Jesus Christ And The Lost Sinner: Where God’s Justice, Wrath, And Mercy Meet

Justice is served when the penalty of a crime has been paid. All of humanity has sinned against God and has been sentenced to an afterlife death sentence in hell. Thus, the wrath of God remains on the lost sinner. However, the wisdom of God found a way where His mercy and His justice could meet. Innocent Christ paid the death sentence of all our crimes when He was crucified on the cross, giving those who accept His gift, eternal freedom in heaven, peace with God, etc. Unfortunately, those rejecting God’s offer of Christ paying the penalty for their sins are still headed to hell because their sins haven’t been paid. (Someone must pay the penalty, if you don’t want Christ to pay for it, then you will have to pay it.) Christ is the only way to heaven, and freedom requires accepting God’s offer of grace – nothing else would suffice.

God is complete holiness and righteousness as He demands obedience of His people. According to Galatians 6:7, “a man reaps what He sows”. Good fortune shadows a society who practices God’s love laws (love thy neighbor as thyself, love God with all thine heart); unfortunately, when people sin, the negative consequences of their transgressions usually create unstable conditions – often for themselves and others. People steal, murder, lie, and cheat – when a society is unruly, the freedoms of people suffer. A nation cannot remain free if its people are morally corrupt; thus, governments and law enforcements are created to maintain order by creating and enforcing laws, and by punishing the guilty.

Justice involves the “dispensing of deserved punishment for wrongdoing”. If there was no punishment for a crime, then there would be nothing to deter an evil person from being sinful. People would get away with hideous crimes and do it freely. Morally corrupt individuals would view their self-interests as being more important than others, and without the presence of love in them, would injure others at the expense of personal gain. Imagine a world where people would repeatedly steal, rape, lie, and cheat each other because they wanted to, and the injured parties would suffer loss, and become hateful, and reciprocate with similar behaviors, and people become vengeful, and start killing each other out of anger. This happens a lot in our world today.

Without justice, everyone would murder everyone else, and life would be survival of the fittest. The world desperately needs justice, “to make things right”, between the actions of people. Individuals should be rewarded for good moral behavior and be punished for lawlessness. The innocent should be protected from injury from the actions of the immoral. The already poor shouldn’t be robbed by the greedy, a virgin shouldn’t have to be raped, a family shouldn’t have to mourn over the loss of their child killed by a drunk driver, and etc. In essence, the guilty shouldn’t be given free rein to inflict harm on another.

Our God is Holy, Righteousness, Love, and thankfully, also Justice. If God wasn’t totally Justice, He wouldn’t be a perfect God because Holiness, Righteousness, and Love cannot allow injustices go unpunished. That is why God does, and will judge, the actions of every human and make sure that justice is always served. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” That means every action of mine and yours will be evaluated by God, who is totally Justice. “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (Proverbs 21:15).

Judgement is a “process whereby a verdict is reached or the verdict itself; it is bound up with the notions of justice and righteousness.” Judgment is where a judge evaluates a person’s actions, and gives a verdict, of that person of being guilty or not guilty of the crime. If the individual is not guilty, obviously the person can continue to live freely as he or her chooses as long as he or she doesn’t break the law in the future. However, if the judge declares the individual guilty, then the offender must pay a penalty for the committed crime, determined by the judge. Once that crime is paid, then the guilty is no longer considered guilty, because he already served his punishment.

This is the law system that we live under today, based upon the principles of God’s justice. You may consider it fair – that when a person commits a crime, the guilty should be punished. God’s laws are made to protect the innocent and to maintain society order – unfortunately, the guilty often doesn’t like the rules. Unfortunately, in relation to God judging our deeds, everyone has sinned at least once in their lifetime.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” That is what God, our Judge, declared in the Bible (God’s inspired Word) of all of humanity, including me and you. The Judge alone determines the verdict and punishments of all men and women.

