The Testimony of a Blameless Man (Job Sermon 18)
August 22, 2021 | Andrew Davis
Joy in Suffering, Persecution, Trials
Have you ever heard of a Proverbs 31 woman? Listen to this sermon and learn about a Job 31 man. Andy introduces the first of a number of sermons in this chapter. The sermon covers Job's righteousness as seen through: his commitment to sexual purity, treating his servants well, a lifestyle of active service to the poor, rejection of all idols, graciousness to other people and enemies, living a life of vertical awareness to please God not men, and righteous business practices.
- Sermon Transcript -
Turn in your Bibles to Job 31. This morning we're going to be returning to our study in the book of Job and a very timely study for us, I think, where we're at in our history, in our time. 2021 has been a challenging year already, following on the heels of 2020 itself, a challenging year. Current events have pushed their way onto our radar screen. We see the misery of the world that we're living in, the magnitude of the suffering of many around the world.
We see the recent events, as I just prayed a moment ago, in Afghanistan, and the anguish of those that are seeking desperately to flee from the Taliban, even to the point of clinging to airplanes as they are taking off. Heart-rending, heart-rending scene. Hear of yet another earthquake rocking the tiny island nation of Haiti. I've been there multiple times ministering, and it's a very sad and tragic place, and the death toll around 2,000, it's tragic. Then for us, we thought we were reaching the end of the COVID crisis and it surged again with this Delta variant, the numbers are surging.
All of these things and many other current events make us realize the anguish of living in a world struggling with the effects of Adam's sin. We Christians know where all this came from. We're not in the dark theologically as to why this is happening. Romans 5:12, it says, "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all men because all sinned." That's the explanation. That's what's going on. We live in a world of sorrow and grief.
Closer to home, members of our church are going through innumerable trials, some of them we're aware of, some we don't know. You could be sitting next to someone right now that's in severe chronic pain, they just don't tell you about it. They're just walking in it day after day after day. Others here are dealing with loved ones who are aging and are losing abilities, struggling with dementia. Others, not struggling with that, but they just are bedridden or in wheelchairs and caregivers are grieving over that and trying to help them through. Others are struggling with the effects of loneliness. Maybe they're widows or widowers. Maybe they're just single people who yearn to be married but nothing's come up, and they're just battling loneliness, struggling that. Others are dealing with the rebellion of grown kids who have turned their backs on everything they've learned about the Gospel from infancy, and they're walking in rebellion and breaking the hearts of their parents and their brothers and sisters who are believers, and they're having to deal with that, and many other things.
Beyond that, even if you're not personally facing these kinds of trials, you're aware that it's something that is going to come. Something's going to come and break your heart. Something's going to come and be a massive trial for you, and you're battling your own fears and anxieties about that. What will I do if one of my children dies and I have to attend their funeral? One of my kids told me what they wanted at their funeral. “Don't tell me what you... you're coming to my funeral. I'm not going to your funeral.” But I don't know that, I don't know that, and I think there are few sorrows as bitter as burying a child. How can I endure a chronic illness? How can I go through cancer for a third time? See it happening to others, what will happen to me? What will happen if my spouse dies? How will I face that trial? And so that's all future and we can be burdened by fears and anxieties about what will happen to us as we move on in this world.
I believe that God has given us this marvelous book of Job to help us get ready for what will come. God is training us right now, like a drill instructor getting you ready for a mission, like in the battlefield. You've got to listen to the instructions. It could mean your life and the success of the mission, or maybe more trivially, but still we're aware in August, lots of football coaches get their teams ready. They go through all of the plays that they're going to need to run like clockwork in November and December and beyond if they're going to be successful, and so they're preparing and getting their teams ready for all these eventualities. Or perhaps you could look at it like a hurricane that's coming. We know that there's Hurricane Henri is moving its way up the coast and communities are getting ready. They're getting sandbags ready for the rising flood that's going to come, and I'm telling you, spiritually, even physically, the flood is coming. No one gets out of here unscathed. We're going to hurt, we're going to suffer, we're going to struggle, and God is using these 42 chapters of the book of Job to get you ready for that.
