Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” Is the Gospel an abomination unto the Lord, because it does both?
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People mean well when they say all sins are the same, but the problem is they’re not. One way they’re different is certain sins are identified as an abomination. Two such examples:
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.Proverbs 17:15
Two groups are an abomination to the Lord:
- Those who justify the wicked.
- Those who condemn the just.
The tremendous irony is this is exactly what God does through the Gospel!
Justifying the Wicked Is an Abomination unto the Lord
Romans 4:5 says God, “justifies the wicked.”
The Greek word for justifies is dikaioō and it means “declare righteous.” The Lord takes evil, wretched people and justifies them through faith in Jesus Christ.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.Galatians 2:16
God justifies the wicked every time He declares sinful people to be righteous.
Condemning the Just Is an Abomination unto the Lord
We say things like:
- “The Jews murdered their Messiah.”
- “The Romans crucified Jesus.”
- “Our sins put Jesus on the cross.”
While these statements are true in one sense, it’s even truer to say the One Person responsible with crucifying God the Son was God the Father.
For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.Acts 4:27-28
In verse 27 it sounds like Christ’s sacrifice is attributed to those individuals, but verse 28 makes it clear they were simply doing the will of God the Father.
Consider these other verses:
- Acts 2:23—[Jesus was] delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.
- Luke 22:22—Truly the Son of Man goes [to be crucified] as it had been determined [by God].
- John 19:11—Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”
The Gospels go to great lengths throughout Jesus’ trials and crucifixion to record His innocence:
- Matthew 27:19—Pilate’s wife said, “Have nothing to do with that just Man.”
- Matthew 27:24—Pilate said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.”
- Luke 23:41—One of the criminals on a cross next to Jesus said, “This Man has done nothing wrong.”
- Luke 23:47—The centurion said, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”
When God the Father sacrificed God the Son, He “condemned the just.” He punished an innocent, righteous man for the wicked.
Is God an Abomination to Himself?
Contrast these verses:
- Ezekiel 18:23 & 33:11—God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
- Isaiah 53:10a—God took pleasure in the death of His Son.
Amazingly God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He took pleasure in the death of His perfect, innocent Son. He took pleasure in condemning the just, His Son, because it allowed Him to justify the wicked: each of us.
Jesus Became the SinFULLest Man
The Messiah shall be cut off.Daniel 9:26
This is saying a lot more than just that Jesus would die. The common Hebrew word for die is muwth. It’s the word used throughout the Old Testament for people dying…835 times to be exact. For example:
- Genesis 5:5—All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died (muwth).”
- Job 1:19—Job’s servant said, “A great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died (muwth).”
But the Hebrew word for Jesus being “cut off” is karath. It occurs 288 times in Scripture, frequently for guilty people being executed:
- Genesis 9:11—Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off (karath) by the waters of the flood.
- Proverbs 2:22—The wicked will be cut off (karath) from the earth.
- Psalm 37:9—Evildoers shall be cut off (karath).
“Karath” is used 20 times in Leviticus to describe people who have to be executed (or cut off) from the rest of the congregation because of their sin.
Jesus Died for “His” Sins
The point is Daniel 9:26 is prophesying Jesus would not die a natural death (muwth). He would die a guilty person’s death (karath) because of the sins He would receive. We say Jesus died for our sins, and that’s true, but we could also say He died for His own sin, because He owned our sins. When our sins were imputed to Jesus – or put to His account – they literally became HIS sins:
- 2 Corinthians 5:21—He became sin.
- 1 Peter 2:24—He bore our sins in His body on the cross.
- Isaiah 53:6—The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
- Isaiah 53:11—He will bear their iniquities.
- Isaiah 53:12—He bore the sin of many.
Daniel 9:26 prophesied of Jesus receiving the death penalty for His sin like a guilty criminal:
- Matthew 27:38—Two criminals were crucified with Him.
- Isaiah 53:12—He would be numbered with the transgressors.
He’s numbered with the transgressors – He experienced a guilty criminal’s death – because He became one of them.
Jesus Became a Guilty Sinner?
When our sins were put to Jesus’ account, He became the most sinful Person to ever live. Nobody has ever approached even a fraction of the sinfulness that was Jesus’ when He was on the cross. The amount of sin that was imputed to Him and became HIS is beyond comprehension.
This is classic double imputation:
- Our sin is imputed to Christ.
- Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.
The tremendous irony that reveals the grace of God and the beauty of the Gospel is that although Jesus became the most sin-filled Man to ever live, He never sinned:
- 2 Corinthians 5:21—[He] who knew no sin.
- 1 Peter 2:22—He committed no sin.
- 1 John 3:5—In Him there is no sin.
The guiltiest and most sin-filled, or sinFULLEST Person to ever live, was also the most innocent, holiest, perfect and righteous to ever live. So was God punishing a sinful Man or an Innocent Man? He punished a sinFULL Man when He was on the cross.
The Two Sides of the Gospel’s Good News
Jesus preached the Gospel to the poor.Luke 4:18
In many translations it says “Jesus preached the Good News to the poor”, because gospel means good news. This had me thinking about what the good news actually is and I really see two sides to it. Of course the Good News is that through faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and His righteousness becomes our righteousness. It’s the Good News that we get to go to heaven. I’ve heard some people say, “You don’t want to tell people about hell though…that’s the Bad News!” Well…no, it’s not actually. It’s as much the good news as the Good News. I would say it like this: there are two sides to the Gospel, or two pieces of Good News for us:
- We get to go to heaven.
- But it’s equally Good News that we don’t have to go to hell.
We rejoice that we get to go to heaven, but we should also rejoice that we don’t have to go to hell. Since when did it become Bad News that we don’t have to go to hell? If you preach the Gospel and you leave out hell, you’re leaving out some really important, wonderful stuff. You’re leaving out that Jesus experienced Hell so we wouldn’t have to. The Gospel is about the grace AND mercy of God, but if you leave out hell, you’re leaving out the mercy of the Gospel. Here’s what I mean:
- Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, and going to heaven is grace. Heaven reveals the grace of God. We don’t deserve to go to heaven, but we get to go by God’s grace.
- Mercy is not receiving what we deserve…it’s not receiving a punishment we deserve (you’re speeding and the cop doesn’t give you a ticket; he had mercy on you because you didn’t receive what you deserved). If we don’t go to hell that’s mercy, because we’re not receiving the ticket we deserve. Being spared from hell is the greatest revelation of God’s mercy.
Think of Jesus’ example: Luke 4:18 says He preached the Gospel, and He taught about the Kingdom of Heaven really often…but He also talked about Hell…A LOT. If you present the Gospel and don’t mention hell, you’re leaving out the mercy; you’re leaving out half of the greatness of the Gospel. Tell people how to be saved. Tell them what they’re saved for: Heaven. But also tell them what they’re saved from: Hell.