Read: Psalm 103.
In the classroom where we are taught all that is necessary to know in order that we may have comfort, our teacher also informs us that there will be objections brought against those things which we must believe. Does God do injustice when he demands perfection from us who are poor and totally depraved? Is not his punishment much too severe when we do not do what he commands? And now, another objection: You talk of God’s justice; but is not God also merciful? Are you not forgetting that mercy?
The objector, maybe he raises his hand in the classroom to argue with our teacher; maybe he hears what we have been taught and does not like it very well – the objector thinks that the mercy of God is so great that it swallows up God’s justice. God could punish sin if he maintained the strict standards of justice; but the Scriptures teach us that God is also merciful; and so we must emphasize, not a vindictive God who makes men pay for every little sin, but rather we must think of a benevolent God who is merciful to us poor sinners.
In other words, this objector wants a God in whom, when his justice and his mercy clash, puts his justice aside in the interests of being merciful. Or, if we want to put it bluntly, God is a God in whom the attribute “justice” is not important.
Our teacher quickly does away with such nonsense. He says, as it were, “Of course, God is merciful! All the Scriptures teach this. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting and it endures forever. But this does not mean that God is not just. He is just! And to deny his justice is to deny a very important attribute of God. If he is not just, then he is not God. We may not deny his justice, for if we do, we deny him.”
But our teacher also reminds us of what our sins are like: they are committed against the most high majesty of God. So terrible is this that even one little sin is enough to earn for us everlasting hell. And just look at all the sins of which we are guilty.
We sin with body and soul; that is, we sin with our bodies, but also with our minds, our wills and our emotions. We are sinful in everything we do. And we deserve all the punishment God gives us. That is, we deserve extreme punishment.
Let us then humble ourselves before God and confess before his great majesty what worthless sinners we really are.