Job 10:15-17

Sermon preached on March 12, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

This past week I read an article in Psychology Today (Stanton E. Samenow Ph.D) that stated that no matter how terrible their crimes, many criminals regard themselves as good people.

" 'If I thought of myself as evil, I couldn't live,' said one murderer. 'Just because I killed someone doesn't mean I'm a bad person,' asserted another."

The author stated,

"Perhaps the most surprising discovery in my early years of trying to understand the criminal mind was that, without exception, offenders regard themselves as good human beings. No matter how long their trail of carnage, no matter what suffering they caused others, every one of them retained the view that he is a good person."

Occasionally we will watch the TV show 48 hours or Dateline. Sometimes I'm surprised that after a person commits a heinous crime, a friend or relative of the perpetrator will say something like,

"He's a good person."

That always surprises me. In those cases usually the person has just murdered someone in cold blood with premeditation and they are described as being 'good'. When I hear that I think,

"What would he have to do to lose the adjective 'good'?"

Our bar for goodness is sometimes exceedingly low.

It's important that we Christians have a accurate idea of who we really are, who we are in ourselves. After all we don't want to be delusional.

There are different ways to look at it. Christians we can and should consider who we are in Christ. That can be a great help to us as we live our lives. We have been accorded many and great privileges in Christ. We have been adopted by God and are members of God's family. We are the redeemed of the Lord. We are co-heirs with Christ. We have been justified, declared righteous in Christ. We are the people of God. We are precious and honored in His sight. Those promises can be a great benefit to us it times of trouble.

But we should also consider who we are in ourselves. That will help us be humble and will keep us from putting ourselves above others. Seeing ourselves on the same level as others will aid us in assisting them and being a blessing to them. So this morning I wan to look at what Job says in our text. (Job 10:15-17)

"If I am guilty—woe to me!
Even if I am innocent,
I cannot lift my head,
for I am full of shame
and drowned in my affliction.
If I hold my head high,
you stalk me like a lion and again
display your awesome power against me.
You bring new witnesses against me
and increase your anger toward me;
your forces come against me
wave upon wave."

Job complains about his inability lift his head.

Job states that even if he is innocent he cannot lift his head, that he is full of shame. If he tries to lift his head high, God stalks him like a lion and displays His awesome power against him. God brings new witnesses against him and increases His anger against him, wave upon wave.

The expression, 'lift up the head' is sometimes used in the Bible to refer to, (Victor Hamilton, "
נ," NIDOTTE, 3:162)

"a proud show of autonomy and independence"

In the context here it is an, (HALOT, 2:725)

"expression by the acquitted in litigation"

Job wishes that he could be acquitted. David J. A. Clines writes, (Job 1–20, WBC 17; p. 251-252)

"The language of this address has been rich in the metaphors of legal disputation. Job has—hesitatingly and adventurously—contemplated means of winning legal vindication from God."

But even though Job is not guilty of any great sin, he is not acquitted. God does not let him act like he is innocent.

If he tries to raise his head God stalks him like a lion. This expression denotes God's impending judgment against sin. We see this in Hosea 5 which lists the great sins of Israel and details God's judgment against them. In verses 14-15 God says,

"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;
I will carry them off,
with no one to rescue them.
Then I will go back to my place
until they admit their guilt."

Job is saying that if he tries to act as if he were innocent, he feels God's presence like a stalking lion, about to pounce and tear him to pieces. God is not treating him as if he is innocent.

Job says that God displays His awesome power against him. The word that is used here, (John E. Hartley, Job, NICOT; p. 190)

"refers to deeds that God endows with his creative power (e.g., Isa. 28:29; 29:14). Whereas God had marvelously constructed this child, he now employs his extraordinary power to plague Job in multiple ways."

It's like God has marshaled all His resources against God. Previous in Scripture this word 'awesome' or 'marvelous' had been used to describe God's wonderful and creative deeds in Israel's history, for their good. Now this creativity in God is turned against Job.

Then there are the new witnesses. Keil and Delitzsch write, (Commentary on the Old Testament)

"The witnesses… that God continually brings forth afresh against him are his sufferings… which, while he is conscious of his innocence, declare him to be a sinner;"

So does God's anger. Job feels God's anger against him. It's like God is irritated with Job, that He has great displeasure against Job.

