|Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.|
How shall we proceed unless we have this understood? May I presume that “all have fallen short (Grk. VEERED AWAY) of (from) the glory of God”?
Job lives long enough to have grown children with their own homes, and he is rich and successful. Job has a great life and is respected in town.
Then, God permits Satan to take everything but his life.
AND JOB SAYS:
|Job 3:25-26 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
Note verse 26…..Job accounted his basic insecurity and watchfulness as a hedge of protection against such tragedies. These were the things he greatly feared. Job accounted his TACIT CONFESSION that these things would or might come as a form of righteousness…he expected that by admission to his LIABILITY to such things, he was exonerated of the sin of presumption. Job was afraid that if he INSISTED THAT GOD would preserve him, that THIS would be THE sin that brought on the things he greatly feared. As it turns out, it was not his presumption on God’s protection, but his DOUBT OF IT that invited and warranted these tragedies.
After a full life of health and prosperity, Job greatly fears that such tragedies are not far behind. He expected them. Do you?
Many years of walking with God, and many years of blessing, are not enough to convince Job that he is SAFE with his God.
|Job 10:12-13 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
13 And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.
Job always suspected that this evil was coming. Job suspects God of treachery. Job spent his life looking over his shoulder, afraid that God was going to “let him have it bad” at any moment. Do you?
Job “knows” (presumes) that “THIS” (those sudden tragedies) were WITH God (in God’s mind and plan) ALL ALONG. Do you?
JOB’S SIN was doubt of God’s goodness and faithfulness, even after a full lifetime of proof that God would take care of him. Did not the children of Israel do the same, after seeing so many miracles?
|Psalms 78:32-33 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
And will you say that THIS doubt of theirs was NOT a sin? What happened to these people who believed not for His wondrous works?
|Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.|
PLEASE NOTICE that God says that Job spoke of Me the thing that is right…..everyone seems to know that the 3 friends were repudiated, but no one seems to remember that Job’s words were VINDICATED.
Let us look at some of what Job said:
|Job 12:6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.|
|Job 13:24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?|
| Job 34:5-6 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.
6 Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.
Are these the words of one who spoke rightly about God? How can God say that Job spoke rightly?
BUT…for those of you who CARE, you can see when you read the book of Job, that Job’s friends did nothing but argue for why Job should just ACCEPT his problems. Job, on the other hand, with all of his complaints and challenges to God’s fairness and motives, cried, reasoned, negotiated, and prayed through. Job not only got an answer from God, but God justifies Job against the “God defenders” – the 3 friends. I am not going to comment on the whole book of Job: if you haven’t read it, you have no right to judge what I am saying here. Job’s 3 friends did nothing but “defend God’s righteousness” throughout, only to be repudiated by God Himself. Job did hardly more than complain and accuse God throughout, but was ANSWERED and HEALED and RESTORED to another full life of blessing and prosperity! Now, I ask you….are you more like Job….who keeps after the Lord until the Lord answers?…..or are you more like the 3 friends: 3 staunch “take it on the chin” Stoics?
Job’s righteousness was a real faith in a living God who could be prevailed upon to come to his rescue. Job had that faith that has been the same since the beginning of time:
|Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.|
| Romans 4:19-22 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Abraham was accounted righteous BECAUSE HE BELIEVED A PROMISE. We are no where told that Abraham was accounted righteous because he believed a commandment or a threat of punishment: but because he BELIEVED A PROMISE from God!
Job’s 3 friends had a cynical doctrine of Stoicism in which it was presumed that God could not be prevailed upon to DO anything.
Which faith do you have?
Out of a long life full of blessing, which undoubtedly continued for many years after his trials and troubles: Job had a relatively short period of severe suffering. After his sufferings, Job resumes his successful and prosperous life in full health. Do you, who are “on the downward slide”, with no hope of going up again, think it is a fair comparison to make your resignation to decay into the spiritual equivalent of Job’s fight back to life? Are you in a trial? Do you expect your trial to end in relief and victory before you die?
|Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.|
| Hebrews 4:1-2 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
LISTEN TO ME….real faith is NOT EASY to attain. My life is no uninterrupted string of answered prayers and victories. This IS NOT EASY. Do not say, “I cannot do that”….START doing it, now. Confess and agree with ALL the Word of God. You must agree with the commands and warnings, and you must also agree with the promises.
