Blessed is the One Whom God Corrects (Job Sermon 4)
March 14, 2021 | Andrew Davis
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 5:17-18. He focuses on the healing discipline and correction that God gives those he loves.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
So turn in your Bibles to Job chapter five, we're looking at just these two verses today. We will go back and look at chapter four and five next week more fully, but I wanted to zero in on these remarkable words. One of the great reasons that I love church history is I'm able to learn from the lives of those that went before us, heroes and heroines of the faith. One of the great heroines of the faith for me is Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards was a pastor and a theologian who lived in colonial Massachusetts in the first half of the 18th century, arguably the greatest American theologian of all time, but he was also married to an amazingly patient, wise and godly woman, Sarah. She was every bit his equal in Christian maturity, powerful ministry, and God chose by a bitter providence to put her character on display for all time.
Jonathan, her husband was away from her. He was preparing to become president of the College of New Jersey, what we know now as Princeton. And he received a smallpox inoculation, as many did in those days, but it went horribly wrong. His throat swelled up with the disease, his fever raged, and he soon died, March 22nd, 1758. Sarah received the news of his death and wrote this timeless letter to their daughter, Esther: “What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. Oh, that we may kiss the rod and lay our hands on our mouths. The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long, but my God lives and he has my heart. Oh what a legacy my husband and your father has left to us. We are all given to God, and there I am and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards.”
So here is a godly woman who deeply loved her husband and has now learned that she would never see him again in this world. This was her reaction. She's well aware of her sorrow. She feels deeply her pain for she speaks of a dark cloud that's come over her. She embraces the doctrine of God's sovereign disposal in her life, for it is God who has chosen to cover her with this dark cloud. She says, clearly the Lord has done it, but she does not charge him with wrongdoing, instead she calls him holy and good. Furthermore, she is clinging to him as her living treasure, for she says, "My God lives and he has my heart." Her true delight is God, not her godly husband, Jonathan. "We are all given to God. There I am. And there I long to be", she writes. She is well aware that she is on display even while she writes to her dear daughter. She wants Esther to know we are all given to God. She's deeply thankful for the past goodness of God, in having had such an incredibly godly and fruitful husband as she did. She is mindful of the legacy Jonathan has left to future generations of Christians, yet it was very personal to her and to Esther for she calls him my husband and your father. But for me by far the most amazing part of this letter, are these words: “Oh that we may kiss the rod and lay our hands on our mouths.” what incredible maturity this reveals. The rod that she mentions is the chastening rod of reproof by a loving heavenly Father. No matter how godly she is, she's well aware that there is still within her and in all of us who live, deep seated corruptions of indwelling sin. And that God uses these kinds of bitter moments to drive the sin out of our souls.
But that only happens, optimally; if we kiss the rod, if we accept, willingly accept what God is choosing to do in our lives. We must see such painful providences as part of God's wise and fatherly plan to sanctify us through and through, and thereby fit us for heaven, but she also knows her own weakness. And so she quotes Job like Job in Job 40:4. She says, "We need to lay our hands on our mouths." Why is this? Well, because the tongue “is a restless evil, full of deadly poison,” James 3:8. It will speak the hidden corruptions of our hearts in bitter accusations against God if we do not set a guard over the door of our mouth, Psalm 141:3. So friends this morning, I want to commend to you the theology of Sarah Edwards. I want us to learn how to kiss the rod. I want you to learn to expect the rod, to not think of it as a strange thing when it happens in your life, to expect it, but to see the goodness of God in it. In order to do all of this, I would want to commend to you the words of Job's friend, Eliphaz the Temanite. Look at verse 17 and 18 of chapter five, “Blessed is the one whom God corrects. So do not despise the discipline of the almighty for he wounds, but he also binds up. He injures, but his hands also heal.” Now, as we come to this statement, we come to some of the challenges of interpreting the book of Job.
"I want you to learn to expect the rod, to not think of it as a strange thing when it happens in your life, to expect it, but to see the goodness of God in it."