God's forces come upon wave upon wave. John E. Hartley says, (Job, NICOT; p. 190)

"Like a general who keeps ordering fresh troops into the fray against his foe, God gives Job no moments of relief. God multiplies his anger against Job by sending reinforcements of troops against him. Job feels that his situation is hopeless before such a great general. God's hostility overwhelms him."

In this great legal dispute with God Job has not emerged victorious. More and more he feels God's hostility. David J. A. Clines continues,

"What thwarts Job's ambitions, he comes to recognize in this speech, is not so much the majesty and omni-competence of God which dooms any attempt to compel him, but the divine anger that cannot be deflected, a studied hostility that flings into battle against Job all the resources of a God."

The thrust of all that is that Job feels God's displeasure against sin. God is marshaling these manifold resources against Job and is treating him exactly like he was a sinner.

The reason is because Job was a sinner. He wasn't a sinner in the sense that his friends thought he was. They thought he had committed some great sin and that if he just repented that God would again be favorable to him. But Job had no need to repent because his conduct had been proper. But the fact is that Job was a sinner.

One of the things we should understand from this is that

God was punishing Job justly.

He was punishing Job not because of any great sins he had committed. Quite the contrary, Job was committed to God.

Yet he suffered so? Why? In one sense we could say that he suffered because he was righteous. We know from chapter 1 that Job was innocent of any great sin. It was because he was the most righteous man on the face of the earth that these troubles came to him. God declared that Job was the best man on the face of the earth. He said, (Job 1:8)

"Have you considered my servant Job?
There is no one on earth like him;
he is blameless and upright,
a man who fears God and shuns evil."

Yet, God still afflicted Job. Was God treating Job unjustly? Was God punishing Job when Job shouldn't have been punished?

No, of course not. God is not unjust. As God tells us in Proverbs 17:262

"It is not good to punish
an innocent man,
or to flog officials for their integrity."

God is just. He never punishes someone who doesn't deserve punishment. To do so would make him unjust. But God is not unjust. As we read in Psalm 97:2,

"Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice
are the foundation of his throne."

In Deuteronomy 32:4 in his song, Moses said of God,

"He is the Rock,
his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he."

When God punishes, He punishes justly. He punishes because of sin. As He said in Isaiah 13:11,

"I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance
of the haughty and will humble
the pride of the ruthless."

Isaiah 26:21 adds,

"See, the LORD is coming out
of his dwelling to punish
the people of the earth for their sins."

Punishment is intimately related to God's justice. Herman Bavinck writes, (Sin and Salvation in Christ, Reformed Dogmatics 3; p. 163, 167, 168)

"there exists no final principle on which punishment can be based other than the justice of God.""Punishment is imposed, in the first place, not because it is useful, but because justice requires it,"

Bavinck says of God,

"If he did not punish sin, he would give to evil the same rights he accords to the good and so deny himself. The punishment of sin is necessary so that God may remain God."

So why did all these afflictions come to Job? How could God be just in afflicting Job like this?

It was because Job was a sinner.

God punished Job in accordance with His holiness and justice. He could do that because Job was a sinner. Like everyone else, Job was a corrupt individual. He inherited sin from Adam. Job was a sinner, and we are all sinners because of our relationship to Adam. In Romans 5:12f the apostle Paul contrasts the work of the first Adam with the work of Jesus. He wrote,

"Therefore, just as sin entered
the world through one man,
and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all men,
because all sinned—
for before the law was given,
sin was in the world."


"the result of one trespass
was condemnation for all men,
so also the result of one act
of righteousness was justification
that brings life for all men.
For just as through the disobedience
of the one man the many were made sinners,
so also through the obedience
of the one man the many will be made righteous."

John Calvin writes, (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1541 edition, p. 35)

"We therefore affirm that original sin is a hereditary corruption and perversion of our nature, which in the first place renders us guilty of God's wrath, and in the second produces in us those works which Scripture calls 'works of the flesh' (Gal. 5:19)""There are two points which we must examine separately. First, that we are so corrupt in every part of our nature that, on account of our corruption, we are justly condemned in God's sight. Righteousness, blamelessness and purity alone are acceptable to him. We cannot explain our liability merely as someone else's fault, as if we were being held accountable for the sin of our first father, while being ourselves blameless. For although Scripture declares that through Adam we are made answerable to God's judgment, this does not mean that we are innocent and that, without having deserved punishment, we are paying an exorbitant price for his sin. But because through his transgression we are all caught up in his ruin, he is said to have made us all liable."

