When many people think of God’s judgment they justify themselves as to whether they believe they are basically a “good person” or a “bad person”. But God’s judgment isn’t based on whether we are “good” or “bad” but on whether we have broken his law.
Good Judge vs Bad Judge
A police officer is on highway patrol pulling people over for breath testing. Upon carrying out the test the officer finds that a person is driving under the influence of alcohol and is over the legal limit. At this point, the officer isn’t concerned whether the person is a “good” person or a “bad” person, but rather he is concerned that the driver has broken the law.
Now if that driver went to court and talked about the good things he had done, and the judge said to him, “You were driving under the influence of alcohol, but I can see that you have done some good things so that’s okay, be on your merry way,” would we think of him as a good judge or a bad judge? The answer is obvious, isn’t it?
A good judge would carry out his or her duty, declaring the driver guilty and hand down the penalty that had to be paid for breaking the law. If you were a family member of a person killed by a drunk driver how would you respond if the judge let him off because he had done many good things? To fail in carrying out their duty as a judge would be negligent to the law and unjust.
But often when we think of God’s judgment we want God to be the judge that says, “That’s okay.” We want God to look at our lawlessness and turn a blind eye and say, ”Be on your merry way.”
The truth is that God is a good judge and can not let lawlessness go unpunished. Someone must pay the penalty when the law is broken. Romans 3 echoes this reality that deep inside we know to be true. That is, “None is righteous, no, not one”. No one is “good”, every single person fails to live up to the moral standards God requires. Everyone has broken God’s law and deserves his just judgment. Verse 19 says that the “whole world is held accountable to God”.
The just judge. The truth is that we lack the means to evade God’s divine judgment.
Thankfully this passage not only shows God as the just judge demanding justice but he is also the one who justifies—he provides a way for our legal guilt to be removed. Romans 5:1 says “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Jesus, the only one who lived in obedience to God’s law took the penalty due to us, for breaking God’s law, and paid it in full on the cross of Calvary. Jesus did not deserve to die but chose to die in our place.
The good news of the gospel is that at the cross, Jesus took not only our penalty but our guilt itself. Therefore, all who place their trust in him have peace with God and are justified (just-as-if-I’d never broken God’s law). Because of what Jesus has done, Paul says that God is able to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” Romans 3:26.
As the ultimate good judge, God demands justice. But out of his love for all mankind he has also provided a way for all to be justified. Jesus Christ is our redeemer who took our guilt and then paid the legal penalty for our sin in full.