It breaks our hearts whenever we see the effect of injustice in the news: poverty, corruption, racism, division, and many others. As followers of Christ, we can’t help but feel the need to do something. We want justice, and we’re eager to know how to find it. In this article, we will look at the biblical principles of justice.
Throughout the Spanish period, American colonization, Japanese occupation, and even in modern history, injustice seems to be embedded in the Philippine experience. Justice is the one promise that every ideology, government, and national leader makes and, sadly, breaks. This is not only true for the Philippines, but for all nations at all times. Even King David was himself a victimizer.
There are a myriad of reasons, but the basic truth is fallen man has built a broken world that led to sin creeping into any institution across all cultures. For all of man’s progress, our deepest struggles remain primitive—wars, famine, tyranny, racism, poverty, division, inequality, and countless acts of injustice.
Christian hope rests on the belief that there is a day when every wrong will be righted and every injustice corrected (Acts 17:30–31; Romans 2:5). The basis of this hope is that Jesus absorbed and paid for every act of injustice and sin on the cross. By rising again after three days, He broke its power and set His kingdom in motion where righteousness, peace, and justice reign. He will return again and rule in perfect righteousness (Revelation 21:1–4).
The Bible teaches us that human history will culminate on Judgment Day, when persons and nations will each receive what is due them (Matthew 25:31–46; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 20:11–15). Everyone will be held responsible for every act of sin and injustice. The basis is not any sociological or political criteria but the word of God alone (Hebrews 4:12–13). Even as many in power today seem to elude the arm of the law, they will not escape eternal judgment. The Cross showed that God is a just Judge. Our sins could not go unpunished, but God loves the world so much that He sent Jesus Christ to pay for our sins on the Cross so we could be justified and stand blameless before God. Christ’s Second Coming will show that He is an absolute Judge.
This understanding of eternal judgment empowers believers to live godly lives in this present age. Having the assurance of justification through the Cross, we, as Jesus’ disciples, are able to overcome evil and injustice with acts of love and goodness, knowing that God is our vindicator (Romans 12:9–21). It frees the Christian from anger and outrage, because he is no victim. Hence, we can choose to repay injustice with goodness. Our lives and future do not depend on man, but on the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Spirit (Romans 14:17).
That is not to say that we are uninvolved in matters of social justice. Neither are we saying that to turn the other cheek is to become a willing victim. To begin with, God instituted civil government as His mediator of peace and order in this world (Romans 13:1–7). But we know that governments are limited and corruptible. This is why the people of God, the Church, is God’s holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). The Church is not the kingdom of God, but it is its expression on earth.
In Luke 4:16–21, Jesus launched His earthly ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1–2. He announced that He was the Messiah who will “proclaim good news to the poor, bring liberty to the captives, recover sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). The kingdom of God was to be marked by the deliverance of the sinner and oppressed.
Jesus immediately went around cities and villages preaching the Good News, teaching about the kingdom of God, healing the sick, casting out demons, performing miracles, making disciples, empowering women, reaching Gentiles, and feeding the hungry (Luke 4–9). In fact, these actions on behalf of the poor was the evidence that John the Baptist received that confirmed Jesus was the Christ (Luke 7:18–23).
Empowered to do the same, it was how the apostles understood their role as disciples (Luke 9:1–6). Thus in the book of Acts, we see the same pattern—the gospel preached, churches planted, miracles performed, sick healed, demons cast out, the hungry fed, disciples added, the Gentiles reached.
What this tells us is that social action is not a box to be ticked or a project to be accomplished. It is part of the gospel message.
Gospel proclamation without demonstration is toothless.
Gospel demonstration without proclamation is humanistic.
We plant churches and make disciples by serving the community through the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.
Since the gospel is a revelation of the righteousness of God that is by faith (Romans 1:16–17; Ephesians 2:8), our mission is to live it out in a way that transforms our relationships and the world around us. Justice is established not through political means but through righteous living.
Biblical and secular justice share a starting point: the inherent value of an individual. A person’s value is based on the truth that we were all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27), which is in fact the basis and foundation of modern Western law. However, secular law stops here, which is why justice ends with the protection of individual rights and equality—“what is due me.”
Biblical justice encompasses human rights but goes beyond. God’s justice was served on the cross, but it was Jesus Christ who paid for our sins and won victory over sin and death through His resurrection. Christ added infinite value to each person through this supreme act of love. That changed the equation. It became about sacrificial love.
The greatest act of justice then is to share the gospel with others. The end is not to secure what is due us in this life, but to share the love of God. It is not about the self, but about others—even when it costs us (Matthew 6:38–48; 22:34–40; Romans 12:9–21; 1 Corinthians 6:1–8; Philippians 2:3–8).
The starting point in finding one’s purpose is not the self but the community. It is important to understand the collective nature of Christianity. We repent and come to faith in Christ personally and individually, but as soon as we do that, we are added and adopted into God’s family—the Church, a spiritual community. God’s mission is not to make you happy, but to bring His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven where everyone will find righteousness, peace, and joy.
Our challenge now is to discern what God is doing in your community, and then ask what your role in it is. Your community includes your household, neighborhood, city, nation, and even the nations.
Where is God moving? What is He doing? How can you make a difference in those communities? Who are the poor in those? How can you serve them? What are your communities’ hopes and fears? How does the Bible address them?
If you are a student, the one sure place where God has placed you is your campus. This is the community where God has sent you (John 20:21). God has brought society to you through your campus.
What is God doing? What is your role? Who are the poor?
Education prepares us to be productive and responsible members of society. Through it, we build a society together.
Who are you building with? What kind of culture are you developing? Do you have a vision larger than your personal ambitions?
Finally, in this age of social media, everyone possesses a digital microphone. What got lost in the transition is earning the right to speak. Just because one can speak doesn’t mean we hand him a microphone. This right is earned through character, integrity, respect, and content. Good content is not dependent on age, position, or background. We can all contribute to a fruitful and respectful conversation based on our rich experiences and unique backgrounds.
Do you have something to say? Can you say it in a way that people listen and learn? What do your posts say about the God you follow? Does it strengthen or weaken your witness? What kind of culture does it help build?
Ultimately, man’s search for justice is a search for righteousness. As we encounter acts of wickedness and injustice by individuals or institutions, we respond in grace and goodness because we follow a Savior who won the victory by subjecting Himself to the greatest injustice. That Savior is the same King Who will return to bring all of history to a close with one final act of Justice.
This is the tension that every believer must manage. We live as citizens of heaven in a broken, unjust world. This means we establish social justice through the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. As we do so, we look forward to a city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:8–10).
We will live each day hopeful of the possibilities, realistic in our expectations, faithful in our witness, and trusting God to move in our nation. Our assurance is that justice and righteousness will prevail—if not in this lifetime, then in eternity.
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