A Christian View of Social Justice

Social Justice is a word we hear often. From discussions with our neighbors at our local coffee house, to the nightly news, to the political arena, social justice seems to be a common topic of discussion and debate. But what is meant by the term social justice? Is it biblical? Should Christians participate in acts of social justice?

Two Predominate Views of Social Justice

(1) Unconstrained view – This view is based on everyone getting their fair share. As we are all aware, every society has a finite amount of resources to go around. This view holds that everyone should have their fair share of those resources. It is unjust to allow some to hold onto a greater portion of those resources. We should, then, do all we can to see that those resources are shared equally.

(2) Constrained view – This view is based on the fair treatment of all peoples, and it is not concerned with everyone having their fair share of the total resources in a given society. In this view, it’s not unjust for people to hold onto wealth. People are entitled to what they have earned. Instead of putting energy into the redistribution of wealth, we should put our energy into seeing that everyone is treated fairly.

Which View is Biblical?

Let’s look at a few verses on social justice from the Bible:

  • Exodus 21:1-11 provides laws regarding the fair treatment of slaves.
  • In Deuteronomy 15:1-18, especially 7-11 and 13-15, rules are given concerning meeting the needs of the poor.
  • Psalms 72:12-15 and Psalm 103:6-7 tells of God redeeming the oppressed and persecuted from their oppressors, working righteousness and justice for them.
  • Proverbs 31:8-9 tells us to judge righteously and to defend the rights of the poor and needy.

By far these are not all the verses in the Bible on social justice, but they give us an idea of which view the Bible is upholding. I believe that is the second view, the Constrained View.

God’s Word does not command us to redistribute our wealth to neighbors, so that we all have equal access to the total resources of the society in which they live. Differing classes and a distribution of wealth does not constitute injustice [1].

A biblical view of Social Justice holds that we are not to show partiality, not to steal, not to swindle others, not to take advantage of the weak because they are uninformed or unable to stop us. 

Rather than saying we need to redistribute our resources, so that we are all on equal footing, the Bible tells us that we are to care for the oppressed and seek to stop others from oppressing them. We are to speak up for those who are being persecuted. We are to work for laws that stand for the fair treatment of all peoples regardless of race or nationality.

Christians are to Work for Social Justice

If we believe part of God’s mission is to redeem the oppressed and persecuted, to make sure the poor are cared for and the helpless are not taken advantage, and if we believe we are a part of that mission, then we are to do the same. Christians are to work for social justice in their cities.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you agree that the constrained view represents the biblical view of social justice?
  2. How does your church care for the needy, oppressed, and persecuted?


Gilbert and DeYoung, What is the Mission of the Church?, 176, 180-183.

[1] I do not believe the churches actions in Acts are meant to be prescriptive. Rather, I see their actions as being descriptive of what took place in that city.


How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives? – Part 3

Dealing with sin so as to remove it from our life is not easy work. It not only requires us to do the hard work of discovery, but we also must be determined to remove it from our lives. After we have accomplished those two things, we are set to do battle with sin. But how?

How Do We Do Battle With Sin in Our Lives?

Let me just say at the start that the only way we are going to successfully battle sin in our lives is to have had our heart changed by the gospel, which means we must be a believer.

We must be a believer.

If you aren’t a believer, there is no hope of changing. That might sound matter of fact and harsh but it’s true. Non-believers haven’t been set free from the bondage of sin. It has them by the throat, and their only option is to obey. Listen to what Paul says about us before we come to Christ,

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Eph 2:1–3)

I think Paul makes it clear that those who aren’t believers are in constant bondage to sin. They are controlled by it and have no choice but to submit to Satan and the passions of their body and mind. In order to deal with sin in our lives, then, we have to first be released from its bondage, which only occurs in Christ.

Jesus is the one who makes us alive, freeing us from Satan and sin’s mastery over us by changing our hearts. Once our hearts are changed our desires are redirected away from sin, Satan, and the world, to the things of God. Without Jesus, then, battling sin is impossible.

Just because we are a believer, however, doesn’t mean our battle with sin is over. In reality, it has just begun. Removing sin from our life is hard work and only happens as we attack sin at the root.

We must attack sin at the root.

