44). James [the brother of Jesus] preached powerfully for justice when he said that Christians should never treat people with money better than those without (James 2:1–7).

• Jesus spoke against the injustice of domination and taught his followers to be servants of all instead (Matthew 23:1–6; Luke 22), calling the servants the greatest and turning the kingdom upside down.

• Jesus taught against the injustice of violence by weeping for Jerusalem because it "kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!" and it does not know "the things that make for peace" (Matthew 23:37, NRSV; Luke 19:42, NRSV). The prophets were killed because they called Israel to be faithful to God and therefore just in all their actions with others. For this they died.

• Jesus and the prophets spoke out for the justice of welcoming community and opposed the injustice of exclusion. Jesus showed that the justice of God restores relationships with lepers, prostitutes, Gentiles (ethnic/racial outsiders), immigrants, women, children, and ritually unclean people of all kinds. Jesus' teachings and practices of forgiveness, mercy, and love accomplish the vision of biblical justice because all of these restore community and heal brokenness. [ref]
 

Both in Jesus' teachings and elsewhere in both the OT and the NT, justice in its

 
gracious sense seems to forgive the very crimes that it condemns in its ... punitive sense. The ultimate solution, however, appears in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ethical example furnished by his sinless life (Heb. 4:15) constitutes the climax of biblical revelation on the moral will of God and far exceeds the perverted though seemingly lofty justice of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt. 5:20). Yet he who commanded men to be perfect, even as their heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48), exhibited at the same time that love which has no equal, as he laid down his life for his undeserving friends (Jn. 15:13). Here was revealed 'justice', in its ethical ... redemptive ... [and] imputed [senses], all united in one. He came that God might be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus (Rom. 3:26) and that we might be found in him, who is made our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). [ref]
 

Paul
"In the NT God's justice remains bound to His mercy. Paul insists, for instance, that God's justice is not shaken when the sinner, whose wickedness demonstrates 'the justice of God' (AV 'righteousness'), is forgiven (Rom. 3:5). This position is essential to Paul's thesis that God, who is not unjust (Rom. 9:14), has not rejected His people Israel for being disobedient and contrary (Rom. 10:21–11:1). Later writers described God as One who 'judges justly' (1 Pet. 2:23), who is 'faithful and just' when He forgives us (1 Jn. 1:9), and whose ways are 'just and true' (Rev. 15:3)." [ref]

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. - Reinhold Niebuhr [ref]

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The Imagery of Justice

 
The words just, justice and justly appear nearly a hundred times in the Bible, overwhelmingly in the OT and only a handful of times in the NT. Justice fits with the concept of law, and thus God's justice is revealed heavily in the OT. But in the NT, we are justified by God's mercy.

Justice is one of the most outstanding attributes of God in Scripture. Time and again God is depicted as the herald of justice, especially in the Prophets (Is 28:6; 51:4–5; 61:8; Jer 9:24; 21:12; Ezek 34:16). All of God's ways are just: "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he" (Deut 32:4 NIV; see also Neh 9:13, 33; Is 58:2; Jn 5:30; 2 Thess 1:6). The righteous are called to mirror God's justice, for the Lord loves the just (Ps 37:28; cf. Gen 18:19; Deut 27:19; Jer 22:3). The image is so closely tied to God's character that "evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully" (Prov 28:5 NIV).

Justice is often considered a synonym for fairness, but often God's justice equals not what is fair but what is right (2 Chron 12:6; Neh 9:33; Jer 22:15; 23:5; 33:15; Ezek 18:5). A living example is seen in Job's plight. We know from Scripture that God is always just (Deut 32:4), yet fairness is not given to Job-he suffers at God's will, despite his righteousness. There is nothing Job has done to deserve such punishment, yet he is afflicted with great pain and loss.

Yet while God's justice is often associated with punishment or wrath, mercy plays a large role in it. Isaiah prophesies that "Zion will be redeemed with justice" (Is 1:27 NIV) and "my [God's] justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations" (Is 51:4–5 NIV; see also Jer 30:11; Ezek 33:13–20; 34:16). Here, justice is associated with redemption and salvation, bringing deliverance to the captives and freedom to the oppressed. God's justice is never cold, for God is love. Instead it brings joy (Prov 21:15). The Psalms, in particular, sometimes express ecstatic joy that God is coming as judge (Ps 67:4; 96:13; 98:9).

