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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Personal Attributes of God

Don Stewart :: Is God a Judge?

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Is God a Judge?

The Personal Attributes of God – Question 12

The God of the Bible is a God of love. There does not seem to be too many people who have a problem with this. However, this is not all there is to the story. The Bible also says that the God of the Bible is a God of judgment. This attribute of God is not nearly as popular as His attribute of “love.” Yet, the fact that He is a Judge is not in conflict with the idea that He is also a God of love.

We need to make a number of points about this most important of topics.

1. God Cannot Tolerate Sin

The God of the Bible is holy. He cannot tolerate sin. Consequently, there must be some way to judge the wrongdoing on the part of humankind. God’s holiness demands justice for sins that are committed. Indeed, it was our sin that separated us from the holiness of God. God’s Word says,

But there is a problem—your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. (Isaiah 59:2 NLT)

Sin cuts people off from having a relationship with the Lord. To bring people back into a relationship sin must be judged. Someone has to pay the penalty.

2. The Judgment of Sin: The Penalty of Our Sins Was Placed upon Christ

The penalty has been paid. This is the good news, or the gospel. Jesus Christ came into our world to pay that penalty, to die on our behalf so that we do not have to suffer for our sins.

This is why we find that God the Father placed the penalty of the sins of the world upon Jesus Christ. Indeed, our sin was so horrible to the point where God the Father was unable to look upon His Son when He was crucified on Calvary’s cross. This was described in Matthew.

And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NRSV)

At that moment, the penalty for the sins of the world was placed upon Jesus. He was separated from God the Father while receiving the judgment we so richly deserved.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about Jesus Christ being a sin offering for us. He put it this way.

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

The One who never sinned became a sin offering on our behalf. The holiness of God has been satisfied with the death of Jesus Christ. We can now enter into God’s presence based upon the sacrifice Christ made upon the cross.

3. God Has Judged Both Individuals and Nations

Judgment, therefore, is something which a holy God does. Indeed, from Scripture we find that the future judgment of God for sin will be on both an individual and a national level. He will judge individuals for private sins, and nations for their corporate sins.

In fact, Jesus spoke of judgment against the inhabitants of certain cities. Matthew records it in the following manner.

Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24 NASB)

These cites which had seen the miracles of our Lord and still did not repent will be judged to a harsher standard than the ancient cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. However, while these ancient cities will be judged with a less harsh standard, they will be judged.

Jesus also spoke of the judgment of individuals. In one instance, He did this through a parable. We read about this in Matthew.

“...and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.’” (Matthew 22:12-14 NRSV).

The one who came to the wedding feast without a wedding garment was judged. This is one of the many instances which teach that those who do not belong to the Lord will be sent into outer darkness. Individuals will be judged.

4. He Is the Righteous Judge

We also learn that the Lord is a righteous judge. He is fair. Moses emphasized this when he described the Lord in the following way.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV)

You cannot bribe this Judge and He will show partiality to nobody. In the clearest of terms the Bible emphasizes that He is a fair or just Judge.

Later in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses also wrote about the ways of God. He emphasized that they are always perfect. We read the following words.

The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he... (Deuteronomy 32:4 NRSV)

The point is simple: God’s judgments are always true.

5. There Will Be a Final Judgment

Scripture speaks of a final judgment for the wicked where the Lord, the righteous Judge, will have the righteous and unrighteous before Him. The Book of Revelation describes this awesome event.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV)

While God is a Judge; He is a righteous judge. His judgments will always be fair. This is something which we can take much comfort in.

Summary – Question 12
Is God a Judge?

The Bible says that God is a God of love. This is not usually disputed neither does this idea bother very many people. However, the Bible also teaches that the God Scripture is also a God of justice. The idea that God will judge sinners does bother people! However, the fact that God is both a loving God and a righteous God is not contradictory.

God is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin. Thus, the sins of humankind must be paid for. The good news is that God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world to solve the sin problem. The penalty for the sins of the world was placed upon Him at Calvary. He died in our place so that we do not have to suffer for our sins. Sins must be paid for and Jesus paid that price.

While the Lord offers the free gift of salvation to all who believe not everyone accepts His offer. For those who reject God’s offer of salvation there awaits a judgment. Scripture speaks of judgment in a number of different ways.

The Bible speaks of the Lord judging the nations at the return of Christ. The sheep, the believers, will be separated from the goats, the unbelievers.

We also have the illustration of God judging entire cities. Jesus spoke of the judgment of certain cities that refused to believe in Him.

Scripture also stresses that judgment will be on an individual basis. The people of the various nations and cities will be judged on an individual basis. The righteous will be separated from the unrighteous.

The Bible also speaks of a final judgment for the wicked. Those who have rejected Christ will be banished from His presence for all eternity.

In sum, the God of the Bible is a loving God who is also a God who judges. However, the Lord would rather not judge people. Indeed, judgment is His “strange” work.

In What Sense Is God Jealous? ← Prior Section
What Is the Wrath of God? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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