|“Therefore, since we have been justified through |
faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access
by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
In yesterday’s blog post, I narrated the story about my seventh grade homeroom teacher. If you missed it, I urge you to scroll back and read that post. It really serves as a prelude to this post for today.
You see, yesterday, I wrote about how the holiness of God’s nature will always ultimately require Him to punish sin. Make no mistake about it. God will someday tip the scales of His eternal justice in favor of righteousness.
Dr. Martin Luther King is quoted as saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Dr. King was right, though I strongly suspect that he and I might view that statement in very different ways. At least, those people who have made so-called “social justice” their principal watchword will use Dr. King’s statement as one of hope that in our society we really are getting better and better. In fact, they assert, we are getting better and better to the point where one day justice will prevail on this earth.
Now I must tell you that I genuinely respect their right to hold to their belief. But, I think they are absolutely wrong, at least in the conclusions they draw from the way they interpret Dr. King’s statement.
I believe that, with great clarity, Scripture teaches that we have been on a downward trajectory since God first created man and woman as sinless beings who bear His divine image, and placed them in a perfectly created Garden of Eden. The first beings to rebel against God in disobedience were Lucifer and his legion of following angels. God cast them out of heaven and restricted them to domicile on the earth. (Isaiah 14:15, Ezekiel 28:16-17, and Revelation 12:7-12)
Lucifer, or Satan, then tempted mankind by prompting Eve to distort what God had commanded. Namely, that humans not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That tree resided in the center of the Garden. (To understand this distortion, carefully read Genesis 2:17 and compare it with Genesis 3:2-3.)
Once Eve was beguiled by Satan, plucked the fruit, ate it, and gave it to Adam, Adam then ate it willingly and knowingly. Adam knew full well he was sinning against the sole commandment that God had given him. As I have often asserted in this blog, Eve was deceived, but Adam sinned willingly. And so, the sin of disobedience against the holiness of God entered our world.
In punishing Adam and Eve, God indicated that the inheritance of their sin would pass to all humans who would come after them. And, not only would that sin stain all future humans, those future humans would be bent toward sin and would sin of their own accord. (Genesis 3:16-19)
Because sin begets sin—that is to say that one sin leads to more and more sin—the arc of the moral universe has indeed been long, but it bends toward God taking the ultimate action required by His holiness and His justice. So, in a very real sense, Dr. King and I agree that the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice—but, it is a justice supplied by our holy God, not the ever-increasing goodness of mankind.
(And, by the way, I’m not at all certain that Dr. King didn’t actually believe as I do. It’s quite possible that those who have come after him have distorted the meaning of Dr. King’s words for their own political and social purposes. But, I will have to wait to ask Dr. King in heaven to see if I’m right.)
So, while yesterday I wrote about God’s judgment, today I must write about His mercy, grace, and abiding love. For those qualities of God, which purposely and purposefully flow out of His holiness, are the very qualities that have given us our way of escape.
When God chose us to belong to Himself—before the creation of the earth—He did so knowing that, to satisfy the justice that His holiness demanded, He would have to provide a pathway of redemption for us. We could not and cannot redeem ourselves. We are stained by sin and cannot possibly, of our own volition—that is, of our own will, provide redemption from sin.
So, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus—the ultimate of sinless perfection because the Son is God Himself—to die in our place and to rise from the dead, conquering sin, and death, and Satan.
The Apostle Paul, writing in Romans 4, in order to describe the moral arc of faith through Abraham, declares boldly in Romans 5:1-2:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is both the judge and justifier. He is the source of genuine justice. He is the One whose holiness demands that the penalty of sin be paid. He is the One who has made provision to pay that penalty. He is the One who has us stand before Him and pronounces us clean of sin because He sees that we are covered by the redeeming blood of the Lamb, Jesus.
As we begin a new day, let’s recognize that while all around us society only gets worse and worse, we have already been declared faultless before the throne of God’s justice. And, a natural outgrowth of our redemption is our desire to share God’s plan for true life with others. Let’s not hesitate to share with gentleness and kindness.