Almost the most overlooked verses on faith in the Bible
| 1 John 3:19-22 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
True faith is not easy to attain to, because it requires a conscience that is void of offense. A conscience void of offense is not a rash presumption that God “has no objections to anything in me because Christ has died for me”. A conscience void of offense comes from facing the facts about yourself; facing the truth of the Word of God, and living up to the light we already have. The Bible plainly says that an uncondemned heart gets WHATEVER IT ASKS FOR.
The fact is…..that our heart may not ask for what our mouth asks for: a man asks for healing – but in his heart, he knows he shouldn’t have it – he knows that his sickness is his just deserts. He knows that it would be UNRIGHTEOUS of God to give him what he is asking for; he does not really expect to get what he is asking for; he doesn’t REALLY want what he is asking for despite his profession to the contrary.
I speak only of real Christians here: we want God to be justified, and we want God to be vindicated: even AGAINST ourselves. This is a requisite for even being a child of God. A Christian may be justified before God (in a place of acceptance) IN his sickness; where he could not be justified before God in his prosperity. His lack of reverence, his sins, his lack of prayer and lack of serious investment in his faith preclude him from receiving his healing in righteousness. Such a man is in a state of acceptance with God; in that he may pray, and has assurance of eternal blessedness at the end. You are not ADDITIONALLY condemned by being sick – you are preserved in the world with your present and inexcusable faults BY the suffering.
We are at all times fully justified, and have ready access to God….
|Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.|
Having come into the state of acceptance by our union with Christ, we are always able to “have God’s attentive ear”: but we know that this “perfection” is not sinlessness, because we yet sin. It is a state of equity before God in which we are always accepted in Christ.
But if one wishes to escape the suffering, one has to become the person that God CAN reward with answered prayer and deliverance. That is why prayer for oneself is so important. True prayer is NOT an incantation, but true prayer is a conversation. When we are trapped in unhappy circumstances that we are responsible for, we should EXPLAIN to God WHY He should help us – and keep up the conversationUNTIL we are changed. Prayer changes US, and God responds differently to the US we become after we have prayed than He does to the US we were before we prayed. I mean prayer as a CONVERSATION, and not prayer as an INCANTATION. Prayer as an INCANTATION is the very error of the Charismatic Movement that so many (including me) denounce now.
Praying through is not hammering at God or matter or space with demands or insistence until “something” yields: it is CONVINCING GOD to grant your request.
BUT WHY do so many simply resign themselves to their sufferings? Well, in some cases, their breach of faith and breach of covenant with God has been so severe, that they MUST bear this problem for the rest of their life on the earth.
|2 Samuel 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.|
David was told by God that he would have trouble for the rest of his life. This was not because it pleased God for David to have a rough life: it was because David’s sin and crime was so great, that God could not allow such as him to cruise on through with only riches and success.
You should note that both adultery and murder (sins which David committed) were supposed to be punished by EXECUTION. There were no “mitigating circumstances”: these were both wantonly planned and thoughtfully executed crimes. David should have died for these crimes.
But David repented thoroughly, and with tears, self abhorrence, and lament. God Himself overpassed the Law of Moses in this case, and let David live. This is a fact that eludes and confounds many: but here we see the TEMPORAL JUSTICE of God. Repentance ALONE could not satisfy the moment and the situation. David must needs pay some price for this sin while in the world….and he does.
But that our sentence is fixed and inescapable ought not to be automatically presumed. David WAS TOLD what his sentence would be by the prophet of God. David knew because GOD TOLD HIM.
The main reason why many do not pray through, is because the cost of their help seems higher than the pain of their suffering. They are simply unwilling to “pay the price”.
|Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.|
Many of “us” (and I do include myself) persisted in a certain sin or other disobedience for years and years. We did not face up to and take care of business when we first had the chance – and now, we have grown old and hardened in our errors. Circumstances have compounded around that error.