The Servant figure in Isaiah is an excellent, living example of justice. Isaiah writes,

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
    till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope. (Is 42:1–4 NIV)

This description of justice and the one who will administer justice is compelling. The reader is drawn to the strength and mercy of the Servant and longs to see the day of his coming. Justice here is personal, filled with mercy and love and deliverance; it is associated with what is right and good and holy. Integrity and truthfulness and faithfulness are implicit in the passage, revealing the nature of God's justice. [ref]
 

The Christian's goal is not power but justice. We are to seek to make the institutions of power just, without being corrupted by the process necessary to do this. - Charles Colson [ref]

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JUST TRUTHS

"Justice is a dimension of God's character." "For the Jews, JUSTICE was not merely a human quest in the context of a world ruled by fickle gods, as among the Greeks, but rooted directly in the character of God. Thus the biblical witness about JUSTICE begins with the fact that Yahweh was a God of 'JUSTICE,' and it is from this that the richness of biblical JUSTICE expands (Psalm 72:1-4; Psalm 99:4). JUSTICE was found through divine revelation and not through human searching. There was an inherent and revealed JUSTICE which God, and to a limited extent nature itself, revealed. All nations are subject to this JUSTICE (Amos 1-2; Romans 1)." [ref]

"Justice is an ethical, moral category." "The moral dimension of JUSTICE is demonstrated by the fact that the very word for JUSTICE in the Scriptures is often translated as 'righteousness.' JUSTICE is not simply a matter of structures, and certainly not abstractions, but is intimately connected with right living. In the New Testament we are encouraged to 'seek first his kingdom and his righteousness' (Matthew 6:33). There is an integral relationship in Scripture between the concepts of righteousness and JUSTICE. To do JUSTICE is to act rightly. Thus JUSTICE is not so much a political or legal theory as a moral and spiritual call." [ref]

"Justice is the duty of humanity under God." "That JUSTICE is the demand of God for all nations, and the special duty of Israel, the covenant people, is made clear from the prophetic calls and denunciations. INJUSTICE is condemned. Amos declares, 'Let JUSTICE roll on like a river' (Amos 5:24), and the judgment of God falls on Israel for institutional and personal INJUSTICE. Doing JUSTICE is not a tangential or merely consequential aspect of God's people -- it is at the core of the obligation of a covenant people. So central is this duty that God rejects the worship of people who allow or participate in INJUSTICE around them (Amos 5:21-24)." [ref]

"Justice is chiefly action, not philosophy." "For the Old Testament, JUSTICE was not a mere philosophic virtue. Indeed, little time is spent with the nuances of 'JUSTICE.' The emphasis is on doing JUSTICE -- on action. The prophets insisted on JUSTICE 'at the gate' -- the local court where the elders ruled. It was a JUSTICE that required fair dealing in business transactions, credit arrangements, buying and selling of goods, the administration of JUSTICE generally. Its enemies were privilege, bribery and unfair advantages (Amos 5:11-15; Amos 8:4ff)." [ref]

"Justice is concern for the weak against power and privilege." "The Old Testament evidences a special concern for JUSTICE for the poor and oppressed. If there were any place where INJUSTICE might be observed, it was with the poor, widows and orphans who lacked the knowledge or power to assure JUSTICE and were often victims of "sharp" traders and corrupt politicians. Some have turned this biblical concern into a Marxist view of an oppressed class embodying truth and a liberation theology. It is, however, more properly seen simply as a recognition that these are the persons who are typically the victims (see Amos 2:7; 4:1; 5:11-12; 8:4ff). This moves the biblical view of JUSTICE beyond a mere concern for imparticularity; it involves particularity toward those who are most vulnerable, for otherwise they will not receive a fair deal." [ref]

Structural injustice needs to be rooted out.

 
We have sensitive radars that quickly detect personal INJUSTICES -- disparity in criminal sentencing, unfair enforcement of the law, police brutality. Biblical JUSTICE is to be evident in every relationship -- for example, fairness in business practices. However, JUSTICE involves not just individuals, but systems and structures as well. In Greek thought and in biblical traditions JUSTICE was not only an attribute of individual relations, but also a governing principle for society as a whole. Biblical thought compels the recognition that whole institutions and nations may embody evil and act UNJUSTLY. Indeed, often institutionalized INJUSTICE is the most difficult to root out because it is intractably settled into, and hidden within, the culture. Institutions such as slavery were long defended by people who were personally committed to JUSTICE but failed to see the structural INJUSTICE involved.

American evangelical Christianity has often ignored social and public JUSTICE. We have forgotten not only the biblical heritage, but also that of the Wesleyan revivals where the recovery of vital faith affected the public institutions of society. The antislavery movement is part of that heritage. Today issues of JUSTICE demand a prophetic and biblical voice. Areas such as protection of human life, genetic engineering, race relations, economic systems and criminal JUSTICE systems ought to call for the clearest Christian thinking. [ref]
 

We need to carry out justice as a calling. "Perhaps the most critical need is to change our concept of JUSTICE. JUSTICE doesn't just merely reside in courts and books as we so often think; JUSTICE actively works in us when we are faithful to our calling and to our God. The church ought to be a community uniquely recognized for its vital commitment to JUSTICE. By so doing we might return the concept to its holy place -- before the throne of God." [ref]

Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. - Thomas Jefferson [ref]

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JUST EXAMPLES
Here we touch on but a few of the Bible's many examples of justice (where some form of "justice" is used).