I. The Challenges of Interpreting Job
Now we believe in the doctrine of inerrancy; 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are flawless like silver refined in a furnace of clay purified seven times over.” But, there are some difficult aspects of interpretation of scripture, and scripture interprets scripture. And with that brings us some of the challenges of the book of Job, for God himself said about Job's statements at the end of this book in Job 38:2, "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?" that's what God said about Job's statements. And then later he speaks of Job's friends in Job 42:7, “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the team Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has.’” so where does that leave us? The words of Job and the words of his friends make up the bulk of the book. And God's already said negative things about both what Job says and what his friends say. And yet later in redemptive history, the apostle Paul quoted Eliphaz the Temanite as he was writing I Corinthians; the plot thickens for us in interpretation. The Holy Spirit moved Paul as he's writing the inerrant scripture, I Corinthians, to quote Eliphaz. Job 5:13 Eliphaz says, "He catches the wise in their craftiness and the schemes of the wily are swept away." Then Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I Corinthians 3:19, "For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, he catches the wise in their craftiness."
So some of what Job's friends said is true. So how do we sift through all this. Now next week, we're going to begin answering this question more broadly as we look at Eliphaz's entire statement and his approach and that of his friends. But today I want to lift up this statement because I find it corroborated in other scriptures, and I want us to ponder it: “Blessed is the one whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the almighty, for he wounds, but he also binds up. He injures, but his hands also heal.” I want to walk through this as true and helpful to us in the Christian life.
II. Blessed is the One Whom God Corrects
First, blessed, behold, blessed is the one whom God corrects. Let's unfold Eliphaz's statement; Blessed means happy in God, richly blessed, richly gifted by God, that's what he means. And the word corrects could be translated chastens or reproves or chastises. The implication is that we're having our sin addressed by God. The discipline is of the Lord. The idea is that we are capable of wandering away from the path of holiness and righteousness through sin, or that we could have some deep-seated inner sin issues in our hearts that we didn't even know were there, some idolatry, some false expectations, some things inside that need to get dealt with.
Therefore, since this is a great blessing from God to have your sin addressed, to have him reprove you for your sin, therefore as a result of this assertion, that you are blessed of the Lord, chastised, you should not despise the Lord's discipline. You should not reject it. You should not refuse it. You should not get angry about it, or as Sarah said, you should kiss the rod. We're not just going to be neutral about it, we're going to actually be thankful for it. We're going to see the goodness of God in it, welcome it into our lives. And why is this? Verse 18, because of God's final healing. God's final healing. God wounds, but then he binds up the wounds. God shatters, he strikes, he injures different ways of translating, but then his hands heal. I think about the healing hands of our savior, Jesus Christ, how often he uses hands as instruments of God's sovereign healing.
"God wounds, but then he binds up the wounds."
Again and again, we see this. In Mark 1:30-31 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So we went to her, took her hand and helped her up. We know that Jesus didn't need to even go see her. He could just speak the word and she'd be healed, but he just loves to touch sick people and heal them. He does the same with a leper who no one would've touched back in those days, you'd be unclean. But Jesus was never made unclean by touching a leper. He made the leper clean. As light drives out darkness, so Jesus' health drove away sickness. In Mark 1:40-42 it says, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said, ‘Be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.”
He did the same with Jairus' little daughter who was dead, “He took her by the hand and said, ‘Talitha koum!’ (Which means, ‘Little girl I say to you, get up.’)” And she got up. He took her by the hand. I love how in the movie, Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zeffirelli, mid '70s it was made, just beautiful, the light streaming in from the window and Jesus bends over her and she's just laying there. And he zeros in on his hand, and it's shining in light. And he reaches down and takes her hand, and then her eyes start to move and she sits up and hugs him. It's just very powerful. And so you've got the hand of Jesus picturing what Eliphaz is talking about. His hands will heal.