Let us suppose that a man obtained the money to buy a house by an act of fraud or dishonesty of some sort: perhaps he UNRIGHTEOUSLY fought with the siblings over the inheritance. 20 years have now passed, and he has not yet made it right with the siblings. Time and again he had enough money to begin to repay them their just due…but he didn’t. NOW, the only way to restore that which he has obtained by fraud is by selling and losing the house. Here we have the problem compounded by procrastination. The COST of doing the right thing has now gone sky high for him: the thing that could have been handled more easily several times in the past cannot now be handled except at great and painful cost. His conscience bothers him: he asks God for the money to make it right. But God cannot just give him the money now…because his sin has grown larger and been compounded by his procrastination! He must now lose all that he gained by fraud in order to “make it right”. But he will not go that far….he is more afraid of losing the house than he is of going on with a bad conscience. His heart condemns him, and he cannot believe and receive, because he KNOWS that he is not worthy to receive what he is asking for. His heart contradicts his mouth in prayer.
With sufficient and proper remorse and repentance, God may yet be willing to provide some other way to make the matter right besides losing the house: but once he sets out on this path – the path of “getting right” with God, his heart will spew up ALL SORTS of things that are not “quite right”, and he will be reminded of all the other “unfinished business” with God and men that has been put off. Exhausted and fearful, he chooses to rather go on with a bad conscience than risk everything by acts of moral heroism. He cannot take these risks because he suspects that God wants to hurt him; make him suffer; take away all that he enjoys: to make him do without and learn to smile about it.
The man may finally decide that there is no way out except to sell the house and restore the money to the siblings: but just as God only provided a lamb for Abraham AFTER he had lost Isaac (in his heart) to God, God may provide a way out other than the loss of the house to the repentant man whose works PROVE his repentance.
|Hebrews 12:10-11 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
FOR OUR PROFIT – the Bible does not say, “for God’s profit”. If we engage the Lord to reveal all His displeasures to us, we may be shaken about and called to a rough road for a while, but if pursued with sober and hopeful vigor, that rough road leads to both blessing and a clear conscience.
|Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.|
|2 Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Above, we have the other situation that people commonly appeal to in order to make their self-caused, self-invited problems into some sort of martyrdom. Martyrdom it is NOT, but suffering for righteousness’ sake IT IS:
|2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Verses 3 & 4 extol these Thessalonians as good Christians, but verse 5 says they were enduring the righteous judgement of God.
Why does God judge (or send problems and miseries to) the righteous? It is because they are NOT righteous enough to escape all the problems and sufferings. Will you say that it is God’s righteous judgement that “innocent” Christians suffer? We are back to the “cruel God” concept then……does God torture His children just to see if they will complain, and then condemn them for complaining? Let us not revisit this again…..I know that this is the reprehensible thing that lays at the bottom of all these protestations about undeserved suffering…..
The proof that these sufferings are DESERVED is in the word tokens. Just as David suffered (comparatively) only tokens of the punishment he deserved, we suffer some tokens of the punishments we deserve.
Tokens are partial and lesser representatives of something larger. Our “capital (hell deserving) crime” against God is dealt with and forgiven in our faith in Jesus Christ: we are no longer accounted as “enemies”, but are dealt with as citizens and children of the kingdom of God.
|Colossians 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.|
This is still true. We suffer tokens of the righteous judgement of God for the sake of the kingdom of God.
God has to justify His dealings with us before the world, too: He will not be accused of respect of persons in His dealings with US: and that is not because God is arbitrary, but because He will have been COMPLETELY FAIR – even in the sight of ungodly men. What you and I (as Christians) suffer in his life is the JUST (not arbitrary) judgement of God.These sufferings and problems MAY BE either commuted or mitigated by adequate repentance. Sometimes we “exhaust” our sentence and are then released. There will be equity.
| Matthew 5:25-26 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
But in any case we are not cut off from God, and are welcome to pray and ask for all sorts of things: as long as we are NOT simply asking to “get away with” our sin and crime. We are welcome to the throne of grace with our poverty or sickness, and may obtain all sorts of things from Our Father. We are always JUSTIFIED, and our access to God is guaranteed. Thus, a sick one may not get his own healing, but may pray for someone else who is then healed. He has a good conscience to pray for someone else, but does not have a good conscience to pray for his own healing. The poor one may be able to ask for and receive some money from the Lord, but may not be able to solve his marital difficulties by prayer alone, because he refuses to DO the things he must do, or he refuses to REPENT of the things he should repent of.