We can partially thank our first parents for all the sins and injustices in the world. “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Romans 5:12). God’s once perfect world became flawed because of man’s rebellion to God’s laws. Therefore, the Judge has decided that death is the just punishment for the sins of each man.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 6:23)

Every human is a sinner, and has been sentenced to an afterlife prison sentence of hell for the rest of eternity. The reason is God is Holy. He cannot stand the sight of evil. He does no wrong, and is totally righteous, and in order for God can be pure and completely Justice, His justice must stand. Someone has to pay the penalty for crimes incurred. If the penalty of injustices weren’t served, then God wouldn’t be Justice, Holy, Righteousness, or Love. How could a perfect God allow lying, cheating, dishonesty, stealing, hatred of hearts, actual murder, and rape go unpunished? How can the afflicted find healing without justice of the guilty? The problem is that every human has been sinned against by another and also has sinned toward someone else: we all have been a doer and receiver of sins committed. So, each of us deserves receiving justice in our behalf for the evil done to us, and be punished for the sins we did. How would you feel if you knew no one would pay for the crimes incurred against you, for the sufferings and anguish you experienced because of sin? A perfectly loving God who despises witnessing the mourning’s of the harmed, how can He be loving and righteous and holy without also being justice?

If God overlooked sin. God wouldn’t be perfectly holy. And if God wasn’t perfect in holiness, He would progressively become evil and wouldn’t love the world. And if He didn’t love the world, we would all be in far worse trouble. Thankfully, God has no evil in Him. He is perfect righteousness, truth, love, goodness, justice, and mercy.

God’s Wrath Toward Sin

“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11).

Another attribute of God is that He is a God of wrath. Baker’s Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines the “wrath of God”:

“God is holy; he totally and completely distances himself from sin, evil, corruption, and the resultant filth and guilt. He maintains his purity and rejects, fights against, and destroys that which would offend, attack, or undo his holiness and love. Hence, God’s anger and wrath must always be seen in relation to his maintaining and defending his attributes of love and holiness, as well as his righteousness and justice. The emotion or passion that moves God to this maintaining and defending is expressed by the terms “displeasure, ” “indignation, ” “anger, ” and “wrath.” A consequence of his wrath is vengeance, punishment, and death”.

Another definition, describing God’s wrath, is “the just punishment of an offense or crime.” When God executes wrath, vengeance, and punishment, it is only in a judicial way He does so. Punishment is invoked solely to maintain Law and to satisfy Justice; doing this preserves His righteousness. God doesn’t find pleasure solely on inflicting tribulation to another; He punishes the guilty, because they are justly considered guilty, and they deserve to pay the penalty of their crimes. “God’s wrath is said to be in perfect accord with His justice”.

“God’s wrath is in proportion to human sinfulness,” thus, if there was no sin in the world, God would never become wrathful. God’s wrath is His intense hatred of sin, a righteous anger of having to seeing people suffer because of the injustices of sin. Criss Jami said: “The wrath of God is never an evil wrath. God gets angry because he loves people like a mother would love her child if someone were to harm it. There is something wrong if the mother never gets angry; it is safe to say that that is the unloving mother.” If God didn’t become wrathful out of love if a fourteen year old girl was sexually abused by her father, God wouldn’t be Love.

Jami also states, “God’s judgment is not like man’s judgment. It is not a suspension of His Love but an extension of His Love. His justice is always righteous, so His judgment is always Love.”

Where God’s Justice, Wrath, and Mercy Meet

God is 100 percent justice and also 100 percent mercy. How can a God of justice who shows wrath by exhibiting punishment for the crimes of the guilty, also be a God who has mercy for the sinner? God’s mercy truly loves the sinner and wishes no one would have to suffer hell in eternity. Unfortunately, if God’s justice ignored the pains of the afflicted and the sins of the guilty, without being some form of justice taking place, then God would not be a just God.

Thank God, God is also a God of perfect wisdom. According to a John Piper quote, “The wisdom of God devised a way for the love of God to deliver sinners from the wrath of God while not compromising the righteousness of God”. This happened when Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins as our substitute.

Romans 5:8-9 says: “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we now have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.”

Before man was created, God knew man would sin. His mercy, though, planned for His perfect Son who is also Deity, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty of our sins – by first coming on this planet as a man, then dying on the cross on Good Friday, and resurrecting, three days later, on Easter morning. When Christ died, He bore all our sins, and all the wrath God had for all of humanity’s sins was inflicted upon Him. The shedding of His innocent blood became the atonement for the sins of the entire world, including mine and your sins. (see 1 John 2:2). “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22).

