He welcomes, even invites, our questions but we had better not attempt to correct Him. We are not able or competent, nor do we have authority.
Unbeknownst to Job, in a great effort to discredit God, Satan robbed Job of his family, his friends, his wealth, and his health. Job discusses his predicament with the handful of friends who did not leave him. Their conversation invites the correction and instruction of God. God delivers an extended lecture which puts them and us in our respective places. Job 40:1-14 states, “The Lord said to Job: 2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!" 3 Then Job answered the Lord: 4 "I am unworthy — how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer — twice, but I will say no more." 6 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: 7 "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 8 "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? 9 Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his? 10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. 11 Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, 12 look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. 13 Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. 14 Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.” (NIV)
God always allows our questions. Honest questions are met with answers, not rebuke. However, you just get a little insolent and things will change. God will let you answer some tough questions from Him. He welcomes, even invites, our questions but we had better not attempt to correct Him. We are not able or competent, nor do we have authority. We learn this in verse 8 when God asks, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?” Clearly God has not approved of Job’s conversations with his friends. God will not allow us to discredit Him. He will not allow us to condemn Him in our efforts to justify ourselves. Verses 9-14 point out that if we can match God’s glory, splendor, honor, and majesty then God would admit that as evidence that maybe we could possibly justify ourselves. Verses 11-14 add that if we can judge and punish all mankind then that would be evidence also. Of course, we cannot do any of those things.
In fact, the attempt to justify self is the very thing that condemns us to eternal separation from Him. Our refusal to accept at face value, God’s declaration that we cannot justify ourselves apart from Christ’s sacrifice, is what keeps us from submitting to be rescued by Him. Our attempts to justify ourselves in some other manner is a futile attempt to condemn God and His justice, grace, and mercy. He has plainly stated that the only way to be reconciled with Him, and thus gain entrance to heaven, is to place all our faith and trust in Christ. Any attempt to get around this is a direct contradiction of what God has clearly declared to be the truth. Any attempt to get to heaven in any other way is the same as calling God a liar. Would you discredit God’s justice? Would you condemn God to justify yourself? Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. No one gets to heaven except through Him. Don’t lose the way.
Pastor Steve Ellison is the director of the Ouachita Theological Training Institute in Mena, Ark.