The Value Of Change
April 8, 2019
The concept of repentance is a concept that has developed a negative connotation over the years. In its simplest form, repentance refers to a change of mind. However, it is important to understand that we cannot change our own minds. According to the Bible, the natural human heart is hardened and unrepentant. How then can something produce something else contrary to its nature? This means we need help. Repentance requires the supernatural power of God to open our eyes to the truth of our sin. Repentance requires the miraculous power of God to change our thinking and perspective. Repentance requires the grace of God to change our hearts and the desires that we have in this life. Thus, when we experience repentance in our lives, we can rest assured that God is truly working in our lives. How can repentance be a bad thing if repentance is evidence of God’s fruitful impact on our lives? When we understand the truth of repentance, it becomes one of the things we desire most, trusting that God is the author of it, and anticipating the additional benefits that come from it.
The testimony of Job 22:21-30 shows that there are an abundance of additional benefits that come from repentance. Since repentance is the supernatural work of God, why shouldn’t there be an abundance of benefits? God is the cause and He does everything good! The testimony of Job 22:21-30 documents the second half of Eliphaz’s response against Job. The first half of Eliphaz’s response was a brutal one. Eliphaz went off on Job, accusing him of many evils. Eliphaz was sure that Job as hiding some sort of evil in his heart, and was thoroughly convinced that Job’s suffering was reflective of God’s punishment for that concealed sin. Eliphaz falsely accused Job because he was unable to hear the truth of Job’s testimony and defense. Eliphaz was unwilling to consider other possibilities because of his own self-righteousness. Eliphaz’s presumptuousness caused him to be blind and deaf to simple things that Job was explain. Yet, the second half of Eliphaz’s address was exceptionally profound and helpful, not only to Job, but to all of God’s people.
It is amazing to see how we as people can speak both blessings and curses with the same mouth, sometimes in the same breath like Eliphaz did. Though he spoke words that tore Job down before, the testimony of Job 22:21-30 shows that Eliphaz genuinely desired Job to be well. Thus, he exhorted Job to repent. While Job didn’t have specific sin to repent from, the encouragement that Eliphaz gave concerning repentance is true for all people at all times. Again, repentance is the work of God. The Apostle Paul exhorted the church to examine ourselves daily to see if we are of the faith. We are called to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. Eliphaz encouraged Job to do the same thing, knowing that the mighty hand of God is sufficient to lift Job up. Though Eliphaz’s motives were skewed, his words were true.
First, Eliphaz encouraged Job to acquaint himself with God. This is good advice to all of God’s people, whether in error or not. To acquaint ourselves with God is to become familiar with Him. This requires us to pursue Him with purpose and diligence. To be acquainted with God is to be intimately connected to Him for sustained periods of time. However, in order to acquaint ourselves with God, we must first approach Him in humility, confessing our inadequacy, and seek Him in the manner that scripture prescribes – for us now, through faith in the identity, purpose, and promise of Jesus Christ. Eliphaz assured Job that pursing God with this sort of affection and humility would bring peace. This is true! When we are in the presence of God being acquainted with Him, abiding in Him humbly, the effects of that is our access to the peace that only comes from God. The result of this is that good comes to those who seek the Lord in such a way. This is because God is the source of goodness. When we are connected to Him by repentance that He causes, we get the benefit of His goodness that pours into our lives. Job certainly could have benefited from that, even if he was innocent of hypocrisy.
Eliphaz encouraged Job to receive the instruction of the Lord. Again, this is good advice whether we are guilty of specific sin or not. Those who are repentant aren’t just called to have a change of mind, but that change of mind should provoke us to receive God’s instruction. Having our minds and perspective changed, we should value and cherish the wisdom and righteousness of God more than the wisdom and self-righteousness of the world. When God speaks, we should perk up to listen, knowing the value that comes from His mouth. When we hear God’s Word with repentant hearts, His Word will penetrate into our hearts so as to change us from the inside out. Our affections will change. Our desires will change. Our goals and ambitions will change. This will further influence a change in our thinking so that we begin to conform to the mind of Christ. This is the miracle that God works by His Word as a result of repentance. These changes can only be manufactured by God Himself so that when we see these changes take place to any degree, we can rejoice over the truth that God is involved in our lives and doing good in us for His glory!
Eliphaz exhorted Job to return to the Almighty. Here, Eliphaz spoke out of turn. Job had not departed from the Almighty, though his mind was fixed on the frustrating issues of this life – mainly because of the false accusations of Eliphaz and his other friends. Still, those who are connected to the Lord, whether returning from sin, or just by diligent pursuit, will be built up. Since God is almighty, those who receive the benefits of God’s repentance get the benefits of His power and strength. Again, to allow the Lord to turn our minds and hearts towards His glory, holiness, righteousness, goodness, and justice, is to learn the value of His essence, being drawn closer to Him. To be closer to God is to receive the benefits of His goodness, which includes strength. Though we might be broken and beaten in this life, the transcendent power of God enables those who turn from self in order to connect with God by humble faith.
There is a responsibility that comes with this privilege. Those who receive the power of the Almighty are expected to use it for His purposes and glory – not self. Eliphaz explained that Job would have the ability to remove sin and iniquity from his own heart AND his home. Though Job was not guilty of any particular sin in this sense, those who receive the power of God are expected to live separated from sin and also keep their homes pure as well. God has entrusted His people to have care and charge over certain people in our homes or close relationships. When God causes repentance and provides His power, that power is to be used to die to ourselves and the influence of the world, keeping sin out of our hearts, minds, and homes so as to protect the spiritual integrity of our own hearts AND our families.
Recall that Eliphaz accused Job of taking advantage of the weak, the pitiful, the widows, and the fatherless in order to receive selfish gain. This was not true, but Eliphaz spoke a compelling point about our perspective concerning riches. When we receive the power to repent from God, the manner in which we value things changes. Eliphaz assured Job that his perspective regarding worldly riches would change. Job would not value riches of this world so the extent that he would take advantage of others to get it. This was not true of Job, but it is still important to value God more than the affections of this world – especially if we are taking advantage of others to receive personal gain. When we humbly receive God’s repentance, the riches and affections of this world seem cheap. The goodness of God becomes profound in our minds and hearts so that He becomes our treasure. We begin to realize how valuable the mercy and grace of God are, in which there is no comparison. We begin to understand the magnitude of God’s love, to give His only begotten Son to rescue us from sin, death, and hell. What treasure or affection is there in this world that compares to such a thing?
Eliphaz explained that receiving God’s repentance in humility causes us to look to God to be sustained and satisfied. Repentance causes us to pray to God in dependency. Repentance causes us to be connected to God since we will be assured that He hears our prayer and sees our pursuit of Him. As a result, we will receive spiritual motivation to serve the spiritual needs of others with our time, with our money, and with the strength that He provides. Eliphaz felt Job was guilty of hypocrisy so he assured Job that God delights in delivering the guilty and sinful from their wickedness. Though Job was not guilty of particular hypocrisy at that time, he was a sinner. Job still required the merciful and gracious deliverance of God from his sin, just as much as any person. To know that God actually delights to save the ungodly from darkness is a comforting thought. He is not standing by anxiously waiting to zap sinners, finding joy in the destruction of sinners. God will judge sin and the sinners who reject His salvation, but He actually prefers and delights in saving sinners, changing their minds by changing their hearts, and then equipping them for His service by leading others to the same salvation. Since all of these benefits come from the foundation of repentance, why should we be afraid, offended, or despise it? According to the Bible, allowing God to change our minds and hearts is the best thing that could ever happen in our lives and in the lives of others!