Please turn in a Bible to Job 1:8 where it is written, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?“
We do well to consider God’s servant Job. God describes Job with more favor than any other man in history save His own Son Jesus Christ, and Christ’s herald, John the Baptist. What little we know about Job before God tried him is a fountain of instruction for those who would please God. I now share God’s teaching to me from this part of Job’s life. May God ask you as He has me, “Hast thou considered my servant Job? “
In Job 1:4-5 it is written: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” God chose four activities, out of apparently many thousands of possible activities that Job no doubt engaged in, to give us a glimpse into the life of Job. These activities are:
1. Job sent and sanctified his children.
2. Job rose up early in the morning.
3. Job offered burnt sacrifices for his children.
4. Job said “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”
I wish to consider these four activities in order, and develop the scriptural principles embedded in them. We know that these were common activities for Job so they should reveal his heart to us: “thus did Job continually.” God has revealed these activities to us as an encapsulation of a man whom He commends to us as “perfect and upright”. For this reason these four activities are significant.
The meaning of the first activity hinges on the definition of the word sanctify: Job “sent and sanctified” his children. According to Webster’s Dictionary sanctify means: to make holy or to set apart as holy; to consecrate; to make free from sin.
To sanctify someone then involves a concern for their holiness and a desire to set them apart from sin. It is apparent that holiness was a priority for Job since he was a man that feared God and eschewed—shunned, avoided, abstained from—evil. His fear of God moved him to hate evil, for “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13) God’s description of Job implies that this was Job’s primary characteristic.
Holiness was such a priority for Job that he sought holiness fervently from God for himself and his family: “he sent and sanctified them… continually.” It is easy to commend a thirst for holiness in Job without searching our own hearts. Are we concerned about holiness? What is it that we seek diligently for ourselves and loved ones? Is it our burning desire to be obedient to our God? Aren’t we more concerned about comfort and happiness? If we are, we do not fear the LORD very much. “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:21) Oh, that I was hot with holiness instead of a pursuit of pleasure!
If we are to grow in a passion for holiness, we must understand what it is. We can easily prove that the essence of holiness is simply obedience to God. A proof is appropriate since deception often begins with a false definition: we are to “prove all things.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Webster defines holiness as the quality of being perfect, pure, untainted and free from sin. From this we know that the opposite of holiness is sinfulness.
God also says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1Jn 3:46) This implies the following statement: “the essence of sinfulness is disobedience.” The logical contrapositive (see a good college dictionary or an elementary text in mathematical analysis) of this proposition is: “Obedience is the essence of holiness.” Since a proposition and its contrapositive are logically equivalent we have a rigorous, formal proof.
Why was Job concerned about obedience to God? Because he was a Christian. Every true Christian becomes concerned about holiness. There is no salvation without holiness: “Without (holiness) no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) It is not that holiness brings salvation, for “who can say, I have made my heart clean. I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). It is, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5) On the contrary, salvation brings holiness: Christians are “elect… unto obedience.” (1 Peter 1:2) “Being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22) “You that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled… to present you holy… in his sight.” (Colossians 1:22) Jesus is “the Author of salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9), for “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 John 2:17) But God will “render… unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” (Romans 2:69)
Many teach, since salvation is by grace and not works, that one can be a Christian and yet live a life of open, willful disobedience to God. This should be no surprise since “there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” (Jude 4) Do not trust a “grace” that it does not change the life: do not turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness. If you cannot relate to Job’s passion for holiness, if God is not working obedience in you. If the HOLY Ghost is not renewing you, you not His.
Granted, every Christian has room to grow and we all find in ourselves that old man of sin, “which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” (Ephesians 4:22) but it is perilous to make excuses for a heart that is cold toward holiness. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” And if the love of the God is not in you, God is not your father: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Marantha” (1 Corinthians 16:22). Do not forget His words: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:710)
Suppose we find that God is working a passion for holiness in our hearts. Suppose we want to obey but always seem to fail? What should we do? We can’t force holiness in ourselves or others. We can’t buy it. All our self-effort is disappointing. What did Job do? With all his wealth, social position and wisdom . . . it seems that Job prayed!
How else does one “send and sanctify” another? If we would be holy, we must pray fervently for God to work obedience in us. All of our rituals and words are powerless by themselves: all must be bathed in prayer. One who grasped this, Epaphras, was “always laboring fervently… in prayers” for the Colossian Christians that they might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”(Colossians 4:12) What a friend!
