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plodprov 17:15

February 24, 2007

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 17:15

Being justified means being declared not guilty.

When we venture out to make a judgment we often preface the activity with the pious sounding unbiblical statement, “I want to err on the side of Grace.”

We say this because worldly culture has told us that judging is wrong. Erring on the side of grace makes it sound like you have an aversion to judging and that only in extreme cases will you judge, though you prefer not to judge at all. If people like this do judge, and they do, then they use the erring on the side of grace tactic as a way to minimize their judging.

We also say this because we think that justifying the wicked is not as serious a crime as condemning the righteous. This is not correct.

God hates all miscarriages of justice.

Condemning the just is a grievous crime, no doubt. But, it is surprising to hear that justifying the wicked is a crime equal to it. Justifying the wicked has an appearance of grace and mercy to it. That is why it is given the acceptable name of “erring on the side of grace.”

But, it is cruel to the righteous and to the victims of the wicked to justify the wicked. If the wicked are not condemned they go on perpetrating their evil on the just and the unjust alike. Not only do they get away with it, but they are encouraged in their wickedness when they are not found guilty and stopped. When a person’s wickedness is tolerated they are emboldened in their sin. We justify the wicked when we refuse to hold them accountable.

This idea of erring on the side of grace is designed to justify the wicked from the beginning. It begins with the assumption that the truth of a situation cannot be found and so we must end up tolerating what we say we cannot know for sure. We would love to put a stop to wickedness, but we don’t want to risk condemning an innocent person.

There is an interesting theological point that illustrates this.

If you are a Christian, God has justified you. But, we all are born in sin and we all do sin. So, when God declares sinners not guilty isn’t He justifying the wicked? And so, isn’t it OK when we “err on the side of grace” because that is what God does when He justifies people? Isn’t “erring on the side of grace” being like God?

No. God does not do that. God does forgive and justify people who sin. But, God always judges, condemns and punishes sin and sinners.

The good news is that God judges and punishes sin at the cross and He does it to Christ Jesus.

God does not justify the wicked.

He first takes sin off us and puts it on Christ, the One who bore our sin on the cross, and there the wickedness is judged and punished. Once our sin has been judged and punished, God then justifies us because we are no longer wicked.

God does not err on the side of grace.

On the contrary, guilt is exposed, it is judged, and it is punished by the Righteous Judge.

God never overlooks an offence.

It is a particular glory of God to forgive sin and justify the newly innocent. But, God’s forgiveness is not done on a whim and it does not include letting the wicked get away with something. God’s forgiveness and justification is based in the very act of Christ suffering for the sin that the Father has judged.

There is no such thing as erring on the side of grace.

Grace does not err on the side of wickedness.

We must judge because we cannot let the guilty go free nor can we let the innocent be wrongly condemned. I have seen so many people suffer because no one was willing to judge and stand up and say something is wrong.

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