This is the weekly Q & A blog post by our Research Professor in Philosophy, Dr. William Lane Craig.
If I am guilty of a grave sin (I kill a mother's daughter while driving drunk, for example) but then repent and am saved by the blood of Christ, I die and go to heaven. If I am no longer guilty of sin having been justified, where is the justice for the mother whose daughter I killed or for the victim? How is the demand for justice for either party ever satisfied?
Dr. William Lane Craig's ResponseThe answer to your question, Don, is that Christ satisfies the demands of justice by bearing substitutionally the punishment for your sin. The whole point of a penal substitutionary view of the atonement is that God does not (or cannot) pardon sin unless the demands of divine justice are met. Your question would press hard upon those atonement theorists who think that God just mercifully pardons sin without satisfaction of divine justice. But on a penal substitutionary view the just desert of every sin is exacted—it’s just not exacted from the sinner who accepts Christ’s substitutionary payment but rather from Christ himself. The atonement thus displays both God’s mercy and justice.
This Q&A and other resources are available on Dr. William Lane Craig's website.