When is the last time you heard a sermon on divine judgment? It is probably been awhile, yet the Bible speaks of it and it should not be ignored. What is God’s purpose in executing judgement? God’s purpose in judgment is redemptive. While in judgment sin is punished, in His holy love judgment seeks to eradicate sin and establish holiness. God’s judgment is holiness’ response to sin. Holiness is repulsed at sin and must deal with it and destroy it. Judgment is God’s holiness in opposition to sin. God’s love redeems in the midst of judgment to establish his holiness. Divine judgment is anchored in holy-love. His love is so great He at the cross dealt with sin in his Son. At the cross we see judgment upon sin and the redemptive love of God from sin. The judgment of God is an aspect of His love. God’s judgment and love are not opposed to one another, for there can exist no true love without judgment on sin. As Leon Morris says, the judgment of God is “a strong and settled opposition to all that is evil arising out of God’s very nature…. God is not passive in the face of sin. God is implacably and vigorously opposed to every evil.”
His action to judge demonstrates His redemptive love at work to deliver us from sin which seeks to destroy and damn us. In judgment God, like a surgeon ridding the body of a destroying cancer, surgically removes the cancer of sin to bring about the health of His holiness. Love that doesn’t demonstrate hatred for what seeks to destroy and that which is an enemy of all that is right and holy, is not love but only sentimentality. God’s judgment upon sin is not capricious or unpredictable, but is provoked by the evilness of sin. God’s judgment is not to be viewed like the vindictiveness of man, but God’s judgment is vindicative of His holy nature. Divine judgment needs to be seen more than retribution, but the establishing and the securing of eternal righteousness and holiness. Judgment is more than the consequences of sin in a moral universe, more than an impersonal process of cause and effect, but it is God actively being involved in his creation to restore His holiness in a creation that has been cursed by sin. The judgment of God strikes a blow to moral relativism by revealing that right and wrong are true and the expanse of divine holiness is the goal of creation.
Failure to hate evil implies a deficiency in understanding God’s love. The love and judgment of God is fully understood only in the light of the cross. In the Christ of the Cross God vindicated His holiness through holy-judgment, assuring humanity His holy-love can be trusted. Liberalism dismisses divine judgment and speaks only of God’s love. P.T. Forsyth insightfully writes, “If we spoke less about God’s love and more about His holiness, more about His judgment, we should say much more when we did speak of His love” (Forsyth, The Cruciality of the Cross, 1909, 73). There is dualism in holiness and love. Emil Brunner states it well, “The objective aspect of the Atonement…consists in the combination of inflexible righteousness, with its penalties, and transcendent love. The love of God breaks through the wrath of God” (Brunner, The Mediator, 1967, 520). The only complete satisfaction that can be made to a holy God from the sinful side is the sinner’s restored obedience, his return to holiness. Jesus completed that satisfaction in our stead!
The love of God will always be seen as weak and anemic, unless we hold it up in the light of God’s hatred toward sin and love of holiness. There is no love of God that is not holy and no holiness of God that is not loving. To reject the divine love of the Creator as found in Jesus Christ, who in the cross dealt with sin making it possible for man to be redeemed, is to turn one’s back on the only hope for redemption and to seal one’s own fate of incurring divine judgment.
Thomas F. Torrance has eloquently written, “God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” (T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, 1994. 94)
One can only be eternally justified by faith in a God who justifies Himself as so holy that He must set up His holiness in human history at any price, and that price was allowing judgment to fall upon His own beloved and eternal Son.
Oh, what a Savior.