We saw in the first lesson on Justice for Dummies that justice has to do with finding what is right (or “just), not what is fair or what seems best at the time.
To help you better understand justice and what you should expect from an effective justice system, this lesson explores a foundational anchor for justice, being “perfection”.
True justice is measured against an unchanging benchmark, which is perfection.
In the Beginning God…
The first statement of law in our world is found in the first sentence of a holy book written by an eighty year old prophet who had met face to face with God. His five books, known as the Pentateuch (Five Volumes) and as the Torah (Teaching/Law), present the basis of all English Law. After meeting with God on Mount Sinai in Arabia almost three thousand five hundred years ago, Moses wrote the law of God in five books which form the basis of Jewish scriptures and which are the first five books of the Old Testament section of the Holy Bible which Christians rely on.
So Moses’ first sentence is the foundational truth upon which Jewish religion and Christianity stand. The Moslem world reveres Moses (whom they call Musa) and venerates the Bible while also challenging its accuracy when the Koran differs from it. But the Moslem world has no challenge to Moses’ first sentence.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1
The Holy Bible repeatedly describes the character of God as perfect. Terms used to convey this truth include holy, holiness, righteousness, perfect, upright and just.
“For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you will therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45
“Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You will be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2
“Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
“Judge me, O LORD my God, according to your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.” Psalm 35:24
“Your righteousness also, O God, is very high, who has done great things: O God, who is like you!” Psalm 71:19
“God reigns over the heathen: God sits on the throne of his holiness.” Psalm 47:8
“Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8
Perfection is a moral description of personal character. I like the way Pastor Jack Hayford, of Church on the Way, California explained it to me back in the early 1970’s. He said that God is “perfect” and “holy” because there is no imbalance in Him.
Pastor Jack pointed out that if an arrow or frisbee, rocket or other projectile was out of balance in the slightest degree then it would veer off course. Only a “perfect” arrow could fly for thousands or millions of miles and not creep a degree to the left of right.
The more imperfect an arrow, frisbee or projectile is the more quickly it flies off course and crashes into something. A wobbly arrow will not hit the mark.
So, imagine God’s perfection that He can start on a course of action and stick with it, despite all that might distract Him, for millennia after millennia.
Contrast the perfect holiness of God with how people behave. How often do people get distracted, drop their New Year resolutions, break their vows, or get drawn away by their laziness, lust, ego, inquisitiveness or the like?
Man is challenged to rise in character above the foibles of “self” focus, to live by higher and holier standards. God is the ultimate example of the perfection we are called to, because God is absolutely perfect and will never veer off course.
Man can be intimidated, dissuaded, distracted, overwhelmed, burned out or defeated, but God is perfect. You can’t intimidate God, discourage Him, distract Him, overwhelm Him or defeat Him. And God calls all men and women to be holy, just as He is holy.
To amplify Pastor Jack Hayford’s description of holiness as the kind of perfection that does not take something off course, consider these other Bible verses that describe God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6
And the ultimate indictment or charge against man is that everyone has gone off course, missed the mark and not reached the standard of God’s glory.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
To bring this discussion back to “justice” let me point out that justice is measured by God. Justice can be perfect when it comes from a perfect being.
Justice is not fairness, or the best compromise under the circumstances. True justice is anchored in the character of God, Himself. True Justice is based on perfection of motive, perfection of character and perfection of judgement that does not change over time or from one case to another.
Human justice systems are a poor reflection of God’s justice and judgement. But their inability to be as high and holy as God is, does not excuse them from being unjust, abusive, deceptive, prejudicial, or any such thing.
When a judge is biased, or has been paid a bribe, or uses different standards under different circumstances there is injustice.
God rebuked the Israelites for having a bag full of different weights. If they were selling to one customer they might use a lighter weight on the scale than when selling to another customer. The customer would assume they had the correct weight, but the actual metal weight put on the scale was unjust.
“You are not to have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small.” Deuteronomy 25:14
“Diverse weights, and diverse measures, both of them are equally an abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 20:10
A Heart Matter
True holiness is seen in our actions but it starts in our heart. So to be truly just and holy we must have pure motives. When we have ulterior motives we are not perfect and holy and our judgement will be distorted by that.
Just this morning a friend brought to me the transcript of a court case in which a judge clearly stated that he was glad he had past a sentence against people who drive in a particular fashion because he personally can’t stand such drivers.
The judge betrayed clear personal bias, and that affected his judgement. The matter was not as the judge assumed it, but the judge was blinded by his own “unjust” prejudices.
God is pure in His heart. God has no impure motives. Men who engage in delivering justice must maintain the highest standards of holiness internally. If they don’t, they will err in judgment because they will give in to the imperfect attitudes in their heart.
These impure attitudes are based on “self”. Our preferences, prejudices, likes and dislikes are “ours”! They spring from “self”. When we are completely impartial we are not given to personal bias.
This is what is supposed to be symbolised by the image of justice as a blindfolded person holding scales. They are meant to be impartial toward the people being judged, rather than allowing personal bias to interfere with the judgment.
Let me summarise by reminding you that the ultimate foundation of justice is perfection. It is not man’s perfection, but God’s perfection that undergirds all justice.
God is holy and just. God demands that mankind be holy and just.
Man’s justice must be based on God’s holiness, or it will not be justice at all.