There's a famous quote that illustrates this. I've seen it attributed to R.C. Sproul. It says,

"We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners."

We are born with a propensity to sin. Like all other human beings, (with the exception of Jesus), Job was a sinner by nature. Romans 3:23 says,

"for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,"

As we also read in Psalm 130:3,

"If you, O Lord,
kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?"

The answer is no one. Even Job could not stand. In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet wrote,

"all our righteous acts
are like filthy rags;"

Isaiah was well aware of that. In Isaiah 6, the prophet had a vision of God on His throne and it shook Isaiah to the core. When he saw God he was faced with personal disintegration. He cried out, (Isaiah 6:5–6)

"Woe to me! I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and
I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord Almighty."

How did the apostle Paul view himself? In Romans 7:24 he wrote,

"What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me
from this body of death?"

For all Paul's devotion to God, for all his efforts to please God, Paul could say. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

"But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me
was not without effect.
No, I worked harder than all of them—
yet not I,
but the grace of God that was with me."

In Philippians 3:3–9 Paul told us more about his personal righteousness,

"For it is we who are the circumcision,
we who worship by the Spirit of God,
who glory in Christ Jesus,
and who put
no confidence in the flesh—
though I myself have reasons
for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons
to put confidence in the flesh,
I have more: circumcised on the eighth day,
of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrews;
in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
as for zeal, persecuting the church;
as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit
I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
What is more,
I consider everything a loss compared
to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
and be found in him, not having a righteousness
of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ—
the righteousness that comes
from God and is by faith."

Paul considered his best efforts dung. They were worse than worthless.

In Romans 4 Paul talks about Abraham, the father of the faithful. He wrote, (Romans 4:2)

"If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works,
he had something to boast about—
but not before God."

Then Paul went on to show that Scripture said that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works. This show that there is no possibility of justification by works. Therefore Abraham could not boast before God. As John Calvin writes, (Romans)

"Since he takes this away from Abraham, who of us can claim for himself the least particle of merit?"

There are three lessons to draw from this.

First, Christians, if Job, who was the best man on the earth deserved all that sufferings that He endured,

we should realize how good God is being to us.

Lamentations 3:22 says,

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail."

Psalms 103:8–12 declares,

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us
according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed
our transgressions from us."

Because of Jesus, God is treating you much better than you deserve. Because Jesus suffered for you, God treats you with kindness and compassion.

Secondly, this means that

how humble we should be.

In Luke 17:10 Jesus said to His disciples,

"So you also, when you have done everything
you were told to do, should say,
'We are unworthy servants;
we have only done our duty.' "

We should consider ourselves to be 'useless, unprofitable, worthless'. We should be humble and realize that we have no claim to honor or reward. Norval Geldenhuys writes, (Luke, p. 433)

"What God does indeed give in the way of 'rewards' He gives purely out of His grace and not because man could ever deserve it."

We see this in Ephesians 2:8–10 which says,

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—not by works,
so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."

So if we're going to boast, we should boast in the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 1:28–31 Paul wrote,

"He chose the lowly things
of this world and the despised things—
and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—that is,
our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Therefore, as it is written:
'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' "

John Newton, the writer of the great hymn Amazing Grace, wrote in his letters, (John Newton, June 1777)

"Unbelief and a thousand evils are still in our hearts; though their reign and dominion is at an end, they are not slain nor eradicated; their effects will be felt more or less sensibly, as the Lord is pleased more or less to afford or abate his gracious influence. When they are kept down they are no better in ourselves, for they are not kept down by us; but we are very prone to think better of ourselves at such a time, and therefore he is pleased to permit us at seasons to feel a difference, that we may never forget how weak and vile we are. We cannot absolutely conquer these evils, but it becomes us to be humbled for them; and we are to fight, and strife, and pray against them."

Thirdly, this means that

you should make sure that your faith is in Jesus Christ and not in yourself or your works.

If you're not a Christian you dare not depend on your works. Job was the best man on the face of the earth—yet consider what he suffered. His sins deserved even much more than that—they deserved death. Earlier I quoted from Isaiah 64 that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our best works do not stand us in good stead in front of God. In fact the opposite is true. They cry out for God's wrath.

Your good works will only condemn you before God. You need a perfect righteousness, one that only comes from God in Jesus Christ. Believe on Him and be saved.