"...He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus"(Romans 3:26)
A good friend of mine was in a jury for an armed robbery case. He sat for three days listening to the prosecution prove its case. In the end, there was no question about the defendant’s guilt, however, what plagued my friend was knowing that this man was facing 25 years in prison and so voting him guilty would have condemned this man to this fate.
To be just, God cannot overlook sin. He cannot merely forgive sin because He pities the sinner
After the final summations had been given, the judge instructed the jury that their only responsibility was to render a decision based on whether or not the prosecution proved this man was guilty. He went on to say that the sentence was outlined in the law and weighed completely on him as the judge.
This freed up my friend to fulfil his duty as juror. His only job was to be just and render his decision based on the evidence. If it had been up to him, I’m sure he would have been merciful, but in reality justice and mercy are at odds.
The same is true with God, as without Jesus, God cannot be both just and merciful—take a minute to let that sink in.
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished" (Romans 3:25)
Did you know God presented Jesus as a sacrifice to demonstrate His justice?
God’s solution was to take all sins—past, present, and future—and place them on Jesus as a sacrifice
One would think this demonstrated His mercy because we all benefited. But Paul said it was to show His justice. I think this is because He had left prior sins unpunished since the beginning of time. That’s mercy, but the problem is it is easy to mistake His act of grace with the acceptance of sin, which can never be the case because God is holy.
God’s solution was to take all sins—past, present, and future—and place them on Jesus as a sacrifice (Heb. 10:12). This showed that He could in no way tolerate sin and, without a doubt, this demonstrates His righteousness.
But we can also see God’s mercy because He presented Jesus as the sacrifice of atonement. This point is easy to miss, but in this presentation several things happened. This sacrifice was actually two-fold because the Greek word is hilastērion (Strongs G2435), which is found in only two places in the scriptures, here and in Hebrews with the mention of the Mercy Seat in Heaven (Heb. 9:5).