The Goodness and Justice of God

The goodness and justice of God are two attributes that have important implications for us as Christians. What does it mean for God to be good or to be just? In the end, because God is perfectly good and perfectly just, we can trust Him and know that He will always do what is right.

The Goodness of God

Omnibenevolence, otherwise known as the goodness of God, is foundational to any coherent concept of God and, indeed, provides the grounding for all human morality and conscience. Without the goodness of God, there can be no meaningful distinction between good and evil, between “kindness and cruelty.” God is completely good, and no evil intention enters His heart. Since God is perfect, eternal, and unchangeable, His goodness is likewise perfect, eternal, and unchangeable. His goodness does not change and does not depend on us. 

God is unwaveringly good, and out of His goodness and loving-kindness, He steadfastly wills the highest good for His creatures (namely, Himself). As James writes, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17; cf. Matthew 5:43–48)

The Justice of God

Because God is perfectly good, He is also perfectly just. From the lowliest of creatures to those made in His image, God has given all things what they require to be the kinds of things they are. For moral creatures such as ourselves, God’s justice demands that He rightly judges our deeds (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10).

Often God’s justice is contrasted with His mercy. Some object that God’s justice is not compatible with His mercy. This is because for God to execute justice, He must give people what they are owed, but to apply mercy, He does not give them what they are owed (specifically, justice). However, all of God’s acts are just and merciful, and we see this perfectly exemplified through the death of Jesus on the cross. At the cross, God demonstrates His justice toward sin, but also His mercy toward us, as people who are justified by believing in Him (Romans 3:24–26).

Our Response

What are the implications of these attributes of God? What difference does it make that God is both good and just? For one, being able to rightly understand and articulate God’s goodness and justice is important to evangelism and apologetics; our understanding can help rightly communicate the character of God when it comes under attack. Secondly, God’s goodness and justice give us (as believers) hope. We can look forward with eager anticipation to the day when all things will be made right. Praise God for His goodness and justice!

To aid your further contemplation of God’s goodness and justice, consider reading and meditating on Psalm 33.

This study is based on A. W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy and J. I. Packer’s Knowing God.

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