Noah Webster defined justice as "the virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; practical conformity to the laws and to principles of rectitude in the dealings of men with each other; honesty; integrity in commerce or mutual intercourse. Justice is distributive or commutative. Distributive justice belongs to magistrates or rulers, and consists in distributing to every man that right or equity which the laws and the principles of equity require; or in deciding controversies according to the laws and to principles of equity. Commutative justice consists in fair dealing in trade and mutual intercourse between man and man. Justice is impartiality; equal distribution of right in expressing opinions; fair representation of facts respecting merit or demerit. In criticisms, narrations, history or discourse, it is a duty to do justice to every man, whether friend or foe. Justice is equity; agreeableness to right; as, he proved the justice of his claim. This should, in strictness, be justness. Justice is vindictive retribution; merited punishment. Sooner or later, justice overtakes the criminal."

The Oxford English Dictionary defines justice as "the quality of being morally just or righteous, the principle of just dealing, just conduct, integrity, rectitude; the quality of being just, impartial, or fair; the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action, conformity to this principle or ideal; the quality of conforming to law, to truth, fact, or reason."

According to Hesiod’s Theogony 132, Themis (Θεμις), was the elder goddess of divine law and order, the code of conduct, morality, and religious observation that she first taught for man’s self-governance. Themis was the divine voice (the themistes) who spoke to petitioners through the oracle at Delphi. She is usually depicted in art and statuary as a blindfolded woman holding the balance scales of Justice and wielding a sword.

Themis represents pure justice that considers the facts only, and impartially, without respect to personality. St. Peter taught the truth of this in his glimpse of eternal reality: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."—Acts 10:34-35. A respecter of persons, in this context, shows partiality to a favored few. Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-9) illustrates this character flaw perfectly. Such people are hypocrites.

St. Paul also illustrates how this mystery has shaped our morality and sense of justice today: "There is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ."—Romans 2:11-16.

Themis often sat near Zeus’ throne as he judged the gods and man, counseling him in the finer points of divine law and on the rules of fate, which we would refer to as consequences of our choices and action. Each soul must become God’s law unto himself. So, for us, Themis becomes a symbol of how our moral compass functions as the voice of conscience within us.

Justice is the plumb line of moral rectitude, the conformity of an action to moral right, or to reason, truth, or fact; fairness, correctness, and propriety. One of the four cardinal virtues — with temperance, prudence and fortitude — justice is observance of the divine law, the state of being righteous or "just" before God. Justice is an absolute and an abstract principle, a law of being and of doing, a virtue and a Via Christa Degree. Justice, Inspiration and Religion form the second lesser trinity of the Via Christa Degrees, whose keynote is Giving.

Edna Lister on Justice

The ideal state of sincerity is never to excuse, explain or justify one’s self. If you follow the Master’s "yea, yea" and "nay, nay" advice, your justification arrives, and beautifully.—Edna Lister, January 31, 1933.

If you must justify yourself to the world, then you are still of the world. When you no longer want to justify self, you are then being used by all the Power of God, which is always its own justification.—Edna Lister, 1934.

Prosperity and happiness are the ultimate consequences of virtue and justice, while disgrace and ruin invariably follow the practices of vice and immorality.—Edna Lister, March 2, 1935.

Justice must be tempered by mercy, compassion, love, wisdom, and empathy to overcome hypocrisy, doubt, and selfishness. "Moral evil is falsehood in actions, as falsehood is crime in words. Injustice is the essence of falsehood; and every false word is an injustice. Injustice is the death of the moral being, as falsehood is the poison of the Intelligence."—Edna Lister, March 30, 1935.

You can use or abuse justification, which comes under the law of justice: You may use justification to build or to destroy, to clear someone’s name with truth, or to tear down their reputation or personality.—Edna Lister, Be-Attitudes, September 12, 1935.

The Master is waiting for you to obey the command of justice, which is perfect balance.—Edna Lister, The Eleventh Commandment, November 24, 1935.

You must be a living expression of justice.—Edna Lister, February 6, 1937.

Truth and justice are of God’s essence. Justice is inherent in His will, because it is contained in His intelligence and wisdom, in His very nature and most intimate essence. Man is capable of comprehending the distinction between good and evil, justice and injustice, and the obligation which accompanies it, and of naturally adhering to that obligation, independently of any contract or positive law; capable also of resisting the temptations which urge him toward evil and injustice, and of complying with the sacred law of eternal justice.—Edna Lister, February 27, 1937.