Abraham & the fulfillment of God's promise (Genesis 18:18-19)

 
Before speaking to Abraham about his mission, Yahweh restated his promise of blessing Abraham. The implication is that Yahweh was speaking in such a way that Abraham could overhear. Abraham was surely to become a great and powerful nation. The addition of "powerful" enhances the original promise (Gen. 12:2). Yahweh then reiterated that all nations on earth would receive blessing through him. Yahweh was thinking about speaking with Abraham concerning the possibility of punishing Sodom and Gomorrah, especially since, in the great promises to Abraham, Abraham was the means of blessing and curse for the other nations (Gen. 12:3). By sharing his plan with Abraham, God was implementing the dimension of the promise that the nations would find blessing through Abraham. Furthermore, this approach reveals that God wants his people to be engaged with him in interceding for the peoples, especially those under threat of judgment. Yahweh continued by describing Abraham as the one he had chosen, literally "known." "Know" here carries the sense of selecting a person in order to develop a close personal relationship. Having chosen Abraham, God charged him with the responsibility of directing his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh. That is, they are to do what was right and just. When they are obedient to God, God may work through them dynamically to achieve what he had promised Abraham. This point is stressed, because it is the spiritual/moral basis that enabled Abraham to intercede for the deliverance of Sodom. It was also on the basis of Abraham's right relationship with God that Yahweh guaranteed to deliver Lot from the coming conflagration of these cities (Gen. 19:29). Furthermore, in this account Abraham, a doer of righteousness, stands in sharp relief to the doers of wickedness in Sodom. [ref]
 

Samuel's sons (1 Samuel 8:1-5)

 
The parallels between the behavior of Samuel's sons and that of Eli's sons are unmistakable. The misuse of power may not have followed the exact pattern, but the contempt for God's law, God's people, and thus God was the same. The strong, competent Samuel had no more success in controlling his sons than had the ineffectual, food-loving Eli. The text gives no indication that Samuel tacitly concurred in his sons' misdoings as Eli did, but he appointed them, and he did not prevent their dishonest gain from accept[ing] bribes and pervert[ing] justice. Leadership from Samuel's family was no more a long-term solution to Israel's need for effective rulers than leadership from the priestly line of Eli had been.

These verses both explain the perceived need for a different style of leadership and raise the question as to whether inherited authority and status will always involve the abuse of power. This question often comes to the fore in the Kingship Narratives that follow, but the tribal elders see kingship as a way forward -- maybe the only way forward. They believe that it will solve their need for a consistent and organized response to the continuing Philistine threat, as well as to ongoing internal injustices (1 Sam. 8:3).

The elders' motivation may also include a spiritual aspect, a belief that they need the kind of spiritual direction that helps rather than hinders their worship of the Lord. The fact that they come to Samuel with their request and that the corruption of Joel and Abijah is seen as a problem indicates that their request was not, at least in their own minds, a turning away from God.

Looking to all the other nations as a model, however, could hint that they saw following contemporary cultural patterns rather than seeking God's will as the way forward. The unreconciled ambiguity found in the attitude toward kingship throughout its somewhat questionable history is reflected. On the one hand, kingship could be seen as a rejection of God's own kingship, an unnecessary intrusion into the relationship between God and his chosen nation. On the other hand, it was a gift from God, a model and a channel through which God's relationship with Israel could be illustrated and strengthened. [ref]
 

The fool (Psalm 53:1)

 
A prophetic speaker laments the abominable behavior of human beings who ignore the reality of God and his power. The "fool" is characterized by corrupt actions -- opposite to those of the wise, who do good and seek to do the will of God (Cf. Ps 74:18b and Isa 32:5–6b). The fool, of course, is not a person who is simple-minded by nature. Fools are persons who deliberately choose stubborn and pernicious behavior. The paradigmatic figure of the fool in the OT is Nabal in the account of his conflict with David (1 Sam 25:1–44). R. A. Bennett has argued that Ps 14–53 is a commentary on nabal ("fool"). He traces the usage of nabal in the OT and finds that in its earlier use, especially, it connotes sacrilege, behavior involving serious abuse, and is characteristic of an outcast (note Gen 34:2; Josh 7:15; Judg 19:23; 20:6, 10; Deut 22:21; 1 Sam 13:11). The earlier references tend to involve sexual behavior which threatens the well-being of individuals and the community (for example, communal stability is to the fore in Prov 30:21–23). The prophets indict the whole nation of Israel in regard to nabal-behavior; e.g., Isa 9:15–17, "the prophet who teaches lies …; those who lead this people astray …; everyone is godless ["profane"] and an evildoer and every mouth speaks folly" (Cf. Jer 17:11, Nah 3:6).

