Social Justice and the Gospel: 7 – Justice Is Based On God’s Law

To date we have not attempted to look at the broad topic of Biblical justice. We have focused on examining Social Justice, and have observed that a chief goal, both inside and outside of the church, is to eradicate racial inequality. But justice is more than racial equality.

So now we will attempt to define justice in accordance with the Scriptures. Here is the definition of justice we will seek to prove:

To do justice is to do the Law of God.

In other words, for a society to be just, it must be ruled by the commandments of God. This applies to both the private and public sectors. To base a definition of justice on anything other than the Law of God is to relativize justice and to have it be a matter of “might makes right”. If justice is subjectively defined by the individual or by society, then the people with the power get to define it and justice is inherently capricious (which is another way of saying justice is inherently unjust).

With this in mind, examining Biblical justice is quite simple in concept: go through the Law of God and see what He says. The more a society’s legislation matches the Law of God, the more just the society is. The more a society’s thoughts, words and deeds align with said legislation, the more just the society is. So an unjust society is therefore caused by unjust laws or by not following just laws.

The words of Christ help us start our understanding of God’s Law, for He gives us a succinct definition of what it means to be just:

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 34 – 40)

Here Jesus defines the whole of the Law as “love God, love neighbor.” From this we immediately know any society that is not orienting its heart toward Jesus Christ is fundamentally unjust, for that society is fundamentally not loving God. Furthermore, we know immediately that any society not predicated upon loving one’s neighbor is fundamentally unjust, for they are breaking the second great command.

But the commands to love God and to love neighbor are overarching principles – they lack sufficient detail to allow one to assess whether a particular word, thought, or deed actually qualifies as loving God or neighbor. More detail is needed to discern whether justice is being upheld or injustice is occurring. For this next level of detail we turn to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments provide more clarity as to what it means to love God and love neighbor. In fact, theologians have divided the Ten Commandments into two parts, recognizing that one part correlates with loving God and the other part correlates with loving neighbor.

Commandment How to Love Description
1 God You shall have no other gods
2 God You shall not make for yourself an idol
3 God You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain
4 God Remember the Sabbath
5 Neighbor Honor your father and your mother
6 Neighbor You shall not murder
7 Neighbor You shall not commit adultery
8 Neighbor You shall not steal
9 Neighbor You shall not bear false witness
10 Neighbor You shall not covet

Let us look now at the commandments relating to loving neighbor, and compare them to our current society:

Commandment Public Violation
Honor your father and your mother Scoffing at the nuclear family, denial of objective definitions of man and woman, father and mother
You shall not murder Legalized murder via abortion, unjust wars
You shall not commit adultery Sexual Immorality of all varieties
You shall not steal Overreaching governmental taxation and fees, corporate fraud / insurance fraud, unjust weights and measures in the marketplace
You shall not bear false witness Mass media, social media
You shall not covet Social ideologies justifying those with less to be angry at those with more

American society regularly breaks every commandment related to loving neighbor. This is not to say each and every individual does, but it is to say that, so far as man is able to discern without divine revelation, God can charge America with corporate sin for complete and utter profanation of the Ten Commandments. We infer that since America regularly breaks all the commandments related to loving neighbor, it also inherently breaks all the commandments related to loving God. After all, does not James tell us this?

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2: 10)

America has stumbled at more than one point, so how much more is America guilty of all.

But convicting America at large of injustice is different than convicting the body of Christ in America of injustice. This series on Social Justice is focused on the body of Christ, for we know that secular society is unjust, whether along the lines of racial issues or otherwise. But is the American church unjust, as Social Justice Advocates say? If we are to be consistent, we need to remind ourselves of what was said in a prior post: only God can truly charge a corporate body with sin. And only God truly knows the boundary and population of a corporate body. We previously concluded, based on a study of the seven churches in Revelation, that it is not proper to put all of the American church into one large corporate body. A church from the Deep South is going to be different than a church from the Pacific Northwest. And the history of racial injustice is far greater in the Deep South than the Pacific Northwest.

From our mortal perspective, corporate analysis of justice must occur on a localized basis. The starting point is obviously an individual congregation. The corporate body you should have most familiarity with is your local church body. Compare what you know of your church body to the Ten Commandments. Does injustice reign? Is your congregation led by, or full of, adulterers, coveters, liars, thieves, people speaking false things in God’s name, people denying that Christ is the only way to God? Or is it led by, and full of, people who were those things before they came to Christ, and who are now redeemed and living godly lives?

In summary:

  1. Justice is based on God’s Law.
  2. God’s law at the highest level is love God, love neighbor.
  3. The next level down is the Ten Commandments.

Let us look for justice, or injustice, in our local congregations first. If the church family we are a part of does not live according to God’s Law, then we are in no position to deal with other congregations likewise failing in that endeavor. For Jesus says, after all:

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7: 3 – 5)

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