Receiving God’s Justice

Receiving God’s Justice

by Michael Desgrosseilliers, Elijah House President

 When most people talk about judging others, they mean condemning them. “This person is no good. They’re dumb. They have no value.”

But according to Scripture, there are actually two kinds of judgment—and one of them is incredibly righteous.

Unrighteous Judgment

The first kind of judgment leads to condemnation, which is not God’s heart for people. When Jesus said in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, so you won’t be judged,” He was talking about condemning other people.

We judge others in an unrighteous way when we discern, “Hey, this isn’t right,” and then react in condemnation, refusing—or not realizing we need—to forgive them. We might not say these exact words, but this is the attitude of our heart: 

“You are a terrible person!” 

“You’re the scum of the earth.” 

“You’re worthless. How dare you hurt me.”

Obviously, those attitudes do not reflect the love of the Father for lost or wandering sheep. We often want to vilify those who hurt us, but that is not God’s heart. We need Jesus just as much as our enemies do.

Righteous Judgment

The second kind of judgment starts off the same way: We discern something isn’t right. 

But instead of completely writing the person off, we choose to forgive and see them through the eyes of compassion. We don’t ignore the sin or pretend it’s not a big deal, but we respond according to love. Jesus called this kind of judgment righteous:

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24 NKJV) 

Righteous judgment leads to life, not condemnation.

Both types of judgment require discerning there is a problem, which isn’t always easy or fun to do. Some of us are gifted in discernment and frequently pick up on “problem areas” within others, but because we hate conflict, we choose the road of least resistance. “I’m just going to ignore this.” That response resolves nothing. It doesn’t help the other person, and it does nothing for our heart either. When we see a problem, the key is to respond in love.

Judgment without mercy leaves us with what the Pharisees had: only condemnation for others. However, if we try to overcorrect and end up strongly going the other direction, refusing even to see a person’s sin, we fall into unsanctified mercy.

Unsanctified mercy is, as Bill Johnson says, “showing mercy where God does not.” God’s mercy can’t be accomplished through unsanctified mercy. There are times when we try to be more merciful than God, assuming love looks like not addressing sin. “Because that would be painful for this person!”

But is that real love? Is it possible for us to be more merciful than God? No. 

Receiving God’s Justice

We cannot receive justice from the Lord when we are operating in unsanctified mercy or when we are walking in unrighteous judgment. If we are condemning our enemies instead of forgiving them, the justice of the Lord cannot come to us.

Forgiveness is a more powerful weapon than we realize. Unforgiveness is a sin, which means that when someone sins against us and we refuse to forgive them, we have become unjust in that situation. First they were unjust, but then we stepped into injustice ourselves by refusing to forgive. God wants to give us justice, but the presence of unforgiveness means He can’t. If He overlooked our unforgiveness and gave us justice anyway, He would be unjust.

Our lack of understanding about judgment, justice, and forgiveness is one reason we are still waiting for God to bring justice in the United States and change the direction we’re going as a nation. We recognize we have been sinned against—but we have responded in sin ourselves. Many of us have condemned “the other side” and refused to forgive them. “Why would I forgive them? What they did was wrong!” But God cannot bring justice when we are not walking in forgiveness. 

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14 NKJV) 

We need to humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways—in this matter, condemning people and refusing to forgive them—and then He will heal our land.

The Bible says two times, “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.” The areas where we refuse to forgive are areas of pride, and the God of Perfect Justice cannot be a part of those areas.

The Open Door

We need to understand the two kinds of judgment—righteous and unrighteous—so we can choose love and forgiveness when someone sins against us. 

If we find ourselves in a situation where it seems like justice isn’t coming, it is good to check in with the Holy Spirit and see if we have stepped into condemnation toward the person or people who hurt us. Are we condemning them in our heart? Are we refusing to forgive? If the Holy Spirit shows us something, we resolve it quickly, so the door is open to God’s justice.

The moment we choose to humble ourselves and repent, God’s grace opens up to us. Then we can receive what He wants to give us—His justice for the pain we have endured.

If you're interested in learning more about forgiveness, check out As We Forgive Those by Charles F. Finck. This book will help you recognize what you might be doing instead of forgiving—and why. It also addresses your role in God's work of healing in your life. Click here to learn more.

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