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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
Title:It's Not Fair!
Text:LD 4 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Confessional Reading: Belgic Confession Article 1

Lesson: Lord’s Day 4



  1. Why God’s Justice is Fair

  2. Why We Don’t Want Fair


  1. Psalm 8: 1, 2, 3

  2. Psalm 46: 2, 5

  3. Hymn 72:1, 5

  4. Hymn 1

  5. Psalm 32: 1, 3

  6. Hymn 26


Words to Listen For: cringe, juices, suggest, intelligent, hanging


Questions For Understanding:

  1. What does “out of the mouths of babes and infants” really mean?  What has it come to mean?  What did it refer to last week?

  2. What’s wrong with the questions in Lord’s Day 4?

  3. How is Yahweh different from Allah?

  4. Define the following terms:

    1. Immutable

    2. Federal Headship

    3. Simple

  5. Explain the significance of

    1. Romans 6

    2. Numbers 6

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved in Christ our Lord,

One of the most popular Biblical phrases that has become well-known, even in secular society is Psalm 8:2 - out of the mouth of babes and infants.

Now, the meaning has become different.  As we sang this afternoon, this line is followed by “you have established strength” or “you have ordained praise.”

But the meaning has shifted slightly to have the meaning that you get the MOST TRUTH out of children, because they don’t have a filter for their mouth yet.

And this is nowhere more true than in a story I heard just this past Sunday.

This is how it went.  A young child, about 4 years old had been mean to his friends, said some bad words, even hit them, and he was about to be punished.  This boy’s mother wanted to be sure that her son knew why he was being punished, and so she sat him down, looked him in the eye and said, “you know that being mean to your friends is wrong, right?  You know that it’s a sin.”

The child looked up at his mother, sighed a big sigh and said, “Yes, I know.  But Mommy, some days I just LOVE to sin.”

“Some days I just love to sin.”  Out of the mouth of babes and infants!

This child, at 4 years old, is more honest than any one of us.  This boy said the quiet part out loud.

We speak of falling into sin, we speak of being caught in particular sins, but this isn’t the full story.

Maybe sometimes we do FALL into sin…but other times, we PLUNGE.  Headlong.  We see something we want, we know that God forbids it, and we don’t care.  There are some days, congregation, when we, when **I** just LOVE to sin.

And it’s important for us to recognize this in ourselves.  Recognize this weakness - that it’s not just a weakness of our WILL, not just a lack of STRENGTH, but a weakness of our HEART.  A flaw, a twisting, a warping of our AFFECTIONS.  We love the wrong stuff.

It’s important to recognize this so that we don’t get overly angry with our first parents, Adam and Eve.

Because we do this far too often, don’t we?

  • COME ON Adam and Eve!!

  • You had ONE JOB!

  • If it was me in the Garden that day…

But, if it was you in the Garden that day, you would have made exactly the same decision.  None of us are any better.

Now, SHOULD we be angry at Adam and Eve?


Sure!  They sinned!  And they took all of us with them.  We can have anger towards them, we can be disappointed, we can mourn their sin…as long as we are equally angry, equally disappointed and equally mournful over our own sins.

We have to STOP passing the buck to others, whether to those who sin against us, or to our first parents, and we have to STOP crying out to God:


“IT’S NOT FAIR!”  This afternoon we will examine, first of all,

  1. Why God’s Justice is Fair and then

  2. Why We Don’t Want Fair


Why God’s Justice is Fair

Our Lord’s Day this afternoon begins with these words: But does not God do man an injustice by requiring in His law what man cannot do?

Cast your mind back a few minutes to when you heard these words for the first time today.  How did you feel to hear this question?

Maybe you felt GOOD about it!  It’s so nice that the catechism is asking MY QUESTIONS!  After all, we just learned in Lord’s Day 2 that God requires of us perfect love, and that we aren’t able to love perfectly, but rather, we are naturally inclined to hate.

And then we learned in Lord’s Day 3 that this inclination towards hatred came, not from how we were CREATED, but rather, this is what we INHERITED from our first parents.

And so we want to blame our first parents.

Punish THEM!  We want to say.

It’s not our fault, it’s their fault.  How can you punish us for Adam and Eve’s sin??  THAT’S NOT FAIR!

And so we are thankful to the catechism for speaking our language, asking our questions.

