How God Balances Justice With Mercy

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How God Balances Justice With Mercy

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God is not only the God of justice but also the God of mercy. Both His justice toward those who willfully disobey Him and His mercy toward those who respect Him enough to seek His help so they may obey Him are expressed in the second of His Ten Commandments.

It ends with these words: “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands [or, to the thousandth generation, NRSV], to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6 Exodus 20:5-6 [5] You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; [6] And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
American King James Version×
).

God balances justice with mercy by considering what is in the heart—whether there remains any possibility of repentance. So long as that possibility exists, God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
). But there will come a time when those who refuse to repent will perish.

That is why the New Covenant administration of God’s law considers first the attitude of the one who has sinned. One who is willing to “sin no more” is eligible for mercy instead of condemnation. But to those who choose to continue sinning Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3 Luke 13:3I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
American King James Version×
).

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