Last week we learned Jesus had two messages: salvation and reward. Likewise, there are two areas of interaction for us where we need to account for justice: God and people.
When we don’t follow grace, we sin against God. Justice says this sin requires a value from us; however, we don’t have any value that can equal out justice. Only God has this value.
In the last post, we saw how God got this value. Jesus essentially “worked” the reward message. Jesus gave value and never did anything wrong. His life was ended unjustly. Consequently, justice required Jesus to get infinite value which he gave to the God the Father.
We can access this value through confession and repentance. When we confess and repent to God for acting apart from grace, God gives us access to the value Jesus gained. The reason we get access is because we are going against our nature and purposing to become more like God. We saw on Monday this is the process of becoming more righteous and receiving salvation. It also removes our guilt.
Notice, Jesus did not increase his righteousness while he was on earth. He increased his reward. Also, we can only become righteous enough to receive salvation when we let God direct our actions. This is the non-contradictory definition of “grace”.
Confession and repentance also removes guilt when it comes to our interactions with people. However, this interaction is concerned with rewards, not salvation.
When we hurt others, confession and repentance leads to opportunities to right our wrongs. For instance, we saw that suffering can be an effect of something we cause. We can limit our suffering, and the suffering of others, by confession and repentance.
Confessing to people we’ve wronged benefits all parties. First, it benefits the person who was wronged by identifying the cause of their suffering. Secondly, it allows both parties to focus on taking action to right the wrong, that is, repentance.
If we are truly repentant, we will ask the person we have wronged what we should do to pay for the wrong. Notice, if the wronged party asks for too much value, we should pay and rely on Justice to make it equal.
For example, my daughter Liz came to me one day upset that her brother licked three of her lollipops. Greg was six at the time, but my wife and I had been teaching these principles to him since he was born. When Liz and I confronted him, Greg confessed and repented. He said, “I licked the lollipops. How can I make it up to you?”
At this point, Liz made a request of Greg that caused tears to well up in his eyes. My little man looked at me glassy-eyed as if to say, “This hurts to do the right thing.” I put my arm on his shoulder, looked him square in the eye, and asked him, “What happens if her request is greater than what you think you should have to pay?”
Slowly, a smile came over his face as he said, “Then she will end up owing me because of justice.” Instantly, Liz grabbed Greg and blurted out, “Wait, let me ask for something different!” She realized justice would cause her to end up owing if her request was too onerous.
Finally, the wronged person has the option of forgiving us and taking no payment. If he truly forgives us, then God will credit him with the value. Even if the wronged person takes a value from us, he needs to forgive us, or justice will eventually require a value from him.
Notice, this process is the same for our interactions with God. Now we see why God is quick to forgive us even before we confess and repent. God’s forgiveness and justice are two different things that people try to combine.
God’s forgiveness opens us up to justice. If God didn’t forgive, He wouldn’t be Righteous and justice would not be able to be invoked on us. This fact proves God forgives us instantly, but we don’t receive the benefit until we confess and repent.