Justice & the Sword of God

paul-two-edged-sword

Often when people look at Jesus Christ, we emphasize the compassionate, charitable, and forgiving aspects of our loving God.  But, is that the whole picture?  Christ spoke to His disciples about many things.  And as much as He preached about love for those who asked for forgiveness, He promised that unrepentant sinners would be punished in everlasting fire.  When we fail to emphasize any other characteristic of God other than His love, we take away many aspects of His Word that He gave us through the teachings Christ Jesus and the resulting Scriptures.  To avoid oversimplifying matters we must take a more complete look at God and what He promised for the future.  In particular, one thing that he emphatically promised us in the Scriptures was Justice.

Psalm  9:8“The Lord is just, and hath loved justice.”

Before we proceed, we must ensure that when we think about justice, that we do not focus on human “justice” or supposed Christian “justice” made on one human by another.  We must focus instead upon the infinite and perfect justice delivered by God wherein we human creations are given a just treatment that aligns with how we treated others around us.   For instance, God can only forgive us according to how we have forgiven others who have sinned against us:

Matthew 6:12“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

How else can we expect justice for the good we do if God does not by contrast punish those who have fallen prey to the illusions of Satan?  What harmony can exist if there is no justice?  All parties must respect the Will of God or else, like Satan, everyone acts only according to his personal will regardless of the negative impacts on everyone else.  Thus, God demands justice for all and our reward or punishment from God is perfectly aligned to our works and the nature of those works here on earth.  If we love others, we shall be loved by God.  If we forgive others, we shall be forgiven by God.  If we selfishly turn our backs on God and harm others, Jesus told us that punishment will ensue. We can observe this in the suffering that God beset upon David for his sins even though God had forgiven:

2 Samuel 12:13-18“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” So Nathan went to his house. Then the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!” 

So, the Justice of God, according to Paul, is defined as equitable treatment of each individual person according our own individual actions against the measurement of Christ Jesus.  As such, we are told in Scripture to expect a justifiable response from God according to our faith and our works:

Ezekiel 18:30 – “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”

Revelation 2:23“And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

Revelation 20:13“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

Revelation 22:12“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

We must note that God has promised us that He cannot and will not pass judgment without justification for His actions.  God will judge each of us differently based on our works. He will not treat us based on whether we call ourselves Christian or not.  He, with Christ presiding, will not judge according to our personal judgments or feelings regarding whether or not we thought we did a good job or not.  He will judge us according to the examples set by His Son Christ Jesus.  The Paul tells us that we will be tested in fire to determine whether our actions withstand God’s scrutiny.  Thus, there will be suffering for each of us, in one way or another, which is associated in the Bible with fire:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Now Paul does not fabricate this notion on a whim.  He is merely repeating what was already shown to him through the teachings of Christ and also from examples in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 6:6-7 – “And one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.”

Isaiah 48:10 – “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Malachi 3:2 – “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.”

This fire which shall test every man’s works determines the response that God will give because He is infinitely just.  He will never give us less than we have merited.  And He will also ensure that we are rewarded with grace according to how loving, faithful, obedient, and diligent we were in our own lives.  And, we can read in the Psalms that God’s justice applied according to the works of man is key to the basis of God’s law:

Psalm 89:14 – “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.”

God did not say that His justice would be murky or confusing.  He did say that His justice would be delivered according to His will by Christ Jesus:

Isaiah 42:1 – “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

John 5:25-30“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.”

After judgment has been made by our infinitely just God as to the quality of our work, rewards or punishments will ultimately be rendered upon each and every one of us.

Matthew 3:12 – “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

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Now that we have discussed how justice factors into the ultimate designs of God, let’s get back to talking about the Sword of God.  Isaiah prophesied the following:

Isaiah 49:2 – “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;”

And when Jesus spoke to His disciples, he said:

Matthew 10:34-36 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn“ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

And Paul described swinging of that sword:

Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When Christ Jesus returns, he will have the Sword of God:

Revelation 1:16 – “In [Christ’s] right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”

Revelation 19:15Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”

All of that considered, we can see that the Sword of God is to be used by Christ Jesus to administer justice to demons and men who lived against His will without repentance.  And these passages support the notion that Christ Jesus had promised Himself to administer a just reward for His faithful followers (Matthew 25:34) and a just punishment for evil-doers (Matthew 25:41) as well.

If we are righteous in both faith and works, (i.e. Godly, humble, repentant, temperate, loving, patient, and diligently looking toward heaven in all that we do) God will reward us:

Matthew 24:13“He that perseveres to the end shall be saved.”

James 1:12“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

1 John 1:9“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Yet, if we act with evil in our hearts according to the desires of Satan and his demons in violation of the Commandments or Laws of God, punishments awaits:

Isaiah 1:16-20Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Luke 3:9 – “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

John 15:6 – “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Revelation 20:15 – “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Justin Martyr expanded on Isaiah 1:16-20 in his First Apology:

“And that expression, The sword shall devour you, does not mean that the disobedient shall be slain by the sword, but the sword of God is fire, of which they who choose to do wickedly become the fuel. Wherefore He says, The sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. And if He had spoken concerning a sword that cuts and at once dispatches, He would not have said, shall devour. And so, too, Plato, when he says, The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless, took this from the prophet Moses and uttered it. For Moses is more ancient than all the Greek writers. And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] when they assert contradictories. So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for men.”

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Moving forward, we Christians must understand the justice of God and how serious Christ was about how He will treat those who do not repent before Him.  We must always hold full confidence that God’s justice will be swiftly administered according to the judgments of Christ Jesus.  And if we are to successfully fight off this evil that challenges us at every turn in this life to keep the ways of Christ, then we should do as Paul tells us: Wield the armor & weapons of God to prevent Satan and his minions from allowing us to sinfully walk into the lonely darkness which leads to everlasting fire:

Ephesians 6:11-18 – “Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against *principalities and *powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places . . . Stand therefore, having your belt of truth, having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” *these powers & principalities are the fallen angels of Satan

We must ask Christ, the Word of God, to be our Sword. With His help, the Sword of God brought to bear, we can resist the devil and his minions.  And, with Christ Jesus in our hearts, minds, and hands, we can rely upon His support to help us achieve our salvation.

Be vigilant fellow Lovers of Christ: May God bless you all!

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