When we study the characteristics or attributes of something, we want to see what makes up the inherent qualities rather than just the external characteristics. This is why Tozer has been titling each section as “God’s (something),” and not the “(something) of God.” We aren’t looking at God’s kind of anything when we describe His attributes as though there was just a different way of God being that thing compared to someone else. Take His justice, for example. We aren’t saying that God has a way of being “just” that is different or unique to Him, while there could be other forms of being “just” that are unique to others. If this were the case, then the argument could be made that the justice of God isn’t the only definition of justice and that other cultures, at other times in history, have had their own versions of justice, which are equally valid. Those other forms of justice might be in conflict with God’s way, thereby presenting God’s way and the other way as nothing more than competing views that a person can choose from. It is precisely this kind of nuance that Tozer avoids when he intentionally labels this section, “God’s Justice.”
While we may talk about the justice of God in common speech, it is important to be aware that this is an attribute, like the others, that belongs to Him and therefore finds its definition in Him. Man seeks justice in our courts and daily lives so that we can make sense of right and wrong and how to apply that toward one another. This is why Tozer closely connects God’s justice to God’s righteousness. He quotes from Psalm 97:2, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne,” and adds, “Justice and righteousness are indistinguishable from each other.” Just as we seek to act in accordance with our own sense of justice, it is only God who knows what is truly just because only God is truly righteous. He always knows and does what is right because only He knows what the right thing is to begin with. The judgment of God is the application of justice to a moral situation. He has judged the moral situation equitably, that is, He has been morally equal to Himself. His goodness is able to dole out what corresponds to the moral situations of life with fairness, or properly as a situation requires. Unlike God, man is not morally equal. Not only do we not always know what is right, even when we do know, we even less frequently do that right thing. We do not have moral symmetry and are unequal to ourselves. Tozer writes,
“When God judges a man, He brings justice
to that man’s life. He applies justice to the moral
situation which that man’s life created.
And if the man’s ways are equal,
then justice favors the man.
If man’s ways are unequal then,
of course, God sentences the man.”
God is justice since goodness and righteousness dwell in Him; it exists because He does. To help us understand God’s justice better, Tozer describes God as a unity and man as a compound being. He is not composed of parts the way we are with our body, soul, and spirit. Our existence occurs in distinct and separate plains, allowing for our humanity to remain intact even while aspects of who we are change. Even our physical being is comprised of so many “parts” that can be removed without compromising our humanness. One quote that caught my attention was, “You can take an amazing about of a man away and he is still there. But you can’t think of God like that, because the being of God is unitary.” God is always the same and since He is never changing; there is a continual harmony within Him of His attributes. His justice does not, and cannot, contradict any of His other attributes. They exist as One in fullness. His mercy and grace are never set aside in order to enable His judgment in light of His righteousness.
In consideration of salvation, God’s justice was satisfied in the atoning work of Christ. Tozer describes the work of Christ, “that holy suffering there on the cross and that resurrection from the dead cancels our sins and abrogates our sentence.” All the attributes of God agree on the sentence of death that had been handed down. “When God sends a man to die,” Tozer writes, “mercy and pity and compassion and wisdom and power concur – everything that’s intelligent in God concurs in the sentence… When God looks at a sinner who has accepted the blood of the everlasting covenant, justice sentences him to live. And God is just in doing both things.” It is not that justice has been set aside for the one redeemed by Christ, but justice itself that is at the heart of the sentence of life. Neither does God set aside His grace, mercy and compassion to carry out the sentence of death. The only measure by which our moral situation is judged is based on the perfect righteousness of God. We are either draped in the atoning blood of Christ which has been spilt to change our moral situation, or we are left responsible for it ourselves and will be found unequal to the righteousness of God.