For, as it says in Ephesians 2:10, "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance that we should walk in them." Today, this morning, God is doing that. He wants to do that in your life to prepare you in advance for what you are going to walk through, so it'd be good to pay attention, get ready, because God wants you, you are the light of the worlds. God wants you to shine in the midst of that sorrow. “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl or under a bed. Instead, he puts it up on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Suffering and pain is the stand for the people of God, the lampstand, and you're going to be on it at some point, and it would be good for you to glorify God at that time, and to not charge God bitterly with wrongdoing and to not speak worlds of hopelessness as though you have no hope, but rather to shine and to suffer well, to be able to say effectively, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.“
That we're going to trust in Him. We're going to have a radiant hope of heaven, as we've seen, and we're going to see it today. Job was a better man than anyone here, more righteous, but we have a better hope than he ever had, don't we? We're further along in redemptive history. We're aware of the accounts of the life of Jesus, his death and his resurrection and the hope of heaven, and so we are equipped and ready to suffer well. That's what this book is about.
We're returning now to Job 31. We're in the middle of a long, unfolding story. Job 31 is his kind of final testimony. It's his closing argument about his own righteousness, and we're going to walk through it. We're going to look at what it means that this man was blameless and upright. We're going to understand that and explain it.
I. “Blameless and Upright” Explained
Job was introduced at the beginning of the book in Job 1:1 as blameless and upright. It says, "In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil." Then we are taken up into the heavenly realms. Almighty God boasts about Job to Satan. Job 1:8, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant, Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’”So we're going to understand in Job 31, at least Job's perspective of what that is. What it means to be blameless and upright.
This is Job's final stand. At the end of this chapter, Job is going to close his words, his closing argument. Look at verse 40, "The words of Job are ended." Now we're going to find they're not all ended. He has some things to say to God after God speaks to him out of a whirlwind. We'll get to all that, so he has some words of repentance to speak, but this is the end of his defense, of his blamelessness, and his uprightness.
He's been under a relentless onslaught. He's been assaulted by the trials, and then by his friends and their arguments. The trials came upon this man in wave upon wave, as you remember. We learned from Job 1 and 2 of God's secret heavenly conversation with Satan, and that it was specifically because he was blameless and upright that these things came on him. Satan wanted to assault him and expose him and God permitted him to do it.
It was specifically because Job was blameless and upright that God wanted to teach us, all succeeding generations, that the problem of evil, the problem of pain is complex and deep and multifaceted, and it's not true that in every case people are suffering because of sins they've committed or wrongdoing. It's not true. That's not the case with Job, and so God is expanding and deepening our understanding of the problem of evil and suffering through Job. That was God's purpose, to highlight Job as a blameless and upright sufferer of great affliction.
It was Satan's purpose as well to expose him as some kind of a fraud. Now I think it's very significant. Keep in mind as we go through Job 31, as he asserts his righteousness at so many levels, that Satan didn't contradict God in Heaven about this. The accuser of the brethren did not accuse Job of any wrongdoing. That's very significant, don't you think? He couldn't say anything against him, so it's all true. The things we're reading in Job 31, that's who he was.
But Satan wants to expose him saying, you know the only reason he's this incredible man is you've put a hedge around him and everything he has, and so the trials came in wave upon wave, as we read. The loss of all his oxen and donkeys and the servants who were watching them. Then the loss of all his sheep and the servants who were watching them. Then the loss of all his camels, and the servants who were watching them.
Finally, in a single moment, the loss of all 10 of his children. Then phase two, the loss of his health. Afflicted with terrible sores, he had to sit and scrape his skin with fragments of pottery, so great was his suffering. Then along come his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and they all come with the same basic theology, the law of sowing and reaping. You reap what you sow. God is active in the world, these are not accidental things. God is bringing justice into your life because of your sins, and given the magnitude of your suffering, there must be immense sin.