So God wounds us and hurts us deeply, then with his own hand, he binds up the very wounds that he has made. Hosea 6:1-3 speaks of this, and I love these verses so I commend them to you. Go study them this afternoon. They're so beautiful. Hosea six: "Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us. He has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds. After two days, he will revive us. And on the third day, he will restore us that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
Now we need to see and understand what God finally brought about in job's life. How Eliphaz's words came true when it came to Job, James 5:11 speaks about what God finally brought about: "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered," says James 5:11, "You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” What did the Lord finally bring about? Well, Job 42:12-17 speaks of some of it, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, 1,000 donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And the first daughter named Jemima and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters. And their father granted them in inheritance along with their brothers. After this job lived 140 years, he saw his children, and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died old and full of years." Well, that's just the language of old covenant blessedness, even though I don't know where the old covenant was at that point, whether Job was before it or during it, but this is the language the Old Testament uses of earthly blessedness. But we Christians, we know that the real blessing comes at the resurrection. That's where all the healing happens. Not just symbolic healings, partial healings, temporary healings, not just the giving of physical blessings that will be taken away from us at death. I'm talking about the kingdom of heaven for all eternity. That's the ultimate healing we're going to get through the salvation work of Christ. That's the true happy ending, and the new heaven, new earth, where it says in Revelation 7:16 and 17, "Never again will they hunger. Never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them nor any scorching heat. For the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will lead them to Springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” so that's where the final blessedness that Eliphaz is speaking of comes. I don't think he fully understood it, but we understand because of the New Testament promises in Christ.
III. God’s Children Alone Are Thus Blessed
Now God's children alone are thus blessed. God's children alone are thus blessed. The reprobate also experience many of the same afflictions. Most of these afflictions that we talk about are common to the human race, happens to everybody. Cancer diagnoses, touches both the righteous and the wicked. COVID doesn't care whether a person is pious or an atheist. Natural disasters happen to all, floods and hurricanes and earthquakes sweep away the homes of both the righteous and the wicked. They don't distinguish at all, these tragedies befall everyone alike. Sudden tragic deaths happen to both believers and unbelievers alike or to their loved ones. Believers and unbelievers alike have to bury children after car accidents or drownings. Economic downturns happen to both the righteous and the wicked, unemployment, poverty, economic struggles. So all people experience these same things alike, but the wicked do not benefit from them at all. Actually in most cases it just hardens them more. Human beings are naturally rebellious against God, and they are like anvils that only get harder when struck. There is something in metallurgy called work hardening. You heat up a piece of iron and then pound it and pound it and pound it. You're actually making it harder as a result. Work hardening pounds carbon into the molecular structure and makes it harder.
And you see this biblically with the unregenerate and their afflictions. We see it very clearly in Revelation 16:8-11: "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun. And the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God who had control over these plagues. But they refused to repent and glorify him." just made them harder, "And then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. And his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done."
So these afflictions for the wicked don't do them any good. They're actually just foretaste of hell, just as the sweet outpourings of the spirit are foretaste of heaven for the righteous. Actually far worse for the reprobate is to experience prosperity and success in the midst of a life of rebellion against God. That's worse for them. The worst thing, I believe, that God can ever do to anyone in this world, not in the next, but in this world, is to give them over to their sins. There's nothing worse that God can do to anyone in this world than to give a sinner over to his sins. It says it three times in Romans 1:24, "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." Then again in 1:26, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts." and then again in verse 28, "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done." what does this mean? It means God isn't interfering anymore. He's not bringing any feelings of guilt anymore. They don't feel any conviction. They actually feel vindicated by their prosperity and their success, and they're not thinking self reflective thoughts about the path they're on. They think it's just a path of success and happiness. So Psalm 73:3-6, the Psalmist says, "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. They're free from the burdens common to man. They're not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace. They cloth themselves with violence." what does it mean, “pride is their necklace?” They're confident that their way of life is just fine.
Job's going to speak about this at length in chapter 21:7-13, it says: "Why do the wicked live on growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes, their homes are safe and free from fear. The rod of God is not upon them. Their bulls never fail to breed, their cows calve and do not miscarry. They send forth their children as a flock. Their little ones dance about. They sing to the music of tambourine and harp. They make merry to the sound of the flute. They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.” But God chastises his children in love.
