The Righteous Judge Must Punish Sin - The Warrior's Journey®

The Righteous Judge Must Punish Sin

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26) 

Why did so many Jews resist the Gospel? Much of it had to do with the concept of God acquitting the guilty simply because they put their faith in a suffering Messiah. You see, one of the great truths of the Old Testament is that God does not acquit the guilty, nor leave them unpunished (Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3). In fact, the Scripture tells us, “He who acquits the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:15). Only godless and unrighteous judges allow sins to go unpunished. 

How then could Paul preach that God declares the ungodly innocent simply because they put their faith in Him (Romans 4:5)? Well, that wasn’t just a problem for Paul and the Gospel. It was a problem throughout the Old Testament, for God was always forgiving those who put their faith in Him. Look at what David said in Psalm 103:10-11: “The LORD has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love toward those who fear Him.” God does not give us what we deserve when we call out to Him for mercy. He forgives us and redeems us. 

But how can God do this if He is indeed the Righteous Judge (Psalm 7:11; 2 Timothy 4:8)? How can God pass over sins – over and over – and be true to His own character? Romans 3:25-26 answers this. God set forth Jesus Christ as a “propitiation” (Greek – hilasterion), literally “a satisfaction” for all sins. In other words, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for sin that fully and forever satisfies God’s holy justice. The sacrifice of Jesus quenches the unquenchable fire of God’s wrath and fully satisfies His justice. This is the meaning of propitiation. 

By setting forth Christ as a satisfaction for sin, God demonstrated that He is both righteous – in that He punishes sins He once passed over – and the One who makes sinners righteous – by cleansing sinners in Christ’s blood and clothing them in His righteousness – when they put their faith in Him. 


  • If God is a righteous judge then what must He do with our sins? 
  • If God is to avoid punishing us, then who must be punished for our sins? 
  • Let’s embrace Him who died in our place that we may be forgiven and saved. 

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