Justice or Mercy?

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

I was reading this passage as a part of my devotions last night and was praising God for His attributes found in the passage. As I got to this verse, I praised Him for His faithfulness, then for His…justice? I reread the verse and thought about it. Maybe I’m missing something completely obvious, but when I think of justice, I think of someone getting what they deserve. Why is it just of God to forgive our sins? We certainly don’t deserve that.

The Bible uses some pretty potent words to describe sin. Leviticus 16:21 say, “He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins…”

2 Samuel 12:9 uses the following term: Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

One last word that I’ll include is from 1 Kings 13:21, which says, “…This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.”

Whoa! Sin can be considered rebellion, despising the Lord, or defiance to Him? That is pretty serious. These terms imply a direct challenge to authority, many times intentionally. That causes me to sit back and contemplate the seriousness of my sin–even my “refined sins.”

With all these terms that have given me a clearer view of my sin, why doesn’t the verse say “…he is faithful and merciful to forgive?” What are your thoughts on this? You have until a week from now, July 15 to answer, then I’ll post what I have found to answer my question.


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