Justice is a key component for any civilization that hopes to survive and thrive. It’s desired by those who have been wronged and dreaded by those who have wronged others.
God is a God of Justice. We don’t like to think of Him in this way, but his heart of love requires that the innocent be protected and the guilty be punished. In Deuteronomy chapter 19, God spends the first half of the chapter dealing with protecting the innocent and the second half of the chapter dealing with punishing the guilty.
Justice relies on witnesses and evidence to determine a person’s motives and intent. When a person’s motives and intent are that of ill will and wrong, there is to be clear and decisive punishment! (Deut. 19:21) Though Matthew chapter 5 encourages us to have a loving attitude toward a wrong-doer, it does not negate the punishment of their actions. An example would be parents who punish a child for lying. The fact that they’ve punished the child does not mean they don’t love the child. In fact, just the opposite is true. Their punishment is borne out of their love.
What’s all this got to do with us? All of us are wrong-doers when it comes to God. (Romans. 3:10,23) The motives and intents of our heart are guilty. (Jeremiah. 17:9) (Hebrews.4:12) We deserve the strictest of punishments. (Romans 6:23) And it’s in this state, that God administers justice in such a way as to fully punish sin, yet grant us mercy we don’t deserve. (Romans 5:6-8)
Christ willingly took the punishment we deserved so that we can receive the mercy we didn’t deserve. This is loving justice.