Hebrews 12:5-7 teaches this openly, "My son do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" This is the rod that Sarah Edwards was referring to, the rod of fatherly chastisement. Now, we need to understand the theology of salvation. Our salvation from sin comes to us in stages. And at the very beginning of the Christian life, at the moment of faith in Jesus, at that moment, all of our sins are completely forgiven, past, present, and future. And God sees us in Christ positionally as perfectly holy and will for all eternity. In that state, we, the justified through faith in Jesus, will stand holy and blameless on judgment day. And we should be thankful and happy about that every day of our lives. But then God rolls up his sleeves and gets busy on you. And then the next stage of salvation is sanctification. And here he's dealing not with your position, which is set for all eternity, but with your actual heart state and practice, how you actually think and feel and reason, and then how you behave. And there is much indwelling sin in all of us. Romans seven makes that plain. Paul himself said, "The very thing I hate, I do. And the thing I want to do, I do not do." why is that? Because of sin living in me. And God will not allow that sin living in us to triumph over us, to trample us. He loves us too much for that, and so the rod. This is the rod. And we have to get these things clearly. It doesn't mean God doesn't love you. It's quite the opposite. Doesn't mean that he doesn't see you in Christ, holy and blameless. In one sense, God sees no sin in you, but in other sense, he sees all the sins in you. And many, most of them you don't see. And so he is lovingly chastising.
Now God, with the righteous, not with the wicked, but with the righteous, he combines the external afflictions with internal working through the Holy Spirit. And he brings about conviction of sin internally, and then assurance of final triumph. That's what he's doing. He combines a sense of conviction and repentance for specific patterns of sin and issues of sin. And along with that, a promise and a sense of hope of final triumph over all sin through glorification and eternity in heaven and he testifies with our hearts that we're God's children. Romans 8:15 and 16, “You receive the spirit of sonship, and by him, we cry, ‘Abba father.’ And the Spirit himself testifies with our spirits that we are God's children.” while he's chastising us. And that God's Spirit within us tells us in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings aren't even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” So that's what the Spirit's doing inside of the righteous while the afflictions are going on. And he will in the end perfectly and completely bind up every wound, and lavishly restore prosperity in ways that go even far beyond what Job experienced, and I'm talking about heaven. All of our afflictions lead to heaven.
"All of our afflictions lead to heaven."
IV. The Complex Connection Between Our Sins and Our Sufferings
Now there is a complex connection, therefore, between our sins and our sufferings. We need to understand this. This is one of the great lessons of the scripture, not just in the book of Job. Now, the common wisdom that we get if you know enough about the book of Job, about Job's friends is: don't be like Job's friends. I mean, if you've had any teaching or any encounters with the book of Job, it's like, don't be like Job's friends. They're merciless Pharisees who judge Job harshly and think they're better than him. So if your Christian friends ever go through some earth shattering loss, death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, or loss of a home through a house fire or something like that, the worst thing you can do, you're told, is to be like job's friends. Well, what does that mean? Well, don't even hint that any of their suffering has anything to do with sin.
The worst thing you can say to, you know, a woman who's lost a child, let's say, is, "Honey, is there some sin you need to confess in your life?" Well, I think there's a lot of truth to that. There's a lot of truth, but counseling strategy and the doctrine of the connection between our sin and suffering are related but different. Timing matters. Word choice matters. And there are deeper issues that we have to address. And I'm going to say later in the sermon, but I'll just go ahead and say it now. Pastors preaching sermons to huge groups of people can get away with things that individuals in hospital rooms can't. So, I'm giving you general biblical principles to help you and enable you to apply them when the time comes for you, because I'm not singling any of you out and I'm giving you things that the Bible tells that will help you. But then when the time comes, you probably should behave like Job's friends did initially, and put an arm around someone and just be quiet and weep with them for a long time. But it could be down the road, a year or two down the road, that there may be some deeper conversations that you're able to have depending on your relationship with the person. Let's talk about some of these deeper themes. First of all, let me just say what should be obvious. We are not Job. That should be obvious to all of us. God singled job out on planet earth, and said there was no one on earth like him. He boasted about him to Satan to that end. "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He's blameless and upright. A man who fears God and shuns evil."
