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Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand all.

Proverbs 28:5

Several months ago, a pastor from a megachurch resumed his preaching duties, after a period of solitude he sought to attend to some personal matters. He started sharing, the heart-wrenching story of how he had to witness a few of his close relatives passing on in life, and including his own beloved wife.

Putting on a brave front, he preached God’s word as laudably as he could, and in between sentences, exhibiting the extreme pain and sorrow that he had to combat, and to soldier on despite the seeming odds that are apparently against him.

To hear him speak of his experiences is no smooth feat. This pastor is so down-to-earth and honest as a person, that his candor in sharing the struggles he faced, could cause anyone listening to him to easily and equally feel the somber ambiance of his emotions and thoughts. Despite his capacity as a well regarded man who fears God, a person who loyally served as a pastor of his church for several decades, the pain and suffering he had to endure does not seem fit or suited to him as a person known highly for his good integrity and honor, and as a person well respected by many people who know him.

Losing family members to death is not easy. And the last straw that broke the camel’s back, was when he lost his wife. After the grueling period, he had to pick himself up and get going once again. So he took 100 days off to spend solitary moments to pray, meditate and to seek God.

He kept himself locked out from contact with other people and even the music he listened to during the period of his self-imposed confinement, were selected carefully so as not to distract him from his sole purpose of wanting only to be close to God. That was how serious and determined he was. The desire and the heart in him, longing for God was so immense that everything else in the world had to be momentarily shut off from his life until he achieves what he set himself to achieve.

With due respect to this pastor, I would say he is probably one of the most ideal person in the world to be in the position to ask this question; why bad things are happening to good people.

All Of Man’s Ways To Reach God Are Futile

In my own personal struggles in life as a believer, I too had my fair share of joy, sorrow, pain, moments of crisis etc. In 2013, my family and my life came to an abrupt stand still when my wife was hospitalized, facing the imminent threat of dying from a massive brain tumor that grew on the left side of her brain. What I was made to go through was in fact no different from what the pastor above had to go through recently.

To cut the story short, God showed me the source of my pain and suffering; sin. And from there, He showed me how sin negatively relates to Him, of Him being a righteous, just and loving God. As believers, most of us are brought up or trained in churches that Christ came and offered Himself as sacrifice for our sins and as long as we accepted Him, we are saved from eternal damnation. The least I could say for now; this statement is not completely true; that people are seldom coached regarding the if-then-else part of the equation of the gospel.

Very little attention were paid to the intrinsic characteristic of this God of ours, the precision of His holiness, His love for justice and righteousness, and His love for those who loves Him. And it is man’s failure to understand how all these elements of God’s character, that the Bible sums it up in Proverbs 28:5, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand all.”

The Bible patently points us to the fact that seeking God leads us to understanding His justice, but yet most of us probably have not even heard of justice being taught in our churches or preached by our pastors at all. The absence of understanding God’s justice, shows us clearly that either man is not seeking God as they should be, or evil is somehow still lurking among men, causing them blindness to see that justice is very much alive and relevant in God’s sight presently.

God’s wrath does not choose skin color or what status the person is holding in his community or how often he reads the Bible. It only recognizes one thing; whether sin is present within the heart of man and if the answer is yes, did the person undertake willful measures to repent and to rectify what sin is already doing to him, that is causing gradual decay to life.

The Bible also said very clearly that the role of the teacher is not to be taken lightly, as teachers will be judged more strictly than others (James 3:1), for what the teacher imparts to his followers shall determine whether the whole lot of them will eventually stand or stumble.

If I were to put down all my reasoning in writing, I probably need to publish an entire book to explain every detail of what I have to say. However, I found an article posted on the website of The Christ Covenant Church from Denver, Colorado, that more or less sums everything – in the post attached below, entitled “Understanding Justice and Repentance”. It is not a short read, but if you are seeking the truth and still wondering why suffering continues to prevail even among professing Christians, this is a must-read, and I strongly urge you to do so and to have your Bible ready next to you, to reveal every Scriptural verses that have been quoted alongside with this article.

But if you are a false teacher from a false church reading this, don’t even bother. Nothing herein will likely make any sense to you. No matter how the Bible stipulates itself, it will often be against man’s simple approach of believing without substance or supports any outlandish ideas that they have the power to speak things into existence as though they are God Himself.

Unless a person first figure out the difference between what is good and what is evil, understanding justice or repentance will be like having two more elephants in the room, then the person choose to ignore and pretend that they are not there. And also, this is no plucking verses from the Bible just to make them rhyme with fallacious beliefs, like what most other false preachers are fond of doing.

