Think of the best person you know. Maybe you don’t know them personally, you just know of them. Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, your next door neighbor? Who ever this wonderful person is, take them and imagine they commit a cold-blooded murder. The person they murder is just a normal average everyday person. Now, would this saintly person deserve to spend the rest of their life in prison? You may try to argue that they shouldn’t but you would only be playing games. We all know that they deserve to go to prison for killing someone. What if it was a different crime? Suppose they robbed a bank, or any other action that merits jail time. Even if they are as saintly as Mother Teresa and they’ve never done anything wrong, we would all agree that breaking one law requires that person to face the penalty, no matter how many nice things they’ve done in the rest of their life. If you went to court and your defense was that you’ve done a lot of good things with your life and your one transgression against the law is small in comparison, that whole courtroom would think you were mocking them. (I understand that in some cases sentences are lightened because of no previous record, I’ll come back to that little later because it reinforces my point.) So if we understand that good behavior no matter how great doesn’t excuse one-act of bad behavior in a court room, why do we constantly try to use that excuse with God? People will say that God won’t send them to hell because they’ve done more good than bad. Well we’ve established that a human judge won’t neglect your crimes because of your good deeds, why would a much superior Divine Judge? His laws are much more perfect than earthly laws, and He is fully aware of all the evidence. If we’ve broken one of His laws we deserve the punishment for it, just like in a human courtroom. Even if we could stand on our feet in His presence, we wouldn’t be able to argue against His case. I don’t even live up to my own standards all the time, I constantly do things I know I shouldn’t. If we don’t live up to our own standards, what would make us think we’ve lived up to God’s?
So, when we stand before God on judgment day we’re guilty and without excuse. The punishment for the crime has to be paid. How do you pay for a crime against an eternal God? Eternal punishment. If you feel a little hopeless and scared, good you should be. You don’t have any hope, on your own. Remember earlier I talked about lightened sentences with no previous record, well that’s a form of grace from a human judge. Just like our Divine judge has laws that are more perfect than a human judge, He has grace that is more perfect as well, instead of making our sentence lighter for no previous record He can get rid of our sentence completely. It can’t disappear, but it can be taken from us. I said that the punishment for the crime has to be paid, but I didn’t say it had to be paid by you. This is where the human grace pales in comparison, instead of lessening your sentences our Judge takes your sentences on Himself. Now, I don’t fully understand the depths of how it works but our Judge steps down off His thrown and steps up to our cross. Our death becomes His. Our eternal punishment becomes His, but because He is perfect and has kept every single law and is completely blameless, our eternal death can’t restrain Him for an eternity. The shackles on our hands and feet fall off because of the holes in His. Our judge won’t do this for everyone though, only for the people who seek after it. He will not force anyone to give up what is rightfully theirs. If we want our Hell He will grant us that wish, but if we come before Him as children (prior to facing Him on our day of judgment in His courtroom) and kneel down with our chains He will never hesitate to free us. Because our Judge is far superior to any human judge His punishment for any who break the law is far more severe, that is justice. Because our Judge is far superior to any human judge His grace to those who seek it is far superior, that is mercy