Justice: The good, the bad and the ugly

South Africa’s level of crime, specifically violence in relation to murder, has spiked rapidly in the past few years. Even more tragic than the murders themselves is the fact that families, who have lost loved ones, have failed to receive a thorough investigation followed by the satisfaction of justice. A recent murder trial in 2014 serves as an example. Shrien Dewani and his wife, Anni, celebrated their honeymoon in Cape Town. One evening Shrien and Anni were the victims of a hijacking in Gugulethu. The hijackers apparently forced Tongo, the driver, and Shrien out of the car and fled the scene with Anni still in the car. Her body was found in the abandoned vehicle at dawn the next day. She had been shot at close range in the neck. As the police investigation unfolded it took an unsuspected turn in which Shrien looked less and less innocent. Tongo was soon arrested. He pleaded guilty to being party to the murder but, in return for a reduction of sentence, said he would tell the truth and claimed that Shrien had asked him to organise the killing. However, during the trial it became apparent that the investigation had been botched, and that much of the police work had been shockingly incompetent: lost paperwork, incomplete statements and unreliable ballistics reports. Anni’s family, the Hindochas, have said that they – and by implication Anni – have been failed by South Africa’s justice system.

Friends I honestly don’t have much confidence in our police force nor our justice system right now. However I do have confidence that in the end justice will be served- not just for Anni’s family- but for everyone who has suffered at the hands of wrongdoers. What is my confidence founded upon? God and His Word. In God’s justice system all people will get what they deserve based on God’s clear and full understanding of what they did and why they did it. Listen to Psalm 97:2 which speaks into the foundation of God’s justice system, “Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

In light of what has been said so far, how does it make you feel knowing that God will give everyone what they deserve? It gives me hope on the one hand, knowing that criminals will be punished if they weren’t on this earth, but at the same time it terrifies me! Why? Because I will have to stand before God one day and have to give an account of my life- And so will you! (Romans 14:12; Revelation 20:12). On that day there will be no hiding and definitely no blame-shifting before the One who knows all things and sees all things. Instead the lives we lived and the deeds we did will be made clearer than ever before- the good, the bad, and the ugly! (1 Corinthians 3:13-14). There is nothing that will be hidden before Him (Hebrews 4:13). Even our motives will be exposed! Listen to 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” How will your actions measure up to complete perfection on that day? (Matthew 5:48).

As humans we cry out against injustice and demand that human judges ensure that criminals be punished for their actions, but how much more will the Creator of all things do what is right and just when it comes to sins committed against Him? From Romans 5:12 the first patient zero became infected with sin and because of sin’s entrance into the world people began to die. The Bible testifies to the truth of the universal dominion and penetration of sin repeatedly especially in Romans 3:23 where Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words all people have at one time or another disobeyed God and fallen short of His perfect standard found in His Word (1 John 1:10). The bad news doesn’t end there. God, the righteous judge of the earth, demands that payment be made for our sins against Him. Romans 6:23a reinforces this judgement and says “For the wages of sin is death…” The sentence has been pronounced and the verdict for all of us is this: GUILTY AS CHARGED. Our retribution for sinning is death- physical and spiritual. And yet amazingly enough the penalty for the sentence has been lifted “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b). Each person will stand before God one day (Hebrews 9:27). The question is “Will you face Him as your judge or as your Father?”

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