Self-Justified

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. [2] Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.

Job 32:1-2 ESV

He was “righteous in his own eyes” and “justified himself”. During my reading time yesterday it was obvious that Job was doing both of these things in his speech. Yet, I am sure he had no idea that he was in the wrong with either of these points. As I think about this passage, I am struck by two facts so far and a third that comes later in the book.

First, it is helpful to remember that Job was chosen for this testing based on his righteousness. Satan was looking for someone to target and God offered “his servant Job”. Satan initially declined as he said that God had put a hedge of protection around Job. So in a sense, Job was correct to talk about his righteousness and how this trial was undeserved. His fault in this line of thinking is that his righteousness was “in his own eyes”. There was no acknowledgement that he is only righteous in his living because of the grace and mercy of God. He was declaring that his righteousness came from his own strength rather than from God. The man that was chosen for testing because of his righteousness, did not fully understand where that righteousness came from. Or maybe during the testing, Job’s heart attitude about his righteousness was revealed for what it truly was. Maybe Job always had this “secret sin in his heart” that he was proud of his righteousness and believed that he had earned all the blessings from God.

Second, it is helpful to see that because of his self-righteousness Job was unable to accept criticism about his spiritual state or to even consider what his friends were saying. It is true that his friends were not really speaking to the root issue in Job’s heart, but surely their words should have caused concern within Job that would alert him to his pride and arrogance. But I know this is not true from personal experience. It is easy to “hide iniquity in my heart” and then justify and declare my righteousness, even when I know that it’s not true. I may not fully be aware that it’s not true, but deep in my heart I know the truth. I know that the secret sin is there. I know it is alive within. But I choose to ignore it and focus on the blessings of God that prove that what I am doing is right and that if I was in the wrong, surely God would not bless me as he has.

This is the blindness that trips me up. It’s that darkness within my heart that is allowed to stay. As I work and fight and battle with the strength of Christ to conquer my heart, how often do I convince myself that I have beat back the darkness and it is now just this tiny holdout that is barely worth noticing. A fraction of darkness within a cavern of light. But like the Israelites entering the promised land, I am called to completely destroy sin in my heart. Any sin that remains unchallenged will grow and strengthen within me. My eyes will be drawn toward temptation… My mind will dwell on temptation… And my heart? It will be enticed toward sin. This darkness will vie for attention and grow each and every time I feed it and care for it.

This is why God’s Word is so important. It is the Truth that will reveal the darkness within. It will shed light on the darkness and call my attention to the problem. And as Christ lives in me, he strengthens me to fight and battle this darkness. To not give up and to battle on until my heart is completely free through his grace and mercy. It is a multi-front battle and I cannot get too focused on one area. It is enough to focus on the positive though. It is enough to think through three main points of emphasis that will keep me strong and pointed in the right direction.

  • Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12)
  • Have this mindset among your self (Philippians 2:5-11)
  • Engage with the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 3)

Third, as job will later repent before the Lord and ask for mercy and grace, this is my response as well. Every single day I need to ask my Father for mercy and grace through repentance. I need to always remember the power of sin and the darkness within my heart. But they are never stronger than the power of Christ in me. Christ dwells in my heart. Christ is renewing my heart each and every day. He is changing me step by step. And he will bring me safely home.

Journal Entry // January 06, 2021

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