14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
2 “Indeed I know that this is so; but how can a mortal be just before God? 3 If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand. 4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength —who has resisted him, and succeeded?
“But how can a mortal be righteous before God?” Job 9.2b
That indeed is a sobering question, isn’t it? Righteous and holy are two adjectives that truly do apply to God and if God has called us to be as he is, is it possible? Really, is there anyone who can be righteous before God?
Understand the context of this verse. Job has just had, what we would call, a “bad day.” And that is the understatement of the century to be sure. In one fail swoop – Job, a man who was honestly, as righteous before God as any person could be – lost everything. He lost his children, he lost his possessions, he lost his livestock, he even lost his health.
To add insult to injury, Job had those “friends.” You know the ones – those who come to comfort you but instead indict you? Job is experiencing a life shaking, altering experience, and rather than finding comfort from his friends, he finds blame.
Yet, Job refutes his friends’ accusations because honestly, if one reads the story, Job really has done nothing wrong. Where his friends are convincing him that he has some hidden, horrid sin that has caused a chain reaction of events that ultimately point to God’s wrath and punishment for Job’s misdoings – Job is bringing about a legitimate point: at the end of the day, who really is righteous before God?
As I said, it isn’t that Job did anything in particular and God is indeed not pouring out his wrath upon Job. The point is – no one is completely righteous before God. We strive to be as close to what God has called us as possible, but we miss the mark more than we make it, at least it seems that way most days.
What was Job’s grievous sin? Nothing.
However, his question is one that we must all consider. After all, we all have a mentality that if we just do enough, if our deeds are “just good enough”, our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds and God will let us in. How many people go through life, just hoping that they have done just enough “righteous” to sway God’s judgment?
What a tragic way to live! To answer Job’s question: in and of ourselves, no one, at all, is righteous before God. We are sinners, pure and simple. That is not something that we in our culture like to admit – but it does not negate the truth of God’s Word. As Christians, we realize that without God, we are doomed.
However, God does not leave us in such a hopeless state! Though we cannot stand before God as righteous in and of ourselves, God has done something quite amazing – in fact, miraculous: He offered his Son on our behalf so that the unrighteousness of our lives could be covered and we COULD stand as righteous before God.
God loved us so much that he did not want to see us remain in our helpless, hopeless, life of death. Rather, he wanted to do whatever it took to make sure we could enter into His presence as righteous people. So Jesus went to the cross, took upon himself our unrighteousness, and covered us with his righteousness.
What amazing grace! What amazing life! I honestly believe that is what happens in our baptism. When we “rise” out of those baptismal waters, our unrighteousness is covered and we are clothed in Christ. Why? So that we can have life and not death. The gravity of that love is almost too much to bear. Who would do such a thing for those who despise him? God.
So Job, what mortal can stand before God as righteous? No one. But through the blood of Jesus – we all are able to approach God, and enter into his eternal rest because we are covered with the righteousness of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Thanks be to God! Amen.
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.