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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy

Job’s dilemma and ours are the same

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    Our life as God’s children can be filled with joy.  Certainly, that’s what God wants.  And yet, because of the tremendous chasm separating the Creator from his creation, that relationship can also be frustrating, even terrifying, especially if we don’t have a proper understanding of God’s nature.
    The patriarch Job, trying to grasp the reasons for his devastation, has been listening to the advice offered by one of his friends.  Counseled to “look to God and plead with the Almighty,” Job is assured that if he is “pure and upright,” God will bless him to his “rightful place,” and even greater. (8:5, 6)
    After listening to this for some time, Job replies with a sense of confusion in his circumstances, heightened by his knowledge of the nature of God and himself:
    “ can a mortal be righteous before God?  Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand.  His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.  Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?  ....  How then can I dispute with him?  How can I find words to argue with him?  Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.”  (9:2-4, 14, 15)
    Job would agree with the apostle Paul in his comments about where God’s law against sin places man:  
    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law....”  (Rom. 3:19-20)
    God has always had a law to which men are accountable, whether the law of the Garden, of the Ark, of Sinai, whether natural law or the law of Christ.  But neither Job nor we can have confidence in our salvation through our keeping of law.  The law is important, vital, necessary...but it will not - indeed, it cannot - save.  Spiritual purity and moral justification must be found some other way.
    Paul’s answer, received from the Lord himself, is that “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (3:22) Job didn’t know this.  Jesus wouldn’t be born for many years.  And yet, Job knew we can’t be righteous before God on our own.  Our only hope is in Christ.  And that hope brings us joy with God. This is why Peter said to the ruling Jews in Jerusalem shortly after the gospel of Christ began to be preached, “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 is why he had earlier told several thousand, in response to their question about what they could do to get rid of their guilt for killing Jesus, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Read Acts 2) And it is the answer to our questions about overcoming sin today.

    Larry Sheehy is an elder and pulpit minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269.
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