Job replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shubite and Zophar the Naamathite heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognise him; they began to weep aloud and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust upon their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No-one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
The sentence ‘We have received good at the Lord’s hand; why should we not also receive evil?’ serves to show that people are indeed ungrateful if they do not acknowledge that they are so indebted to God for all his goodness towards them that they ought not to refuse any manner of affliction when God lifts up his hand to exercise them. By saying ‘we received good at the Lord’s hand’, Job does not mean to comfort his wife by suggesting that since God had extended great good towards Job in the past, that therefore they could expect God to extend similar goodness in the future. The meaning is quite clear; we should be prepared to accept whatever our Lord has in store for us, whether ease or trial. When Job calls to remembrance all the good that he has received from God, he takes it as an indicator that he is under God’s fatherly protection and that he should therefore be bound to continue patiently as one of God’s faithful throughout all adversity.
Here we ought to gather a good and profitable lesson. As long as adversities oppress us, we must acknowledge that God has shown himself to be such a good father towards us in so many ways that we should not think it strange if he afflicts us at times, nor should we be provoked and moved to grudge against him. Here it is clear that Job was able to draw comfort from a whole experience of God’s fatherly protection towards him during better times. He is able to conclude from the past that whatever trials he may be subject to now, God’s love and grace towards him will never fail. We could not endure trials patiently if we did not believe that God’s grace towards us in times past indicated that we were indeed continually under his fatherly protection and that therefore his grace and goodness towards us would also apply to the future. We must be well assured of the eternal goodness and love that God has for us and we must trust continually to his grace, not doubting that he will continue to love us, particularly when he deals roughly with us. Job calls to mind the benefits that he has received from God and he knows that God has not changed his purpose or his nature. God has not ceased to be good and righteous, even though he has afflicted Job. When we have this consideration within us, we see how our grief should be assuaged during times of trial.
Here we see a principal point. Although God may seem to be bent against us, yet considering how we have found him so good and that he makes us to feel his love ￼towards us in so many ways, we should not doubt that he will continue in his love towards us even to the end. It is for this reason that scripture adds ‘In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.’
It was not only in what he said that Job did not sin; he was not a hypocrite. He did not glorify God with his mouth while yet his heart and mind were to the contrary. Why does Scripture add ‘in what he said’? Here Scripture intends to show Job’s remarkable self control. It is true that we sometimes conceive of evil imaginations and yet, by the grace of God, we bridle our tongues so that we do not give utterance to blasphemies. In the midst of our temptations, God gives us the grace to resist them to the extent that we do not come to the extremity of blaspheming him openly. We may still be worthy of blame for conceiving blasphemous thoughts, but the fact that we are able to bridle our tongues illustrates that ultimately we still hold God in awe and reverence and that we patiently hold onto our faith in him. Therefore, the sentence may well be taken in the following way: Even though Job was sorely provoked to evil, yet he resisted. The evil did not overcome him. Rather, he maintained his battle steadfastly.
Nevertheless, when we consider things thoroughly, there is no doubt that Job is set before us as a man who was perfect in his patience. To understand the passage more clearly, let us remark how James says that he who does not sin with his tongue is perfect above all men.
James 3v2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
We see that people are often overly swift to speak. Now and then, something is spoken before it is properly conceived. A person who is able to hold themselves so that no word slips from them before it is well considered shows that they have been endued with a singular grace. Thus we see what we have to note about Job here. When Scripture states that his words are so well ordered, it is not far off from stating that he is prefect in his patience towards God. While other people are light of speech, unable to rule their tongues, Job humbles himself before God. Here we are taught to call upon God to grant us the grace that we may never cast forth any words that may tend towards the dishonour of his holy name, for we know that the tongue ought to be dedicated chiefly towards the honour of God. We ought to apply ourselves entirely to this purpose. Since God is our creator, it is good and rational that we should employ our entire being to his glory. Specifically, he desires that our tongues are instruments to glorify him and, as James points out, the tongue is a very good indicator of the entire being. If we apply our tongues to the contrary, we show that our entire nature is perverted. It is indeed very difficult to keep ourselves from the vice of loose speaking and intemperate language, but if once we allow ourselves to be given to it, we find it almost impossibly difficult to withhold ourselves from it. Therefore, we have such greater need to call upon God that he may govern us in such a way that we do not utter one word that is not to his honour. Furthermore, if from time to time we conceive of some evil imagination (it is not possible to avoid this, considering our great frailty and how Satan is stalking like a lion looking for any opportunity to devour us), we must ask forgiveness from God. It behoves us to fight valiantly to bridle our tongues and to prevent Satan from getting a foothold. We must be sharp to condemn any vice within ourselves that Satan may use to his own advantage.
Here we may consider a grievous error that some seem to hold to. They claim that if a person falls into doubt about whether or not there is a God, or doubts whether or not God is righteous, or if a person conceive horrible and outrageous blasphemies within their head, it is no sin at all, provided it is not uttered with the mouth. If a person is tempted to rob or to murder a neighbour, or to commit adultery, it is held by some that this is no sin if the temptation is not acted upon or the thoughts are not uttered.
Evil thoughts within our minds are expressions of our sinful nature, even if they take place only within our own minds and we do not give expression to them. They illustrate why, by nature, we stand condemned. They illustrate why Christ had to die a horrific death, being crucified and being forsaken by God, which was, by rights, the reasonable punishment that each and every one of us deserved for our own personal rebellion against God. By the crucifixion, the believer knows that Christ was punished in his place, for his own personal sins. By the resurrection, the believer knows that Christ conquered death on his behalf; God could not forsake Christ any longer. Everyone who trusts in Christ is saved by the grace of God, through their faith. But God never grants a person saving faith without also giving the Holy Spirit which works towards the renewing of the mind. The renewal of the mind is an ongoing process, which is never completed in this life.
All evil thoughts within our minds are expressions of our basic sinful nature. A person stands condemned for his sin if he has not trusted in Christ as his personal saviour, that Christ stood in his place in the crucifixion and that in Christ’s resurrection he sees his own resurrection.
It is therefore a very grievous error to make light of any sin at all and describe it as merely ‘venial’, as if there is any sin that is not so serious that by rights it leads to death. ‘For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3v23) ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 6v23) Any particular sin is expression of the ultimate sin; our enmity with God, which is our natural state, until God drags us from the very depths of hell, even while we are rebelling against him, and places us in heaven.
Ephesians 2v1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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 us in advance for us to do.
Even though our victory over the sinful nature is assured and guaranteed, and Satan has already been defeated within us, yet he has not accepted his defeat, he is still very much active and capable of grievous skirmishes. Any sin that we perpetrate demonstrates a victory for Satan in one of these skirmishes and shows that the remains of our old sinful nature which is at enmity with God, is still active, although it has been defeated.
John 3v16 – 18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Therefore, if we doubt, then we do not believe and we are condemned already before God. If trials and afflictions succeed in making a person lose their faith entirely, then it shows that they never belonged to the number of the faithful in the first place.
1 John 18-20 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
Therefore, let us not doubt that God has mercy on us, that he will hold us up in our infirmities and that by the grace of the Holy Spirit we will shake off all such things. We pray that we will not put any wicked imaginations that we conceive of in our minds into practise.