We don't know what it is, we can't see it, they don't ever admit that but it's true because it wasn't true, none of those things, but it must be an immense secret wickedness and God is disciplining you for that, and so throughout Job 3 through 30, there's the cycle of debates and discussions that happen between Job and his friends, and we've walked through all of those things. It culminated in a very, very bad statement by one of his friends, Eliphaz. I want to remind you of it because it's so relevant to what Job claims for himself here in this chapter.
Eliphaz said in Job 22: 5-10, "Is not," speaking to Job, "Is not your wickedness great, are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason, you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary, and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man owning land, an honored man, living on it, and you sent widows away empty handed, and you broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you."
None of that happened. He's guessing what kinds of sins would trigger such a response of God's justice here. These are the very charges that Job is going to refute by his track record of righteousness in his life. But for us, this chapter stands as a timeless description of what it really looks like to be a man blameless and upright who feared God.
Job effectively takes an oath. He swears a vow here on these things, like he's on a witness stand. It's the language of a legal vow, like the kind people would take in those days. "If I am guilty of this crime, may God strike me dead. May God curse me." Something like that, so there's a long series of if statements, if, if, if, if, and then comes a then. For example, look at verses 5-8, “If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit, let God weigh me in honest scales. He will know that I'm blameless. If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, if my eyes, my hands have been defiled, then may others what I have sown, may my crops be uprooted." That's the, he's calling a curse down on himself if these things aren't true of him. "If I'm not what I appear to be, a blameless and upright man, may God curse me and everything about me." Now Job 31 just to some degree, I don't think we should ever do this, but just we take it out of context and just have it as a gem chapter. I want to say it is the masculine version of the Proverbs 31 woman. Now you ladies all know what I mean by the Proverbs 31 woman. You have been to some degree afflicted by her for years. I mean Mother's Day sermons and all of these things, and it's like, who can live up to this lady?
I mean she's relentless. She blesses her husband and her children and her household and the entire community and probably the entire world by her relentless works of righteousness. Well, Proverbs 31 seems to me to be a goal to navigate by, something to go after. Proverbs 31 speaks to women. I believe Job 31 has the power to speak to men in a similar way. If you, as a man, you want to know what a righteous man looks like at some key areas, not all of them, there's so many elements of New Testament piety that Job isn't aware of and he doesn't address, but here within this Old Testament setting, this is what a righteous man looks like, and it'd be well for us as men to walk through it.
II. Elements of Job’s Blamelessness
Now let's talk about elements of Job's blamelessness. This chapter is so rich and so powerful, it's worthy of multiple weeks of study and so God willing, we will. Today, I'm going to fly over it like at 30,000 feet and just give you a sense of the elements of the chapter. Next week, we're going to zero in on one specific element, and that is sexual purity, sexual purity. Then in the week that follows, God willing, we're going to look at justice or mercy ministry type things, as Job describes them. That's how we're going through Job 31, so I'm not going to go into great detail on any of these things today, but God willing, we'll have the chance.
What are the elements of Job's blamelessness in Job 31? First, in verses 1-12, a commitment to absolute sexual purity, and then secondly, a pattern of just treatment for his servants. You'll see that in verses 13-15. And third, a lifestyle of energetic, active service to the poor and needy. That's in verses 16-23. Then fourth, a rejection of all idols, anything the heart can trust in other than God, especially wealth, especially gold, verses 24-28.
Fifth, graciousness to other people, enemies and strangers alike. Not vindictive toward enemies, but yearning for their blessedness, and then a willingness to open his home, hospitality, verses 29-32. Then six, living a life of integrity vertically before God. This is the key to his whole piety. He does everything for God and not for man, to please God. Then seventh, righteous business practices. A man of business who carries his business righteously, verses 38 and 39.
