Proving God Right
May 15, 2019
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he dealt with some exceptionally difficult issues concerning the Lord and the basics of Christian faith. One of the issues that Paul spearheaded dealt with a thought and a question that has plagued the minds of many people throughout the ages: Is there unrighteousness with God? To answer the question simply, the Bible teaches that there is absolutely NO unrighteousness with God. God is light and there is NO darkness in Him of any kind. He is pure, holy, and righteous in every way. However, it is important to consider why Paul had to address that issue. According to the Bible, believers were trying to rationalize the issues of God’s sovereign control and the basics of salvation. If God is in control of all things and all people, and God has decided that some people will be saved and heirs of His kingdom while others will be condemned in hell, and this decision was made before God formed the world, how can God hold guilt against the condemned? Aren’t they condemned because God decided they would be?
Paul’s answer to this question was simple and Biblical. The scriptures teach and prove that none are righteous – no, not one. Everyone falls short of the glory of God. There are none who seek after God. Together, all people have become unprofitable for the holy and righteous Creator of all things who dwells in the heavens. Since this is true, no one is worthy of God’s blessings and rewards. No one is qualified to dwell in God’s presence. Everyone is worthy of condemnation. Paul taught this simple point: The issue is not whether God is unrighteous; the issue is understanding how anyone is saved at all! People often try to blame God for hardships and the consequences of sin, but He’s not the author of destruction, we are. When God “appoints” some to be vessels of dishonor as instruments of unrighteousness unto condemnation, He’s merely allowing a person to remain in the condition they are born in. When God “appoints” someone to be saved from condemnation and conformed to His image, He is giving someone something they don’t deserve. Who then are we to question the almighty and all-knowing God? Do we know better than He does? Can we see the end? Do we know the true intents of the heart and soul? When is clay ever able to measure up to the power, control, wisdom, and purpose of the Potter?
This issue was addressed long before Paul wrote the Book of Romans, which shows that people have been questioning God for a long time! The Book of Job shows that Elihu had to rebuke Job for an attitude that reflected this same sort of self-righteousness. Though Job was a blameless and upright man, his suffering caused him to speak out of turn, speak foolish things, and misrepresent God. The testimony of Job 34:10-15 shows that Elihu sought to remind Job and the people who listened to their words, that we need to be careful about how we talk about God. We need to remember who God is at all times. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, remembering that He is God and we are not. Job didn’t mean to misspeak about the Lord, but his emotional outbursts exposed some issues with Job’s heart that needed to be addressed. Elihu quoted Job’s previous statements that suggest Job felt God was excessive in His treatment of Job. Job felt that he was innocent of hypocrisy, and so was undeserving of his suffering. That sentiment shows that Job felt God was being too rough; that God had gone too far, and that His treatment was unfair. Job didn’t go so far as to say that specifically, but was so adamant in his opinion, that he felt that God owed him an explanation. Job wanted to know why he was suffering, and what fault caused it. Job had good intentions to repent if his fault was revealed, but his attitude in his approach, expectation, and declarations of God were sinful.
When Elihu addressed Job about this attitude, he pleaded with his audience to consider Job’s words, expectations, and determine if those things were appropriate ways to deal with God based on who God is. Therefore, Elihu didn’t try and defame the character of Job. Elihu made mention of just a few things Job had previously said, and then reminded the people about who God is, expecting the people to compare Job’s words to God’s character and see if they measure up. Here, the Bible shows how to properly discern all things of righteousness. Since the Bible already states that none are righteous, we must assume that the probability of error from any person is very high. To accuse a person of fault by presenting all of the offensive issues that we think prove guilt isn’t necessary or fruitful. The goal in exposing fault shouldn’t be to bury the guilty, but restore them by mercy and grace in the manner of the Lord. It is one thing to point out a mistake. It is another thing to shame a person. Elihu picked just a few examples to show where Job was at fault, but spent the bulk of his time explaining who God is. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. Therefore, Elihu discussed the truth of God’s goodness to prove that Job needed to repent. Leading people to repentance doesn’t require the unveiling of every fault a person has.
The Bible shows that revealing the truth of God’s goodness is sufficient to convict the guilty unto repentance. When Jesus came into the world, He didn’t address every sin of every person. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He didn’t mention the specifics of her issues that required repentance. Instead, He revealed His identity as the Son of God and Messiah at which point the woman confessed her sin, and declared her faith as an immediate evangelist in her town. Elihu brought Job’s fault to the attention of the audience quickly and tactfully. There were more things that Job said that were stated improperly. Elihu didn’t need to bring all of that to the forefront to embarrass Job. Having a heart to restore Job, Elihu dealt more heavily with the nature of God so that Job’s offense could be measured by the true standard of righteousness and goodness.
