21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.
28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.Romans 3:21-25a, 27, 28
“Why did you hit your brother or sister?” every parent has asked their child. “He or she hit me first!” every child has said to their parent. It is a concept that even our children understand. If someone does something wrong to you, there must be justice. Kids understand the concept, but they often fail to carry out justice in a good way. It might seem fair to kids that if kid “a” hits kid “b,” then kid “b” should be able to hit kid “a.” However, that logic does not work. It is the old adage that two wrongs do not make a right. And, we really understand that this kind of justice does not work when we apply it to a few grown up examples. Like if a drunk driver slams into your vehicle, totals your vehicle and puts you in the hospital for a few weeks, the best form of justice is not for you to get drunk, slam your new vehicle into their vehicle and put them in the hospital for a few weeks. Or, if the person you are dating or married to cheats on you, then the best kind of justice is not to cheat with someone else. In this world, people do bad things to people, and in order to make things right, there must be justice.
We like justice when we get it. Justice makes things fair. Justice allows there to be rewards for those who do good and punishment for those who do wrong. Therefore, justice works when those who do right are rewarded and when those who do wrong are punished, and that is what makes justice something that does not come naturally to us. Again, even kids understand that when someone does you wrong, there must be justice carried out, and both kids and adults struggle to understand what good justice is, and if they do recognize what true justice is, then they struggle to carry it out. We struggle to understand what true justice is when we try to determine how best to punish a drunk driver who totals your vehicle and puts you into the hospital. Would it be just to total their vehicle and put them in the hospital for a few weeks letting that be the punishment, or is some kind of fine, jail time and spot on their permanent record better justice? We struggle to understand what true justice is when the person we are with cheats on us. Would it be better to cheat back at them, or is justice found by posting how bad they are on social media or filing for divorce while trying to get as much of the once shared assets and custody of the kids as possible? Now, if you can figure out the best kind of justice, then you still need the determination to carry out that justice without being bullied or bribed out of letting justice be served. We like justice when we get it, but often determining and carrying out true, good and fair justice is a struggle.
The end to the struggle for real justice is found in Jesus. Jesus ends the struggle for real justice because he tells us what is just, fair and good, and he carries out what is just, fair and good. You and I wrong others and are wronged by others because of our sin as we hear in Psalm 14, 3 “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” No one in this building can say they have not sinned, wronged, hurt, lied, cheated, gossiped, etc.
Therefore, the need for justice in this world is the result of all of our sin. So, for good, fair and just justice to be carried out in a way that ends our struggle against sin and injustice, sin must be punished, but God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 18 saying, “20 The one who sins is the one who will die.” God determined that those who sin need to die as punishment, and that is true justice. The problem with that is that everyone would be dead, and the solution for that problem is found in Romans 3, 25 “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” The atonement Jesus made is the key to justice. Jesus’ atonement meant he died for sin. This means each time you sinned, wronged, hurt, lied, cheated, gossiped, etc. Jesus did not. Jesus was good all the time to everyone, he told the truth, was fair, spoke well of others, healed, helped, gave life, etc. He did not have sins, but he died as if he committed all your sins. He satisfied the need for justice by shedding his own good, innocent blood on behalf of you and every other person. The justice God needed for your sins against him was carried out through Jesus. Also, because the justice has been carried out against your sins, you are no longer a sinner in God’s eyes. You are now good or righteous. There are no wrongs that need to be made right between you and God because Jesus made all things right.
God’s real justice through Jesus saved the world. Injustice has been brought to the forefront of our minds through recent events in our society. Many are seeking justice and answers. You are seeking justice and answers either for yourself, your kids or a friend or family member, or a combination of those. And, by God’s grace, true justice is found for all people in Romans 3, “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” People often categorize one another, separating people into groups, seeing differences, but here in these verses, God makes it clear that there is no difference between anyone. Every single person is a sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God. All of us have not been just, righteous, good or fair to one another, and the best way for all that hurt, wicked, selfish, evil, punishment deserving sin to be equally paid for is Jesus. Whatever you are upset about, whatever wrong has been done to you, whatever guilt you have, whatever broken, chaotic present or future you fear, it is solved in Jesus. And, the same is true for everyone around you. This is true because in the end the one we have all wronged the worst is God, but he made things right through the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood to save us and give us life in heaven away from this world.
Your response for real justice is Jesus. Jesus is the answer because he is the only one who determines what is truly good and carries it out. So often, we do not understand why what is wrong does not end and why justice does not seem to be carried out, and again we look to Romans 3, 25 … “He [God] did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” Here, God reveals that he waited to punish the sins of all those who came before Jesus. In other words, he did not put all of the people in the time period of the Old Testament to death even though their sins deserved it because he was waiting for Jesus to come and be put to death for them. Now, God does not immediately put people who sin to death because he wants them to have the chance to hear about Jesus. So, you may have a person in your life who you think deserves punishment or you may believe there are members of society who deserve punishment, and you are upset that there is no justice. Before you think you have determined the best punishment or take justice into your own hands, consider that whoever you believe deserves punishment is the same as you, a sinner. Also, Jesus wanted to die for that person because he loves them, wants them free from their sins and wants them to live with him in heaven. Finally, true justice has already been carried out for all sin and injustice through Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 7, 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.” You have many voices telling you what the injustices are in the society and in your own life. Do not listen to them if they tell you something different from what God says in the Bible. By a person’s fruit you will recognize whether they are from God or not. If a person is eager to share Jesus because he alone saves, gives life, changes hearts, creates peace, sees all as equal, forgives and punishes unbelievers with hell, then their fruit reveals they believe, and they are someone who speaks the truth. Listen to those who speak the truth.
“Why did you hit your brother or sister?” every parent has asked their child. “He or she hit me first!” every child has said to their parent. Even kids understand the concept, but they often fail to carry out justice in a good way. Adults too understand the concept of justice, but often struggle at determining how to be just and carrying out justice. God has the solution in Deuteronomy 11, 18 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Whether you are a kid or an adult, keep the Word of God first in your life. Surround yourself with the Word of God, and you will find peace, answers, justice and have a true, genuine, lasting reason for joy even when facing injustice or guilt for all the injustice you have caused. God’s Word does this for you because real justice is found in Jesus who gave his life to save all from sin equally and wants all to have faith in him. Amen.