Now this is an astounding list of holiness, isn't it? Now this didn't result in a self-focused kind of inward piety like a monk, a desert-dwelling monk who's out in a cave having long times of fasting and prayer in isolation from other people. He was a busy, engaged, active man living out this kind of holiness. It's hard to do. Now Job was not a perfect man and we're going to end up, I'm just going to lay my cards on the table. If all Job had was this level of righteousness and not Christ, he would be condemned to hell. All roads, in scripture, lead to Christ alone, and Job knew it too, didn't he? Although he didn't fully understand all the elements of the Gospel that he knew he needed to repent before Almighty God and be forgiven of sins, and so that's where we're heading ultimately. Only Jesus is the perfect man.
"All roads, in scripture, lead to Christ alone."
Let's walk through these elements of Job's righteousness, 1-7, and just get a sense of it. Paul said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." We can do the same thing for many godly men and women in the Bible, can't we? There's just a lot of godly men and women. We can look at how they lived, and we can imitate their faith, as the author to the Hebrews said, and so we want to do the same, here.
Let's look at these seven elements. First, a commitment to absolute sexual purity, verses 1-12. Like I said, we're going to walk through this in great detail, God willing, next week, but he begins with purity from the heart, battling lust, sexual lust from within. Look at verse one. "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl." The reason why is the fear of the Lord, who sees everything that we do. Look verses 2-4, "For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty, on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does He not see my ways and count my every step?” so that he then takes an oath of a lifestyle of pure behavior now, because it's said in this section of sexual purity, we should see it in that light. He's talking about sexual purity, verses 5-8. "If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit, let God weigh me in honest scales. He will know that I am blameless. If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted."
Then he takes an oath of purity from adultery. Look at verses 9-10. “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, then may my wife grind another man's grain, and my other men sleep with her." Absolute purity from adultery. He is aware of the coming devastation of Judgment Day. That's going to come. Look at verses 11-12. "For that would've been shameful, a sin to be judged. It is a fire that burns in destruction. It would have uprooted my harvest." Sexual purity is such a weakness for men today. I don't know if it's any more than it ever has been, but the delivery systems for lust are more powerful and potent and omnipresent than ever before, and so this is a special focus and I will zero in on it next week. But men, you can begin this week to look at verses one through 12 and immerse yourself in them, and say, "Is this true of me? How am I living my life in this area?"
Secondly, a pattern of just treatment for his servants, verses 13-15. Verse 13, he says, "If I have denied justice to my men's servants and maid servants when they had a grievance against me," so this is going to be gathered together two weeks from now, God willing, in this section on mercy, ministry, or justice, issues of justice. We'll talk about that. The issue here immediately in this section has to do with how he treated the workers on his estate, men servants and maid servants, those that worked out in his fields, those that were laborers in his house, anybody in his employ, anybody that he cared for. It was commonplace, sadly, back in earlier eras, maybe even today in some ways, that servants like this in bondage to a powerful man would be treated like chattel, really, like beasts of burden, like they're not even humans. Job never did this.
If any of his servants, men or women, ever felt wronged or some injustice was going on in the estate or with him particularly, he would hear them carefully and see that they got satisfaction, that they were satisfied with what had happened, and that the issue would be resolved with justice. Why is that? Well look at his reason. "If I have denied justice to my men servants and maid servants when they had a grievance against me," verse 14, "what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?" In other words, Judgment Day is coming and I'm going to have to give an account for how I treated people.
Then verse 15, "Did not He who made me in the womb, make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?" We are all in the image of God, and I'm going to treat this individual in light of the fact that I'm no better than they are, that God used the same intentionality and creativity in knitting that person together in his or her mother's womb, I'm going to treat them accordingly. That's his reason why. We're going to notice again and again, Job's piety is always vertical, then horizontal. He sees God. He knows that God sees him, and then it's going to affect how he lives.
