The Light of a Holy Example

January 12, 2003 / No. 3132

Dear radio friends,

     Have you considered my servant Job?  This was the question that God put to the devil himself.

     We read in the book of Job, 1:8, “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”  Satan’s attempt is always to ridicule the work of God.  The devil’s purpose is to expose the work of God as being a fake and a phony, as something that is defeatable.  The devil is attempting to say that the Word of God is not true and that the promises of God fail.

     This has been his attack and his motive since the fall of Adam in Paradise.  And in the Old Testament we learn that the devil was given access to heaven.  You may read of that in Revelation 12 where he would come to heaven itself to make accusation against the work of God.  So, we read in the book of Job, the devil also appeared before God when the holy angels appeared before Him.

     Satan has appeared before God.  And God knows exactly what Satan’s intent is.  Now God will bring a rebuff to the devil.  The devil’s whole point is that the work of the Lord is defeatable, that the work of the Lord is not true, that the work of the Lord is not genuine, there is no substance to the work of salvation in Jesus Christ.

     God will bring rebuke to the devil.  But note the rebuke that He brings.  The life of one believer, born by God’s grace, is enough to silence the devil’s arguments and accusations.  Note carefully that God did not say to the devil, “Have you considered, Satan, My faithfulness?”  He could have done that.  He may answer the devil, and certainly He does answer the devil, with His own character:  “I am God, I am faithful.  Therefore you, devil, are a liar.  You are a liar because I am the true God and you oppose Me.  That makes you a liar.”  But God does not say that.

     He could have said to the devil, “Have you considered the veracity, the truthfulness of My word?  I have said that I shall save My people in Jesus Christ.  Therefore when you oppose that, and you contradict it, you are a liar because you oppose My word.”  For God’s word is true.  And let every man who opposes it be a liar (Rom. 3:4).   God could have said that, too.  And that would have made sense.

     But God did not say that.  He said, “Have you considered my servant Job.”  That is, Job himself, as one who had been born by the grace of God to a new life in Jesus Christ, constituted an adequate reply to the slanders of the devil.  Job’s life evidenced a passion for God.  Job’s life gave proof of a desire to be pleasing to God.  God is saying that the lives of believers are the gospel’s convincing argument to the world.

     Let that sink in.

     In heaven, does God say that of you and of me?  Would He present your life, as a child of God, as proof that there is such a thing as a believer, that there is such a thing as a work of God’s grace?  Would He point to your life and say, “There is the evidence of My mighty grace and of the certainty of My purpose to save a people in Christ”?

     Would God present your life as a convincing argument of the truth of the gospel?  Would God be so bold, as in the day of Antichrist, the Antichrist who will exalt himself above everything that is called God, would God be so bold as to say to the Antichrist himself, “Do you want to see the reality of My saving grace and love?  Have you considered My servant (now put your name there)?”

     The life of a believer is to be a convincing argument of the power of the gospel of grace.  The life of a believer is to be a light, the light of a holy example.

     That is what God is saying to us.  And that is what He is saying to Satan.  He is saying to Satan that the lives of those whom He saved by grace is a convincing argument of the truth of the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ.  That is the teaching of the entire Word of God.  For instance, in I Thessalonians 1:7, 8, when the apostle Paul is speaking to the infant church of the Thessalonians, he says that “ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.”  Those are strong words from the apostle Paul.  “We need not speak any thing because your example has done the speaking for us.”  Paul was bold and eager to speak the gospel.  But he says, “When I am among you, and when your example becomes evident, I need not say any thing.”

     We find the same in I Timothy 4:12 where Paul, speaking to Timothy, who was, relatively speaking, a young pastor in the church of Ephesus, he says to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  He is saying, “Timothy, you are finding those in the church who are criticizing you because of your youth.  They look down on you and say, ‘Why should we listen to such a young man?’  Now you would be tempted to argue your way, to feel hurt, or to get mad.  Don’t do that, Timothy.  The best way to silence such criticism is to show in your life that what you say is true — by being an example of it.  Timothy, go about your life in the church as a pastor with a consistent, humble devotion to Christ.  And your example must do your talking.”