The rule in heaven is justice tempered with mercy, not mercy tempered with justice, which does not work, for it is too soft.—Edna Lister, April 17, 1938.

Only that which is just or true shall last.—Edna Lister, July 15, 1938.

When you judge another unjustly in anger or make unjust accusations, you send a part of your own soul on a pilgrimage of darkness, and it may be centuries before you can recall it.—Edna Lister, July 24, 1938.

Let us vow never to cause another’s tears, or hurt to one of God’s children. No justification is worth that.—Edna Lister, July 24, 1938.

You cannot make anyone conform to Light or to justice.—Edna Lister, October 27, 1938.

God bears the scales of balance in perfect justice, taking the smallest act into the final accounting; no one may gain unlawfully at any time.—Edna Lister, October 27, 1938.

We worship One God, and One God only, the God of justice for all.—Edna Lister, October 30, 1938.

In due season, the fruits of pure justice, shall prevail.—Edna Lister, November 6, 1938.

Judge not by a short span of life, but only in the light of great cycles; thus, you are fully able to withstand all criticism against the perfect and just workings of divine laws.—Edna Lister, November 14, 1938.

Express only that which is just, perfect and beautiful.—Edna Lister, December 26, 1938.

God justifies you when you stand in love.—Edna Lister, December 26, 1938.

Seek ever to so live in the Light so that you will not be found wanting when weighed in the balance, which is exceeding fine, true and just, and God is a most merciful Judge.—Edna Lister, January 29, 1939.

To be just is the prayer of the judge.—Edna Lister, February 7, 1939.

Be just, showing mercy to all.—Edna Lister, December 11, 1940.

It is your plain duty to obey the dictates of truth and justice.—Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

God’s Light falls on the just and the unjust alike always, the only difference being in how people use that Light.—Edna Lister, February 4, 1941.

Be exceptionally just in your dealings, neither overly soft nor overly hard.—Edna Lister, April 4, 1941.

Use only those words which are true and ever just.—Edna Lister, April 25, 1941.

We shall each receive full justification for our sacrifices, someday.—Edna Lister, November 3, 1941.

The treatment for darkness of any kind is to lift the persons involved to a cloud continent of Light and treat by placing them in a shaft of Light surrounded by walls of fire. Declare, "God’s will be done." As justice is done, the answer comes through the golden silence.—Edna Lister, December 6, 1941.

Unjust gains shall be taken away eventually, and the "years the locusts have stolen" shall be abundantly restored; whatever the just have worked for shall come to pass.—Edna Lister, January 12, 1942.

We seek to exalt truth, to justify honor, loyalty and truth.—Edna Lister, March 3, 1942.

Hold yourself firmly to eliminate the past weaknesses. Hold the middle line in justice and mercy, but be firm in your justice.—Edna Lister, April 13, 1942.

You are indeed free when you free yourself by fully acknowledging past rebellion against others’ unjust doings.—Edna Lister, December 1, 1942.

Love never seeks to justify itself, or explain; love needs no reason for love. Love is.—Edna Lister, May 19, 1943.

The truth you follow justifies your stand through the test of time.—Edna Lister, June 21, 1943.

See only Light, truth and justice, and use them in faith, love and compassion.—Edna Lister, September 28, 1944.

Pure wisdom works absolute justice and leaves no room for anything of earth. All souls are forever in the Light and nothing may be hidden.—Edna Lister, October 30, 1944.

Self always seeks to justify all it has done, to itself, to others and to God.—Edna Lister, November 2, 1944.

It is not condemnation to judge the self, but justice.—Edna Lister, July 10, 1945.

No excuse, justification or explanation is ever legal. Just say, "I have sinned, Father" when you are at fault, then go and sin no more.—Edna Lister, July 11, 1945.

Force is justified only when the outcome is successful. Thus, the use of force to bring a soul through is justified only by success. Success of soul work is this — that the consciousness can hold the point of vision and glory to which it is forced.—Edna Lister, July 19, 1945.

Law is just and impersonal. You must conform to it.—Edna Lister, July 22, 1945.

Be sure your love is great enough to stand firmly on justice.—Edna Lister, March 18, 1946.

To ascend, it is necessary to stand under all blame and reprimand, offering no excuses, no justification of self and no explanations.—Edna Lister, March 30, 1947.

