Job – the Battle for Faith
Today my Message is entitled, Job – the battle for Faith, and I will examine and explore the reasons why every Child of God must fight a battle to retain the victory that is our Faith.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us that
“without faith it is impossible to please God” Heb 11.6
You see it was faith that brought you to Salvation. Rom 10.17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” In order to be saved from the penalty and power of inherited sin – if you are saved at all – it was necessary for you to first of all hear the word of God, which stirs up the measure of faith (given to every man – Rom 12:3), and then if you have believed or accepted that word of God as truth applicable to you, and you have put confidence, or faith in that word to do what it is promising it will do – then you are truly saved, truly Christian, truly converted and your life tuned around. You cannot have faith without the Scriptures, you cannot be converted and changed unless the Word of God brings you
there, – to that moment of conviction and decision in your life.
This is why God has ordained the method of preaching the Word, in order to bring many souls into the Kingdom. So then your Salvation depended on your faith, your confidence in God and in his means of Salvation. Today there are many who are putting confidence in their religion, in their denomination, in their education, in their good works, in their own abilities, in their self sacrifices, yet none of these demand or expect any element of faith! But the Bible says that the true believers are of the household of faith? (Gal 6.10) True believers then must have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. That is why the Hymn writer penned the words, “tis done, the great transactions done, I am my Lords, and He is mine!”
Now while you needed Faith initially in Salvation, you also need faith continually to live the Victorious Christian life…… and this is where the battle begins with Satan. The Devil is Hell bent on robbing you of it, and destroying your faith. If he can succeed, he may not keep you out of heaven, but he will be able to stop you influencing any others, or doing anything worth while in Service to God. The Devil doesn’t mind you going to Church as long as you don’t get involved and don’t do anything for Jesus. The Devil will try to keep us in a kind of “stand by” mode, sleeping, not serving Christ, not being a witness to His power and love, and thus he will have succeeded in his efforts to keep many souls from Truth, and from the Kingdom of God! So virtually from the moment of your conversion, he will begin a battle with you to keep you down, to shut your mouth, to doubt your ability, and to keep you from your God designed destiny.
To illustrate this best, I have chosen today the story of Job.
It begins in Chapter One verse one with the startling testimony that Job was a perfectly upright man, – God calls him blameless – and clearly he was highly favoured by God. He had 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters. He was one of the largest farmers in the Land of Uz with 7000 sheep 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys. He employed very many servants, indeed he is described as one of the greatest men of his time. He was a Godly man, and a Godly father who daily made prayer and sacrifice on behalf of his children, fulfilling his role as both Priest and Father to his household. Then in Chapter 1,v 6, we leave Job, the family and the farm behind us for a moment and are transported by the Spirit into the Heavenly or Spiritual realm.
Here we encounter the angelic realm, the heavenly host – also called the “sons of God“ – who are lining up before the Lord, and somehow or other Satan lines up with them. Although a fallen angel, he appears (at this time) to still have access into the presence of God, and immediately God asks him, “Where have you come from?” and Satan answers, “from going to and fro on the earth and walking up and down on it” v7
Now my dear friends, we need to understand something very important about everything that Satan says, or is reported to have said, within the pages of Holy Writ.
Remember how Jesus called Satan the Father of Lies
(John 8,44) and says that there is no truth in him. Bearing this in mind, when Satan told God where he had come from, and what he had been doing, we may rightly conclude that there was not a word of truth in it; for Satan does not walk up and down on the earth, or anywhere else for that matter, – lets get that straight!
This is one of those classic instances where what is in the Bible is not the Truth! Just because it is written down in the Bible does not mean either that it is God speaking, or that it is true. All Scriptures must be read and taken in the context of the location and must be understood and explained within the whole tenor of the Bible. Anyhow, God did not countenance the lie nor did he give it any credibility, he merely asks Satan, “have you considered my Servant Job, that there is none like him …. ” for God knew exactly that Satan had just come from hassling this good man, and trying to get him to the place of giving up and giving in on his faith. But Satan had not been successful and therefore he had to come to the street of heaven to challenge God about one of his children on earth.
