I have been reexamining my study of Job. I will be honest. My dream is to publish the study, so I thought I should try to clean it up a little. While I was doing that, I began to rediscover many aspects of Job’s story. For those unfamiliar with the Story of Job, you can sum up the whole story with God’s description of Job as being, “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” That is what the Lord said of him. In fact, you can reduce it even further with the one word: blameless.
The central question of religion is how can human beings get free of guilt? How can we escape that sense, however vague, of gnawing insecurity that continually follows us? Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid?” Well, I do not know about you, but I am sometimes afraid of my lingering suspicion that it is impossible to please God. Oh, I know that God loves me, but how can I be sure He likes me? In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father loved both the rebellious son and his straight-laced elder brother, but in the end, only the younger son pleased him. Only the prodigal delighted his father’s, heart.
In his book, “The Gospel According to Job,” Mike Mason wrote,
Of course, God loves us. Everybody knows that. However, that is precisely the problem we have in relating to God: He loves everybody, indiscriminately, even the people that will suffer Hell. Who needs love like that? The real question is not whether God loves us, but whether He approves of us, whether we are pleasing to Him. One thing is sure, if we are not pleasing to God He will never be pleasing to us. Why should we like someone who is forever condemning us? On the other hand, can we imagine what it would be like to so move and excite the heart of God that He would run to meet us, throw His arms around us and kiss us, dress us in His best robe, and put rings on our fingers? Can we picture the Lord Almighty killing the fattened calf for us and throwing a big party in our honor? Can we imagine having the Creator of the universe say to us, just as He said to Jesus Christ, “You are my son, and you are my delight”?
If we cannot imagine being, as Jesus was and the Scripture claims Job was, beyond reproach in the eyes of God, all our faith is useless. If we cannot get past God’s criticism and into His favor if we cannot be good friends with Him, then what is the point of our religion?
On the other hand, if Job was truly a living example of blamelessness in his relationship with God, then it must at least be possible. If this is true, we had better pay attention to this man and find out what his secret was.
The secret seems, to begin with, a solid grasp of the fact that being blameless is not quite the same as being guiltless. If someone is guiltless, it only means that they haven’t done anything wrong. If we accuse him of wrong, then our accusation is incorrect, and that is all there is to it.
However, if someone is blameless; it means something more mysterious: it means that no matter how horrible his offenses may have been all the charges against him have been dropped. Absolutely no blame attaches to him because the one he offended has exonerated him. In the words of Psalm 32:2, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.”
Once the reality of that sinks in, we will burst out and do a little “happy dance”! God’s covenant with us in Christ is not that He will prevent us from ever committing a sin, but rather that He will forgive our sins.
He will be faithful in forgiveness. Our part is to believe this. To be blameless not so much in our outward conduct (though obviously, we strive for this as well), but in our faith, our trust in the Lord’s faithfulness. “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified.”
If we are blameless in this respect, then all the credit for our righteousness will very plainly be not ours but the Lord’s, who, as Jude assures us, you can be full of joy as you stand in his glorious presence without fault.
Job’s story shows a remarkable man who somehow intuitively grasped and accepted this astounding message. So much so, that even when he was tempted to the Max to let go of his faith, he still firmly held on to it against all the odds. Under attack Job groaned, he wailed, he doubted and fell into deep depression, he lashed out like an infuriated animal and yes, he even sinned. Yet, when it came to this one point regarding the settled fact of his status of irreproachable blamelessness before the Lord, he refused to give an inch. Having placed his trust totally in God, he violently resisted the notion that there was more required. Something else he must do, to gain God’s favor under adverse circumstances.
All of us fall into the same trap. We regularly look at our lives and count ourselves unworthy of the Lord’s attention or, worse yet, ignore His presence and invitation for a relationship. We simply do the “church thing” and never seek anything more of the Father. The problem is, when that happens, we live empty, lonely, unsatisfied lives. We are never satisfied to sit back and enjoy the love and favor of our Father.
When I consider my own pursuit of Christ, I have seen times when, as Brennan Manning has so astutely described:
“There have been times pockmarked by disastrous victories and magnificent defeats, soul-diminishing successes and life-enhancing failures. I have known seasons of fidelity and betrayal, periods of consolation and desolation, zeal and apathy.
“There have also been times . . .
“When the felt presence of God was more real to me than the chair I am
“When the Word ricocheted like broken-backed lightning in every corner of
“When a storm of desire carried me to places I have never visited.
“Then again, there have been other times . . .
“When I identified with the words of Mae West: “I used to be Snow White” but I drifted;
“When the Word was as stale as old ice cream and as bland as tame sausage;
“When the fire in my belly flickered and died;
“When I mistook dried-up enthusiasm for gray-haired wisdom;
“When I dismissed cheap slivers of glass tot the pearl of great price;”
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.