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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - God And Justice And Righteousness

Tony Evans - God And Justice And Righteousness

Tony Evans - God And Justice And Righteousness
TOPICS: Justice, Righteousness

In the book of Psalms, chapter 89, verse 11, "The heavens are yours. The earth is yours". That ought to establish the fact that God's in charge of the whole universe. The world and all it contains, you have founded them. You own them, because you created them. Now, how do you want to run them? He says in verse 14, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne". The twin towers of God's kingdom are righteousness and justice. These two concepts are married like a husband and a wife. They are inseparable to the degree that a government establishes and operates by righteousness and justice, not righteousness or justice, not justice or righteousness. These twins must be knitted at the hip, if a government is to operate based on God's rule. Why? Because the Bible is clear that his throne, that's his government, runs that way.

So, the closer our government is to his government, the more ordered society will be. The further our government, righteousness and justice, is from his government, the more chaotic the culture will become. First of all, let me talk about the basis of the two. It has to do with the law. We establish laws to establish righteousness and justice in society. Let me repeat again, James 4:12, that there is only one Lawgiver. Did you get that? There are not multiple lawgivers, because multiple lawgivers mean that there are multiple gods; because whoever sets the law is running the show. God says there's one Lawgiver. In fact, he says in Romans chapter 13, verse 1, "And every ordinance belongs to him".

So, the first question, when it comes to righteousness and justice is: What does God say about both? Because once you deviate from him, you're messing with the twin towers. When those twin towers begin to fall, so does civilization, culture, and order. What is righteousness? Let's start with that one. Righteousness is the standard of right and wrong that has been established by God. Every human law is to be a manifestation and reflection of divine law, Ezra 7:25-26. It is to mirror his law. Our laws should mirror his laws. That's why God told the kings to "Study my laws. Find out, rulers, what I have to say about how you should rule, and rule according to those rules. Pass human laws based on divinely established laws, so that what I call right and wrong is your measurement of what ought to be established".

From the beginning of history, it has been the job of Satan to switch the rules. Like folks who switch tags on clothes in stores, giving them values they were never meant to have, so men switch laws among men, that God never meant them to be, creating chaos in society and in civil government. No, what Satan told Eve was, "God knows that if you eat the fruit of the tree, you will know and be able to determine good and evil for yourself". And so what we've got today are people creating what's right and what's wrong based on what man thinks, creating chaos, creating a lower standard. The Bible says that God's Word, James 1:25, is a perfect law. It has no flaws in it, no mistakes, no mishaps, no miscalculations. The Bible says righteousness is the foundation of justice.

Deuteronomy 32, verses 3 and 4, just like the engine in a car needs fuel in order for it to go where it's designed to go, a nation needs righteousness in order for it to get where God is creating it to be. The Bible says in Proverbs chapter 14, verse 34, "Righteousness exalts a nation". A nation goes higher with righteousness. "But evil is a reproach to any people". So, he speaks to any nation anywhere. "If you do what I say is right, and not what you think is right, or feel is right, or was raised to believe is right, and you come to my righteousness, the whole nation will grow higher. It'll be ten feet. It won't be living in a six-foot experience, thinking it's dunking, thinking it's progressing, thinking it's going somewhere".

No. In fact, Romans chapter 1, verse 18, says that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness. So, when a nation operates unrighteously, because it's using unrighteous standards, even if it's been officially voted on, it says the wrath of God, the judgment of God is poured out against it, not because he rains down fire and brimstone, but because it says in verse 24, 26, and 28 of Romans 1, he simply turns you over, he simply releases you to life without him. "You don't want my rules, you don't want my laws, you don't want my governance, you don't want my guidelines, you want to make your own thing, okay, have at it, but I'm going to let you see what life looks without me". And you know how bad it gets; because after the third time he says the worst time of all was when they not only did the same, but they approved of those who did it.

In other words, they passed laws justifying unrighteous activity, and that's as low as you can get with God, when you pass laws that legalize evil, when you pass laws that legalize evil from womb to tomb, when you pass laws that legalize evil with regard to how people are treated and valued, when you pass laws or operate in antithesis to good laws, then you have invited God out, which means you have automatically invited chaos in. And according to Deuteronomy chapter 4, verses 7 and 8, he makes it clear this way. He says God is near to the nation who follows his rule. Or put it another way: he's far from the nation that doesn't. So, righteousness must stand. It must be the standard of right and wrong as God has defined it. But righteousness has a marriage partner. It's called justice.

Righteousness is the standard of right and wrong. Justice is the impartial and equitable application of God's moral law in society. It means, the word in Scripture for justice means to be prescribed the right way. You don't want your doctor to write a right prescription, but your pharmacist to fill it with wrong medication. Justice is the standard that privileges and penalties are distributed in society. The Bible says in Proverbs 8:15, "By me kings reign and rulers decree justice". Did you see, hear that? "By me, your president, your congress, your legislators on every level decree how things are to be applied. Gotta have the right law, but you've gotta have the right application, and they do that by me. They don't leave me out".

