Sometimes I think it’s good to think about the characteristics of God. In fact, AW Tozer has a great book called The Attributes of God where he describes some of the things that Job’s friend Elihu mentions concerning God in 37:23: His power, justice, and righteousness. The characteristics of power and righteousness aren’t as difficult for me to wrap my mind around as God’s justice. Tozer, however, helped to clear that up for me.
When God looks at us He sees a moral situation: His justice requires that we equal Him morally, or we face eternity away from him. It’s almost like looking at one of the old “scales of justice.” The problem is that our sin creates an inequity with the moral state of God, and His justice requires that we be cast away from him because of it. That’s where Jesus steps in. His sacrifice puts us in a right moral standing with God. So when God looks at us he sees us as equal because of what Christ did for us. It’s a big concept, and it’s kind of confusing.
It’s important to know that God is totally unified. That means He is total justice while He is total grace, total mercy, total wrath, total love, etc. He doesn’t turn away from one attribute so the others can come forward. His justice is satisfied because of Jesus’ death… He doesn’t have to turn away from justice so He can also be mercy. If you’re interested in learning more about God’s attributes, I encourage you to pick up the book. Tozer does a much better job of explaining such a huge concept than I have done here!