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theology

Can a man be pure before his Maker?

It seems to me, that thousands of years after Eliphaz said those poetic words in the book of Job, we still wrestle with this question. Even those of us in “the Faith” as my friend describes Christianity, wrestle with this question. How can I be pure before my Maker?

Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It still still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before His Maker?”

Eliphaz, Job 4:13-17

Those words uttered by Eliphaz were uttered thousands of years before Christ became man on Earth. As Job was lying in his bed, having seen the death of his children, destruction of his wealth, plagued by sickness and mental distress – his friend Eliphaz assumes undealt with sin is the cause – yet Job insists he is has done no wrong. Eliphaz questions how Job can be in the right before God, and then asks this more significant question – can a man be pure before his Maker? Little did he know this was the question of the age.

God himself ponders this question before the creation of the world. How can I make a creation that can choose to love me when I know that many will not and sin will enter the world? How can I create a people who can be in my presence, yet sin will engulf their lives and separate them from my being?

God enacts the plan of salvation through Jesus. Creating a world of free-will, of interaction with the creator, going through the process of painfully seeing it fall apart (like a loving parent seeing their children destroy each other), and then implementing a rescue mission to save those who want to flee the darkness of the world and find a way out.

Jesus is no crutch to fall upon, he is a rescue ship to climb aboard.

But it seems to me, that thousands of years after Eliphaz said those poetic words, we still wrestle with this question. Even those of us in “the Faith” as my friend describes Christianity, wrestle with this question. How can I be pure before my Maker?

I know what I’ve done. I know my failures, but worst than that I know my default position is sin. Every day is an effort to do good, and even my best efforts are usually distorted because of pride, or self-ambition, or simply motivated through a metaphorical sliding of the scale in good deeds for the day. “Look God, did you see I gave some money to that homeless man? Surely that covers the mistakes I made last night which I feel so guilty about now.”

This constant bargaining with God is not where God wants us to be. If we are in that place we are so far away from the message of the gospel that God must almost laugh at our misunderstanding.

Of course he doesn’t, He mourns.

He wants us to live new lives, to be free from sin and to be abounding in His grace. The truth of the situation is that God isn’t the one doing the finger-pointing at us when we make mistakes. The one condemning us is the same person that made Job’s life such a misery. He delights in a believer who is distressed in their sin and drowns in their guilt. His delight is our downfall.

The real paradox for the believer is that we need to stop focusing on sin to stop sin becoming a problem in our lives. As one hero of the faith put it:

…be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.

Martin Luther

Luther wasn’t advocating sin, he wasn’t recommending it as an option. But his message was that if we really understand the gospel, then we must let go of the grip that sin has on us. When we focus in on Jesus, and we believe that our slate has been wiped clean through the sacrificial death of the Lamb, then we no longer need to do focus on what is in the past. For whether the sin you dwell on in your heart was 20 years ago or 5 minutes ago, it has been paid for in full.

Jesus was enough.

When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

Romans 6, The Message

Can a man be made pure before His maker? Yes He can.

Why? Because Jesus paid the price for my wrong doing. Because I have repented of my sin and have made a decision to follow Him.

What about your sin? It is dead to me. I’ll not listen to the Accuser who delivers death-waves of destruction, but will rejoice in the sanctified streams of the Father, for He has made a way for me.


Main photo by Giulia Lama, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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