What is Justice?

We all desire justice. If someone gets away with something wrong, it bothers us. One of the most common phrases in the human language may be, “It’s not fair.” But if we were asked to define justice, could we do that? Justice is a confusing, foggy topic for many right now. We need clarity because counterfeit versions of justice are everywhere. What exactly is justice? 

What is Justice?

In the most basic sense, justice is receiving what we are owed. Justice is the result of the correct ordering of things in alignment with God’s design and commands. To understand biblical justice, I want you to look at this picture of Lady Justice. The statue of Lady Justice reveals the biblical principles of justice that our nation was founded upon. Notice four things about justice from the picture:

  • She is standing on the Bible. God’s Word, his righteousness, is the foundation for justice. The pursuit of justice requires a standard. When we lose a sense of right and wrong, we cannot determine what is just. Notice what Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” God wants both righteousness and justice. Righteousness is the moral standard of right and wrong to which God holds humans accountable based on His divine standard. Justice is the fair and impartial application of God’s moral law in society. When there is no standard for right or wrong, it leads to partiality, unfairness, and injustice.
  • Blindfolded, she practices no bias, never showing favoritism or partiality based on wealth, skin color, or sex. Lady Justice is blindfolded because she does not favor rich or poor, elite or lowly, black or white, male or female. Everyone stands on the same standard. 

  • Scales in her hand, her judgment is grounded in objective truth so that there can be fairness. Justice requires a level playing field rather than crooked scales so that both sides of a story can be heard and it requires uprightness, a ”straight” standard so that we can deal with people equally. When facts are presented, Lady justice applies the standard impartially, without favoritism or rigging the scales.

  • A sword in her hand reminds us of the necessity of authority manifested in law and law enforcement. When the law is broken, justice requires that the guilty person is punished. We cannot have justice where there is not truth or law. The unrighteous will naturally fight back against the enforcement of justice through the rule of law. We are seeing this manifested in the push to defund the police and in Antifa, a group that wants no law so that every person can live as he or she wants. 

Biblically, God deals with us fairly and according to a standard. God instructs us to deal with each other in the same way, without favoritism or partiality. Applied to all of life, a biblical view of justice means equal, fair, and impartial treatment for everyone according to God’s law.