Wednesday, February 13, 2019
From Job 7 “Does not man have hard service on earth…I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning. What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?”
Well that’s a pretty depressing way to start the day. But in my heart, I know that some of you reading this feel exactly the way Job felt when he said these things to God. Life stinks, doesn’t it? Hardship and suffering strain us and drain us. We wonder when we will ever enjoy a day without pain. When will we know the joy of freedom from stress? When will life ever be “normal” again?
There are two very important lessons to learn from Job’s life and attitude in this passage of Scripture.
- While all hardship, suffering and pain are the direct result of sin in the world, not all hardship, suffering and pain are the direct result of personal sin. Job assumes that because he is suffering, God has made him a target to punish his sin. We should never have to wonder “If I have sinned,” because when we walk in the Spirit we know when we have sinned. The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives us the ability to discern the difference between consequences for sin and tests of our faith. We lose that discernment when we begin to focus on self and our condition rather than on the Spirit’s work in our hearts. When we know we have sinned, the Spirit leads us to repentance and God forgives. There is never a reason to doubt God’s forgiveness or to believe He is withholding it. If we do, we question the very nature of God and deny His righteousness and justice. On the other hand, when we know that our hardship is a test of our faith, we rejoice in it because it is proving God’s love for us as his child and our love for Him as our faithful Father. (See 1 Peter 1:3-9)
- Depression and despair over the hardships, sufferings, and pains of life may be the result of not truly understanding or accepting the forgiveness of God. Here’s why I think this is a huge problem in the church today. I hear a phrase coming from the lips of Christians – “I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t seem to forgive myself.” I want to emphatically and dogmatically challenge the validity of that statement. The command to forgive ourselves is not in the Bible. But not only that, it is impossible. It is a deception of Satan to think that we must. It is how he holds us in spiritual bondage. So long as we believe we are still guilty and unworthy we have not truly accepted God’s forgiveness. We are not seeing our lives from His perspective. The person who believes they have not forgiven themselves is actually guilty of not accepting God’s forgiveness. They are still trying to justify their own life and actions, when from God’s perspective they were justified in Christ and made to be His child forever. For some reason, in their mind, they believe their opinion of themselves is more important than God’s opinion of who they are. Their insecurities, guilt, and shame become the chains with which Satan holds them captive, and the only key he claims to have for deliverance is self-forgiveness and self-justification. Unfortunately, Satan never reveals the truth that he has no keys. Jesus said, I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. When God forgives there is no need for any additional forgiveness.
My friend, if you are suffering today because you are trapped in the chains of believing you must forgive yourself for what you have done, you are in a futile pursuit. You will never be free. You must realize that what you are really doing is rejecting the forgiveness God offers you. When God says you are forgiven – accept it. When God says you are justified – accept it. When God says you are worthy – accept it. When God says you are qualified – accept it. There is no need and there is no way for you to improve upon what God offers. You do not make yourself worthy of God, so stop trying to make yourself worthy of people, including yourself. When you repent of your sin, God forgives. To believe anything else denies the very nature and character of God.
REJOICE! Your sins are forgiven, and God declares you righteous. Stop arguing with Him.