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Practical Theology | Justice From the Inside Out

  • November 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

“God’s remedy for our personal injustice is not a political agenda but a promise.”

These days justice seems more like a slogan than personal responsibility. Justice is a word we see on protest signs and hear in political rhetoric. We demand it from courts, corporations, and Congress. So it’s easy to understand why, in the book of Micah, justice is one of the failed responsibilities of Israel’s leaders (Mic. 3:9). Injustice is a sin often committed by those in power.

But the biblical view of justice gets more personal. A just person is someone who “does what is right” in God’s eyes (Gen. 18:19). Our problem, of course, is that we are all unjust (Rom. 3:10). That is why the social structures that the Bible associates with the practice of justice primarily have a negative function. God’s laws set a high standard but did not empower us to obey. Therefore, God instituted the principle of law and governing authorities to establish boundaries and restrain fallen human nature. Romans 13:4 explains, “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” God’s remedy for our personal injustice is not a political agenda but a promise. Those who turn to His Son, Jesus Christ, will be made just from the inside out. Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for our sin, so we could be made righteous without compromising God’s holy standard. As Romans 3:24 puts it, “[A]ll are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

The calls for justice in Micah and the Old Testament do not provide a blueprint for how to achieve a just society. Rather, they reveal just how short we fall and point us each in the direction of God. The missing element in the church’s rhetoric of justice today is grace. Justice demands more than a sheer determination of our will; it requires a work of God. Only Jesus can make us truly just.

For Further Study

To learn more, read The Mark of a Christian by Francis Schaeffer (InterVarsity).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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