Generally, a nabal is a person whose behavior is disruptive and disintegrative of family, community, and nation. It is worthwhile to note that in Ps 53, the "evildoers" are linked with the nabal, whose behavior is so vile, corrupt, and destructive. The fools formulate their judgments in their hearts (or minds). They may not speak of their decisions with their lips, but they act out of the volitional center of their lives. ... [ref]
 

Food for the poor (Proverbs 13:23)

 
The translation of this verse and thus its meaning are disputed. However, granted the approach taken here, the meaning shows great sympathy toward the poor. Typically, Proverbs attributes poverty to some form of folly. While according to Proverbs the foolish behavior most commonly resulting in poverty is laziness (Pr 6:6–11; 10:4, 5; 19:15; 22:13; etc.), other reasons for poverty are also given, including indulgence (Pr 21:17). However, here folly is not in mind at all, but rather, poverty is the result of some form of injustice perpetrated toward the poor. The assumption is that some persons have worked hard and done everything within their power to gain material prosperity, but forces beyond their control have robbed them of it. The result is called a "lack of justice." The wording makes it unlikely that a natural disaster (e.g., flooding) is in mind here, but rather some type of human malice. However, the verse gets no more specific than this because injustice can come in many different forms, for example, an exploitative landlord or unfair government taxation. This verse is significant because it acknowledges that it is not only the godless fool who can be poor. [ref]
 

 
The proverb teaches that the Lord -- though not mentioning him -- furnished the earth and his people in such a way that there is abundant food for the diligent poor, but sometimes tyrants sweep it and/or them away through injustice. Unplowed field is used two other times (Jer 4:3; Hos 10:12). The fields of poor people (see Pr 10:4) may be either the meager, marginal fields of the poor or else the land that an owner left unplowed and unused during the sabbatical year so that the poor could get food from it (Ex 23:10-11; Lev 25:1-7), a law that Israel observed badly (Lev 26:34-35, 43; 2 Ch 36:21; Neh 10:31). In any case, even the unplowed fields yield plenty of food. The problem of the poor is not God's creation but injustice. The proverb assumes that the poor in view work hard in collecting plenty of food (an abundance of grain). Perhaps as Joseph stored up a food supply from the seven good years in store cities (Gen 41:35-36), so the poor stored up food during the sabbatical year. Unfortunately, there is a being swept away. To judge from the parallel and the syntax, the expression refers to the sweeping away of the food, but the poor may also be in view. The verb is a metaphor for violent destruction: of Lot with Sodom (Gen 19:15, 17), of Israel with Korah (Num 16:26), of Israel by its enemies (1 Sam 12:25), of David by Saul (1 Sam 27:1), and of Israel by the sword (1 Ch 21:12). In Isa 13:25 it uniquely refers to being captured, but it is never used neutrally of being accumulated. Through injustice (see Pr 16:8) signifies that tyranny is the agent that pilfers the food that the poor justly won through hard work. According to this proverb, the lack of food for the hard-working poor is due to tyranny, not the environment. "The poor you will always have with you" (Matt 26:11) because there always will be people with poor ways, and because there are always tyrants to sweep away the abundant food to feed them. This proverb provides a healthy corrective to a simplistic understanding and application of the principle of retribution asserted in the preceding proverbs. Injustice presently exists, projecting the principle of retribution into a future that may lie beyond clinical death. [ref] (Hebrew words omitted)
 

Condemnation of injustice (Amos 5:6-7)

 
To reinforce what has been said in the first-person Yahweh speech of [Amos 5:4–5], Amos reminds his listeners, in [Amos 5:6], of what they have always heard from Israelite sacred tradition -- that Yahweh alone is the source of Israel's life, but that he is also a consuming fire (cf. Deut. 4:24; 9:3; Isa. 33:14; 2 Thess. 1:7; Heb. 10:27, 31; 12:29) who will brook no disregard of his holy will or of the honor due his name.

Then in [Amos 5:7], Amos states why Bethel will be destroyed: because its inhabitants have turned justice to "wormwood" (RSV; NIV reads bitterness) and cast righteousness to the ground, thereby making of their worship a sham. The participle beginning [Amos 5:7] connects it with Bethel in [Amos 5:6], as in the RSV. The lines in the Hebrew order read, "… Bethel, who turns to wormwood justice."

Wormwood was a bush that grew in the southern part of Judah and in Transjordan. Though not poisonous, its pulp had a bitter taste, and Amos is drawing on a medicinal metaphor. Justice, by which Amos means the legal restoration of those wronged and oppressed, was to be the medicine that healed Israel's society (cf. Exod. 23:6–8; Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1:17; 10:17; 16:19–20). Instead, it has been turned into a foul-tasting draught. Righteousness throughout the Old Testament (and the New) is a relational term, standing for the fulfillment of the demands of a relationship. Israel was always required by God to show mercy to the poor and helpless (Exod. 22:21–27; 23:9; Lev. 19:33–34; Deut. 24:19–22) -- that was the requirement of its relationship with them. Instead, its upper classes have ignored their obligation, as if throwing it to the ground. Because [Amos 5:6–7] charge Bethel specifically with such sins, Amos probably preached this oracle in that city, and it is no wonder therefore that he comes into conflict with Amaziah, the king's priest at that worship site (Amos 7:10–17). [ref]
 

Jesus as God's Servant (Matthew 12:18, 20-21)

