That’s not fair! Children and even chimpanzee’s get angry when not given the same number of grapes as the next one. Our world shouts cries of injustice in every strata of our lives. It’s not fair. There are few things which ignite rage and hatred like a sense of injustice. Even when an outcome is fair, if we don’t like that outcome, we cry injustice.
Injustice is the byproduct of a religious false self (Pseudo-Kardia). When the yellow flag is thrown on a play, it means that someone isn’t playing according to the rules of fairness. Injustice requires or presupposes the existence of a shared moral code apart from which justice is meaningless. This law of right and wrong (righteousness) is written upon the hearts of all humanity, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). Everyone has some sense of a moral code, and any appeal to such a code is religion at it’s most basic form.
When we discuss justice, 99% of us understand justice as retribution or evening the score. Justice through retribution means that the offending person has to make it right, or even things up (justification). What I’m going to show you next in our study of sin, will majorly trigger your justice button. If you hope in justice as retribution, you will disagree or dislike what I’m about to say. Furthermore, it is my thesis that the Church, has misunderstood the justice of God and as a result, it has created elaborate theologies which have steered it off course.
With the help of Paul and Jesus, I want to set the record straight.
The justice of God is no longer based in retribution, but restoration. ( CLICK HERE for my massive collection of biblical proof.)
If the story of Jesus is true, if Jesus is who he claims to be, the messiah, the anointed one (Christ) of God, and if he is the propitiation (wrath deflecting and atoning) for the sins of humanity, then Jesus was the end of retribution. Jesus is the end of any religious apparatus which tries to appease God. There cannot be any further retribution against humanity without ascribing insufficiency to the work of Christ. Christ’s sacrificial death was neither limited to only the “elect” few who are loved by God (sorry Calvinists), nor was it limited to an act that made humanity savable, requiring each person to choose to appropriate his work (sorry Arminians). Despite what the two camps of church history have concluded, the work of Christ was total, complete and entirely covered all sins of all humanity of all time. Unfortunately, this means the Christ and Gospel given to us by modern religion is far too small.
What this means is that sin no longer stands between any person and God, whether it be past, present, or future. There can be no distinguishing between people based upon moral achievement or religious obedience. Sin and justice turn out to be a big deal. Justice is still about evening the score (righteousness) but the mode is now restoration. This creates a huge problem for religion, which has built it’s business by dividing the world into religious and non-religious.
The religious mind will never accept this. It cannot. What I just unpacked is Paul’s teaching in Romans, namely, that neither side really understands it.
“They (religion) have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9: 32-33)
“For Jews (religious mind) demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)
Religion always insists that its adherents are better off than those who don’t share their faith. “What then? Are we Jews (the religious) any better off? No, not at all.” (Romans 3:9). In fact, the massive exodus from mainline religion today is largely based upon the fact that most people have realized they can have a sense of the Divine without the bulk and burden of religion. Religion has never produced superior people, nor unique people. Religion’s purpose to reveal just how lost all of us actually are: “…through the law comes knowledge of sin.” 3:20)
“Did that which is good (religion), then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.” (7:13)
God justifies (erases the sin) of everyone not just the religious. “Or is God the God of Jews (religious) only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also” (v.29).
So if God is justifying all comers, then the trajectory of religion is to decline as the Gospel catches on. “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13).
When the religious mind hears this, they cry “INJUSTICE!” No way!!! “Believers are better off or else what is the point of believing?” This is why Paul explains how Abraham “believed God” in his own way and as a result God considered him righteous. Paul’s point is that Abraham predated the law, he couldn’t have been a Jew. He was ages before Jesus and couldn’t have believed modern Christianity nor Islam. If anything he was what Paul called him: “The Father of many heathens”. Paul’s Gospel has the same effect as Jesus’s in that both deconstruct religion and redirect us toward a new way to believe based on the fact that; “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8).
The religious mind still argues as it stumbles over this offense. It can’t get over how “innies” should be forgiven for sin while others shouldn’t be. So Paul explains how this was part of the design in the first place. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.“(5:18). Paul is saying, you have no problem believing all have sinned, why do you struggle to believe all are forgiven? Is your Gospel too small? Paul instructs us to stop arguing and stumbling. Instead the life of faith is essentially; “consider (logizesthe- logic/reason/hold a view ) yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”(6:11). From here Paul gives great instruction in chapter six on how all people can deal with a life of indwelling sin. Namely, re-mind (re-think- metanoia/repent) yourself that you are not the bad things you do, but that you are forgiven by God, and loved by God, and found by God in exactly the same way as everyone else.
You are Found. You are Beloved. You are forgiven….. Will you forgive yourself? Will you forgive others? The only sin that still exists is that which you “consider” or keep in the front of your mind. That’s our clue to liberation.
The religious mind still stumbles over the fact that: “we are released from the law… so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (7:6). The design was to consign: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (11:32). Justice is not about merit, it is about restoration of all people who share unity in our sinful failures. Unity at the bottom of the cess pool.
The religious mind stumbled over the Gospel in Jesus day too. Matthew 20 reveals Jesus parable about the justice of God being based on his grace or generosity (v.15) and not about who deserved their reward the most. Equality is based on our need for grace, not on our performance. This is a vivid story depicting how the religious mind will hate the justice of heaven or God’s kingdom. Those who labor the most (religious mind) will be the last to enter (v. 16). How will you like heaven if your enemy is there? The one we are asked to love?
The new way to live is not to follow a religion. It’s to follow the prompting of the Spirit which dwells in all of us. We must learn to forgive ourselves because God already has. We must learn to see ourselves in others, our weakness in others, and be merciful toward others. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do” (Romans 8:2). Our practice is not religion, it is to set our minds on the Spirit of God (v.6), and to help with that, God has placed us all within a sinful state of being called the flesh to remind us constantly of our need for God’s mercy.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
As J.I. Packer said in his forward to John Owen’s work Sin and Temptation; “No one gets out of Romans 7 alive.”
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:21-26)
So you see, the greatness of our sin and the greatness of the Gospel are two sides of the same coin. Justice is the huge stumbling block for both the religious and irreligious mind. Both are tripped up over and over again, especially as they try to make sense of Heaven and Hell. I hope you’ll come back later in this series when this enormous Gospel reframes everything we’ve ever learned about the afterlife.