He is Justice

by Autumn Dickson

This week, we find Abinadi standing before King Noah and his wicked priests. They love to lounge around, preaching at people, and spending their strength in highly questionable ways. Abinadi teaches them a plethora of doctrine, the ten commandments, the Law of Moses and its true purpose in the plan, and the coming of Jesus Christ since the House of Israel seems to forget about the Messiah and hyperfocus on a law that was always meant to point to a Messiah.

Abinadi teaches them that those who listen to the prophets and hope for Christ will be taken care of. Then Abinadi warns them.

Mosiah 15:26-27

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.

27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

Abinadi is warning these men that they’re going to miss out if they don’t repent. If you’re spending the time reading and listening to Come Follow Me posts, videos, and podcasts, I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re not out doing the things that these priests are doing, not the least of which is murder. I doubt Abinadi would be calling you to repentance in the same manner that he’s calling these priests to repentance.

But there are still principles here for us to learn. There is one phrase in particular that can help us better understand the perfect judgment of the Lord.

“…for he cannot deny himself…”

One of my favorite topics is the perfection judgment of the Lord because I spent so long calling His judgment perfect and attributing less than perfect judging skills to Him. Let’s talk about what I mean. We’re going to cycle around a bit, but we’re going to come back around to this specific phrase.

The definitions of perfection

One of the ways that we can understand Judgment Day and the atonement of Jesus Christ is to look at it through the lens of two different definitions of perfection. I say, “one of the ways,” because these concepts are complex ideas, and I have not yet found a way to completely encompass all of the perfect principles that make up these ideas. I have talked about many of them, but here is yet another way to understand them.

When we’re talking about perfection in reference to Judgment Day and the atonement of Jesus Christ, you could almost say that there are two different definitions of perfection, and they come into play at different points.

The first definition of perfection is the more traditional way we frame perfection. It is to be without sin or flaw. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ, we could not make it back to heaven. We all sin and come short of the glory of God. We messed up, and we don’t deserve it. We have corrupted ourselves, and no corruptible thing can coexist with God or it burns up in His glory. This is our first idea of perfection.

Interestingly enough, is this actually fair? Is this truly perfect judgment? Think of all of the remarkable people who overcame great odds and trials and became compassionate, selfless human beings. Do they truly deserve to find unhappiness for an eternity? Is that really perfect judgment? In my unqualified opinion, I think not. We weren’t capable of being perfect. We needed the opposition to grow into perfection so why punish us for something we were incapable of?

And yet, this is what had to be. Corruption simply cannot exist in the presence of God. It’s obliterated. We needed to come to earth to grow into perfection and happiness; this absolutely, unequivocally meant that we would corrupt ourselves to a degree. These were the very real facts of our circumstances. A catch-22. Stay in the presence of God and experience damnation in the sense that we were stopped from progressing for forever or leave God’s presence, grow, but be tainted and away from His loving presence forever.

But here is where our second definition of perfection comes in. Christ was perfect in the sense of our first definition. He was without sin. We don’t understand how, but He paid for those sins. And because He paid for them, we can be cleansed. Voila. Catch-22 solved. We can go to earth, become corrupted to a degree (because it was inevitable), but we can also gain the experience we need to move past our damnation, our stop in our progression. That corruption gets cleansed, and we can coexist with Heavenly Father without getting burned up in the all-consuming fire that is the glory of His presence.

The second definition of perfection includes aspects of justice and mercy. People who are really trying and growing and believing and learning still get to come home even though they’re made mistakes. What is a more “perfect” definition of perfection? The first or second? Which is a more perfect judgment? The one that called for absolute discipline for the imperfect or the one that included the very real aspects of mercy?

Once again in my extremely unqualified opinion, the second definition of “perfect” is nicer, but it’s also a more perfect definition of perfect.

He became justice

Let’s cycle back to the phrase from the beginning: “…he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice…”

We have all heard the phrases, “Christ is justice,” and “Christ is mercy.” In some sense, those are literal and accurate statements. Because of what He did for us, that first scenario of perfection is not applicable. There is no more catch-22. There is no more third party justice that disallows us from going back into the presence of our Heavenly Father to be consumed by His glory. Christ’s atonement can cleanse us so we can go back. These are our new and true circumstances. Christ gets to decide whether we come home because He took the place of justice when He paid justice. He is our debtor. He is justice.

Our original circumstances that existed with the first definition of perfection are no longer our circumstances, and yet, we keep acting like they are. We keep acting like justice overpowers mercy and not the other way around.

In my home, I am justice. I am also mercy. These are temporary roles that were given to me by a Father in Heaven who needed me to teach His children because He couldn’t do it Himself. My husband, Conner, also holds these roles though he practices them less often because he’s gone working.

Maybe it sounds silly to say I am justice and mercy, but in so many real aspects of the words, it’s true. The worlds of my children very much fall into what I create for them.

I believe that one of the reasons the Lord set up these circumstances in this manner was because He wanted me to understand His atonement. I am wildly imperfect, but I do have some sense of what perfect judgment looks like. I may lose my cool with my kids, but I have my King-Solomon-wisdom moments too. When I take a step back from the overstimulation and chaos, I often know where my kids’ hearts are at. I know if they’ve been stressed with specific circumstances, different triggers for their big emotions, and whether they went to bed on time. I know if Warner was literally trying to play with his sister or whether he was trying to get his kicks torturing her. I know whether Evie meant to push her brother off the couch or whether she’s still learning to control her growing body.

As of yet, none of my children have done anything worthy of getting kicked out. They have punched, bit, threw, pushed, and taunted. They have continuously provoked and purposefully broken things, but I’m not crazy enough to believe that merits getting kicked out of my home. I am not perfect, but I do have some immature understanding of perfect judgment. I have some inkling of what it means to wisely distribute mercy and justice according to the needs of my children so that they can grow into well-adjusted adults without banning them from the home.

Heaven forbid the day ever came that I would need to kick a teenager out to protect my other children, but I hope I would be wise enough to do that too if the situation called for it.

Now let’s take this little home scenario and zoom out to look at the world the Lord created for us. I am imperfect. I am also a good person. I want peace in our “home” here on earth even though I often make mistakes and hurt my siblings. I love my Father and Brother.

And in my imperfect sense of perfection, I know that I have not merited getting kicked out yet. He will distribute mercy and justice according to what I need to learn in order to become a well-adjusted Being like Him, but He’s not kicking me out of the house. I made covenants that bind me to Christ and allow Him to cleanse me so that I can coexist with my Heavenly Parents, and I am someone who wants to follow Them. They can work with that.

I am saved by the atonement of Jesus Christ. I experience salvation regularly in the forms of peace, hope, and joy in my home. It is a beautiful feeling, and it’s a feeling that my Savior wanted me to experience. He paid an excruciating price so that I could experience it and experience it now, not just in the next life. I am grateful to Him for bringing about the second definition of perfect, for banishing the catch-22, and enabling me to experience eternal happiness.


Autumn Dickson was born and raised in a small town in Texas. She served a mission in the Indianapolis Indiana mission. She studied elementary education but has found a particular passion in teaching the gospel. Her desire for her content is to inspire people to feel confident, peaceful, and joyful about their relationship with Jesus Christ and to allow that relationship to touch every aspect of their lives.

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