Tag Archives: Good

The Problem with God’s Righteousness


In which you discover if God’s righteousness is inadequate, overbearing, ethically challenged or merely misunderstood.

Four classic problems plague the nature of God’s righteousness: evil, vindication, corruption and ignorance.

Evil: Some claim that God can’t solve the problem of pain–if God is good, then why does evil still exist?

Vindictive: Other people claim that God is a ruthless tyrant who leans on wholesale massacre to punish the smallest slight.

Corruption: Still others see God’s righteousness–revealed in his use of infinite punishment for finite crimes–as a gross abuse of power.

Ignorance: And finally some simply don’t know what God’s righteousness is. Or how it is related to the theological principle of propitiation.

Let’s look at this attribute and discover the truth about God’s righteousness.

What Is God’s Righteousness?

Righteousness means purity of heart, just, agreeable to the law. Used in Scripture and theology, it’s nearly equivalent to holiness. Righteousness includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue.

Applied to people, it denotes someone who is holy and obedient to the laws of God. Applied to God, it means the perfection or holiness of his very nature.

The Perfect Index for Righteousness

The first thing to know about God’s righteousness is that he’s the ultimate standard for righteousness. God’s righteousness comes from within his self-existent being. It’s the reason .

That’s why his ,  are righteous: whatever comes out of his mouth is holy and just.

This righteousness is anchored in God’s morality and immutability. That makes God morally consistent and perfect, meaning he can’t bear iniquity. This is seen in  and  where God enumerates a long list of blessings and curses.

Calvin says in the threats we see God’s spotless purity. In the promises, his infinite love of righteousness. Charnock says in the threats “his irreversible justice manifested that all those that commit sin are worthy of death.” In the promises, “his purity did sparkle.”

Since he is infinite and eternal in essence he is also infinite and eternal in righteousness. His righteousness has no limits and shall endure forever:

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.” 

Thus, God does no injustice. His nature can do no wrong. He is simply acting like himself:

The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. 

Anything we consider good conforms to God. Anything we consider evil fails to do so. Without God’s righteousness we wouldn’t even understand what evil is.

Christ the Righteous Judge

He is . And –rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. Shall not the judge of the entire earth do right? Again, he simply acts like himself, immune to any outside influence. Theophilus said:

For he is a chastner of the godly, and the father of the righteous, but he is judge and punisher of the impious. (TA, 1.3)

He . This is what Theophilus meant when he said “Yes, He is angry with those who act wickedly, but he is good and kind to those who love and fear him.”

Don’t see this as a “plea for personal vengeance,” says A. W. Tozer, “but as a longing to see moral equity prevail in human society.” Retribution is the inescapable moral law of creation.

Retribution means that God will see that each person sooner or later receives what he deserves–if not here, then hereafter. That is righteousness–not vindication.

Therefore, anger is an appropriate reaction to wickedness. Would a God who did not react adversely to evil in his world be morally perfect? God is not God when he does not punish sin.

God’s Righteousness Means You Get What You Deserve

Think about this: Justice equals moral equity. Iniquity is the exact opposite. The only thing wicked men can expect from God is retributive judgment–if you are under divine rage then God doesn’t owe you anything accept punishment.

And no one has an excuse, because his righteousness is revealed in the law of God:

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 

The point?

Instead of shunning him and disobeying his law and behaving like outlaws who fear his return, we should long for his return–because  to one day reward us.

Like Anselm concluded, “He who is good to the wicked by both punishing him and sparing them is better than he who is good to the wicked only by punishing them.” Anselm’s thought can be echoed 800 years later in the words of Martin Luther:

But whoever is a christian should attribute justice to God and injustice to himself, should consider God holy and himself unholy. (WLS, 555-556)

And what can’t be missed here is that goodness without justice is evil. God spares us because he is good, but he could not be good if he were not just. He punishes the wicked because they deserve it. He spares the wicked only because he is good. Thus, he is free from every ounce of corruption.

God’s Righteousness Climaxes in Christ’s Propitiation

Why would he spare the wicked? Any wicked? And how could he do so and still remain just? The answer is found in the theological term propitiation.

Propitiation means to appease wrath and gain the favor of someone you have offended. In Christianity, propitiation is the  on the cross.

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin. Jesus satisfied God and obtained for his people forgiveness. It’s also a promise–because God is all powerful, demonstrated in Jesus’ resurrection–that evil will be defeated in the future.