But is this how we SHOULD feel when we hear this question?


We should have a visceral gut reaction to these words…but it shouldn’t be a comforting, self-righteous reaction!  Instead we should cringe when we hear them.  We should be uncomfortable, we should be FEARFUL!

Because what do these words actually do?  These words are a mortal calling God to appear before a human judgement seat.

Dragging the Almighty off of His throne and making Him a defendant in a human court.

How DARE we do this?  How dare WE take HIM to court?

This is foolishness!

This is blasphemy!

This is madness!


Instead, we should take a page from the Preacher in Ecclesiastes

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to

listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know

that they are doing evil.  Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your

heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and

you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few…God is the one

you must fear.


Talking back to the God of the Universe, the One whose ways are all justice, a God of faithfulness and without iniquity…the One who sits enthroned forever, establishing righteousness and justice as the foundation of His throne.  The One who day by day judges the world with righteousness

Are you willing to accuse THIS GOD of injustice??

The thought should make you tremble.

The thought should make you cower in fear.

The thought should make you like Job, and put our hand over our mouth, refusing to speak anymore.

So, is this the conclusion to the question of God’s justice?  Silence?  A hand over our mouth?  Be still and know that I am God ?

Well…eventually, yes it is.  There does come a point when we have to sit and rest with our incomplete knowledge and incomplete understanding of the justice of the Almighty.

But.  Our God knows that we are curious, He knows that He has put a desire for justice in our hearts, and so He does not leave us completely lost and confused, but He has made the basic outlines of His justice clear.

Because, and we must note this well…in so many ways, but perhaps most clearly in His justice…our God is not a god like Allah, who the Muslims serve.

Allah is a being of pure will.

What this means is that anything Allah says is right, no matter what.  If what he says today contradicts what he said yesterday, WHO ARE YOU TO TALK BACK TO ALLAH?

If Allah would decide that human sacrifice to idols is proper worship, then it would be.  There is no need for wisdom, no need for consistency, just PURE WILL.  Just PURE POWER.

But this is not how our God is.  This is not the justice of Yahweh.

Yahweh is not capricious.

Yahweh is not random

Yahweh is not a being of pure will


Instead, our God is a God of justice.

Our God is a God of logic.


Think of the beginning of the gospel according to John - In the beginning was the Word.  That is, the LOGOS.  The LOGIC of the universe.

Our God is a God of order, not of chaos.

Everything He does is consistent with His character of pure wisdom, justice, and goodness.  This we read earlier in Belgic Confession Article 1.

And this consistence, our catechism speaks of throughout, but especially in this Lord’s Day.

Therefore He will punish them by a just judgment, both now and eternally, as He has declared: Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.


And then

His justice requires…

His justice REQUIRES.

Requires WHO?

God’s justice requires HIM!

God MUST act in this way, or He would not be God!

And there are two logical trails we can go down here to explain God’s justice, at least, as much as we can this afternoon, limited by time, as well as limited by our human understanding.

First of all, one of the perfections of our God as outlined in the Belgic Confession is that He is IMMUTABLE.  Here’s a word for the children to remember.  For all of us to know.  It’s an important word.

GOD IS IMMUTABLE.  This means He is never-changing.  Everything that He is, He will always be.  He will never change, He will never be corrupted or weakened.  He simply is the I AM.  I AM WHO I AM.  Never more - as though there could be more, and never less - as though someone could take from Him.

And so, when Adam and Eve plunged themselves, and all of us with them, into sin, when Adam and Eve changed, God COULD NOT CHANGE.

Adam and Eve became weak, they became slaves to sin, but God did not plunge down with them.  God did not become corrupt with them and change Himself and what He required.

Human beings are fickle, we change, with every wind, we sway back and forth, with every challenge, every trial, we cry out, unsure if we will be kept secure this time, as we have every time before.

But God is not like that.  God cannot be like that.  He will not be less than Himself.

Our human condition changed, but His divine condition (if I may put it like that) did not.  He is unstained by our sin, and so too His righteous requirements are unchanging.

And so question 9, when viewed in this way, is even more uncomfortable.  Even more foolish.  Even more insulting.

But is God not unjust by not being corrupted by sin, even as we are?


God’s righteous requirements DO NOT CHANGE, and we should be very thankful for that fact.  Satan has not “gotten to Him,” or made Him any less than perfectly good and the overflowing fountain of all good.