We are justified and have free and ready access to God, because God keeps all “the books” on our life and business “balanced” at all times. We are always “ultimately justified” in whatever state we are in, and so we may approach God with boldness. But we may NOT be justified in respect to temporal particulars, and so our temporal problems remain.
Paul’s Thorn was given to him lest he be exalted above measure: NOT because it ultimately pleased God for Paul to suffer. One might ask about why the Apostle John was not given any such thorn……
What measure? Well Paul was formerly a persecutor of The Church: the Apostle John never did this……Paul was complicitous with the murder of Stephen (Acts 7); the Apostle John never did anything like this! It was NOT FITTING in God’s sight for such as the Apostle Paul to be confirmed by great miracles and have a great and adventurous life and be renowned throughout the world for ages to come…AND have perfect health all the while. It would NOT BE FAIR to the rest of us. Lest Paul be exalted above others when he should not be, it was legislated from heaven that he should have this one embarrassing and conspicuous problem. NOTE: Paul’s problem was not crippling; it did not prevent him preaching and traveling; it did not prevent him from working miracles: IT WAS JUST EMBARRASSING and INCONVENIENT…..it was a token of the righteous judgement of God.
ALSO….Paul did not INVENT HIS OWN ANSWER when he prayed to God 3 times that he might be released. God TOLD HIM that he would have to bear with this problem. Is this how it has been with you and your prayers and problems?…or have you simply presumed that you are in the same case as Paul and arrogated Paul’s answer to yourself?
In order for God to continue to bless Paul with such mighty confirmations, Paul had to bear with a certain infirmity. This infirmity “balanced the books” on Paul’s EARTHLY LIFE, so that God could justly confirm him with mighty signs and revelations.
|2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.|
Paul prefers to bear the judgement and keep the power, rather than be healed and lose the power. Paul cannot both be healed of this one thing and have the power of Christ resting on him. I make the same choice, and all the children of God WILL make this same choice. We will choose to suffer for righteousness’ sake (that righteousness may be vindicated -even against ourselves), rather than gain our temporal benefit at the cost of God’s Holiness.
THE LAST STRAW MAN IS CUT DOWN……..
|2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.|
AGAIN…we are not dealing with martyrdom here, but with the just judgements of God against us men for our sins while in the world.
If infirmities, reproaches, and necessities were ALWAYS the absolute and unchanging cost of having the blessing and power of God upon us, then we would be best off blind, deaf, dumb, and confined to a wheelchair……right?
But the Apostle John was not in such a state, and neither was Peter. Did not the power of Christ rest upon them? But someone may say…..”Wasn’t Peter crucified at the end? Didn’t Jesus tell Peter that he would die this way?”
Peter DENIED CHRIST at Christ’s trial. There was no good reason for Peter to believe he was in mortal danger, for the Apostle John was also present at the same trial; was known to be a friend to Jesus; and John did not deny Christ. Peter had to finally face what he feared, and we can be assured that in the moment of Peter’s judgement/martyrdom, that he, like Stephen before him, was consoled and comforted out of this world by the mighty power of God: Who promised both Peter and US this:
|John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.|
I affirm therefore that no evil befalls us except for 2 reasons only.
1. We are being persecuted by MEN for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s.
2. We are suffering because of our own sins. errors, and unbelief – and all sin, ultimately, springs from unbelief of the truth.
To confuse these two things is to make mockery of God’s justice and fairness; it is to make God into a cruel one, Whose good pleasure is to see how long we can take the pain before we complain.
Those who are being persecuted FOR CHRIST’S SAKE AND THE GOSPEL’S will not be plunged into misery also by their trial: but will receive sufficient consolations and comforts DURING THEIR SUFFERING, so that it was not really “misery and despair” at all.
Stephen, when he was being stoned to death, had no terror. He had such presence of mind, that he could pray for his persecutors amidst the blows. He was comforted with no less than a vision of Jesus in heaven, so as to assure him of the final outcome.
GET RIGHT, AND BE BLESSED.
God is having mercy….on us all.