Thirdly, a lifestyle of active service to the poor, verses 16-23, "If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless, but from my youth, I reared him as would a father and from my birth, I guided the widow. If I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing or a needy man without a garment, and if his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder. Let it be broken off at the joint, for I dreaded destruction from God and for fear of his splendor, I could not do such things." Again, God willing, we're going to walk through these in detail two weeks from now. But for Job, notice, it's not enough just not to harm others. It's not enough just to not commit adultery or not lust. It's not enough to not treat his servants with harsh injustice. True righteousness is energetic and active and says, "What resources do I have that I can then bless others?" Here we come to the Golden Rule, or the second great commandment, different ways of saying the same thing, how you treat others, Golden Rule.
"True righteousness is energetic and active and says, "What resources do I have that I can then bless others?""
Some of you may be aware that Confucius had a form of the Golden Rule five centuries before Jesus. You see some people boasting about this kind of thing, but his was essentially negative, or I could rephrase it in language similar to the Golden Rule that we're aware of, do not do to others what you would not have them do to you. You see that's essentially negative. It just means don't hurt other people. Don't damage other people. But I want you to keep in mind, the Golden Rule Jesus taught is do to others what you would have them do to you. That's energetic and positive and active. Jesus told a story in terms of the second great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, the parable of the Good Samaritan. I want you to know that the priest and the Levite who saw the man bleeding by the side of the road and just walked on, fulfilled Confucius's dictum. They didn't do to him anything negative. They just walked on.
Now friends, most of us are not so wicked that we are like the highway robbers that beat up the guy and leave him bleeding by the side of the road. That's not us. We are the type to drive by on the other side and not really look. The Golden Rule would have us be energetic in blessing others, to see what resources that we have, as you love your neighbor as you love yourself. So as you spend money on yourself, spend it on others. As you think about yourself and your life and your comforts and your pleasures and the things you like and the things that are important to you and your point of view and all, I could list all the things you are spending a lot of time every week thinking about with yourself at the center of that orbit, do that for somebody else, do that for others. It's an energetic life of service. It's much harder. It takes much more effort, and Job did it. He did it.
He was energetic in blessing others. He sacrificed for those who were poor and needy. He reared a fatherless boy up from childhood as if he were one of his own. He guided the widow, perhaps with financial advice, maybe legal protections since she had no man in the house to look after her interests. He searched out those who were insufficiently clothed, and made sure that they got what they needed form his flocks and herds.
He used his influence in court to protect those who were defenseless. An energetic life. Then, if then, as we've noted, Job speaks a curse on himself if he has failed in his duty to the poor and needy. Verse 16 and 17, "If I have denied the desires of the poor, or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless," then down verse 19-21, "If I've seen anyone perishing for a lack of clothing or a needy man without a garment and his heart did not bless me, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless knowing I had influence in the court," if, if, if, if, if, "then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint."
Job's reason again, is the same. It's always vertical, fear of the Lord. Verse 23, "For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor, I could not do such things." He knew that God, the holy God, would hold him accountable for how he used his wealth and whether he did with God's money what God, the true owner of that money, his true master, wanted him to do, for Job knew he was merely a steward of God's possessions.
He also spoke of the glory of God, the splendor of God, as a consuming fire, ready to avenge the poor, the widow, and the orphan. Fourthly, the rejection of all idols, all heart idols, especially wealth, verses 24- 28, "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,' if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high."
This comes down to Job's heart religion. What do you really trust in? Was gold really his confidence? Did he really count on his wealth as a strong tower and a walled fortress to protect him against calamity? Did he gloat over the gold like some sick miser going back into the secret counting chambers and looking at the gold, and seeing its glow and his heart was inflamed with it?
One of the greatest idols, maybe even the single greatest idol in human history, money. Beyond this, Job mentions the worship of celestial bodies, the beauty of the radiant sun, the softer gleam of the moon that we sang about earlier. These celestial bodies are the common basis of most, if not all, pagan religions, stargazing type of religions. He said, "I didn't go in for that. I didn't follow any of the corrupt religions of the Gentiles or the pagans." Job's heart religion was freed from idolatry. God and God alone was his trust. Fifth, graciousness to enemies and hospitality to strangers, verses 29-32, “If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him, I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life. If the men of my household have never said, 'Who has not had his fill of Job's meat, but no stranger had to spend the night in the street for my door was always open to the traveler.'"
