2 Thessalonians 1:8-12 … Our reading schedule unfortunately interrupts a sentence which began at 2 Thessalonians 1:6, indicating that God is just in judgment and condemnation of the unrighteous and unbelieving who have rejected Jesus Christ. Many struggle with the concept of judgment and feel that God should just be merciful and let bygones be bygones. So, we have some clarification here. God is holy and does not permit ungodliness and unrighteousness in His presence.
Now frankly, I know in my heart that I’m far short of God’s ideal for me and have way too much unholy baggage. If you’re honest, you do too. That’s what the righteousness of Christ is all about. Through His sacrifice on the cross, He has “paid-in-full” the penalty for my sins, and given me His own righteousness, so that when I stand before God, none, not even one, of my sins are with me. They’ve all been taken to the Cross with Christ and He has clothed me in His sinless righteousness. Galatians 2:20 and other verses make that clear. God has provided mercifully for sinners in Christ.
Now, back to thinking about God being Just or Righteous: He cannot tolerate sin and evil. When people reject the sacrifice of Christ for them, God is left with no alternative and those who have rejected Christ are forever condemned; that’s what 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 is saying. The Apostle Paul knows all this and communicates it clearly to the Thessalonian church while praying (v.12) that Christ will be glorified in their lives through His grace. It’s quite a prayer and it applies fully to every believer, making 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 a place to return frequently in worship of our Savior.