 
Matthew 12:18
... "Justice" here conveys that wider sense of the working out of God's good purpose for his people, rather than merely the legal sense of giving a right verdict. But the messenger of Isa 61 is sent to Zion, and the message there is of national restoration, whereas in Isaiah 42:1 it is the nations who will be the beneficiaries of the justice which the servant brings. (Cf. Isa 49:6 for a more explicit announcement of this wider ministry of the servant as "a light for the nations … salvation to the ends of the earth.") By following the LXX in finding "the nations" also explicitly in Matt 12:4 Matthew ensures that his readers do not miss the theme of a gospel for the Gentiles which has been steadily developing throughout his gospel and will reach its climax in Matt 28:19. This extension of God's purpose beyond Israel was not a new decision by God at the time of Jesus, but part of his long-declared purpose of salvation which Jesus, his "beloved," has now come to implement.

Matthew 12:20-21
A reed was used for measuring and for support, so that once its straightness was lost by bending or cracking it was of no further use. A strip of linen cloth used as a lamp-wick, if it smokes, is no use for giving light and is simply a source of pollution; it is in danger of going out altogether. Common sense would demand that both be replaced, the reed being snapped and discarded or burned and the wick extinguished. The imagery thus describes an extraordinary willingness to encourage damaged or vulnerable people, giving them a further opportunity to succeed which a results-oriented society would deny them. The servant will not be quick to condemn and to discard, but will persevere until God's purpose of "justice" has been achieved. Here Matthew finds a further portrait of the meek and lowly Jesus who offers a kind yoke and a light burden, the giver of rest to the toiling and heavily loaded (Matt 11:28-30). His rewording of the last clause of Isaiah 42:3 emphasizes the patient perseverance which will eventually bring success ("victory"), and thus compensates for his abbreviation of the quotation by omitting Isaiah 42:4a–b, "He will not grow faint or be discouraged until he has established justice on the earth." This positive orientation, and the note of "hope" with which the quotation ends, provides a wholesome contrast with the critical opposition which Jesus has been facing and will shortly encounter even more forcefully. [ref]
 

Scribes (= teachers of the law) & Pharisees (Matthew 23:23)

 
The fourth woe too focuses on a meticulous concern for detail which leaves the essential principles of religion untouched. Tithing, like the swearing of oaths, is a matter covered by the OT law; it was the means by which the priesthood was maintained. The principle of setting aside a tenth of all vegetable produce (Lev 27:30; Deut 14:22), while not specifically applied in the OT to garden herbs, was reasonably assumed to cover them, and Jesus has no objection to the practice as such: "while not neglecting the others." What he objects to is the unbalanced piety which sets great store by these relatively insignificant rules but misses the things that really matter. ... [T]he things which ought to have been done are judgement, mercy and faithfulness, without neglecting tithing herbs. The double use of "neglect" is thus rhetorically effective: at the moment you are neglecting the things that matter; those are the things you ought to be concentrating on, but that does not mean therefore neglecting the others. In this way emphasis is placed on the "weightier matters" as the primary obligation, leaving the acceptance of the tithing rules as the minor element, perhaps to be read more as a concession than as enthusiastic endorsement. ... [T]here may be an ironical element here too: "I can't object to your tithing herbs, but what matters is that you focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness."

For other summaries of the essential principles of the law cf. Matt 7:12 and Matt 22:37-40 ... The "weightier matters" listed here are strongly reminiscent of the famous summary in Micah 6:8, "to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God." These are, of course, positive principles which no one could object to. There is no suggestion that the scribes and Pharisees were opposed in principle to justice, mercy and faithfulness. The problem was that they did not devote the same care to working out the practical implications of these basic principles as they did to the minutiae of tithing herbs. ... [ref]
 

Masters & slaves within the household (Colossians 4:1)

 
[Colossians 4:1] concludes the third argument with a word for the masters. The stress is on Christian "lords" also having a Lord in heaven to whom they are answerable for their conduct. Conduct again is to be guided or modified because of the watchful eye of Christ. This reference to the masters' master sets apart this exhortation from other considerations of the master-slave relationship of the time and relativizes the position and power of the master within the Christian community. The master does not represent Christ, but the relationship of slave to master represents that of all believers to the Lord. Thus the last clause of [Colossians 3:24], taken as imperative (a possible rendering: "Be slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ") is for all and the position of slaves "receives the most attention as a paradigm for the motivation that should inform all members of the household" (Lincoln).

Masters are not to cheat their slaves, but rather to provide them with what is right and fair. This is diametrically opposed to what Aristotle says when he remarks that the issue of justice is not raised in regard to slaves, that there can be no injustice involved in the way one treats mere property (Nicomachean Ethics 5.1134b). Compared to Aristotle, what Paul is saying here is revolutionary. It would have sounded odd since it suggests that "slaves too are human beings with rights. To talk of 'justice' and 'equality' in relation to slaves would sound extraordinary to most slave-owners of the ancient world" (Wright). Thus even if to our ears this advice sounds rather conventional or even conservative and commonplace, the truth is that it was not in that day.

