God is holy and glorious. We are broken and fallen. So why didn't an all-knowing God give us the ability always to do right?
Psalm 139:1-3 says that God knows our best intentions as well as our failings. He knew we wouldn't measure up to holy standards but chose to create us anyway.
God holds two simultaneous perspectives on us. We deserve judgment and hell, and yet he loves us and rescues us from ourselves through Christ (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 3:21-26). People cannot be righteous—but they can be made righteous. In Jesus we see that God is good beyond our understanding, and unspeakably generous toward us.
Ephesians 2:5-9 tells us that God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in sin. We often don't recognize that we are among the walking dead, spiritually speaking. So righteousness helps us to understand what it takes to be godly and pure, and mercy helps us to understand what it takes to be made godly and pure. Salvation helps us to live both law and grace.
This dichotomy was poignantly expressed by hymn writer Frederick William Faber:
There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.
[Q] What do you think Faber meant by "there's a kindness in his justice, which is more than liberty"? How can that be true? When have you experienced justice as a better option than liberty?
Make a Change: Read all the passages in this article and jot down under one column the phrases that mention God's justice and under another column his mercy. Consider how these work together.