In justice God abandons sinners to their wicked ways (the divine penalty for rejecting God). In mercy God withholds or modifies deserved judgement. In grace God freely gives undeserved benefits to whom he chooses.

In the end, the cross of Christ is the culmination of God’s righteousness. All three–justice, mercy and grace–are applied and satisfied.

**Part of The Nature of God.**

How to Become a Christian [in 1,000 Words or Less]


Where salvation is explained in plain English–from why we need to be saved to how it works. 

So, the central story of the Bible is about God reconciling a rebellious people. You, whether you like it or not, are one of those rebellious people.

You say, “I’m only human—nobody’s perfect.” That’s correct.  says the same thing: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Our Problem: Separation from God

You and I both do things that we know are wrong. That’s what  means: sinning with knowledge.

But you say, “I’m a pretty good person. I’m not as bad as the guy down the street who drinks whiskey and beats his wife.”

You wanna bet?

More than likely, on any given day, you are guilty of blaspheme, lust, murder, lying and stealing. [Don’t believe me? Take this quiz to find out.]

No wonder you feel estranged from God—He’s holy and good. You and I, on the other hand, are not.

But your sinful acts have alienated you from God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not to listen to your prayers. 

And you were dead in your tresspasses and sins. 

So, whether you break one or all of God’s laws, you are guilty of sin. And it doesn’t matter if you stole a pencil from work or slit a toddlers throat: God punishes all sin.

What Happens If You Sin

Just as criminals must pay the penalty for their crimes, sinners must pay the penalty for their sins.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

If you continue to sin, in the end, you will stand before the Judgment seat of God and He will declare you guilty. Your punishment? Spiritual death.

Spiritual death separates you from God. This is called hell, a physical place where unforgiven sinners experience physical torment. For eternity.

Now, does it concern you that you’ve sinned against God? It should.

You’ve actually angered God by your sin. The Bible says that  and that you are an enemy of God. What can you do about it?

Futility of Our Works

You might think you can do enough good deeds to outweigh your bad deeds. Or lead a good life and God will then play nice with you.

This attitude is called “works by salvation.” And it’s unbiblical.

The Bible teaches no amount of human goodness or human works can get you on the good side of God.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not of works, so that no one can boast. 

Salvation Is a Free Gift

Imagine one morning you were arrested for torturing dogs, maiming them, even killing them. You were a respectable, clean fellow, yes, but you just couldn’t stand dogs.

In court, the judge finds you guilty. He sentences you to 17 years in prison. Without parole. You weep. But just before you are ushered out of the court room by the guard, a stranger walks through the door.

Everyone stops.

The stranger takes off your handcuffs and puts them on his hands. He announces to the judge, “I’m going in his place.”

You watch dumbfounded as the guard carts the stranger away.

What just happened? The stranger just paid your penalty and his sacrifice was a demonstration of his love for you.

Jesus did the same thing for you and your sins over 2,100 years ago.

Christ Has Paid Your Penalty

The Bible says that Christ loved you enough to die for you–even when you were rebelling against Him.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

This is the good news of the Bible: God gave His own Son to become a man, live a sinless life and die on the cross to satisfy the penalty for our sins.

Moreover, to prove that Jesus was in fact God-man and that His death in fact meant substitution for your sins, God raised Jesus from the dead.

Why did He do this?

God does not want you to perish. In fact, He’s provided a way for you to be forgiven.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

Right now, God invites you to come to Him for a full pardon.

How Do You Receive This Free Gift?

The Bible teaches that all you have to do is follow His command to accept this free gift:

Repent…that your sins may be wiped out and times of refreshing may come from the Lord. 

If you will confess and forsake your sins and trust in Jesus Christ, God will forgive you and you’ll pass from death to life.

It’s a free gift. And it’s your choice: you can either accept or reject this free gift. What do you want to do?

What Does It Mean to Put Your Faith in Jesus Christ?

It means to trust in Jesus the same you’d trust in a lifeboat cast on a raging sea.

Today, with all your heart, surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Confess your sins. Ask God to forgive you. Say that you’ll trust in Jesus. And thank Him for the gift of everlasting life.

Pray now. There is nothing magical about the words you use. It is the attitude of your heart that God cares about.

And don’t put this off. You could die the instant you turn away from this screen.

If you are making this commitment to Christ today, please let me know. I want to hear from you.

**Part of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing Your Faith series.**