The call for social justice is a golden opportunity for the church to bear witness to God’s sovereignty over the nations and the mediatorial kingship of his Son. Justice is a personal issue for Christians, for we tremble before God’s righteousness and bow before Christ’s cross. Satisfied justice is the heart of our faith; righteous lives are the fruit of our faith and love.
The golden opportunity requires us to define justice correctly and to renounce most of the dangerous and unjust views of justice that are publicly advocated. When men reject or ignore God’s law, they lack any legitimate standard to identify justice, any motivation to uphold their subjective definitions of justice, or any justification for denouncing injustice. It is a blatant contradiction to howl bitterly against God and Scripture but then also scream for justice. Before you burn down the world, two questions must be answered: By what standard? Whose justice? Unless these questions can be answered, social justice is nothing but what your particular mob wants at the moment.
Since justice has no foundation apart from submission to God, it has degenerated into “accept my personal decisions and pay for them.” Justice means that when we scream, you jump. If we do not want to hear your side, then you lose free speech. If I am poor, a minority, gender confused, or had slaves in my ancestry, then my demands are automatically just and deserve a hearing. But that is the dilemma of justice without God, without a standard, with only your feelings and pains and whims guiding you. It is simply your opinion, not justice. This is the very definition of power-politics. Whoever can obtain and retain social power, by whatever means, demands and enforces his wishes and takes other people’s money. This is the law of the jungle. It is social Darwinism marching in the streets.
Justice does not insist that anyone who has ever thought, said, or done anything that someone now condemns should be exhumed and publicly burned. Justice is not the right to remake the world according to modern theories of race, gender, and sex, egalitarian economics, reigning scientific paradigms, or militarism. Justice is not the right to pass through life without being offended. Justice has but one definition: that which is right in the eyes of God. There is but one standard to define justice: God’s holy word. He has not left the world in the dark. He has not told us to live by natural law, as it was never sufficient for fallen man (Deut. 4:6-8; Ps. 19; 36:9). Into our darkness, God sent his Son. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Outside of him, there is nothing but darkness everywhere. He must be our righteousness before God and make us righteous in life by the power of his illuminating Spirit, or we shall have no justice anywhere.
Justice is a gospel issue. Sin spreads its corruption throughout the whole of man’s life. Sin’s injustice is felt in millions of homes where conflicts go unresolved, screaming takes the place of humility and obedience, and blows are the last word. Injustice is seen in economies manipulated by the super-rich. Injustice broadly exists in the way the various races treat each other. We need no “hidden racial bias” classes to know that this exists. All these efforts are descriptive of sin’s evil, without ever identifying sin as the culprit or regeneration as the solution. To admit this would be to recognize that there is no state answer to injustice. Human politics is incapable of solving human depravity. There is no human answer for injustice. Fundamentally unrighteous before God, man spreads injustice and oppression wherever he goes. Then, because he will not face his own depravity, he redefines justice to suit his political agenda and chooses solutions that are exponentially worse than the original problem.
Therefore, only those who take man’s fall into sin seriously, his loss of original righteousness, and his total depravity are in any position to speak intelligibly about injustice. Justice is essentially a responsibility issue. We, you and I, must take personal responsibility for our corruption, our attitudes, and our practices. Escaping injustice requires divine deliverance through God’s satisfying his justice upon his Son. It is telling that in all the raging about justice, none ever think of God’s offended justice. Our present conflicts are not about justice but about man’s fears, anger, selfishness, and covetousness.
Since post-Christian societies no longer ground justice in God and his law, injustices will continue and increase. Sin never rests. “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 57:20-21). Without righteousness, there can be no peace (Ps. 119:165). This is the gospel message to our fallen world in the grip of sin and injustice. There is only one Deliverer. Jesus Christ must deliver us from ourselves. We are the poison fountain of all the hate and injustice in the world, past and present. If men will not recognize this, repent of their sins, and turn to the HOLY ONE, social justice is nothing but an illusive dream of utopians, the deceived masses, and malcontents. It is nothing but a way to establish man’s definitions of righteousness without having to submit to God’s. As long as the regime of God-hating, Scripture-rejecting continues, our social woes will increase. They will be exacerbated in lands that once enjoyed gospel light, for God is judging them for rejecting him. He is also chastening his people in those lands for failing to give a persevering witness and live the new life of obedience to God that Jesus Christ purchased for us by his blood and obedience and outpoured Spirit.
We face a thorny issue that will not go away: by what standard will man be governed? In the theatrical opening to the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille emerged from behind a curtain and gave a five-minute introduction to the movie. He said his movie addressed whether men would be ruled by God’s law or tyrants. He said it was the issue of our times, and this was only seventy years ago. DeMille was correct. God’s law or man’s tyranny? Faith or unbelief? God’s justice or man’s injustice? If men choose unbelief, then societal revolutions will ensue as each man tries to live as a law unto himself. This will not work, and tyrants must eventually sweep in to save the day and restore order. Without God and his law, man’s destiny is moral, economic, and political slavery. This reality unfolds daily before our horror-stricken eyes: creeping statism with its army of bureaucrats and laws, baby murder on demand, open borders without national identity or the rule of law, education without a standard, perversity made virtue, broken families, worldwide militarism, and globalism foisted on the citizenry by corporations using government to secure their markets. These are but the tip of the iceberg.
Within the church, we have muted our gospel by maintaining a fearful silence or an unwise acquiescence to social crusaders. If we are to meet the crisis of our age with truth, we must proclaim that Jesus saves us from our sins and as the King empowers us as individuals and together as citizens of nations to be governed by God’s law. Jesus Christ is the only King, and he calls kings and judges to submit to him and rule in terms of his law. Abortion is not wrong because it stops a beating heart as much as because it offends God and is against his law. You should never apologize for being white, black, or brown, for this is the way God made you, but you should definitely ask forgiveness for being totally depraved and a rebel against God’s word. Transvestism and homosexuality are not wrong simply because they introduce social chaos but because God forbids them. This is where the religious right failed. They were afraid to bring God’s law and thus the whole Christian worldview directly to bear against all forms of conservatism and liberalism alike. We must be ruled by God as a nation, or there will be no justice, no lasting prosperity or liberty. The fires of revolution will expand.
To confess this again, we must be born again and take our gospel and the reign of the Spirit seriously. The need of the hour is for the merciful God of heaven to open the womb of regeneration and deliver dead sinners from Satan’s captivity. Born again men and women want to be ruled by God and his enthroned Christ. Life out from under his royal scepter is unbearable and dangerous. If we love God, we shall want to keep his commandments – in the home, workplace, and society. Our work is cut out for us. Men are not listening, but they will. They must see your life and witness your love. “By this, all men will know that ye are my disciples, by the love that you have for one another” (John 13:35). And the love of Jesus is never lawless (1 John 5:3). God’s love saved us from our lawlessness so that we may have “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Outside of his kingdom, there is no justice and no future but slavery. Speak the whole gospel, child of God, for it is the sword of our Savior’s mouth. Speak it in love. Speak it with a sense of urgency, for the glory of God in the world and the lives of billions that hang in the balance of either life and liberty under God and his Christ or slavery and death under man’s tyranny.