Job - Blameless, But Not Sinless

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 25, 2012 2 comments

Who is the strongest Christian you know? Hopefully, you read that question and right away you realize that it is theologically inaccurate. The more likely response for most of us, however, is to start letting the names of people we know run through our minds so we can make a judgment on who we consider "strongest". The reason it is theologically inaccurate is because being a Christian really has nothing to do with OUR strength, but that of the One we follow. The Apostle Paul wrote a wonderful passage on the power and sufficiency of Christ's grace when we are weak in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. However, that doesn't stop us from our desire of the flesh to judge people, both positively and negatively. We elevate mere men because of their deeds or seemingly endless ability to stay on the straight and narrow path, and we just as easily condemn others in our hearts for their inability to escape their struggles or abandon the sins of their flesh.

The person that this week's topic is about is a man who many of us would be tempted to glorify if we walked with him today. His name was Job and some of the adjectives used to describe him in Job 1 are "blameless", "upright", and "God-fearing". As Katie already pointed out in Monday's blog, Job remained faithful to God despite the adversity he faced. Both Job 1:22 and Job 2:10 (the verses we come to immediately after reading about the extreme loss that he suffered) state: "In all this, Job did not sin". However, there is a 2nd part to each of those verses we often miss. In the first one, it says that he did not sin "by charging God with wrongdoing". In the second one, it says Job did not sin "in what he said". The interesting thing about that for me as I read those verses is that I think I may have missed those important parts of the verses in the past. If you miss the qualifying phrases, then you start going down that slippery slope of thinking that maybe Job didn't sin - AT ALL.

I've always believed that no one perfect and truly holy ever walked this earth except for Jesus himself, but I know that in the past I wondered how the story of Job fits into that belief. I think it's important to know that, while Job did not sin by accusing God of wrongdoing (which would have been blasphemy) or by anything else he said in his initial reaction to the adversity (which is where about 99% of us would have failed), Job was still a sinner. He may have been blameless, but he was not sinless. Dr. Steven Lawson explains the difference in his commentary on Job: "Sin is vertical, blame is Job lived before the watchful eye of his peers, no one could justly charge him with moral failure, because his reputation was impeccable". Do you see the difference? Blame has more to do with what others think of us, while sin comes from an Old English archery team meaning "to miss the target". Sin has to do with disobedience toward our Creator because He is the One who designed our "target".

You may be wondering at this point how it is that Job sinned, and I intend to show you. Let's not kid ourselves; we know that sin begins in the mind. James tells us that we are tempted to sin by our own evil desires. "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). After we read about how Job did not sin in the first 2 chapters, he begins to speak in Chapter 3. "After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth" (Job 3:1). Compare his attitude with that of the psalmist in Psalm 118:24: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it". You see, it doesn't matter what day those words are read or sung, because the point is that the Lord made EVERY day and we should be thankful for it. Do you know what it is when we curse anything that God made? That's right, it's a sin! I'm not saying it's the same as cursing a human being, because that would be like cursing God and Job did not curse God. But he did curse the day he was born and if you read the rest of the book of Job, you absolutely see the battle that is being waged between Job's flesh and His faith in God. He finds himself stuck between having no answer for why all the bad stuff is happening in his life, yet recognizing that God does not operate by man's expectations.

What clinched this new perspective on Job for me was some verses I came across in preparation for this writing where Job is talking about his dire situation under God's sovereignty. "He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot" (Job 9:32-35). What a perfect foreshadowing of Christ and his work in our lives! No matter how "upright and blameless" Job was, he could not even come close to comparing to Christ, the revelation of God in the flesh. Job recognizes his own sinful attitude by the end of the book, after much conversation with his friends and eventually, with God himself.

Folks, I believe one of the main reasons to include the story of Job in the Bible is to show us a picture of the closest thing to holiness that a sinful man can actually be, just to then show us that EVERY man has his breaking point. More than anything, the Book of Job reveals to us our ultimate dependency on the work of Christ. If Job could really be sinless, then every single one of us would be stuck in a trap of thinking we could attain the same thing without ever really getting there. The only man who did not reach a breaking point was Jesus Christ, and we have to remember that he was also fully God. So, is Job a wonderful earthly example that believers should try to emulate? Absolutely. It took a lot to break his attitude and even then, he eventually repented and saw the error of his thinking. But, is Job a model of perfection who can stand between sinful man and a holy God and arbitrate? Absolutely not. That work is done by Christ alone.


Anonymous said...

"Sin is vertical, blame is Job lived before the watchful eye of his peers, no one could justly charge him with moral failure, because his reputation was impeccable". Do you see the difference? Blame has more to do with what others think of us, while sin comes from an Old English archery team meaning "to miss the target".

English Standard Version
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Job might not have been under the watchful eyes of his peers, but he was under the watchful eye of the LORD and HE confirmed that Job WAS blameless. Job never admits he is guilty of anything. Many, many, many times Job claims that he is innocent. As the prologue shows, and God later shows - Job was correct: he was innocent.

Job recants, or retracts, his question of "why do the innocent suffer" for the answer he received was just as he had feared it would be : a demonstration of might makes right; GOD does not give an answer and we are powerless to demand one.

It is this 'MY way or the highway' concept that has my religious journey at an apparent impasse.

Logan said...


Thanks for reading this blog post and for sharing your thoughts. Even 4 1/2 years later, it's nice to know that it still had someone thinking :).

I'm not 100% sure I follow your thought process. First, it appears that you disagree with me that Job actually sinned. I believe the original writing demonstrated how he sinned, as I pointed out Scripture that shows that Job curse the day of his birth. Cursing what God has made is sin. Whether we can identify with Job's feelings or not is irrelevant. Our justification of his feelings or our own does not change God's standard of sin. Job may have been "innocent" in the sense that his punishment did not fit his crime by any standard, but that does not mean he was perfect. As I said in the post, Job eventually repented of his faulty thinking.

Secondly, you then move to the "MY way or the highway concept". I had to read it several times to understand, but it seems you are saying that God has that view. If I'm understanding you correctly, then I'll respond to it. If I'm way off, just let me know. I'm not sure you've understood the Lord's response correctly here. You say "a demonstration of might makes right". The way I see it, the Lord is answering Job's complaints and questions with questions of his own. This is no different from what Jesus does throughout the Gospels. When people just want the quick answer, he wants to know them and know their needs. He also wants them to seek him and to know him beyond just the answers he can provide. He wants them to seek his heart for themselves and for others. I believe that, by asking Job the questions about his might, creation, and identity, the Lord is reminding Job not of his power, but of his ability to design things the way he did regardless of how we understand them.

In our lives, we want answers from God but we fail to realize that we can only comprehend what he wants us to comprehend. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and we often cannot and will not understand what he is doing even if he tells us about it ahead of time (see Habakkuk 1:5). So, rather than try to explain himself to us (his created beings), God simply invites us to know him and recognize that we are better off trusting his ways.

You are correct that we are powerless to demand an answer from God. If that has your religious journey at an apparent impasse, the good news is that's okay! Like Job, God is inviting you, me, and anyone else to trust him. But he does this by asking us to know him and let go of the things we can't understand about life, our future, his work, and our pain. While we tend to want to have more power and hold onto what power we feel we have, I believe the reality is that we actually find more freedom in giving up control, in knowing that God is in control and we don't have to worry about understanding it all. If we find that difficult because our pain or the evil in the world causes us to question God's goodness, then I think we have to remember that we see and know but a fraction of what he does, and we evaluate most situations on how it affects us personally, while God loves the WHOLE WORLD!

Blessings as you continue on your journey! Feel free to contact us anytime for further discussion or prayer :).