By Jarrod Belcher
One of the things that’s hard to understand in our present culture (maybe it’s always been hard to understand) is how God can possess certain characteristics that seem to us to be in conflict. I’m particularly thinking about the fact that God is revealed to be both a God of love and of justice. It can be very hard to reconcile in our minds that the same God who loves us is the same God who will judge us. And because of this difficulty there is a tendency to paint God only as a God of love who winks and nods at our sin so that there’s no real consequence. Or on the other hand some seem to see him only as an angry God who is just waiting for us to mess up so he can zap us.
But the fact of the matter is that because God is a God of love he is also a God of justice. These two things are not mutually exclusive. He is perfect in his love and perfect in his justice. He will never punish anyone unjustly. But we must all know something about ourselves that is revealed to us in the Bible: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We have rebelled against God’s ways, and accordingly God has wrath stored up for us because of our sin. And because he is a God of justice his wrath must be satisfied to the praise of his glorious justice.
Here again is the importance of the cross. Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin for us so that we might be the righteousness of God. The perfection of Jesus in his life made him an acceptable substitute to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. In fact the Bible says God put forward Jesus Christ as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. Propitiation means to satisfy God’s wrath. When we have believed on Jesus we can know that God’s wrath against our sins has been satisfied. He won’t bring our sins back up to us at Judgment Day. In the cross God’s love and justice meet for our great benefit and for his own glory.