This is half of the picture of God’s justice.

But what then about the other?

Perhaps this is fair for Adam and Eve.  As they ate the fruit, none of the juices dripped on God.  Fine.

But what about US?

Why are WE held responsible for THEIR SIN?  How is THIS justice?


Well here is our other in-road.  Another term for children of all ages to be familiar with: FEDERAL HEADSHIP.  We are held responsible for Adam’s sin because he was our federal head.

What does this mean?

This means that Adam was the representative of the entire human race.  Not only was Adam a unique individual, handcrafted by God from the dust of the earth, but he was the FIRST human being.  He was the head of the human race.  He was our first FATHER biologically, but also legally, authoritatively, Adam was our head.

You can remember it this way - In Adam’s Fall, we sinned, all.  In Adam’s Fall, we sinned, all.

All of us sinned in Adam.

Even though we weren’t historically THERE, only 2 humans in the Garden, neither of them us, even though we do not have the MEMORY of it, we WERE THERE, SINNING IN HIM, both biologically and legally.

We were in the loins of Adam as he sinned

And we were under his authority as he sinned.

It is just the same as when a king, or president, or prime-minister declares war, the country is at war.

Adam, as our first king, in his sin, declared war against God.

And remember, as we heard in the introduction, out of the mouths of babes…remember…before you get irrationally angry with Adam over this…even if you weren’t only there in the loins of Adam, even if you weren’t there only legally, if you were LITERALLY ADAM, you would have done the exact same thing.

“Oh that’s not true!” you may protest.  “That’s not a fair comparison.  It’s apples and oranges!  Adam was free from sin, and we are not!

When we sin today, when we have days when we LOVE TO SIN, that’s the fault of our sinful nature!

Ah yes.  That would be right if it wasn’t so wrong.


Please turn with me to Romans chapter 6.

Verse 4 and following- We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.  We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin. 

We are no longer SLAVES TO SIN.

Sin may speak

Sin may suggest

Sin may even SHOUT AND SCREAM…

But it is up to us whether we SUBMIT or whether we RESIST.

Do we do so in our own power?  Of course not.  It is Christ Himself working in us, both the death to the old nature, as He died, and the life to the new nature, as He rose.

Carrying on in Romans 6, to further make this point

Verse 11 and following - So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.   Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Sin does not have dominion over us.  We are commanded to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies.

And once more, Romans 6

Verse 17 and following - But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We have been set free from sin.

And so, beloved, do not complain that Adam had it easier…he could choose, whether to sin or not…we are in EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION.  Each and every day we are confronted with choices.  We can choose whether or not to sin.

We may have a sinful nature that whispers in our ear, but Eve had SATAN HIMSELF whisper in her ear.  We may have friends who try to get us to join them in sin, Adam had his WIFE who convinced him to join her in her sin.

In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.  Absolutely true.

And also, every sin we commit, we fall yet again.  It’s the Garden of Eden all over again.


And so, is it FAIR that God’s justice remains the same?

Is it FAIR that we are punished for our sins after we fell in Adam?



And what does FAIRNESS require for sinners?

In a word, HELL.

You want what is FAIR?  Okay then.  Here’s your one way ticket to an eternity away from God.

And so, before we complain that it’s not fair (even though it is fair), let’s recognize that “fair” isn’t quite what we want.  Our second point.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how quickly the catechism changes tactics.  It is just like us.

When we try the JUSTICE tactic and that doesn’t work, when we are appropriately chastised for our attempt to call THE ALMIGHTY TO ACCOUNT, we bluster and blunder forwards, saying - “well…okay then…not justice…but what about MERCY?

If JUSTICE DOESN’T WORK, can we use God’s MERCY for our benefit?”

Again, just like with the first question, it seems simple.  It seems innocuous and innocent, but there is a deep corruption present in it.

Question 11 - But is God not also merciful?

“Aha!  Checkmate God!  Mercy!  You’re ALL ABOUT that.  So you COULDN’T POSSIBLY punish sins.  That’s not merciful!”  And we think we’ve won.

What we are doing is we are trying to play God’s mercy against His justice.

Which one are you?  Just, or merciful?

But the answer, beloved, the answer is BOTH!

And the catechism answers this expertly.

God is indeed merciful, but He is also just.

He is both!

