Does God Punish Sin

The events of 2020 have brought the concept of “justice” to the forefront of our public conversation. With all the different voices in our culture trying to define justice these days, it is important for us as Christians to turn to the Bible for our definition of justice. Austin’s message on Micah 1:10-16 this Friday helped us to understand the concept of justice from a biblical perspective. In this passage, the prophet Micah lists the various judgments that God is going to send on the people of Judah for their disobedience to His commandments. Before diving into the passage Austin showed us three categories of the Biblical idea of justice as outlined by the old, dead theologian Charles Hodge. The first category, rectoral justice, is the idea that all justice —the very idea of what is right and what is wrong — comes from God (Romans 1:32). The second category of justice, distributive justice, based on Romans 2:7-8, is the idea that God will judge each person according to what he or she has done. This justice can either be retributive, punishing people for their sin, or remunerative, rewarding each person according to his or her righteousness. Finally, because all people are sinners, the only way any person can receive remunerative justice is through redemptive justice  in which, through placing one’s faith in Christ, their sin is transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to that person. In the passage we studied on Friday, the prophet Micah is proclaiming that God will exact his retributive justice on the cities of Judah. The prophecy is presented as a poem  with  wordplays on the name of each  city to describe the kind of judgment that will take place there. For example, the city of Shaphir, whose name means beauty, will be made naked and ashamed.

The kind of justice described in this passage does not sit comfortably with a lot of people, including myself at times. It is important to remember, however that all of us deserve the same kind of just judgment described in this passage. Because God is perfectly holy and has set the standard of right and wrong, we all deserve God’s retributive justice, to face His wrath for eternity. Instead,  in His love, God sent his Son to live a perfect life and take the right penalty for our sins so that if we believe, our sin is transferred to Christ and his perfect righteousness is transferred to us.

The idea of God’s justice should first make us thankful for our salvation because God, through the death of his Son, saved us from the judgment we justly deserve. Second, God’s justice should provide us with a sense of urgency to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world. More important than fixing any temporal ill in this world, more important than any social cause we may support is the need to get the gospel to those who, in their sin, are heading for God’s judgment. 

11.13.2020 Fall 2020 Week Six

Bobby Hekel


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