All understanding and justice operate in you as you lift your consciousness to accept God’s love.—Edna Lister, May 25, 1947.

At no time may you excuse, explain or justify self. Do nothing before saying, "I accept." Let the other fellow excuse, explain and justify.—Edna Lister, June 8, 1947.

Tests will come until nothing in you remains to excuse, explain, modify, justify or think of self.—Edna Lister, June 20, 1947.

Stand on principle always. In this way, you gradually build a reputation of justice, honor and truthfulness.—Edna Lister, June 27, 1947.

People must justify self to live with self.—Edna Lister, September 30, 1947.

In lifting, it is best that you like pure justice that considers facts only, without personality added.—Edna Lister, October 20, 1947.

Love fulfills the law, and time justifies or proves it.—Edna Lister, August 10, 1949.

Justice tempered with mercy and compassion is the rule in heaven.—Edna Lister, April 15, 1950.

Spirit fills justice with mercy to form compassion.—Edna Lister, October 1, 1950.

God shows no partiality; no injustice can exist in Him, only whole, complete love, justice tempered with mercy.—Edna Lister, November 19, 1950.

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."—John 8:7. When you criticize or judge a personal judgment, you cannot escape the reaction of law unless you pass the initiation. The law then legalizes your judgment as justice tempered by mercy.—Edna Lister, June 4, 1951.

God justifies the one who steps up to become Godlike.—Edna Lister, Be-Attitudes, June 12, 1951.

When there is no justice, betrayal becomes honor.—Edna Lister, July 19, 1951.

Declaring the divine justice of God can avert injustice in a legal case.—Edna Lister, July 29, 1951.

An oracle lives by justice, love and mercy, sacrifices self, can see only good, not evil and has compassion for all.—Edna Lister, November 22, 1953.

You must walk as justice, tempered with mercy, cover others’ transgressions, move up in consciousness in love, and take the blame.—Edna Lister, October 6, 1954.

Fear not. The world must bring you before Caesar’s justice, and when it does, surrender to God. Abandon the ship of self, and find that as the angel said to St. Paul, "Lo, God has given you all those who sail with you."—Edna Lister, October 23, 1955.

Once you sign the vows and covenants with your Oversoul, the divine principle of justice shows you your selfish faults and brings you back in line. Law presents each rebuke three times as love, but whacks you if you refuse to recognize it, until you ascend again to Light.—Edna Lister, The Open Door, November 20, 1955.

Social justice comes from living in the Christ Light.—Edna Lister, Your Divine Gift, December 25, 1955.

You must allow justice time to work its beauties.—Edna Lister, October 25, 1956.

Law is justice itself.—Edna Lister, October 25, 1956.

Ascension trains you to dispense justice, covered with love, enfolded in mercy under a very positive firmness.—Edna Lister, November 14, 1957.

Justice demands a balance of love and wisdom, and the law shepherds and guides you.—Edna Lister, November 24, 1957.

Justice is an aspect of God’s fatherly Wisdom. You can dispense balanced justice through poise, wisdom, love, compassion and mercy.—Edna Lister, June 15, 1958.

Justice emanates from the innermost Mind of the Supreme Father, who is the supreme judge of all actions and things. Perfection dwells within justice, for to measure the exactitude of action requires knowledge of all things, and this is possible only for Him from Whom no secrets are hid. Perfect knowledge is a prerequisite for perfect justice. Earth law seems a mockery at times, for it must guess at the truth.—Edna Lister, February 8, 1959.

"I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him."—John 8:24. The soul is brought before the high justice of love and wisdom, and must prove that it is free of fear. Two methods will eliminate fear. Justice is honorable and gives you the conviction to speak. You dare to speak when you attain that balance between love and wisdom, for God puts words of truth on your lips. —Edna Lister, June 28, 1959.

Justice is stainless honor of soul above all, expressed as loyalty to God as your Source first, before earthly loyalties.—Edna Lister, What Is Symbolism? October 6, 1959.

Injustice is the death of moral being; it is moral evil, falsehood in action. Every false word is an injustice.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of the Via Christa, October 20, 1959.

When the right to know conflicts with the basic right of justice, the right to know must always yield.—Edna Lister, December 17, 1959.

Godlike freedom is ruled by the principles of honor, loyalty, integrity and justice. Jesus gave us the perfect patterns for integrity, honor, loyalty and justice in the Sermon on the Mount.—Edna Lister, May 22, 1960.