It's two parts, really. The first is toward enemies, he wasn't vindictive toward them. He didn't wish harm on them. He didn't gloat over them. If he could, he would like to alleviate their suffering. Powerful men like Job make powerful enemies, generally. They're covetous and they want to take what he has, and they can make some schemes against him. Job almost certainly would have had enemies like that, but he didn't gloat over them. He wanted them ultimately blessed. Then concerning his household, he used the means of his household to welcome strangers. He was hospitable to strangers. People would come in from the outside and spend the night at Job's house.
Sixth, complete integrity living to please God and not men, verses 33-34, "If I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart, because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside." This is a matter of integrity. This is the key to his whole defense against his friends. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. “I,” actually, Paul says this at one point, "I care very little if I'm judged by you or by any human court. I don't even judge myself. "My conscience is clear," said Paul, "But that doesn't make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." Job had that mentality. I don't really ultimately care that much what you, Eliphaz say about me, or at all of these others.
He cared and he talks about it, but ultimately he didn't care. Effectively saying, "I live my life before God and God alone." Ultimately, all of these things came back to God, so I am what I appear to be. It's not like the tip of the iceberg where you're seeing some little righteous tricks that I do but there's all this subterranean wickedness that no one can see. That is just not the case. I am what I appear to be, a man living blamelessly in the fear of God. A life of integrity. The opposite of this would be hypocrisy. Jesus talked about it all the time. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You're like whitewashed tombs. You look good on the outside, but inside, full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. Job said, "I'm not a whitewashed tomb, I am what I appear to be."
Then seventh, righteous business practices, verses 38, 39. "If my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants," so we're talking about tenant farmers, coworkers, people that he contracted with for labor. Do you remember a number of weeks ago when we were talking about the COVID crisis in India, and I mentioned day laborers, people that begin the day not knowing where they're going to work, they go certain places, they're hired, they work for the day, they get paid for the day, they go to certain food boutiques, they buy food for their family, and go home and feed their family. Then they do that whole thing again, another day.
Chris Mauger mentioned the same thing in Bangladesh, day laborers. Well they were back in Job's day, too. Imagine what it would've been like to work for a wicked man. You work all day and he denies the wage. This is the very thing James talks about, the wickedness of denying the day wage to the man who mowed your field or worked out and you didn't pay him, and he went home and he had nothing to give his kids. Job was fair, even generous in his wages and his determination that each worker be paid so they would not weep at the injustice and go home empty-handed, crying out to God for vengeance.
All right. These are the seven elements of Job's righteousness and blamelessness. A commitment to actual, absolute sexual purity, a pattern of just treatment for his servants, a lifestyle of active service to the poor, a rejection of all idols, especially money, graciousness to enemies and hospitality to strangers, living a life of integrity to please God, not worried what men think, and then righteous business practices. Now toward the end, he interjects a bold declaration of his holiness directed to Almighty God. Now this is where he gets into trouble, in my opinion. This has been the problem with Job. We have to find something that he repents from. He's not repenting about these areas. Amazingly, his problem is vertical.
III. Job’s Final Claim of Blamelessness
Look at verses 35-37, "Oh that I had someone to hear me. I sign now my defense, let the Almighty answer me." Wow. That's a bold statement. God's not going to forget it, by the way,. When He appears in a whirlwind, He's going to say, "I will question you, and you will answer me." We're turning this whole thing around, effectively, who do you think you are? We’ll get to all that. But he says, "I sign now my defense. Let the Almighty answer me. Let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely, I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step, like a prince, I would approach him." He's willing to put all this in writing, he's going to sign it, he's going to walk into court like a king, like a prince. He's going to face his accuser, and he's going to win.