The church where I serve as pastor is located in the country. It is surrounded by farmland. While the soil is rich for growing hay, it is also rich for growing stickers. If you were to walk barefoot through the fields surrounding our church, your feet wouldn’t be happy because they would be full of stickers.

Anyone who has ever battled stickers knows the only way to get rid of them is to attack the root. You can cut them down with the mower and it will appear as if there are no stickers for a while. But you can bet they are still there and they will pop right back up in a week or two. Removing stickers, then, requires the hard work of attacking them at the root. Cutting them down at the surface won’t do.

In a similar way, if we want to remove sin from our lives, we can’t just cut it down on the surface, we have to attack it at the root as well. The root of sin is found in our heart.

When the Bible refers to the “heart“, it’s not referring to that organ inside of us that’s pumping blood through our body. Rather, it refers to the inner man where our affections, will, and desires reside. The root of sin is found at the heart level, which is where we must battle sin.

We’ve been given incomplete advice.

While the battle against sin must take place in the heart, often times we are directed towards another battlefield and given different battle plans. The battlefield to which we are usually directed is the surface. We are told to deal with the externals rather than the internals of the heart.

For instance, we are told if we have trouble with pornography, we should throw our computers out. If we have a drug addiction, we should flush the drugs down the toilet and forget about them. If we are being influenced by the wrong people, we should move.

At one level, this is not bad advice, it is just not complete. Removing these things from our lives may be a good first step since they provide the time we often need to deal with our heart. But that’s all they are — a good first step.

While dealing with externals is a good first step, we often treat it as if it’s the solution. That’s a problem because it means we are only cutting sin down instead of rooting it out. Even worse, it gives us a false sense of victory, believing we have won, we usually head back to camp to celebrate, while our enemy, our sin, regroups for another attack.

Sin that has been cut down and not rooted out will come back.

You know what is going to happen? Eventually, we will buy another computer, see people from our past, or have to have surgery that requires us to take pain pills during our recovery. If we haven’t dealt with our heart, we are going to fall right back into these same sins. Dealing with the externals only buys us time. The sin we thought we defeated will come back, just like the stickers in the field will come back.

Frustration turns to weariness, then to defeat and acceptance.

When we see the sin we thought we defeated come back over and over again, our frustration will grow. After our frustration reaches the boiling point, we may decide to throw in the towel, giving up the fight because we see no use. We may even catch ourselves saying something like, “That’s just the way God made me.”

Keep fighting but on the battlefield of your heart.

But God didn’t make you that way, nor does He want you to give in and continue in sin. Instead, He wants you to continually wage war against sin in your life, and that war must be waged on the battlefield of the heart.

I’ll talk about how we do battle with sin at the heart level in my next post.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you a believer?
  2. Are you fighting sin on the battlefield of your heart or on the surface?


Post adapted from my sermon: How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives?


How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives? – Part 2

In the last post in this series, I provided a few questions from Thomas Watson’s The Godly Man’s Picture that are designed to help you discover your beloved sin. Hopefully, you spent some time with those question, and, hopefully, they either convicted or helped shed light on that which you might have been unaware. Once you have discovered or admitted your beloved sin, the next step is to determine not to hold onto it.

Once you have discovered or admitted your beloved sin, the next step is to determine not to hold onto it.

You Must Determine Not to Hold Onto to Your Beloved Sin

As Christians, we shouldn’t want anything to come between us and God. But that’s exactly what happens when we hold onto sin in our lives. It comes between us and God, stealing our affections away from Him, and hindering our worship and fellowship.

John Owen, another Puritan says,

The unmortified soul [or the one who leaves sin unchecked] cannot say uprightly and truly that God is its portion, having something else that it loves. The soul and its affections, that should be full of God, cannot be full of Him, since it is entangled in worldly pursuits. [1]

As Christians, we can’t hold onto sin. We have to let go of our grip and seek to remove it from our lives.

But how? How do we remove sin from our lives? We have to do battle with it. How do we do that? We answer that question in the next post in this series.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you determined to remove sin from your life no matter the cost or effort?


Post adapted from my sermon: How Do We Deal with Recurring Sin in Our Lives?


[1]  John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, 23.