How can God ever “justify the ungodly” without becoming an abomination to Himself? “He who says to the wicked, ‘You are righteous,’ peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him [Proverbs 24:24]. How can God say to sinners like us, “You are righteous,” without violating His own character? How can God ever save us from Himself and His own righteousness and justice? . . . Repentant sinners know that they deserve to be punished, and that it would not be right for them not to be. They know that God cannot just “sweep their sins under the rug” and forget about them. Hence, the cry of their hearts is, “How can a just God ever smile upon me? How can this burden of guilt be removed? How can God pronounce a blessing upon me? How can a man like me be in the right before God!” There is only one answer to this dilemma. Someone has to pay for the sinner’s sins. Justice must be satisfied. Either it will be satisfied by the sinner’s own suffering forever in Hell, or it must be satisfied by someone else on the sinner’s behalf.
– Charles Leiter