That's why it's an insult to God when Christians leave out God's standard of right or when Christians do not apply it consistently in their human relationships. The Bible declares in Deuteronomy 32:4 there's no injustice with God. He is a just God, and he demands just application of his rules. But what we do is what Mark chapter 7, verses 8 and 9 says. "You do nullify the Word of God by the tradition of men". You just cancel God out 'cause you dealing with what folk think. The first question, especially a Christian should ask is: "What did God say? How does he feel? What does he think"? And, you know, sometimes we don't even get that question, and that ought to be the first question.

The Bible says wicked rulers decree unjust decrees. In Isaiah chapter 10, verse 1 and 2, particularly for the poor and the oppressed and the needy. Deuteronomy 1:17, man's justice should only be a reflection of God's justice, not making it up on your own, calling things fair. And this was to apply in every area of life, and it was to be done impartially. Leviticus 19:15 puts it this way: that you are to have one standard of justice, and it should go for the poor and the rich.

When we allow people with power and clout in relationships to be able to skirt around it but the poor and needy, because they don't get equal level of representation, because they can't buy the best lawyers, don't get equitable treatment. That is injustice, and injustice must be addressed, and it must be addressed by the church. He said, "Rulers, you study my standard of justice". In Deuteronomy 17, verses 18 to 20, you find out how this is to be applied, and you make it consistent across the board. When the Bible gave the statutes and ordinances, God gave it to them and he said, "Now, this is how this is supposed to work, and these are the rules why society is supposed to function. He talked about economic justice, criminal justice, social justice. He dealt with all manner of conflicts between relational justice".

All of that's in the Scriptures. God has left nothing out. God has solved the problem of slavery. He solved it in Exodus chapter 21, verse 16. He says anybody who kidnaps another person and holds them hostage, or sells them to somebody else, is to receive the death penalty. You talk about solving a problem. That would solve slavery overnight, but that wasn't preached. That's because even the church was not dealing with comprehensive justice; because if the church was dealing with it, that one verse would've stopped it overnight. But because the church was dealing with making the culture happy and not dealing with the justice that was even stated in the Constitution, we are dealing with the problem today. And God says, "I'm going to judge the nation that operates with injustice". He did that with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Now, we say Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of moral decay, and that's right. But Ezekiel 16 says it was not only moral decay. "There was injustice and oppression, so I destroyed Sodom". So God will destroy a nation not only for its unrighteousness, but when it gets married to its injustice. By the way, Civil War was allowed by God. We had the Civil War in the United States 'cause God got tired of the injustice. And since the church wasn't gonna fix it, and the culture was gonna be divided over it, God let a war break out. You see, the Civil War was theological and spiritual, not just social and political. But if you don't understand how God works, and you don't see that his wrath is poured out against injustice, then you will not see the issues that we face today in our country and in our culture, they've been allowed by God because of the injustice that has gone unaddressed.

Because of racism, because of the evil, because of the injustice to the unborn and the injustice to those once born, because of the injustice God allows chaos to come into the culture, because he hates the absence of righteousness and justice. He says in Micah chapter 6, verse 8, "Oh, man, this is what God requires of you: to do justice", 'cause justice is not just something you talk. Justice is something you do. He says, "I require you to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God". He says, "I require it. And if you're not going to meet my requirement, don't go to church". So, a lot of churches shouldn't be operating right now, or within our history. They should've shut the church down, why? Because Jesus wasn't going there; why? Because there was too much injustice in the pews, led by injustice in the pulpit. But that also goes by unjust and injust and unrighteous responses, because God won't go to those churches, either. He demands righteousness and justice, if a society is going to function properly.

This is why the jubilee principle is so awesome. That's the principle found in Luke chapter 4. In verse 18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," from Isaiah, "because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord". Oh, Jesus says, "I've come to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord". Do you know what that was? That was the year of Jubilee. He took us all the way back to Leviticus 25. That's where this whole principle is stated. Guess what the year of Jubilee was? When God restructured society to function righteously and justly in the 49th year, because it'd gotten out of whack.

That's what God wants to give our country. He wants to give us Jubilee. No day of atonement, no year of Jubilee. Did you hear that? No Day of Atonement, getting right with God, no Jubilee, getting justice operating in society. You can march 'til you're blue in the face. You can complain 'til you're blue in the face. If there is no Day of Atonement, you cannot have a lasting Jubilee. The thing that made the Civil Rights Movement work was it was inaugurated with the Day of Atonement. The church got right, the church got unified, the church marched, the church went public, and what happened? Unrighteous laws got changed. When the church backed up, it had unrighteous laws with unjust application.