     Another illustration of this truth is found in the Lord’s prayer in John 17, the prayer that He offered to God on the eve of the cross.  In verse 21, after having prayed that God would sanctify His disciples through the truth, and that through their life, their sanctified life, others might be brought to believe upon Him through their word, He says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:  that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”  The Lord is saying that the life of the church, when the grace of God is powerfully working in the church and working in that church a unity under the truth of the Word of God, a unity expressed in the preaching of the Word of God and expressed in the life of the believers with each other, then that life of the church will convince the world itself that God has sent His Son into the world.  The world itself must say, perhaps through gritted teeth, that the only explanation for the church and for the way the church lives in unity with each other, the only explanation is that God has intervened in time, that God has sent His Son.  The life of the church is an argument for the truth of the gospel.  The life of the believer is an argument for the truth of the gospel.  “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”

     Now, make no mistake.  This life that Job lived was a life that he lived by the grace of God alone.  Notice that God says, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”  Job was God’s servant, not because of any choice that he had made.  You see, to become a member of God’s family and to be saved in Jesus Christ is not like enlisting in the army:  you sign up.  No, there are no enlistees in God’s army.  We are all conquered, by the grace of God.  By nature we are not the servants of God but are the servants of sin.  We read in the book of Romans (chapter 6) that we are born servants of sin and we give ourselves willingly (the members of our body) unto the service of sin, and we would receive the wages of that sin which is eternal death.  But thanks be unto God, says the apostle in Romans 6, ye became the servants of God by a wonderful work of God’s grace, subduing our sin and creating in us a desire to be pleasing to God, to live as the servants of God in holiness and righteousness.  Not by nature are we the servants of God.  By nature we are the servants of the devil and we are the enemies of God.  But when we become servants of God, it is due to God’s grace.  So when God says, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” He does not mean to say that the child of God, by his strength, becomes a convincing argument of the truth of God’s Word.  But He means to say that when He makes a child of God by grace, the life of His grace in that child of God will be a convincing argument of the truth of the gospel.  Is that true about you?

     Job lived in isolation.  He lived, probably, at the time of Abraham or thereabouts.  He lived in the land of Uz, far off in the east, probably in Mesopotamia.  He lived in a very remote area where, evidently, there were not others around him who confessed the name of God.  If you have a Bible at hand, please turn with me to Ezekiel 14:14, where the prophet says that there were especially three men in the Old Testament who were exemplary in their holiness.  “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.”  In the context, Ezekiel is saying that so great was the sin of Judah, so rebellious and stubborn were they, that they would receive the judgments of God, and that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were among them, that would not change the course of God’s judgment.

     Now the question is:  Why does the Holy Spirit speak of these three men:  Noah, Daniel, and Job?  What do they have in common?  The intention of the Holy Spirit is this, that these three men are examples of holiness, living in isolation in a sinful world.  Noah — he was one of eight in the whole world who believed God.  He stood alone at the time of the flood.  Daniel — he was a captive in the land of Babylon.  He and his three friends also stood alone in the sinful world of Babylon.  Job, too, stood in a foreign land.  And yet, although he was not supported by many others believers around, yet God preserved him in purity.  Job was an example, a pattern, of the truth of salvation in a dark and wicked world.

     He was an example of holiness, of a wonderful holiness.  We are told about Job that he was a perfect man.  That word means “complete, entire.”  He was not hypocritical.  What you saw on the outside of his life came from what was inside of his life.  He was not like a storefront in Chicago, perhaps a laundry or a meat market — all respectable business on the outside.  Only when you get inside you find that it is a front for the mob, or in the back halls drugs and cocaine are sold.  No.  What was on the outside of Job’s life was a reflection of what was inside.  He was a man who was upright, that is, he had integrity.  Not an integrity in himself, but a righteousness promised him in Jesus Christ.  And by faith he held on to that integrity.  He feared God, that is, he reverenced God.  He lived in a profound humility, knowing himself as a sinner and knowing the wonderful grace of God that God had loved him and had promised to save him through Jesus Christ.

     And he was a man who eschewed evil, that is, he kept himself from evil.  He desired to withdraw from the stains and the pollutions of this world and to live a life that was delightful to God.

     Job was an example of holiness in a wicked world.  He was an example of the power of God’s grace that out of a fallen, sinful world God could create in the heart of a man holiness and a desire to please God.

     Is that true of you?

     But not only was Job an example of holiness.  He was an example of patience.  That is the whole book of Job.  The whole book is to teach us that it belongs to God to order our lives and to direct them according to His good pleasure and that we are called in Christ to submit in all humility before Him.  When God sometimes tries and afflicts us with His own secret judgments and under those judgments, we are to confess that God is good.