Who's his accuser? I don't think he's thinking about Eliphaz at this moment. "Let the Almighty answer me, let my accuser put his indictment in writing." He's talking about God. He sees God as his enemy, but God never accused him of wrongdoing. There's no record of God denying any of the things he's asserting here. God isn't one of the friends saying these false things about him.
IV. Or Else….. May I Be Accursed!
Job, it seems, like all of us, greatly underestimates the holiness and majesty of God. All of us do. It's part of my central task as a preacher to help you underestimate God's holiness and majesty less. You understand who we have to do with. What does it mean, in 1 John 1:5 when God says, "God is light and in Him, there is no darkness at all." And we are a people of darkness to some degree, and we live among people of darkness, and we think because we're more, less dark than anyone else, we can stand in the presence of perfect pure light and be fine on our own? It's not the case. He closes in verse 40 with his final statement, "Then let briars come up instead of wheat, and weeds instead of barley. The words of Job are ended." This is just the language of the curse. The thorns, let thorns come up, let me be cursed if these things are not true.
V. Imitating Such a Role Model
All right, what lessons can we take from Job 31? Simply, as I've said, Job is a staggeringly righteous man, worthy of imitation, but before we get there, we need to understand the very thing I've been saying and I have said multiple times in this sermon already. Jesus said it when the rich, young ruler came and fell on his knees before Him. “Good teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?" "Why do you call me good? No one is good, but God alone." That includes Job. This blameless man still needed to do that at the end of this book, repent, and he knew it, and he did. We cannot stand in our own righteousness and face such a holy God. We cannot stand on our own and survive Judgment Day. We can't, and we all tend to be a little bit like Job, kind of assembling the evidence of our basic blamelessness and righteousness. I can't tell you in evangelism how many times I've been told by someone, "I'm basically a good person." I'm trying to think of a different ways to tell them what the Bible says they basically are. Basically, you are a sinner who needs a savior, that's what you basically are.
The Apostle Paul had his own version of being blameless and upright, remember? His résumé of righteousness in Philippians 3. What happened when he saw the glorious resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus? He repented of all of it like it was rubbish, like it was garbage, Philippians 3. "I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes form the law," but that was just due faith in Christ. The righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. That's what all of us need, isn't it?
I need a robe of glowing righteousness to be put over me, to cover me, to cover my sins, and that is offered to us free as a gift by Jesus. God made Him who had no sin, to be sin for us, on the cross, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God, Job 31, that's not the righteousness of God. It's not good enough. The infinite, perfect holiness of God in Jesus Christ is offered to you as a gift. Apart from works, by simple faith, it can be yours. Put it on, and you will survive Judgment Day.
"I need a robe of glowing righteousness to be put over me, to cover me, to cover my sins, and that is offered to us free as a gift by Jesus."
But then once you do that, how should you live? Now what? Have you Christians noticed that the moment you were converted, you didn't get translated up into heavenly glory? Have you noticed that? I've noticed. I've been walking this Christian life a long time. Why am I still here? To grow in righteousness, to grow in holiness. How do I do that? What does that look like? The Bible has not left us as orphans. For me as a man, Job 31 helps me. It gives me seven things I can pray about and work on, but the whole time I know that my true righteousness is Christ.
Close with me in prayer. Father, thank you for the chance we've had quickly today to walk through Job's righteousness, to understand it, to understand it in light of the cross. I thank you for this godly man. I look forward to getting to know him in heaven. I thank you for what you did in and through him. I pray that you'd help us, Lord. I'm aware, although not perfectly or completely aware, but aware of many brothers and sisters who are going through severe and bitter trials. Lord, would you please sustain them? Speak to them, give them the energy and the strength that they need spiritually to keep trusting in Christ and keep being filled with hope so that they in this time of darkness for them can shine to those that are watching very closely how they're walking through it. Lord, all of us who haven't yet come into this severe trial and we're anticipating it, Lord, help us to get ready for the flood that's going to come, to get ready. In Jesus' name. Amen.