Elihu began by stating, “Far be it from God to do wickedness and from the Almighty to commit iniquity.” This statement was in direct response to the idea that God is excessive and unfair. Far be it from God to mistreat His people. Far be it from God to inflict pain and suffering excessively. Far be it from God to treat people in a way that they do not deserve. God does not mistreat His people because He is merciful and gracious by nature, and is not a respecter of persons. The Bible teaches that God brings rain upon the just and the unjust. Don’t those who are non-believers have moments in life where they are able to enjoy comforts and success in this life? Don’t believers enjoy the same benefits from time to time? Don’t non-believers have to deal with the trials and difficulties of this life? Don’t believers have to deal with the same? If none are righteous, and all people are an offense to God in our natural condition, why should anyone receive any comfort, success, joy, or pleasure in this world at all?
God does not inflict pain and suffering excessively. It is true that some of the pain and suffering we experience in life can seem like too much to bear in the moment. Consider Job. When he first began expressing his grief about his pain and suffering, he spoke as if he couldn’t go on. Yet, the testimony of Job continues. Job kept speaking. Job kept living. Clearly, Job was able to go on even though he felt like he couldn’t. In fact, where Job felt that his life was unrepairable, God restored him two-fold! Obviously, Job didn’t deserve that quality of restoration based on his opinion of God, but God did it anyway. The Bible teaches that God does not treat us to the extent we deserve. He does not punish us to the full extent that He is able. Though we all fall short of His glory, He provides life and an opportunity for forgiveness of our faults with the promise of eternal life as heirs of His eternal blessings. Is that excessively harsh? God took the form of flesh as Jesus Christ to pay the wages of our sin, to become a curse on our behalf, to take guilt upon Himself so that we could escape judgment. Does that seem excessively harsh? When God saw that sin was too much to bear, He took it upon Himself, saying:
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light."
It is true that God doesn’t treat people in the manner that we deserve. Based on who God and who we are, we “deserve” hellfire – all of us! Yet, there are many that will receive the benefits of God’s promises. Is it fair to criticize God because there is difficulty in this life while He’s done so much to keep us from what we actually deserve? Far be it from God to do wickedness and from the Almighty to commit iniquity! Elihu stated that God is fair. He repays people according to our works and rewards according to our ways. In other words, God enables us to reap what we sow ourselves. Does that mean that Job was guilty of some particular sin that made it fair for the devil to afflict him? No. However it does mean that Job was a sinner, making any person fair game for the devil. Our sin makes us more like the devil than God as Jesus pointed out in John Chapter 8. Resembling the devil, we deserve to be treated like the devil by God. Still, God did not give Job the full measure of consequence that he deserved for being a sinner. Just because he was innocent of being a hypocrite doesn’t mean he was innocent from all sin. Job himself confessed that. Therefore, how could God be excessive or unfair in His treatment?
Elihu reminded the people that God will NEVER do wickedly and NEVER pervert His own justice. He has perfect restraint and His mercies renew every morning. As a result, He is always relenting from giving us what we deserve. His time for fair treatment will come in final judgment when His sheep are separated from the goats. Then everyone will see what all people deserve so that the sheep who follow the Good Shepherd will rejoice in the grace we have received, not complain about how hard life can be. Elihu reminded the people that God is in charge and He sets the standards. Who put God in His position? Was there someone above God before He took His seat on His throne? Is there someone God reports to that has better wisdom, or a higher quality of righteousness and goodness? God is the Most High God. He is exalted above all. He states what is truly good and right, and that revelation is a miracle of grace because without God’s revelation, we would never know. Elihu reminded the people that, since God is highly exalted above all as the Creator, He is able to withhold His Spirit to keep wisdom and revelation from us – but He doesn’t. God is able to withhold His breath that gives us all life – but He doesn’t. If God were to separate Himself according to His holiness, from our corrupted nature, all flesh would perish together and return to the dust. Yet, God has not done that. Instead, God took the form of flesh to die on our behalf so that we who are dust, can be conformed to His image through faith in His righteousness, which was shown through Jesus Christ. Knowing this, can anyone accuse God of injustice? Can anyone accuse God of being unfair? Can anyone say God is too harsh? Like Paul said, who do we think we are when we let these thoughts settle in our minds as if God is less than what His Word says? Far be it from God to do wickedness, from the Almighty to commit iniquity, for God to do wickedly, or for the Almighty to pervert justice. God is the supreme standard of that which is right, good, holy, pure, wise and life-giving.