Paul has already, on the first occasion of addressing the Colossians, been pushing the envelope of their thinking so that they will consider all subordinate members of the household, even slaves, as persons with rights, including the right to fair and equal treatment. The head of the household as a Christian must alter his conduct in his relationships with his wife, children, and slaves so that the Lord will be pleased. It is this curtailing and Christianizing of the head of the household's rights, privileges, and roles that especially stands out in these exhortations as Paul, attempts to transform the character of Christian household relationships by ameliorating the harsh edges of the existing institutions of slavery and patriarchy. [ref]
 

Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just. - Blaise Pascal [ref]

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JUST BIBLE REFERENCES

Injustice(s) (in NASB) occurs 14 times in 14 verses: Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 6:29, 30; Psalms 7:3; 53:1; 64:6; Proverbs 13:23; 16:8; Jeremiah 2:5; Hosea 10:13; Micah 3:10; Zephaniah 3:5; Romans 9:14

Justice (in NASB) occurs 139 times in 135 verses:

OLD TESTAMENT
Genesis 18:19; Exodus 23:2, 6; Deuteronomy 10:18; 16:19, 20; 24:17; 27:19; 32:41; 33:21; 1 Samuel 8:3; 2 Samuel 8:15; 15:4; 1 Kings 3:11, 28; 10:9; 1 Chronicles 18:14; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Esther 1:13; Job 8:3; 9:19; 19:7; 29:14; 32:9; 34:12, 17; 35:2; 36:6, 17; 37:23; Psalms 25:9; 33:5; 37:28, 30; 72:2; 82:3; 89:14; 97:2; 99:4; 101:1; 106:3; 111:7; 119:121; 140:12; 146:7; Proverbs 1:3; 2:8, 9; 8:15, 20; 17:23; 19:28; 20:8; 21:3, 7, 15; 28:5; 29:4, 26; Ecclesiastes 3:16; 5:8; Isaiah 1:17, 21, 27; 5:7; 9:7; 10:2; 16:5; 28:6, 17; 30:18; 32:16; 33:5; 40:14, 27; 42:1, 3, 4; 49:4; 51:4; 56:1; 59:8, 9, 11, 14, 15; 61:8; Jeremiah 4:2; 5:1; 7:5; 9:24; 10:24; 12:1; 21:12; 22:3, 13, 15; 23:5; 33:15; Lamentations 3:35; Ezekiel 18:5, 8, 19, 21, 27; 22:29; 33:14, 16, 19; 45:9; Hosea 2:19; 12:6; Amos 5:7, 15, 24; 6:12; Micah 3:1, 8, 9; 6:8; 7:9; Habakkuk 1:4, 7; Zephaniah 3:5; Zechariah 7:9; Malachi 2:17

NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew 12:18, 20; 23:23; Luke 7:29; 11:42; 18:7, 8; Acts 28:4; Colossians 4:1

Justification (in NASB) occurs 3 times in 3 verses: Romans 4:25; 5:16, 18

Justified (in NASB) occurs 29 times in 26 verses: Job 32:2; 40:8; Psalms 51:4; Isaiah 43:9; 45:25; Matthew 12:37; Luke 18:14; Romans 2:13; 3:4, 20, 24, 28; 4:2; 5:1, 9; 8:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:16, 17; 3:11, 24; 5:4; Titus 3:7; James 2:21, 24, 25

Justifier (in NASB) occurs 1 time in 1 verse: Romans 3:26

Justifies (in NASB) occurs 3 times in 3 verses: Proverbs 17:15; Romans 4:5; 8:33

Justify (in NASB) occurs 10 times in 10 verses: Genesis 44:16; Deuteronomy 25:1; Job 33:32; Isaiah 5:23; 53:11; Micah 6:11; Luke 10:29; 16:15; Romans 3:30; Galatians 3:8

Justifying (in NASB) occurs 2 times in 2 verses: 1 Kings 8:32; 2 Chronicles 6:23

Justly (in NASB) occurs 5 times in 5 verses: Genesis 18:25; Proverbs 11:24; Isaiah 32:1; Jeremiah 30:11; Luke 23:41

Unjust (in NASB) occurs 15 times in 15 verses: Job 13:7; 27:7; 31:3; Psalms 43:1; Proverbs 28:16; 29:27; Isaiah 10:1; 33:15; 56:11; 57:17; Micah 4:13; Zephaniah 3:5; Luke 18:11; Hebrews 6:10; 1 Peter 3:18

Unjustly (in NASB) occurs 8 times in 8 verses: Deuteronomy 25:16; Job 27:4; Psalms 82:2; Isaiah 26:10; Jeremiah 17:11; Acts 7:24; 1 Peter 2:19; 3 John 1:10

Our aim must be never to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. That will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. - Martin Luther King, Jr [ref]

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JUST CONCLUSION

 
The English term "justice" has a strong legal flavor. But the concept of justice in the Bible goes beyond the law courts to everyday life. The Bible speaks of "doing justice" (Ps. 82:3; Prov. 21:3), whereas we speak of "getting justice." Doing justice is to maintain what is right or to set things right. Justice is done when honorable relations are maintained between husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, government and citizens, and human beings and God. Justice refers to neighborliness in spirit and action.