Prayer is the dynamic of holiness. Do we use it? Are we unmoved and unconcerned by the disobedience overflowing from our own lives and from the lives of those around us? Can’t you feel the words, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:2425) Christians must pray, they must be concerned for their own holiness, and for the holiness of their loved ones! Hear the longing in the heart of the apostle John for the holiness of Christians under his care: “And now, little children, abide in Him that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”(1 John 2:29) Pray until you are unwilling to disobey your Lord in any particular of life: be more ready to die than to displease Him. “Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”(2 Peter 3:14) Then pray for your loved ones.
The second activity is more easily understood than applied. Job rose up early in the morning. Ah! Such easy words to say! Is it easy for anyone to get up early? Perhaps it is easier for some than for others, but that is no excuse for anyone. Are we not lovers of sleep by nature? Wouldn’t we pamper and amuse ourselves at every turn if we were allowed? Which one of us has hardened himself in tireless discipline as a “good soldier of Jesus Christ?” (2 Timothy 2:3) It seems that we are “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4) A love of sleep seems to be a sign of a love of pleasure in general, and we are specifically admonished against it: “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” (Proverbs 20:13). If we would be spiritually rich it is vital that we lose our love of sleep. We must remember that our amusement and comfort are not a priority with God.
Perhaps it comes as a surprise that God’s purpose in our lives is not to make us healthy and wealthy; God is not primarily interested in filling our lives with earthly pleasures and making us comfortable. His own Son was “a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”(Isaiah 53:3) God has created us for His own pleasure, not ours. “Thou art worthy O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) “The LORD hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4) We live in a pleasure and amusement oriented society; everything has to be easy and “fun”: get it out of your system. Count it an honor to suffer for Christ, “for unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”(Philippians 1:29)
God’s purpose in our lives is to glorify Himself. He tells us to “do all to the glory of God.”(1 Corinthians 10:31) In profound public prayer, when His soul was deeply troubled about the cross — the sinfilled agony looming on His horizon, Jesus looked up to His Father and said, “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28) Let this be our prayer constantly throughout each day, that God would be glorified. When you are snoozing lazily late in the morning, when you sit down in front of a television to amuse and entertain yourself, when your thoughts begin to wander in wantonness, when you feel like complaining because no one is ministering to you, remember how Jesus suffered for you, and pray that God will be glorified. You will think twice about this selfishness. If you are His, you “are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin: that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”(1 Peter 4:1) Oh Father! Help me!
The third activity chosen by God from the life of Job is that he offered burnt offerings each morning for each of his children. Job took animals from his flocks and herds, and killed them and burnt them before God on behalf of his children. Why? What value did Job find in this?
I feel that it was because he saw the principle of substitution pictured on the altar as he did nowhere else: he saw the truths of atonement there in the blood of those animals. Many times Job had broken God’s law and had taken an innocent lamb to the altar. Laying his hands upon its head, admitting his sin, he had felt the identity develop between the lamb and himself as innocent blood flowed and the lamb took his place upon the fire. (Leviticus 4:3235) How often he had spilt innocent blood to pay for his own sin, felt the interchange of righteousness and filthiness, and walked away in the lamb’s place, unscratched.
Yes, Job was a Christian: he had died upon the altar and felt the righteous Lamb of God deep within his bosom. Like Abraham his neighbor, Job had seen his sin crushed once and for all by the coming Lamb; he had been “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ for all.”(Hebrews 10:10) He, like Abraham, “rejoiced to see (the) day (of Christ), and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
The principle of substitution was Job’s only hope of access to God for himself and his family and he reminded them all of this truth daily. He recognized that salvation was the most important issue in life; to gain heaven is to gain all: to lose heaven is to lose all. Job was safe from fear of hell, and he wrestled with God for the souls of his children.
Western Churchdom is far removed from the principle upon which God saves a man. It is no wonder that many struggle with doubts about their salvation and brush them aside as prompts from Satan. Very few are diligent about the eternal welfare of their own souls, much less that of a loved one, as was Job. Eternity is not negotiable: we cannot afford to be wrong about salvation! “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Is there any wisdom at all in being negligent or careless in this matter? I say not! “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10) If you are not completely assured of the forgiveness of sins, lay aside foolish fears about what people will think of you or what it will cost you. It will cost you your sin — you have nothing to lose. Fear God not man… hear God not man.
