Proverbs 21:15

The Joy of Justice

It is joy to the just to do judgment:
but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

It is joy to the just to do judgment:

1. Judgment:

a. Judgment; justice; law legal verdict; sentence in a court of law.

b. In this context, the term could have a wide range of meaning.
• Doing what is right in daily life… (treating people fairly)
• Receiving justice in a court of law…
• Justice legislated nationally… (just and fair laws)
• Equitable treatment in the workplace…
• Doing justice before God… (Walking in obedience to His righteous character.)

c. Judgment and justice are qualities that can and should be demonstrated and lived out in all settings.

2. The Just:

a. Just: A righteous man; a justified man.

b. This is an expression that speaks of those who are born again; those who have been justified by faith, like their father Abraham.

c. People were saved in the Old Testament. They were called the “just.” They were saved exactly as we are today: by grace through faith.

d. The term could also refer to a person’s character in a secular sense: a righteous, law abiding citizen who is just before the Law.

e. Thus, the term doesn’t necessarily imply salvation, but it CAN.

3. People who are just and righteous LIVE that way.

a. They DO judgment. They practice judgment.
• In their daily lives they DO what is right.
• They obey the laws of the land.
• They delight in seeing the laws of the land upheld and obeyed.
• They are dismayed to see people trampling over the rule of law in the land… and openly disobeying the laws of the land. That is disturbing to the just…

b. Those who are just also DO what is just and right according to the legal system of the land.
• They do not put themselves above the law, but abide BY the law. They DO judgment.

c. Those who are just also DO judgment in the workplace.
• They treat everyone fairly and justly.
• There are no backroom shenanigans wherein those who are on the “inside” get treated one way, and those who are on the “outside” of their little club are treated differently.
• Everyone gets a fair shake. There is no respect of persons.

d. In the spiritual realm, they obey the Law of the Lord.
• They delight in the righteousness and justice found in God’s Word.

e. Those who are just DO (practice) judgment and justice.

4. The MAIN point of this first part of the proverb is that the just LOVE doing justice!

a. It is a JOY to them.

b. Joy: A cause of happiness; delight; gladness; cheerfulness; pleasure.

c. Nobody has to FORCE them to do what is right.

d. They don’t need their arms twisted to do the right thing.

e. They practice justice because they LOVE justice.

f. Doing what is right brings joy to their hearts.

g. Psa. 112:1 – Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.” (which are righteous)

h. Rom. 7:22 – “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” The true believer has JOY and delight in the righteousness found in God’s Word.

i. Jesus said, “I delight to do thy will O God!”

5. Note the connection between the act and the character of the man.

a. A righteous man will practice righteousness.

b. A just man will practice justice.

c. They do so because they love it… it is a joy to them.

d. They do so because it is part of their character.

e. Justice, truth, and righteousness can all be practiced in the daytime… in the light… for all to see. There is nothing to hide.

f. But injustice and unrighteousness are very different. Unjust men have to HIDE their unjust deeds so no one will see… and so they won’t get caught.

g. Unjust men practice injustice because it is their character to do so. Just men practice righteousness… justice.

h. You can tell a lot about the character of a person by observing what they practice… how they live… what they DO.

6. Birds of a feather flock together.

a. A just man is very comfortable in the realm of justice.
• He sees injustice and wants to change it.
• Where he sees injustice that won’t change, he avoids it.

b. An unjust man is uncomfortable in the realm of justice.
• He doesn’t want to fix or change injustice; he thrives on it!
• He seeks to take advantage of it.

c. We see examples of this in the local church setting too.
• Most often unsaved people feel uncomfortable in a Bible preaching church.
• John 3:19-20 – Darkness shies away from the light.
• Teaching from a just and righteous book makes unjust and unrighteous men uncomfortable. It is painful.
• Even believers who are not walking with the Lord feel uncomfortable in a local church where righteousness is preached… and even more so if it is LIVED out.
• Those who are not practicing judgment (righteousness; justice) will receive no JOY from righteous living.
• It will be convicting to them. Something to be avoided at all costs.

d. But those who DO practice judgment will want to flock together.
• They receive joy from it.
• It is not a burden for them, but a delight.
• They are not uncomfortable around others who practice judgment. They enjoy their company.
• It is a JOY to the just to do judgment.

But destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

1. In the second part of this antithetical proverb, Solomon speaks about those who are NOT just and who do NOT do righteousness.

a. Those who WORK (practice) iniquity are contrasted to those who DO judgment (justice; righteousness).

b. Thus, Solomon divides men up into two distinct groups: those who practice justice and those who practice iniquity.

2. Iniquity: Trouble; sorrow; evil; mischief; calamity.

a. This term is quite broad in its meaning.
• Evil comes in innumerable sizes, shapes, and forms.

b. Of course ALL men are sinners. All men commit iniquity.

c. But once again, Solomon is speaking “character” here.
• Some men’s lives are characterized by working iniquity.
• The lives of all unsaved men are characterized by iniquity.
• But those who are born again CANNOT (habitually practice) commit sin. (I John 3:9)

3. Those who work iniquity are contrasted with those who do judgment in another sense too: in the consequences of their character.

a. Those who practice justice have JOY.

b. Those who practice iniquity have DESTRUCTION.

c. The contrast between their characters couldn’t be clearer. (righteous; iniquitous)

d. The contrast between the consequences of their lifestyles couldn’t be clearer as well. (joy or destruction)

4. Destruction defined and described.

a. Defined: To be broken; destruction; undoing; hardship; ruin; terror.

b. Prov. 21:12 – God overthrows the wicked.

c. Thus, wicked men do NOT like to see justice and judgment in the land… for it means their soon destruction.

d. Justice is their undoing.

e. Prov. 21:10 – The workers of iniquity get no joy from justice. They get their joy from evil things. (They desire it; it is the desire of their heart.)

f. Prov. 15:21 – “Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.”

g. But the pleasures of sin don’t last very long. They get old in a hurry. (There is pleasure in sin “for a season.”)

h. There is JOY in doing what is right. There is nothing but MISERY and destruction in doing that which is unrighteous.
• The workers of iniquity discover that while sin promises pleasure, its pleasures are very short lived.
• Eve was tempted with the pleasurable aspects of the forbidden fruit. But in the end it meant destruction… and misery… and sorrow… grief beyond measure.
• Titus 3:3 – those who live for the pleasures of this world discover that it is deceptive… and it results in being a servant (slave) to lusts… a miserable lifestyle.
• It promises pleasure, but results in slavery… and destruction.

i. The workers of iniquity also discover that instead of experiencing joy from doing what is right, they have to deal with guilt, shame, discouragement, defeat, and much regret.

j. A life of iniquity means destruction of one’s life… slavery…

5. Matt. 7:23 – And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

a. Ultimately, the workers of iniquity will face eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire.

b. That’s probably not what Solomon had in mind in his proverb.

c. The proverbs seem to look at life in THIS world primarily… and the wisdom needed for living on earth.

d. But some of the principles are certainly applicable in the eternal realm as well.

6. Thankfully, VICTORY is provided through faith in Christ Jesus.

a. Rom. 5:1 – Being JUSTIFIED (made righteous) by faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

b. By simple faith, God regenerates a man and changes him from a slave to sin and lust to freedom in Christ.

c. By simple faith, the worker of iniquity is transformed into a righteous man… a just man…

d. And as such, he is then equipped to live a righteous life… DOING what is right before God… walking in the straight and narrow way.

e. He will then discover that it is joy to the just to do judgment.