Kings, rulers, and those in power are to be instruments of justice (Ps. 72:1), as exemplified by David (2 Sam. 8:15) and Josiah (Jer. 22:15–16). The prophet Micah declared, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic. 6:8). The Book of Isaiah describes God's suffering servant, a description best fulfilled in Jesus, as one whose task as ruler will be to bring justice to the nations (Is. 42:1–4).

The prophets of the Old Testament were champions of social justice. During those days, justice was often perverted through bribery and favoritism or partiality (Deut. 1:17; Prov. 17:23). But God's rewards come to those who practice justice in all their dealings with others. In the words of the prophet Amos, "Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24). [ref]
 

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. - Patrick Henry [ref]

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APPENDIX A: JUST APPLICATION [ref]

 
JUSTICE (Correctness, Fairness, Truth)

How does God exercise both justice and mercy?

Bible Reading: Genesis 18:20–33
Key Bible Verse: Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right? (Genesis 18:25)

  • God punishes sin, but offers mercy to the sinful. Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city? Abraham knew that God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience that God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not ten righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot, Abraham’s nephew, get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. God does not take pleasure in destroying the wicked, but he must punish sin. He is both just and merciful. We should be thankful that God’s mercy extends to us.
  • God’s justice is not changed by his mercy. Did Abraham change God’s mind? Of course not. The more likely answer is that God changed Abraham’s mind. Abraham knew that God is just and that he punishes sin, but he may have wondered about God’s mercy. Abraham seemed to be probing God’s mind to see how merciful he really was. He left his conversation with God convinced that God was both kind and fair. Our prayers won’t change God’s mind, but they may change ours just as Abraham’s prayer changed his. Prayer helps us better understand the mind of God.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 3:1–26
Key Bible Verse:The leaders and the princes will be the first to feel the LORD’s judgment. “You have ruined Israel, which is my vineyard. You have taken advantage of the poor, filling your barns with grain extorted from helpless people.” (Isaiah 3:14)

  • God guarantees justice. In the middle of this gloomy message, God gives hope -- eventually the righteous will receive God’s reward and the wicked will receive their punishment. It is disheartening to see the wicked prosper while we struggle to obey God and follow his plan. Yet we keep holding on to God’s truth and take heart! God will bring about justice in the end, and he will reward those who have been faithful.
  • God despises injustice. The elders and leaders were responsible to help people, but instead they stole from the poor. Because they were unjust, Isaiah said the leaders would be the first to receive God’s judgment. Leaders will be held accountable for how they lead. If you are in a position of leadership, you must lead according to God’s just commands. Corruption will bring God’s wrath, especially if others follow your example.
  • God is just. Why is justice so important in the Bible? (1) Justice is part of God’s nature; it is the way he runs the universe. (2) It is a natural desire in every person. Even as sinners, we all want justice for ourself. (3) When government and church leaders are unjust, the poor and powerless suffer. Thus they are hindered from worshiping God. (4) God holds the poor in high regard. They are the ones most likely to turn to him for help and comfort. Injustice, then, attacks God’s children. When we do nothing to help the oppressed, we are in fact joining with the oppressor. Because we follow a just God, we must uphold justice.

Bible Reading: John 1:1–18
Key Bible Verse: The law was given through Moses; God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

  • God’s justice and mercy work together. Law and grace are both aspects of God’s nature that he uses in dealing with us. Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. Moses could only be the giver of the law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). The nature and will of God were revealed in the law; now the nature and will of God are revealed in Jesus Christ. Rather than coming through cold stone tablets, God’s revelation now comes through a person’s life. As we get to know Christ better, our understanding of God will increase.
 

No country can touch us when it comes to heartburn and upset stomachs. This nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all, neutralizes more stomach acid in one day than the Soviet Union does in a year. We give more relief from discomfort of the intestinal tract than China and Japan combined. - Anonymous [ref]

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APPENDIX B: JUSTIFICATION

 
Everyday Definition
The crucial question in Christian theology (if not in life itself) is the same question asked of Job: "How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?" (Job 25:4, TNIV).

Christians regard the doctrine of justification by faith as central to theology. This doctrine asserts that when guilty and condemned sinners trust in the completed work of Christ on the cross (rather than their own good works), God immediately gives to them the righteousness of Christ himself.

The Hebrew and Greek verbs "to justify" bear the legal meaning to "pronounce" or "reckon as righteous." The Bible clearly states that justification involves God declaring the innocence of sinners: "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law" (Romans 3:20). Through justification, God's wrath is averted and we are restored to right standing with God; we receive forgiveness of sins, and are graced with the gift of eternal life.