You always receive what you have earned and pure justice, too, under God’s balanced law. God balances the scales, and if your scales tip, you had better get busy.—Edna Lister, July 10, 1960.

Justice demands that he who created the evil should pay the debt.—Edna Lister, December 16, 1960.

The law of Moses is pure and rigid justice. You do not set aside law. When necessary, invoke it for justice.—Edna Lister, October 8, 1961.

When you involve no personality in it, you are justice itself.—Edna Lister, April 20, 1963.

It takes two years of rigid training to begin to comprehend what true justice really is—selfless, blameless, loving, firm justice.—Edna Lister, February 13, 1966.

Love administered without justice turns to evil.—Edna Lister, May 26, 1967.

Social justice comes from living in the Christ Light, not through legislation. Morality is living in and through the Christ, which will satisfy every earthly requirement.—Edna Lister, May 26, 1967.

Change is justifiable only when it is good for all, and based on justice.—Edna Lister, Daniel’s Dream of the Four Beasts, December 8, 1970.

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How to Conquer Self-justification

When someone says, "I cannot do this. I have tried everything. I just can’t see how it can be done," then you know that he is justifying himself for not fulfilling his mission, or being lukewarm and indifferent. This is the just "thinking about it" stage. His soul and conscious mind are reacting to the domineering self of subconscious mind, which says, "I won’t."

He must arise to the soul’s mental switchboard above, the mind that was in Christ Jesus, plug in the lines of his mental-soul faculties, and face himself in acceptance. In other words, he must be above his own head and look down, just as a ship’s captain remains on a bridge and sends orders to the engine room. The captain is not controlled by the engine room, the solar plexus, the seat of emotion. This is how the soul conquers the self.—Edna Lister, September 29, 1945.

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Declaration for Justice

Every thought and word goes around earth five times and returns to you. Your vibration goes out to the world and returns to you, so it’s best to declare, "This is perfect under the laws of divine justice."—Edna Lister, October 5, 1950.

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New Testament on Justice

If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.—Matthew 18:15-17.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.—Luke 16:10.

[Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.—Luke 18:1-9.

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Old Testament on Justice

Solomon’s Wisdom and Justice: Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.

And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.

And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.—1 Kings 3:16-28.

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.—Exodus 23:7. [The Lord will not justify the wicked.]

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.—Leviticus 19:15.

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.—Leviticus 19:35-36.

The Word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.—Psalm 33:4-5.

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. —Psalm 37:5-6.

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.—Psalm 103:6.

Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. When wisdom enters into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul.—Proverbs 2:9-10.

Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.—Proverbs 13:23. [Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste.]

He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.—Proverbs 17:15.

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.—Proverbs 21:3.

The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.—Proverbs 21:7.

It is joy to the just to do justice.—Proverbs 21:14.

Evil men understand not judgment [justice]: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.—Proverbs 28:5.

Every man’s judgment [justice] comes from the Lord.—Proverbs 29:26

An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. —Proverbs 29:27.

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Justice in Other Sacred Writings

There is an exquisite subtlety, and the same is unjust; and there is one who turns aside to make judgment appear; and there is a wise man who justifies in judgment.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 19:25.

They who fear the Lord shall find judgment, and shall kindle justice as a light.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 32:16.

Cease loving the flesh and being afraid of sufferings; you have yet to be abused and accused unjustly, to be shut up in prison, condemned unlawfully, crucified without reason, and buried by the evil one.—The Apocryphon of James, Codex I, 2.

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of justice: Latin justitia, "righteousness, equity, "from justus, "upright, just."

Justice is an absolute principle.

Justice is an abstract principle.

Justice is a law of being.

Justice is a law of doing.

Justice is a Via Christa Degree.

Justice is a soul virtue.


Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.
– Friedrich von Logau

"The Justice and Mercy of God are in equilibrium, and the result is Harmony, because a single and perfect Wisdom presides over both."—Albert Pike

"Due process is the best way to sort through amoral muck. It can be a dirty job, but justice demands it."—Jack Gist


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, ed. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma

von Logau, Friedrich. "Retribution," The World’s Best Poetry, Volume VI of IX. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, translator. Philadelphia: John D. Morris and Co., 1904.

Related Topics

See Judgment

See Just Appraisal

See Justice and Mercy: Linda Mihalic Palm Sunday sermon transcript; April 4, 2004. Scripture: Luke 19:29-48.