And so there was not justice and righteousness, because the church did not keep what the Civil Rights Movement got started. That's why we've been saying throughout this series, it's not who you have in the White House. It's who you have in the church house. And so over and over again, the Bible establishes this standard. It even deals with the issue of reparations. Deuteronomy chapter 15, verses 12 to 15, he says, "To anybody who is directly affected by evil, there is to be restitution to them". Okay? So then that raises the question, "Well, what do you do with people who are not directly affected"? Maybe they're indirectly affected. Maybe there's a system that affected them, but it's not directly tied to a direct injustice to them. The Bible's got an answer for that, like it's got an answer for everything else. What you do is you show them mercy. You see?

When you have injustice, and you're trying to fix the injustice, then you offer mercy to those who need the compassion shown to them because of the injustice that they have endured. That's why we're called not only to do justice, Micah 6:8, but we're called to love kindness. We are to look for ways to give the underserved the opportunity to get more services. We are to look for ways to get the oppressed to be released. We are to have legislation for those who've been incarcerated unjustly to be set free. We are to aggressively remove the red lining and gerrymandering that have kept people from being able to take advantage of goods and services that ought to be readily available to them. We are to take and show mercy. That is go over and above what we're required to do to express compassion to those. That's why we've got to love mercy. Look for opportunities for mercy.

Now, you don't throw out justice in the name of mercy, but neither do you prolong injustice and forget mercy, or forget those who have experienced the ramifications of injustice, who need extra opportunity, extra incentive, extra love and compassion. Why? Because of oppression and injustice that needs to be rectified. And you know what? The Bible says in James 2:13 that mercy can override judgment. Did you hear me? Mercy can override judgment. When God sees you're willing to be merciful, he'll hold back the judgment that was due you. See, a lot of us want mercy, who are unwilling to give mercy.

See, you can't run from the judgment of God; and if you're going to need mercy, then you'd better be willing to offer it. You don't change the rule of righteousness and justice, but you be sensitive to the injustice and the oppression that needs to be rectified. It is time now for God's people to lead the way in making sure our laws are right by electing righteous politicians and politicians who love justice and who insist that there be equity. You don't let the rich man off the hook or the poor man when they break the just rule. But when you see injustice, you show mercy.

And the greatest illustration, in closing, of all of this, is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was homeless. "Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". Jesus Christ was gathered by a lynch mob. Why? Because he went to an unjust court, six trials, all of them finding him guilty in an unjust way. He knows what it means to be criminalized when you are the innocent party and to receive a death sentence, when all you've tried to do is help people. But even though a lynch mob, even though an unjust court, even though a wrong death sentence, even though a homeless man, he could say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do".

Turn to somebody else and offer them eternal salvation. What Jesus Christ demonstrates is that even when you are treated unjustly, as he was, there is a God of justice. There's a God of mercy. And if Jesus Christ is our model, then we must not only say, "No justice, no peace". We should also say, "No forgiveness, no peace". So, when there is injustice, we must address it; but we must also be willing, when there is repentance, to forgive it. Because if we're not willing to do that, we block God, due to unforgiveness, in the way we don't want him to block us when we make our requests known to him. May the example of Jesus bring order to our society, and may that example be manifested first and foremost by his church.

Now, I hope this encourages you to be right with God. That's the first requirement: that you be right with God. Jesus Christ wants to make you righteous. All of us are unrighteous 'cause we're all sinners, but Jesus Christ died on credit to transfer his righteousness to your and my unrighteousness. He gave his life on the cross so that you could be saved. He took the justice due us, due to God's wrath, upon himself, as our eternal substitute. And all he says is, "If you will accept me as your personal substitute, I will credit you with my righteousness, which is perfect righteousness. I will let the wrath of God that's due you be received by me, so that I can give you eternal life".

Will you receive Jesus Christ today, if you've never done it, will you invite him into your life to be your Savior, will you invite him for the forgiveness of your sins, so that he can give you that eternal life, and if you're already a Christian, well, commit yourself to be a righteous follower of Christ and a just follower of Christ.

The way God has structured society to work is with the twin pillars of righteousness and justice. Psalm 89 says from God's throne comes righteousness and justice. Abraham is told to raise his children in accordance with righteousness and justice. These are the Siamese twins of the Bible that are never to be separated. Righteousness, our walk with God according to his standards; justice, the equitable treatment of mankind based on God's righteous principles. The two vertically and horizontally are to always to be tied together and never separated, so that society is righteous, we hold people to doing the right thing versus the wrong thing for themselves and their fellow man, and justice, where there is the impartial and equitable treatment of people, based on the fact of their equality as beings created by a just and righteous God.
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