Through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, believers possess assurance that we are restored to right relationship with God and are fully pleasing to him because of Christ (Galatians 4:6–7). Early in the sixteenth century, Martin Luther reintroduced the biblical doctrine of justification by faith (not by works) to the church. Luther correctly believed that those who believe on Christ are at the same time both experientially stained with sin and positionally righteous before God.

To better understand justification by faith, we can examine several crucial elements of this doctrinal truth:

  • The problem of justification is how God, the righteous Judge, can acquit guilty sinners without bending or violating his holy law. As Luther put it, "Here is a problem which needs God to solve it."
  • The ground of justification is not any works of our own but the completed work of Christ on the cross. Paul wrote extensively about this element: "We have now been justified by his blood" (Romans 5:9); "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21); "Just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:18–19, TNIV).
  • The means of justification is faith in Christ, the Redeemer. The seedbed of justification occurs back in the Old Testament, where "Abram believed the LORD, and [God] credited it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). For his part, Abram believed God's promise that pointed to the Messiah's sacrifice; as a result, God credited that faith to the patriarch as right standing with himself. Paul illustrated the truth of justification by faith from the life of Abraham (Romans 4:1–3, 9–25) and the life of David (Romans 4:6–8). The apostle taught, "For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed -- a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith' " (Romans 1:17). Other passages affirming that faith in Christ is the means of justification include: Galatians 3:11; Philippians 3:9; and Hebrews 10:38.
  • The results of justification are all-encompassing, including forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38–39), removal of condemnation (Romans 8:1, 33–34), reconciliation with God (Romans 5:10–11), peace with God (Romans 5:1), adoption into God's family (Ephesians 1:5), and the gift of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

A key New Testament text that sums up crucial elements of the doctrine of justification is Romans 3:21–26. This passage teaches that both Jews and Gentiles have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God demonstrated his justice by offering Christ as a sacrifice for sins. "The righteousness of God" can be received freely by faith in Christ's atoning work.

Everyday Application
In order to achieve freedom from condemnation and restore right relationship with God, we can't trust in our ability to fulfill the works of the law. Because none of us can keep the law in its entirety, we can't be justified on the basis of our best and noblest works (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). From long, personal experience in Judaism, the apostle Paul concluded that "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse" (Galatians 3:10). Our task is simply to accept by faith the righteousness and right standing God offers through faith in his Son's atoning work.
For Christians, the truth of the doctrine of justification offers us the following:

  • Assurance of our salvation. John wrote, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Theologically, we know that by acceptance of Christ's atoning work we are declared righteous in God's sight. Experientially, we possess assurance of being rightly related to God in that "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children" (Romans 8:16; see also Galatians 4:6).
  • Freedom from the burden of objective guilt. When we sin in daily experience (and we all do, according to 1 John 1:8), we know both intellectually and emotionally that we have violated God's standard. Authorities such as psychologist S. B. Narramore claim that what Christians experience following a sin of omission or commission isn't guilt in the punitive sense, but constructive sorrow. An example is Peter's weeping in deep sorrow after his cowardly denial of Jesus (Matthew 26:75). Christians can rest assured that God's justifying sentence declares the true believer in Jesus "Not Guilty!" before the bar of divine justice, freeing the child of God from the onerous burden of guilt. When we do sin, we should immediately confess our sin and experience the blessing of God's gracious forgiveness (1 John 1:9). In addition, because we are perfectly clothed with the righteousness of Christ, we don't need to be encumbered with the impossible agenda of perfectionism. In this life, we strive for the ideal of Christlikeness, while knowing that this goal will be achieved only when we see Jesus.
  • Opportunity to offer reconciliation. Those of us who have been reconciled to God through the grace of justification should serve as ministers of reconciliation to others who are alienated from their Creator and Redeemer and from other human beings. The apostle Paul, who knew what it meant even as a religious leader to be alienated from God, wrote that God "reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18–19, TNIV). As followers of Christ, we have the privilege and joy of bearing the message of reconciliation to lost and lonely souls who are estranged from the source of spiritual life. Further, we have the privilege of being used of God to mend relationships fractured through bigotry or strife. The Christian church should be a powerful force for reconciliation in a broken world. [ref]
 

When justice is divorced from morality, when rights of individuals are separated from right and wrong, the only definition you have left for justice is the right for every individual to do as he pleases. And the end of that road is anarchy and barbarism. - John Piper [ref]

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JUST SOURCES
(Click on title for more info)

Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom & Psalms: Proverbs
The Bible Speaks Today

The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity
The Complete Gathered Gold
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Dictionary of Everyday Theology and Culture
Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Holy Bible, New American Standard
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised
Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
The New American Commentary
New Bible Dictionary
The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations
The New International Commentary on the New Testament
The New International Commentary on the Old Testament
New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words
oChristian Christian Quotes
Phillips' Treasury of Humorous Quotations
Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
Understanding the Bible Commentary Series
Word Biblical Commentary

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