Ironically, Job's friends had it completely wrong. Their basic approach was, "If you were as righteous as us, this wouldn't be happening to you." Well, the shoe is actually on the other foot. If one of them had been more righteous than Job, he would've been selected for Job's role. So that's, I think, rather ironic. They couldn't carry Job's shoes and neither can we. So when we're suffering we should not think quickly that we are like Job. We shouldn't go so quickly there. Secondly, in the lives of Christians, there are differing layers or types of sin. First of all, generally, there's just that general sinfulness that all of us have to deal with all the time. Commonplace yes, but still repugnant to God. And David spoke of those kinds of sins like this in Psalm 40:12, "My sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head and my heart fails within me." So those are those numerous sins that are just afflicting us all the time.
Then secondly, there are specific soul shattering or soul damaging sins in which you have ruptured your conscience and your relationship with God, what we would consider like a skeleton in the closet, and you know immediately what is happening and you know what's going on and others may not know, but it's a significant sin like David with Bathsheba. Now on the first, those sins more numerous than the hairs of our head, we're all struggling with them daily. The corruptions at levels that go far worse than Job. We have bad habits, laziness, procrastination, lusts, covetousness, greed, lovelessness, sinful anger, bitterness, gossip, slander, pride, pride, pride, and more pride. And then after that more pride after that. That's what we are dealing with all the time.
And some of the effects of the suffering we go through is to burn some of those off, that we would forsake those daily sin habits and flee to God and grow in holiness. Not that those sins are why our loved one died, but that God may actually be using that time of overwhelming tragedy to work in us a quantum leap to put aside those sins that are hindering our walk with God, because we need God more than ever before, and we just can't afford those things, not that we ever could have before, but we are moved ahead in our holiness when we go through these times of suffering. Because God, we know, wants clean hands and a pure heart. And so wherever we have violated our conscience, wherever we're sinning, we want to put that to death. And so we are by the rod of affliction moved much further along in our daily sanctification.
So while we cannot say, "God is punishing me for all of these heart sins, that's why he took my child from me." or something like that, we can say that God is wise and is going to use this pain and this sorrow to help me grow as a Christian. But then there are some sins that are huge, things we know, like what David did with Bathsheba, committing adultery, murdering her husband to cover over the pregnancy. And the sinner knows it. It's been concealed from everyone else, but it's not been concealed from God. Now a child has died. An infant has died. Is there any connection? Yes, there actually is.
You remember when Nathan confronted David concerning his sin with Bathsheba? David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan said, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die." That's an amazing statement. Wow, is that scary to hear that? “You could have died. I could have killed you, but you're not going to die. However, because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." And the child did die. And David knew full well there's a direct connection between his sin and the child's death. Now, even when it comes to those kinds of sins, there's not such a clear connection between this thing that happened and this sin that occurred. We're not prophets like Nathan. We don't get to say there's that connection. But if there's anything that is going on in your life while you're going through affliction and your mind immediately goes to that, I think you should deal with that, whether you can fully understand the connection between that sin and the thing that's happened.
Now in the issue of massive secret sin, this is exactly where I think job's friends went wrong. They assumed that Job must be doing that massive secret sin, very bad stuff in proportion to the trial he was going through. And the biggest problem is they just simply didn't believe their friend when he said, "Nothing like that is happening." In this way they were insensitive and arrogant. They didn't listen to him. And their theology forced them in a bad direction. We'll talk more about this next week.
Now, big picture, in fact, all human suffering, all of it is connected to sin. All of it. Not some of it, all of it. Why is this? Well, because in heaven we will not experience any suffering at all. There won't be any rod of chastisement ever again. “There'll be no more death, mourning, crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away,” Revelation 21:4. We know theologically that death entered the world through sin, Romans 5:12. Adam's sin: “Sin entered the world through one man and death through sin. And in this way, death came to all men because of sin.” So you just take that word death out and make it broader, painful afflictions including death, all of that misery entered through Adam's sin. So sin and death are forever linked. Every single human being is cast into a world of hurt and pain and sorrow and suffering and death because of Adam's sin. That's what we're all dealing with. So all pain is in some way connected with sin, and God's orchestration of world history is his response to this fact.