Understanding Justice and Repentance

Source: The Christ Covenant Church

The relationship between Justice and Repentance is inextricable. Therefore, to understand one, we must understand both. With that mind, consider the following regarding Repentance and Justice:

  1. As it relates to Justice:

1.1. God loves justice and those who pursue it. This was also His goal in creating a people for Himself. They would be a people loving justice. Justice is therefore a prerequisite to receiving the gospel. As such, salvation (or mercy) is not afforded to those who refuse to serve justice and see justice served (Isaiah 30:18, Isaiah 33:5, Isaiah 42:1-4, Isaiah 56:1, Isaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 4:1-2, Jeremiah 5:1, Jeremiah 9:24; Ezekiel 45:9; Hosea 2:19; Amos 5:13-25; Micah 3:9-12, Micah 6:8; Psalm 18:26; 2 Corinthians 4:1-2; Acts 10:34-35).

1.2. Justice and righteousness (or just and righteous) share the same word in the (Greek) NT (di,kaioj). As such, to practice justice means to practice righteousness (e.g. Romans 3:26).

1.3. Justice requires:

1.3.1. Recognizing/honoring/submitting to God’s appointed judges and their judgment – internally/externally (Deuteronomy 16:18; Romans 13:1-5)

1.3.2. Agreement with God’s Word/Law (Isaiah 8:20)

1.3.3. Innocence/Guilt is determined by facts not feelings, direct evidence versus circumstantial evidence (Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 17:4-6; 1 Timothy 5:19).

1.3.4. One law for all (Numbers 15:15-16; Leviticus 24:22; 1 Timothy 5:20)

1.3.5. Unbiased judgment of others or self: it is the crime that determines the punishment not the person (“lady justice is blind”; 1 Timothy 5:21; Deuteronomy 16:19, Deuteronomy 19:21)

13.6. No pity/pardon or feeling sorry for the guilty; pity/ protection/recompense to the innocent (Colossians 3:25; Deuteronomy 19:21a; Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 24:17)

1.3.7. The punishment fit the crime (Exodus 21:24; Deuteronomy 19:21b; as such each crime must be assessed separately and degrees acknowledged – e.g. child rebellion)

1.3.8. Capital crimes (now) result in excommunication (1 Corinthians 5:2,13 with 2 Corinthians 2:6-7).

1.4. Justice is therefore consistent with and the fulfillment of God’s Word/Law (Job 37:23; Psalm 25:9-10, Psalm 37:30-31; Psalm 89:14, Psalm 97:2, Psalm 111:7-9; Proverbs 2:6-9; Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 51:4; Ezekiel 18:5-9, 19; Habakkuk 1:4) and the opposite of sin (which is “lawlessness” – 1 John 3:4). As such, all attempts to obey God’s Word/Law are equally attempts at seeking justice and loving others (Matthew 18:15 with Leviticus 19:15-18 with Matthew 22:39 with Romans 13:8-10).

1.5. In situations where it is not explicitly communicated or specifically prescribed, God’s Word/Law requires that the appointed judges/elders of the covenant community determine the application of justice (e.g. number of lashes = Deuteronomy 25:1-3; time of excommunication 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 with 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). At times, God’s Word/Law does also require contact with secular authorities/courts. Compliance with the secular justice system is expected when their law demands it and is not in violation of God’s Word/Law (Romans 13:1-7).

1.6. Justice includes seeking to learn all of God’s Word/Laws and teaching them to those under our authority. As such, it also means never refusing to share with or warn them in relation to God’s Word/Law. To neglect this duty makes us equally guilty of their sins (Genesis 18:19; Ezekiel 33:7-9 with Acts 20:26-27).

Hence, the way to avoid additional suffering in this life, is by avoiding additional sin.

1.7. Though Jesus died to remove the eternal penalty of justice required for our rebellion, His death was never meant to remove the temporal penalty – or our obligation to seek and serve justice. If we want His eternally justifying work, then we must both accept God’s temporal justice (or discipline) and (once more) commit to a life of seeking and serving justice (Deuteronomy 16:20; 1 Corinthians 6:8-11). This is why, then, Christians are not excluded from suffering in this life – including physical death. As a matter of fact, Christians are guaranteed to receive such temporal justice (or suffering or discipline) for their sin since without it, there is no hope of being eternally just or in the eternally just place of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:8-11, 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; Hebrews 12:3-14; 1 Peter 4:17-19; Proverbs 11:31, Proverbs 16:6, Proverbs 20:30, Proverbs 24:12). Hence, the way to avoid additional suffering in this life, is by avoiding additional sin (Proverbs 13:21).

1.8. There is a direct relationship between understanding justice and how a person views God and their sin. The less a person thinks of God (and their sin against Him as serious), the more obstinate they become in relation to justice (Proverbs 28:5).

1.9. There is also a direct relationship between how much time a person meditates/thoughtfully reads God’s Word/Law and their passion for justice. The more a person is in God’s Word/Law, the more they will be predisposed or biased to justice and its practice (Psalm 119:97; e.g. Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

1.10. Love and forgiveness are functions of justice. As such, both love and forgiveness mean seeking the person’s justice (or that they serve justice). That love and forgiveness do indeed involve justice (or seeking justice) in relation to others is seen by the fact that this also represents their highest good: the path of justice; since God will (once more) only accept those who love and seek justice (Leviticus 19:15-18 with Matthew 22:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Isaiah 56:1; Micah 6:8).