     Now Job was a man of like passions as ourselves.  He was a sinful man.  Yet the grace of God was operative in him and produced in him a holy life and a life of patient endurance.  And God said to the devil, “That life of Job, that life of holiness and of patience before Me, is enough to shut your mouth when you come with your derogatory comments.  You come to ridicule My work.  You come to spread your slanders and blasphemy in My face.  I respond to you, devil, have you considered My servant Job?”  The life of a true believer, born by grace, is a convincing argument to silence the very ridicule of the devil himself.

     Is that true of your life?  Is your life a persuasive argument of the truth of the gospel?  Is it a persuasive argument of the grace of God which brings holiness, a purity of mind and body, an example of what it means that your body and your mind belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, not for debasing it in lust but in purity before God?  Are you an example to your son of sexual purity?  Are you an example to your fellow young people of what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, body and soul, and to be resolved in this present life to keep yourself pure in your body, sexually pure?

     Little boy and little girl, fourth and fifth grader, second grader, seventh grader, is your life an example of holiness in honesty — that you do not cheat or lie?  The way you take a test, by keeping your eye upon your own paper and not cheating, is that a testimony that you worship and serve the God who knows the heart, who knows the truth, and that Jesus Christ has redeemed you, that you might live in the truth?

     Are we examples in love?  Young people, are you examples of the love of God?  It is terrible today among the young people of all the hazing that is done, of all the terrible things that young people do to each other.  Is your life different?  Do you care for your fellow young people?  Do you live a life of selflessness and gentleness?  Is your life an example of what it means to love God?  An example of what it means to keep the Sabbath day?  An example of what it means to show respect to authority for God’s sake?  Is you life, man and woman, an example of what it means to keep vows of marriage for God’s sake?  Is our life an example of the love of God in the issues of drinking and modesty of dress and music that we listen to?

     What about patience?  Job was an example of patience.  That was a powerful example.  The world groans and grumbles and complains under adversities.  The child of God, in the midst of adversities, expects the salvation of the Lord.  And what a wonderful and powerful example it is when the child of God, under affliction and adversity, patiently trusts in God.  The world simply cannot understand that, except to say that there is something different about you, except to say that God has sent His Son into the world.

     The example that we leave is important.  The example of the life of the child of God is used by God to judge men and women.  Sometimes all that a reprobate person will see of the Word of God is what is written in the life of God’s people.  And it is also an example that may be instrumental, under the grace of God, to bring others under the Word of God and to come to know God in that Word.

     Especially the life of a young person is a powerful example.  The world might concede that, after all, if you have grown up in a Christian faith for fifty years, they would expect to see something different about you when you reach your fiftieth or sixtieth birthday.  After all, when you get a little older you settle down, and a little religion comes to you when you begin to think about death.  So, that old people have faith, as far as the world is concerned, is, well, I suppose, to be expected.  But young people?  When the whole world is before you?  With a youthful body filled with hormones and testosterones?  When they see your life as a young person conformed to the Word of God, what a powerful example!  When they see that you do not use the language of the world, your aspirations are not that of the world, your commitment is to Jesus Christ and to His church, that is a powerful example.

     Young people, it is a powerful example to the world.  But it is also a powerful example to the children of the church.  Do you think about that?  Little boys and little girls want to follow an example.  In the world, the examples for young boys are taken from sports and from entertainment and from music, from those who are crazed in this world — cocaine addicts, alcoholic wife-beaters.  Who will serve as examples to the children of the church?  You must.  Does God say of you, as a young person, “Have you considered my servant?”

     You see, we are examples of something.  We cannot help but be examples of something.  Now, by the grace of God, God has come with the power of His grace.  And now in Christ Jesus we are so to live that the world may take note that we have been with Jesus.  This is the purpose of our salvation.  And this is possible by grace and grace alone.

     Have you considered my servant __________ (put your name there)?  Does God call Satan and all who would ridicule His Word and truth to witness of the truth of His gospel as it is seen in your life?

     Let us humble ourselves before God.  Let us be resolved by the grace of God to look to Him for strength.  And may He create in us this desire, that our life is the life of a holy, consistent example of the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

     Let us pray.

     Father, we thank Thee for the Word of God.  Work it in our souls through Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.