Just as the Belgic Confession says - We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that there is only one God, who is a simple and spiritual being.

Our God is SIMPLE.

This is another word that we should recognize and understand.  Our God is SIMPLE.

This does not mean that He is easy to understand, it does not mean that He does not have deep and intelligent thoughts, but rather it means that He is ONE.  He is UNIFIED.  He is not made up of different parts that compete against each other.  He is SIMPLE, or, more accurately, SIMPLEX, not COMPLEX.

Our God is not like us!

We must choose between justice and mercy.  Either the criminal is punished, or he is not.  There is no third option.



As preacher John Piper so wonderfully put it - The wisdom of God devised a way for the love of God to deliver sinners from the wrath of God while not compromising the righteousness of God.

I’ll repeat that for those who want to write it down.  It’s worthy of a second listen, if not more.

The wisdom of God

    devised a way for the love of God

to deliver sinners from the wrath of God

while not compromising the righteousness of God.

Lets unpack this.  For this is the gospel.  And a teaching service without the gospel, without Christ…is a teaching service not worth having.


The wisdom of God.  PERFECTLY WISE.

God knew, God had planned the plan of salvation long before Adam and Eve breathed their first breath.

God knew that we would sin, and so He devised a plan.  A plan of rescue.  A plan of salvation.  A plan of wisdom, love, mercy, justice, and righteousness.

He knew we would run from Him and so He planned His pursuit.

It began with calling out “Where are you?”  and was finally accomplished when He cried out “It is Finished!”

The plan that began in the garden ended on the cross.


The wisdom of God

    Devised a way for the love of God


Because what isn’t explicitly stated in this dispute about JUSTICE and MERCY…is love.

The wisdom of God devised a way for God love love His wayward and rebellious children.  We turned our backs on Him, we spat in His face, we ran away, but still His love continued.


The wisdom of God

    Devised a way for the love of God

        To deliver sinners from the wrath of God


There is REAL WRATH.

Our catechism has it exactly right when it says

He is terribly angry with our original sin as well as our actual sins.


His justice require that sin committed against the Most High Majesty of God also be punished with the most severe, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.

We cannot know, serve, or love only HALF OF GOD.

To love His mercy, but not His justice is not loving the true God as He has revealed Himself.  We love all of Him, or we love none of Him.

God has wrath over our sins.

God has wrath towards sinners.

Without Christ…God has constant righteous wrath, poured out everyday on us.

But with Christ…well…

The wisdom of God

     devised a way for the love of God

to deliver sinners from the wrath of God

while not compromising the righteousness of God.


Because of Christ, God’s righteous wrath was shown.

Because of Christ…the way, the truth, and the life…sinners were delivered from the wrath of God without compromising His justice.


Because that wrath WAS poured out.

That wrath WAS expressed.

Those sins WERE punished.


The justice was satisfied in that sins were shown to be utterly sinful, punished, and destroyed.

The mercy was that they were punished in another.

Jesus Christ came, He bore the wrath of God over our sins for His entire life, but especially at the end.  Especially in Gethsemane.  Especially on Golgotha.

Cursed by God.

Cursed by Man.

Hanging between Heaven and Earth, rejected by both.


This is what He did for our sins.  For the sins that…some days…we love.

He took our curse that we might receive His blessing.

Just as we close, there is a particularly impactful way that the cosmic trade, the great exchange of curse for blessing, is described.

RC Sproul describes it by flipping the well-known benediction from Numbers 6 on its head.  The blessing that we will hear at the end of the service.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to

shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His

countenance upon you and give you peace.


Since a curse is the opposite of a blessing, it is helpful to think of this literally, flipping this blessing on its head.  This is what Christ Jesus received:

May the LORD curse you and abandon you.

May the LORD keep you in darkness and give you only judgement without mercy.

May the LORD turn His back upon you and remove His peace from you forever.


This is what WE DESERVE for our sins, and this is what JESUS CHRIST EXPERIENCED.

How blessed is the one who knows what He deserves in Adam

    AND what He receives instead in Christ.

When we think of those days when we love to sin, let us fall on our knees and be filled with love, instead, for the One who took these sins and their punishment upon Himself.

He was cursed with our curse that we might be blessed with His blessing.

The Son became sin that sinners might become sons.


What a blessing.

What a gospel.

What a Saviour.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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