Summary

Justice is important to teach society (Deuteronomy 19:20-21), but an inability to prove that the punishment fits the crime (Proverbs 18:17) leads to an endless cycle of vengeance. By allowing God to avenge (Romans 12:17,19), this cycle of violence can end (James 2:13). This mercy leads to forgiving sinners and choosing to suppress their past mistakes (Hebrews 10:17-18). In doing so, God will forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15) and give you the grace of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Endorsements

All Christians believe in justice, mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

Concepts

Justice

Justice is punishment.

Justice is hurting a person equal to how much they hurt another (Deuteronomy 19:21). 

Justice prevents future sin.

The purpose of punishment is so the rest of society will fear this pain and not commit the same sin (Deuteronomy 19:20).

Justice helps a person stop sinning.

Whether a man is wise or foolish, punishment always helps him learn (Proverbs 21:11). 

The purpose of justice is to improve society.

The evil don’t think justice actually helps (Proverbs 28:5), though it’s hypocritical to hurt another while not wanting to be hurt (Proverbs 1:16). The reason justice exists is to improve the quality of life of people living together (Proverbs 29:4).

Justice cannot perfectly improve society.

The problem with justice alone is that it is based on the premise that the avenger’s punishment is actually equal to the pain caused by the perpetrator, but there is no way to prove that (Proverbs 18:17; I Corinthians 8:2). If the perpetrator feels that his punishment was too great, as did the first murderer (Genesis 4:13), he will seek vengeance (Romans 12:17,19). Then, the cycle of justice and vengeance will continue forever until both societies are destroyed.

Justice is enacted by your government.

The reason personal vengeance fails is that both parties have not agreed on what is a fair punishment. God said that one of His methods for enacting justice on earth is any governing authority (Romans 13:1,4). The logical reason for this is that by choosing to live under a government, you choose to abide by their laws for punishment. Then, a person can’t complain that his punishment was unfair; because if he really believed that, he either wouldn’t have committed the crime or would have moved to another country.

Mercy

Mercy is not receiving due punishment.

Mercy is not receiving punishment that is deserved (I Timothy 1:13). Giving mercy is absolving someone of the justice they deserve (Psalms 51:1).

Mercy can create a perfect society.

Because justice devolves into an endless cycle of vengeance, no society can live in perfect peace or even survive with this mindset. Instead, choosing mercy breaks the cycle by saying that although we were wronged, we will not seek vengeance (Leviticus 19:18). Then, both groups get to live. In this way, it’s proven that mercy is greater than the power of justice’s judgment (James 2:13).

Mercy is allowing God to take vengeance.

Although mercy sounds unfair because the evil go unpunished, in reality, God will punish them (Romans 12:19; II Thessalonians 1:6). Because God is wiser, He can more accurately execute fair vengeance than what a person can do (Isaiah 55:9).

Mercy is given when God chooses.

Although all will eventually receive God’s mercy (Romans 11:32), He chooses when mercy is given (Romans 9:15,18). Mercy is not given based on how much good or bad works a person did (Romans 9:11) but instead by how faithful they will be to God’s purpose (I Timothy 1:12-13). If a person does not show mercy (James 2:13) or disobeys God’s law (Hebrews 10:28), it doesn’t matter how much they say they love God: they will not receive His mercy (Hebrews 10:26-27; Matthew 7:21).

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is absolving punishment.

While mercy is not giving someone punishment (I Timothy 1:13), an unforgiving person may decide to give that person punishment in the future. Forgiveness is believing that the wrongdoer should not be punished forever and choosing to suppress any memory of the sins (Hebrews 10:17-18).

Your forgiveness is required for God’s forgiveness.

Everyone wants forgiveness from their unknown sins, because they can’t repent of a sin they aren’t aware of; yet, many people still seek vengeance. This is hypocritical. Only those who forgive all sins will have all their sins forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15).

Full forgiveness is only given to those who accept Christ.

Even if a person forgives you, sin is logically against God alone (Psalms 51:4; Mark 2:7) because sin is defined by God (I Corinthians 15:56). For full forgiveness from God, it can only come by accepting Jesus as Lord (Acts 10:43).

Grace

Grace is unmerited favor.

Grace is receiving something you don’t deserve. For example, although we don’t deserve salvation, anyone can receive it as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Grace is given due to love.

Although justice, mercy, and forgiveness helps people to stop killing each other; without God’s grace, we would still destroy ourselves, because no one seeks God (Romans 3:11). In His grace, He allowed us to become His children and heirs of eternal life because He loves us (Titus 3:4,7). With the same love, we are called to be gracious to others, even when they are acting unjustly (I Peter 2:19-20).

FAQ

Justice

How do I fight evil without resisting it (Matthew 5:39)?

Resist the sin, not the sinner (Ephesians 5:11). God’s Word is perfect, so Jesus’ quoting the “eye for an eye” verse (Matthew 5:38) wasn’t Him saying that it was wrong (Matthew 5:17-18), but that people were misinterpreting it (Mark 7:9). It’s common for a person to judge a sinful person as evil, but God is the only Judge (James 4:11-12; Romans 2:1). Instead of resisting evil people, we should avoid them (Psalms 1:1; Romans 16:17). The way to fight evil is to promote good, not destroy sinners (II Corinthians 3:9).

How do I not seek vengeance but promote justice (Isaiah 1:17)?

Remember that it’s not your job to avenge (Romans 12:19), but the government’s (Romans 13:1,4). If your government is not righteous enough, remember that we are called to be as separate as possible from our government (II Corinthians 6:14-17) while always obeying them, short of sin (Romans 13:2).