The God who loves what is good must not love what is evil. He must not even be ambivalent toward what is evil, what is harmful, what is destructive. He must hate it. The God of the Bible reveals himself as a God of love. But he also reveals himself as a God who hates. We have been looking at verses where the Bible employs words like “hate,” “abomination,” and “detestable,” and have seen that God hates idolatry and God hates sexual immorality. Today we turn our attention to this: God hates injustice.
God Hates Injustice
God rules this world, and he rules it in justice. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). God delegates authority and responsibility to us, beings made in his image, and he expects we will express justice on his behalf. “By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just,” (Proverbs 8:15) and “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
According to Gregg Allison, justice is “fairly giving people what they are due, especially with respect to the administration of a law.” The Bible often refers to a specific kind of justice, social justice, which is “the fair distribution of economic means, educational prospects, political influence, and other such opportunities within a community.” The Old Testament required the nation of Israel to care for the weak, the vulnerable, the destitute. It required its rulers to govern equitably, according to the law of God. Any failure to do so was a grave injustice and brought the threat of God’s judgment.
The New Testament brings an end to the nation of Israel but certainly not an end to justice, for “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). As for the administration of justice in society, civil rulers are “the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4, see also Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:1-13, Acts 6:1-7).
God will not tolerate anything beneath his high bar of justice. Specifically, he hates people who cheat others in order to enrich themselves (Deuteronomy 25:13-16). He hates those who pervert justice by declaring guilty people innocent and innocent people guilty (Proverbs 17:15). He hates those who commit the ultimate act of injustice: the murder of the innocent (Proverbs 6:17).
Why God Hates Injustice
God hates injustice because it perverts his world. God means for justice to reign in this world through the people made in his image. He calls people to care for others in love and to ease their suffering. Greg Forster says, “The gospel itself requires the church to have a vision of justice that challenges the world’s greed and oppression. And by freeing people from their spiritual slavery to guilt and fear, the gospel exposes the wickedness of worldly powers who exploit spiritual slavery for selfish gain. That’s why the church on earth is ‘the church militant.’ The church is not the church if it’s not at war with the world’s injustice.”
Ultimately, God means for people to find their satisfaction in him, so that they find peace in him and bring peace to others through justice. John Piper says, “When we use false balances or lie on our tax returns or misrepresent the facts in our dealings, we are declaring that the fleeting sweetness of sin is more to be desired than the everlasting peace of God. This is no honor to God and therefore no delight to his heart. ‘A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.’”
God’s Judgment on the Unjust
Jesus himself tells of the final judgment and what will happen to all who commit acts of injustice. “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matthew 25:42-43). People will wonder when and how this happened, and Jesus will reply, “As you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (45). And then will come the consequence of their injustice: “And these will go away into eternal punishment” (46). The unjust have no place in God’s everlasting kingdom. Instead, they will pay the most terrible price for neglecting the needy and rebelling against God.
In Romans 1, Paul highlights a long list of sins that mark those who turn from God in idolatrous hatred, and many of them relate to injustice: “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (29-31). And in a similar list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, he specifically says that thieves, the greedy, and swindlers cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
God makes it clear: The unjust will be punished for their injustice.
Hope for the Unjust
But there is hope for the unjust. There is hope for those who have done deliberate deeds of injustice and for those who have failed to take every opportunity to express love for others. Their hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ, for Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Jesus came to earth to save the unjust.
On the cross the perfect, sinless Son of God suffered the ultimate act of injustice as he was tortured and killed. And yet the cross was also the ultimate act of justice, for the debt of our sin was paid in full—on his shoulders. Through his sacrifice he satisfied God’s wrath against the unjust, purchasing the forgiveness of those who would turn to him in repentance and faith. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18).
Key Verses on Injustice
- God hates scales that are falsely calibrated to cheat the customer (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
- God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17)
- God hates those who justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)
- God hates those who condemn the just (Proverbs 17:15)
- God condemns those who act unjustly and welcomes those who act justly (Matthew 25:31-46)
- God loves religion committed to helping the poor and overlooked (James 1:27)
- God raises up church leaders to ensure his people are cared for equally (Acts 6:1-7)
- God justly punished his just Son to satisfy his wrath against the unjust (1 Peter 3:18)