Fourth, Job's blamelessness presents him as an example of the general education on sin and suffering in this world. God put Job on a pedestal, not just for Satan, but for all readers of the book of Job. He is a special case, but he proves that there is suffering that happens in this world that is not in any direct way connected to specific sins. Job didn't do any of those sins and yet he suffered greatly. And yet Job is a part of God's overall strategy to instruct us his children about sin and sorrow and suffering. The idea is this, if blameless Job could suffer like this, then how much more we who are not blameless like Job. There is a pattern of innocent suffering in this world. We just need to understand that.
Fifth, Job did eventually sin. We're not there yet in the book, but it's going to come out. One friend of mine talking about this said, "It seemed like God just smoked him out." You know? Like there's a criminal deep inside and he just kind of set a fire around the house and waited, and sooner or later he came out. He put pressure on him and the sin just oozed out or crucible kind of thing with the heat, the dross bubbled to the surface, it was down there. It was down there and Job acknowledged it. The end of the book in Job 40:1-5, “The Lord said to Job, ‘Will the one who contends with the almighty, correct him. Let him who accuses God answer him.’ Then Job answered the Lord, ‘I am unworthy. How can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer, twice, but I will say no more.’” and then in chapter 42, “then Job replied to the Lord. ‘I know that you can do all things. No plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge.' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak. And I will question you and you shall answer me.’ My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you, and therefore I despise myself and I repent in dust and ashes.’” So there are deep-seated issues and idolatries and attitudes and expectations that trials bring to the surface, and when they do, we need to repent of them as Job did.
V. Counseling Yourselves
So how do we counsel ourselves? Afflictions are going to come. Don't be surprised when they come. The Bible makes it very plain. You can't go to heaven without them. So how will we counsel ourselves? Well, first in counseling others as I said, be careful not to be like Job's friends. Don't take your theology and run roughshod over someone. Have some tenderness and compassion. Jesus, it was said of him: “a bruised reed, he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” He knew how to deal with people.
So be gentle. We're going to talk more about this next week. When suffering, however, individually, when it's in your life, you should go to God and say, "Is there any sin in my life you're dealing with?" And as I've said before, if something pops to your mind right away, you don't even need to wonder about it. Yes, deal with that. Before the affliction happened, this was an issue. Now the Lord is highlighting it. So on the daily issues, sins more numerous in the hairs of your head, they're hurting you. They're hurting you now. They're making your life difficult. We're told in Hebrews to lay aside every obstacle or the sin that so easily entangles us. Like we've got a net and a weight around our waist as we're running a marathon race. Lay them aside. Afflictions are times that help us to unbuckle and lay those sin patterns down.
"When suffering, however, individually, when it's in your life, you should go to God and say, "Is there any sin in my life you're dealing with?"
And as we've said, many times before Psalm 139:23 and 24, "Search me, oh God and know my heart. Show me and teach me if there's any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And then just listen to him. And then as sin appears in your life in the time of affliction, James 4:6-10 are the steps: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Then humble yourselves: “submit yourselves then to God.” that's what Sarah did. That's what kiss the rod means. I'm going to humble myself under what God's doing here. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts. You double-minded, grieve, mourn, and wail, change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
Final word I want to say is concerning the gospel. A group this large, is it possible that someone walked in here today unregenerate? Yes. In any case, it would be wrong for me to take this pulpit and assume all of you were born again when you began hearing the sermon. Now you've heard the gospel. You've heard it before. Sometimes God brings afflictions into the lives of unbelievers to cause them finally to flee to Christ. This could be that day for you. I don't know what's going on in your lives, but I know this, there is one and only one savior for sins. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. That's Jesus. Call on the name of the Lord, and you'll receive that gift that I talked about earlier: Justification, full forgiveness of all sins, past, present and future. Close with me in prayer.
Lord, thank you for this powerful word today from Eliphaz. Thank you that you put it in scripture for us, that we would understand your wisdom in dealing with us. Lord, we know that we've got so many sins in our lives. We thank you that we are forgiven in Christ. But Lord, I pray that we would be as mature as Sarah did when she found out about the death of Jonathan, and that we'd be willing to both kiss the rod and put our hands over our mouths and not charge you with wrongdoing. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.