1 John 4:16, Zephaniah 3:5
God is love. You’ve probably heard that before. Maybe you’ve seen it on billboards. Maybe you’ve seen it posted online. What does it mean? God is love. Does that mean that God doesn’t care about sin? God doesn’t care about right or wrong? The Bible tells us that God is love. In fact it says that in 1 John chapter 4. The Bible also tells us this about God in Zephaniah chapter 3 it says The Lord is just.
Now someone is just there someone that carries out justice. They are very much so concerned with right and wrong and punishing those who do wrong. So it seems almost to be a contradiction, doesn’t it? That God is love, but also God is just.
I want you to imagine though for a moment that God was not just. Imagine if you had a judge that wasn’t just. That no matter what crime was brought before him whether it’s the crime of murder, or rape, or theft, whatever it was that he would just allow every last criminal to go free. And he’d say: “Well, I want to be a loving, and merciful, and compassionate judge.” People would be outraged, wouldn’t they? They’d be outraged because he’s failing to do his job. In fact, they might even call him evil for not carrying out his role of justice.
So also with God. If God is not just God is evil. If God simply allows evil doers to go free unpunished he’s allowing them to wreak havoc throughout the world and to perpetrate more evil upon innocent victims. But the Bible says that God is just. So how can it be true God is a God of love and God is also a God of justice?
Well it’s true in this way. Yes, God must punish sin, he must even punish all of our own sins that we’ve committed. But he has chosen to do so in his Son Jesus Christ. In this way God is both love and just. He’s just because he punishes sin, but he is love because he is punish them in Christ Jesus. He’s allowed all the weight and guilt and punishment that our sins deserve be placed on his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for them fully at the cross. Who made payment for our sins carrying out God’s justice to its very end.
What a comfort that is for us in our own lives. What meaning it has for us too. Certainly doesn’t mean that God takes pleasure in us continuing to sin, rather by our sins we led Jesus to have to suffer and die on the cross. So instead of wanting to continue in those lives of sin what reason do we have to turn from our sins? Because we know of God’s love and forgiveness for us, we now want to live new and different lives, knowing that God has love for us in Christ.
There’s much more that can be said about God, and in our series ‘What is God Like,’ perhaps it’s best to end on this truth of God: that God is just and love. Yes, know that God is love for you in Christ who’s been punished in your place. Amen.