Can A Mortal Be of Use to God?

Job 22

There’s much in this chapter that could be explored: Eliphaz’ view of the world and God and his friend, Job. The trumped-up charges brought against a suffering saint. One man’s sense of superiority over another. Eliphaz’ increasing frustration with Job. Instead, we’ll focus attention on verses 2 through 5.

Once more, Job’s friend can barely contain himself until Job finishes speaking, then bursts out with his response. Hauls out his Gatling gun, loaded up with ammunition, pulls the trigger. A burst of eight questions Eliphaz believes will put Job in his proper place. All eight relate in some way to sermon title: Can a mortal be of use to God? Important to know the Bible’s answer to Eliphaz’ questions, may not be the ones he assumed Job should give.

So we end up at right conclusion, we need to start in right place: with God. I know, what you’d expect to hear from a pastor. Right? If we don’t begin with understanding of God as revealed in his word, nothing else will fit together properly.

“At Irkutsk, 2 weeks ago, the brother of Larry Duncan of Slavic Gospel Association (sga.org) taught, “The Doctrine of God”. The key phrase was: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His being (life), wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” I loved learning. After all, how can I preach, believe, live, if I forget who is our God!?” Pastor Yuri

Let’s start with view of God consistent with what he has revealed in the Bible. In doing that, must avoid two extremes about relationship between God and his people:

First extreme – God is self-existent which means he does not depend for his existence on anything outside of Himself. Therefore, God doesn’t need man for anything and God will do what God is going to do and man doesn’t really count with God.

Second extreme – “God, in His ordinary providence makes use of means” LBCF 5.3 God cooperates with all His creatures to bring about his purpose. Without the means, (their coooperation) God can’t achieve his purpose; so,…man’s cooperation with God is essential to things like evangelism and church growth.

Both extremes begin with truth but reach wrong conclusions because each fails to fully consider the other. Short answer: God is absolutely independent and he uses means.

experienced teacher knows better than to predict specific answers students will give on a test…even when teacher knows all the right answers. Eliphaz believed Job only had one option: answer his questions with answers Eliphaz believed were correct.

Time for “pop quiz” with 8 questions plus one for extra credit. Let’s see how you do.

Question Assumed Answer

#1 “Can a strong man be of use to God?” (2a) No

no one, no matter how strong, can supply strength to the one who has all power: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His …power”; in fact, strong man used by God received strength from God

Judges 2:18And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them.”

#2 “Can a wise man be of use to God?” (2b) No

no one, no matter how wise, can add wisdom to the one who has all wisdom; especially when considering “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3)

1 Chr. 17:11-12And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.“He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.”

God used Solomon in remarkable ways; we even benefit from his wisdom (Proverbs)….because God “have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.” (1 Ki. 3:12)

#3 “Does it delight the Almighty if you are righteous?” (3a) No

Is a good parent delighted in the achievements and good character of their child? Even when they have helped the child and trained the child? Of course. Same is true of Heavenly Father, a better parent than we can imagine.

Zeph. 3:17The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

especially delights God when we are holy as he is holy, since he expects that of his children; don’t forget source of righteousness: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

#4 “Does God gain anything if you live perfectly?” (3b) No

God in his being is fully self-sufficient; he needs nothing from his creation, they cannot add anything to his essence. However,…Jesus said

Matt. 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

exhorted by word and example throughout Bible to “exalt the Lord our God” – raise him up; does our praising and exalting God move him to higher position? of course not.

But…God does gain glory in perception and hearts of those around us when we exalt him; even those who worship him around his throne in heaven exalt God among the angels and glorified saints

when God’s glory is magnified in the minds and hearts of his people, God receives more of the worship that is his due

#5 “Is it because of your devotion to God that He disciplines you?” (4a) No

not sure I’d want to spend much time around Eliphaz’ kids; implies in this question that if you love your children, won’t discipline them

if that’s true, must be tons of parents who love their kids a whole lot; spend an hour or two in supermarket or department store, volunteer in school classroom for a few days, you’ll meet up with them

Heb. 12:6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”

God shows his fatherly care and love by correcting / disciplining his child; “ To restrain and govern a child; to correct him when he errs, shows that there is a parental solicitude (attentive care and protectiveness) for him, and that he is not an outcast.” Albert Barnes

#6 “Is it because of your devotion to God that He brings charges against you?” (4b) No

maybe let Eliphaz off the hook on this one – didn’t have chance to read first two chapters of the book like we did

Job 1:8; 2:6So the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.”….So the LORD said to Satan, “All right, he is in your power; only preserve his life.”

are times when God allows Satan to bring charges against the righteous, allows them to experience / endure affliction for period of time

must remember: God always has good end in view for his children and affliction prepares and moves them toward it

#7 “Is not your wickedness great?” (5a) Yes

a simple yes/no answer doesn’t tell whole story; yes, Job’s wickedness was great but…remember what he said in chapter 19: “I know that my Redeemer lives”, my kinsman who stands between God and me with a hand on each, taking away God’s rod of anger

1 Cor. 6:9-11Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

now we’re getting to the heart of the Gospel – this and next two questions: our wickedness is great, there is no end to our sins, but someone else gets the credit

Paul declares in Eph. 1:5 God has “predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”

when God looks at his adopted children in Christ, he sees them as washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God

God views his sons and daughters as members in good standing of his family, whose wickedness has been forgiven, and he relates to them on that basis

#8 “Is there no end to your sins?” (5b) Yes

another yes…but answer: when Joshua the high priest stood before the Angel of the Lord, had on filthy clothes; the Angel “answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” (Zech. 3:4)

Psa. 103:12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

now that we know that, what should attitude toward sin be? oops! oh well, God will forgive me anyway!??

Rom. 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

bask in our forgiveness from God and run as fast and far as we can from sin or anything that would tempt us to sin

#9 “Do you get the credit?” (extra credit) No

Phil. 2:13for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort for the sake of his good pleasure is God.” NET

all the credit for anything good we do goes to God; yes, we are responsible to do right but God gets the glory when we succeed

Back to original question: Can a mortal be of use to God? Of course, when God equips and enables and moves in that person to do God’s will. People of God have significance and are essential part of God’s plan because he planned it that way. From before the beginning, God purposed to do absolutely everything necessary to accomplish redemption and apply it to his people: “call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” God’s purpose included not only saving from sin but also saving for good works. Things prepared by God from beginning for his children to do as part of means to achieve his purpose.

God’s children have significance because God gives it to them; Lord Jesus gave his life for them, Lord Jesus continues to live and intercede for them. The worship they give to God has value because God is worth it and he gives it value. The works they do for God are significant because it is God working in and through them to bring about his good purpose.

On our own, don’t have a leg to stand on before God. “Five bleeding wounds he bears, Received on Calvary; They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me; Forgive him, O forgive, they cry, Nor let that ransomed sinner die!” If your faith is resting on the one who bears those wounds, then yes: you can be of use to God.

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