Get alone with God and a Bible. The Holy Spirit must open your heart to believe on Jesus. By real God-given repentance you must turn to Jesus Christ and turn away from your love of sin. By real God-given faith, you must see your sin placed upon Jesus — all of your sins past present and future placed upon Jesus Christ once and for all forever — and His righteousness placed within you. You must believe without any doubts whatsoever that His death was for you personally and you must receive and appropriate that death as a covering or payment for your own sins. You must be completely assured of the forgiveness of your sins based on the work that Jesus finished for you on the cross.
If this is your need, stop putting this off. Put away your sin and meditate on what Jesus has done to rescue you from it. Meditate upon the atonement, picture the Lamb of God upon the cross in your place, set your gaze upon Him, and may God fill your heart with faith and understanding in the principle of substitution, the principle of atonement! See Jesus Christ rise again from the dead as living proof that your sacrifice has been received, that your sin is gone forever! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Do not rest with doubts. Seek God with all of your heart and He will be found of you (Jeremiah 29:13) for “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Then wrestle with God for your loved ones.
How do you wrestle with God for a loved one? Believers in Jesus “also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) The high priest of old Judaism was only able to approach God safely and intimately on one given day of the year, and then only after precisely following a prescribed set of conditions. Unlike the high priest of old we believers have a daily access to the holy throne of God and we are to avail ourselves of this access on behalf of others.
Ask God to extend His restraining grace to those around you to keep them in the straight and narrow, knowing that without His grace you would be doing worse. Ask Him to be merciful and longsuffering with those around you who are entangled with or enticed by the world. “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Hebrews 5:12) “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.” (1Jn 5:16)
How often do we abuse this privilege of praying for others by exalting ourselves and speaking evil about a brother or a sister in sin instead of praying for them and seeing them delivered? “O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!” (Job 16:21) Is it any wonder that we are afraid to “confess (our) faults one to another, and pray one for another, that (we) may be healed”? “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5 :16) but truly righteous men are few and far between. Job was a righteous man, and he used his access to God to sanctify his loved ones, to set them apart for holiness. He did this effectually and fervently. So should we.
The fourth activity is rich: Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”
Notice first that Job was apparently unaware of any open rebellion in any of his children, for his passion for holiness had only potential to wrestle with: “it may be…”. He apparently had “faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly.” (Titus 1:6) How many of us daily approach God on behalf of loved ones who outwardly appear to be walking with God? Do we not rather neglect prayer until there is some outward sign of unfaithfulness? This should not be. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds.” (Proverbs 27:23) Be diligently aware of the spiritual state of those you love and pray for your loved ones continuously, not just in times of trouble. We are no less dependent on him when things appear to be going well.
Notice also that Job knew how to rule “well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” (1 Timothy 3:4) God’s blessing was upon Job’s family through Job’s prayers, example, and instruction. Wise, spiritual, unselfish leadership by the father is vital to a wholesome family and is therefore a requirement for Christian pastors. This is most sadly neglected in Western churches, where pastors are often chosen for their education and speaking ability instead of on their character as a husband and father. We have blithely assumed that no one has a perfect family and that no one can possibly meet such rigid standards as God has set forth, so God did not really intend for these requirements to be applied literally. Actually, the standards are quite reasonable and God requires that we follow them literally.
The requirements for the office of a bishop are listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They are all character requirements. Literally nothing is made of formal training, linguistic expertise, or speaking ability. The godly men of a church who are seasoned in the scriptures, who are seeing God’s blessing on their own families and who are apt to teach, should be our pastors. They should encourage by example and instruction the people who know them the best, not for money but of a ready mind. (1 Peter 5:23) Is it any wonder that God has written “Ichabod” over the face of the Western churches? Require that your pastor’s family be as the Bible says. Then he can help you with yours.
Why did Job fear that his children might have secretly cursed God? This is strange to us. Most folks seem to think, “My little Johnny would never do a thing like that!” How subtle the pride of humanism — man centered thinking. Job did not pretend that he or his children were basically good. “If I justify myself,” he said, “mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” (Job 9:20) Herein is the secret of much of Job’s success with God: he understood his own depravity and did not excuse it.