1.11. The pursuit of justice (or righteousness) is the path to abundant life (Matthew 5:6; Psalm 106:3; 1 Kings 3:11; Romans 2:6-8; Proverbs 2:1-22, Proverbs 8:32,35, Proverbs 9:10-11, Proverbs 10:3,6,27, Proverbs 11:3,5-6,8,19,21,23, Proverbs 12:2,21, Proverbs 15:10, Proverbs 20:7, Proverbs 22:8, Proverbs 28:18).

  1. As it relates to Repentance

2.1. God loves those who repent. Repentance is also a function of justice (and therefore) a prerequisite to receiving the gospel. As such, salvation is equally not afforded to those who refuse to repent (Psalm 51:17 with Matthew 5:2-5; Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:17; Romans 2:1-5; Psalm 7:11-16).

2.2. To repent means:

2.2.1. You own your sin

You are not making excuses for your sin (i.e. acting as though it were not sinned, or you had no choice, or it was someone else’s fault; attempting to be seen as the victim when you are the perpetrator) but rather taking full responsibility (1 John 1:5-8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Isaiah 5:20; e.g. Genesis 3:12).

2.2.2. You confess your sin

You are acknowledging your sin to God/Jesus and asking forgiveness (1John 1:9; Psalm 32:5; Leviticus 26:40; Proverbs 28:13; Mark 1:5).

2.2.3. You abandon your sin

You are forsaking all sinful behavior by doing whatever it takes (including suffering) to see that sin is no longer practiced (Matthew 5:29-30; 1 Peter 4:1-5; Proverbs 28:13; Ezekiel 18:28; Acts 26:18-20).

2.2.4. You embrace justice

You are committed to serving justice (i.e. practicing righteousness – 1 John 3:10; Luke 3:4-14; Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 8:21) and seeing justice served (i.e. that all penalties or payments necessary to making our wrongs right are fulfilled). As discussed, this may include what the secular authorities require as well (Luke 19:8-10; Ezekiel 18:27; Acts 19:18-19; Romans 13:1-5).

2.3. Repentance therefore requires more than simply acknowledging you are a sinner. All such forms of “theoretical repentance” are useless and damning. Hence, the reason for John’s rebuke of the Pharisees who were seeking to baptized by him (“Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”, Luke 3:7-8). Their commitment was limited to the theoretical only; a position John knew would get them nowhere come Judgment Day.

2.4. Repentance therefore also means more than feeling sorry for what we have done. Zeal for righteousness/justice is the key (2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Matthew 27:3-5 versus Luke 19:8-10)

2.5. Those unwilling to do what justice requires are considered unrepentant by God and in danger of going to Hell should they die in that state – Christian or otherwise, since no-one can be unrepentant and receiving God’s forgiveness (Deuteronomy 29:18-20; Romans 2:5; also again Luke 19:8-10 – notice that Jesus does not proclaim salvation in re: to Zac until he proclaims his commitment to seek justice).

2.6. Since justice is not determined by us (e.g. what we think is just/righteous), but rather by God’s Word/Law, it is to God’s Word/Law that we must look when determining what qualifies as justice in our repentance (Psalm 119:72; e.g. Luke 19:8 – “If I have defrauded/stolen…I restore it fourfold” with Exodus 22:1).

2.7. Though Jesus died for the Christian’s sin, He did not remove our responsibility to continue mortifying and repenting of our sin. This includes and requires a renewing of the mind (Romans 8:12-13; 1 John 1:9; Romans 12:2 with 1 Corinthians 15:34).

2.8. Repentance is a gift that God must give if a person is to truly turn from their sin and seek justice. This (then) is the means by which God calls people to Himself for the purpose of entering into a saving covenant relationship. It is however the responsibility of that individual, once called, to maintain that relationship. Such is possible and expected since all that is needed to remain just, is applied/supplied at conversion (i.e. through their baptism). Christians are therefore without excuse and guilty of the highest treason when that saving relationship is forfeited by their sin. To be restored, they are asking God to perform yet another miracle of amazing grace in supplying the gift of repentance again (2 Timothy 2:25-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10; 2 Peter 1:1-4 with Acts 2:38 with Ephesians 1:19; Hebrews 10:26-30).

2.9. Apostasy communicates a person’s continued desire to despise Christ and His sacrifice, but also that God has not chosen to extend the gift of repentance to such despisers (2 Timothy 2:25 – “God perhaps grant…”; 1 Corinthians 10:21-22; Hebrews 10:29; Exodus 8:32 with Exodus 9:12, Exodus 10:1; Hebrews 12:17).