Atonement means Christ’s bloodshed to pay the penalty of our sins became the necessary means for ‘the needed reconciliation between sinful human and a holy God.’ Isaiah 53:5 says: “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

Christ’s atonement of our sins takes effect in the sinner’s life only after he or she accepts Christ as his or her Savior. God is a god who honors free will. Through the cross, God formulated a way man can be freed from the penalty of his sins by him not having to pay the punishment himself; instead God’s mercy loves each of us so much that He desired for no one to perish and experience eternal damnation in hell. However, God cannot force freedom on the sinner; the sinner must first freely choose to either to accept or reject that gift of God. There is no freedom or love when someone forces another to follow a path without giving that opportunity to choose their own destination.

God is the Judge and we are about to be tried for our sins. God is about to declare us guilty and that our punishment is hell. However, Christ walks in the courtroom and says, “Judge, I don’t want this guilty person have to die in hell. I love this person so much that I don’t want him to die. I want to serve the penalty of his crime for him, so he doesn’t have to pay it. And God, the Judge, asks you if you are willing to accept that offer of Christ. If you accept that offer, Christ pays the penalty of your sins in your place, and you are considered not guilty, because Christ’s payment of your sins satisfies justice, since someone has to pay the penalty of a crime, and since the Judge accepted Christ’s payment of your sins as binding toward the forgiveness of your sins, you are considered not guilty and don’t have to pay the death penalty called hell. However, if the Judge asks you if you want Christ to pay the penalty for your sins, and you say no, then the Judge is compelled to sentence you to hell, because you chose not to accept the gift of freedom offered by Christ. Nothing Christ can do to change that fact, because you are basically saying “I will go to hell and pay the penalty myself.” So, the Judge declares you “guilty” and you must pay the penalty of hell yourself.

There is no other way to heaven and to be freed from hell than through believing in Jesus and what He did on the cross. In John 14:6, “Jesus told him, ’I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me’”. Those who believe Christ is deity – and that He died for our sins on the cross and resurrected three days later – and also decides to repent of their sins and chooses to accept Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice offer, will experience eternal life. (Please click on Plan of Salvation on the menu above on the website to see how to become a Christian.)

Eternal life means you are adopted in God’s family; you are forgiven of every past, present, and future sin you do; you have reconciliation with the Father and you will no longer be under God’s wrath; you go to heaven and not hell; you are justified forevermore (you are legally considered “not guilty of every sin that you commit in your lifetime”; you will receive an inheritance in heaven for every good deed you do on earth in His name; and that you will experience the Father’s protection and love from danger, to name a few.

Few Verses

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

God’s Wrath Remains On Those Who Reject God And His Salvation

Sinners who reject God and His salvation plan will remain under God’s wrath and will experience eternity in hell once they die in this life. Once deceased from this planet, there will be no way to escape God’s wrath and hell. Romans 1:18 says: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” According to Romans 2:5, those who stubbornly refuse to turn from their sins are storing up a terrible punishment for themselves: “But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed”. Here are some more verses about the fate of the wicked, those who choose not to accept Christ as their Savior:

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy. (Psalm 145:20)

For the LORD loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. (Psalm 37:28)

He does not keep the wicked alive, But gives justice to the afflicted. (Job 36:6)

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5)

Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:11)

Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered. (Proverbs 11:21)

Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. (Psalm 34:21)

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. (Psalm 58:10)

Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. (Psalm 11:6)

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)

Is it not calamity to the unjust And disaster to those who work iniquity? (Job 31:3)

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

See, the day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (Isaiah 13:9)

God’s Patience Delays His Wrath

The God of mercy desires no one to perish. However, the God of Justice must ensure justice prevails. For those who are not written into the book of life will experience God’s wrath and eternity in hell. If God didn’t judge sin, He wouldn’t be a perfect holy God. Justice means that someone must pay for their crimes. Why not, let it be Christ and not yourself?

God’s justice promises eternal punishment to those who reject Him, but His mercy delays His wrath temporarily to give unbelievers more time to repent. However, time given is short and once it ends, there is no more hope for the lost.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). Come to Christ before it’s too late. Only God knows how long your life on earth remains. Don’t be tardy!

Final thoughts for the Unbeliever

“Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; he died to save us from the wrath of God.” (Jerry Bridges)

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)


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