Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 7)

Righteousness Which is By Faith

The more I read Job, the more convinced I am that it is, among other things, a portrait of contrast to show us the difference between the righteousness of religion and the righteousness which is by faith.

God seems to make a big deal about the importance of righteousness which is by faith. Consider the following verses and I believe you will agree:

Romans 1:17: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 3:22: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Galatians 5:5: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Philippians 3:8,9: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Hebrews 11:7: By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Look again at Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ…” Paul did not want to be found with his own righteousness. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isa. 64:65. If my righteousness was as filthy rags (and it is), I would not want to be found with it either.

This analogy is a reference to the rags that were used to clean the flow of the menstrual cycle. In a very real way it was a picture of life that was possible but never brought to fruition. There was a Levitical law which made a woman unclean till the seventh day after her issue of blood as well as everything she touched or sat upon (i.e. rags).Recall that we are no longer under the law (if you are in Christ). “for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14.

So what is “a righteousness which is by the law“? It is very much a righteousness which is claimed and presented by external observance of practices and rule keeping – in other words religious works. If someone says to you, “I just want to know what I am supposed to do”, you know that they are misguided regarding the kind of righteousness which God seeks, that which is by faith in the Son of God. They are wanting to be found right by what they do, not by what Christ has done. They are making themselves, (or so they think), righteous by doing things. We were never meant to be human doings, but human beings. We are what we are essentially and spiritually, not what we do temporally and demonstratively.

The righteousness which is in Christ is apart from the law. It is not about external conformity to practices and rules. It is a matter of the heart.

It never ceases to amaze me how slippery and steep this slope is. It reminds me of the saying, “like trying to nail jello to a wall” It is just that slippery and that steep. Self righteousness, religious righteousness is devilish at heart because it is red-handed rebellion (as Oswald says). In trying to find a way to be righteous enough in yourself you are making a break from dependence upon God and toward an independent stand apart from Him. You are trying to find a way to do this thing (e.g. be good enough) apart from Him. There is none good but Him (Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18).

And this is what Job’s three friends were doing. Their entire argument toward Job was an attempt to get him to confess sin, and specifically to redeem God as though Job’s denial of sin was condemning God. You see they all (including Job) had a theology of works. Generally speaking – those who do good stand in God’s favor, while those who sinned were the subjects of his wrath.

Do you see the blatant trap and immature approach to that philosophy? It means that I can judge people based on what happens to them – if good things happen they are God’s people, if bad things happen they are against God. Here is the subtlety: if bad things are not happening to me then God is pleased with me, if bad things happen then I have angered Him somehow. There is no room for God to be God, I can force His hand by my works. This makes God out to be a cosmic Santa – rewarding the good boys and girls and handing out coal to the bad boys and girls. Wouldn’t that make it all easy. Problem is, that is not the way it is.

Over and over we see the righteous facing hardship, poverty, trials, sickness, even death. And the converse is true too – we often see the wicked flourish and prosper (see Psalm 73). All of these are revealing what is in the heart. Is your giving to others a product of what is in your pocket or what is in your heart? Is obedience a product of whether or not you like the plan or not? Is you praise because you love Him or because you enjoy the current circumstances? Are all your good acts done in front of others reported to others – then you have your reward. What happens when you don’t get what you want, expect or like, is God being unjust?

That was Satan’s (the accuser’s) point. He challenged God to allow suffering in Job’s life. You can get at what is inside pretty quick with a little fire and pressure. Is it gold, or some cheap useless metal that the fire will significantly damage? Let’s see.

Repeatedly Job’s friends revealed their religious beliefs. I do good and therefore God is obligated to do good to me. Job is getting bad, therefore he must have unconfessed sin. If this is not true – if Job is righteous then our theology is bankrupt and we are exposed, then we are not necessarily good if Job is not bad.

Brothers and sisters we have to get past this. God is God. He does not fit in our neat little box. He doesn’t do, based on what we do. He does based on Who He is. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment“ Job 9:32. You can no more make God answer to you than you can command the wind where to go. Get real. God is not here to prove Himself worthy of you and your idea of goodness. God can not go anywhere to get a better picture of perfection than in Himself, and we are, if we are in fact sons, to bear His image. For you to show God something impressive is for you to reflect Him.

While Job’s friends were making God after their own image, Job was coming to terms with Reality. Job was beginning to see that he did not have an accurate view of God, that He didn’t fit in the box he made for Him. God can do whatever He wants to do and the beauty is that He remains Love, Righteousness, Light and Glory because He defines them to us. Our idea of these things are remnants of eternity past when we walked with Him in the cool of the day, when we knew Him (being in the loins of our father Adam).

Job sat on that hill suffering to reveal a righteousness which is by faith, not by works, not by religious adherence to a creed or set of practices, but by supernatural faith in a Person, his heavenly Father. And Job continues to show us today what it means to suffer for Christ. Job like Paul and any other son worth his salt can say, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.

Advertisements