Micah 6:8 also declares another critical concept: the prophet called God’s people to love kindness. The original word is also translated loving kindness, steadfast love, or mercy. The word reflects the very character of God. Justice and mercy are not opposite sides of the same coin. Mercy stands in contrast to justice. Justice applies the rule of law. Mercy is granted to law breakers. Justice is deserved. Mercy is under served and can only be granted by the benevolent action of a ruler. Mercy and grace are the unmerited favor of God.
Following the revealed truth of God’s word, all men deserve justice. The just and right action of the holy God is condemnation. The Bible is clear on this point throughout. From Genesis to Revelation, God has revealed that all men are born spiritually dead. All men are born in bondage to sin. Sin is defined as lawlessness by the Apostle John, (1John 3:4). Adam’s sin is inherited by every human being. The Apostle Paul wrote that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:12
Left on our own we are all children of God’s wrath, (Ephesians 2:3). It’s at this point that the cry of “It’s not fair” is often heard. The offense of the truth causes men to define God in their own view. I’ve heard the statement, “My God is a God of love. He wouldn’t send people to hell. It’s not fair or loving.” My response is that definition of God is not the God of the Bible. God has revealed Himself as holy, holy, holy. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8
In the light of God’s holy justice, how can we hope to be saved? The apostles, prophets and Jesus called people to repent and believe in the gospel. This is God’s ordained means to deliver men and women from this present darkness. The question that lays beneath God’s command to repent and believe in the gospel is how? How are men born dead in sin able to repent and believe? The only possible answer is by God’s grace. God extends grace to those whom He chooses. God said He will have mercy on whom He has mercy, Romans 9:15
King David wrote Psalm 51. He was confronted in his sin. David did the only thing that is possible. He threw himself upon the mercy of God. This is the truth of man’s only hope. There are only two alternatives. You will either experience God’s perfect justice or receive His mercy.
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).