Do you understand yours? Do you think that you can do anything good at all without God putting it in you? Forget it. You will make the most evil choice that God will allow you to make in every choice of life and death. Apart from the presence of Jesus Christ in you there is absolutely nothing good in you or about you, nor will there ever be. You are a rebel and there is no excuse for it. The sooner you learn this, and quit trying to flatter yourself, the better off you will be.
This truth, though perhaps unpleasant to the itching ear (“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:3), is a dear friend: “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6) We have little idea how sinful we are.
It is here, in the abyss of man’s depravity, that we resolve the “paradox” of man’s freewill vs. God’s control of all things, and unravel the twistedness of Arminianism (the teaching that Man’s will is free to choose good or evil) and Humanism (the teaching that Man’s nature is basically good and that “good” is what contributes to Man’s pleasure and happiness). These two “isms” are blood brothers: the Dagon of the Philistines which fell prostrate before the arc of God. (1 Samuel 5) Man is only capable of evil, he is not capable of any good at all in and of himself. “There is none righteous, no, not one… there is none that seeketh after God… there is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:1018)
See! God steps back from the heart of Man, not willing that he should perish but that Man –of himself — should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God freely offers the crushing of His Son for Man’s deliverance, and plainly sets before the face of Man an eternity of burning in the lake of fire, or righteous bliss with the Son of God. There is no hesitation. Man’s deep hatred for God and His righteousness prevails before the offer is even made. Not a single person throughout all of history has the slightest inclination to accept God’s offer! (Ps 14:2, 53:2)
God knows that if He does not intervene in the will of a man, and effect a change in his will, that man will be lost. God must implant in the heart of man a desire for Himself, a longing for heaven, a fear of Hell, a humility, a repentance, a faith, and a holiness… or there will be none. When God intervenes, a man is saved; when he doesn’t a man is lost. So much for our freewill! Do not think that God chooses one above another for qualities he prefers! God hates “all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5). We are an abomination to Him and He to us when He leaves us alone.
Doubtless one will say, “Now you have left the Scriptures and gone to philosophizing”. On the contrary, friend. The Scripture is replete with teaching on the depravity of men, it is in vain that we look for any clear statement of man’s ability to do anything good. God says plainly, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Man is as desperate for sin as he is for the very air he breathes: it is his life and love. This is bad. You would sooner part men from their eyes and ears and arms and legs than move them form their sin. “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22) Do not be deceived about yourself. Without Jesus you can do nothing. (John 15:5b)
Another says, “But God would not command us to seek Him, believe on Him and turn from our sin if we were totally unable!”
Here before you, in all of its brokenness, lies the total sum of the “support” that you will find for man’s “free will”. Not a stitch of scripture: pure humanistic philosophizing. Given that Man is unable to obey because he cannot be willingly obedient, should God then not give any commands? I say not! “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) God does not require perfection of us because we are able, but because it is righteous for Him to do so: “it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) His command does not imply our ability, it demonstrates His holiness. This should be the final nail in the coffin of Man’s goodness. Let it be buried to rise no more in you.
Oh that we were rational about our own hearts! But this is where the heart begins its deadly deception. Be ware of it! Meditate on the Word of God and continually remind yourself about yourself. Do not forget what manner of man you are (James 1:24). “In lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3) Soberly consider that you are depraved, that if God were to withdraw His grace from you, there is no other more vile than yourself. This is the root of humility, a vital key in effectual, fervent prayer, a catalyst of compassion, and a deterrent to compromise.
Remember God’s servant Job. Job was concerned about holiness for himself and his loved ones: “he sent and sanctified them.” Job rose up early in the morning, disciplining himself for the spiritual welfare of his family. Job offered burnt offerings for each of his sons each morning, reminding himself and his family that their only hope of access to God was through atonement, the atonement of Christ, and Job availed himself of his access to God on behalf of his loved ones. Job did not pretend that he or anyone else was basically good. This humbled him and gave him a sense of deepest dependence on God for his own holiness and for the holiness of his family. He obtained grace from God and was a holy man. He lead a family in holiness to the glory of God, and was publicly recognized by God, “that there (was) none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fear(ed) God and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:8)
“Let these sayings sink down into your ears.” (Luke 9:44) Amen.