Satan is powerful, but God is omnipotent! Satan is mighty, but God is Almighty, Satan is intelligent, but God is omniscient. So Satan needs Gods permission, to get in on Job, for God had put a hedge about his Children that Satan cannot penetrate without Gods authority. v10
Now we see the challenge to God…v11 … “put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” says the Devil. God takes the challenge and then gives the Devil a length of rope, v12, but God put a knot in the rope? God gave Satan a certain freedom, but there was a limit, he could touch all that Job held dear, his family, his farm, – but not him. God has the last word. Satan may have permission to hurt you in the battle, to wound you, even to cripple you, but he cannot kill you or destroy you.
(Of course we must remember that Satan has been defeated since the days of Job, Calvary put an end to his rule, – he has no power these days but deception, and that we may cave in to his lies and interventions in our thoughts and in the words we speak?)
Anyhow, off he goes on his mission to destroy Jobs faith, to bring Job down to his knees. Poor Job knows nothing about this conference on the street of heaven concerning him – but within 24 hours, Job will have lost his 10 Children, his 7000 sheep, his 3000 camels, his 500 oxen and his 500 asses. Now you’ve not seen 7000 sheep dead? Think of it, the carcases of dead animals littering the countryside as far as the eye can see and yet further, and while you too may have experienced the tragic loss of a child, you have not walked down to the cemetery behind 10 coffins, all your own children. You have I’m sure like me, experienced many kinds of Hellish, Devilish experiences, …but spare a thought for poor Job, and remember that it was Gods testimony of him that he was perfect. If ever there was a man that didn’t deserve all this – it was Job.
But Satan did not succeed, in Chapter 1, v20 we read that Job still held on to his faith, …. (How do we know?) – just listen to his prayer, “naked came I from my Mothers womb, and naked shall I return, the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Its easy to praise God when all is well, but it takes faith and courage and strength to praise God when you have lost everything? Yet praise God he did, and Satan got a great “smack in the teeth” that day.
(if you’ll allow me to put it that way)
Job was down, but he was certainly not out!
Then reading into Chapter 2, we find Satan gets in line again on the street of heaven, and it’s the same question, which gets the same untruthful response, and God adds: “he still holds fast his integrity although you moved me against him without cause” v3
Now Satan makes another challenge …. v4 “all that a man has will he give for his life ….”
And God gives another rope, “behold HE is in your power”
And another knot “only, spare his life” v6
Can you see dear friends the seriousness of the Battle we face regarding the measuring and maintaining of our faith.
Once again Job was entirely unaware of this argument in heaven concerning him, but within 24 hours he would be struck with boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet, an old eastern condition which some have described as Elephantitis, which makes the human flesh rough like that of Elephant hyde. So distressing were these tests that Satan also conscripted Jobs wife into the battle plan, “why don’t you just curse God and die” she says. You see the devil can even use those who are our nearest and dearest in his cunning plan to steal kill and destroy our faith, and our confidence in God. The Devil is not fussy who gets roped in to the mess he makes in human lives.
Maybe as you are listening today you feel that “all hell” has broken loose around you, your family, your farm or business, your circumstances, your nearest and dearest have all been turned up-side down in a hellish effort to bring you down. You have no longer any confidence in God, you do not even pray any more, nor do you take time to read the Bible or go to Church. You believe that God is against you, and you haven’t a hope in hell or heaven of getting yourself out of the mess that surrounds you.
Like Job, it looks like God has forsaken or forgotten you, that you have done something so terribly wrong that there can be no forgiveness, no pardon, and no end to the struggle you face. All of this is the work of Satan to battle for your faith. And all of this will destroy your faith unless and until you realize it.
With a strong faith and confidence in God you can pull down the strongholds of the Devil, and destroy the works of darkness, you can defeat the devils plans and schemes, and build mighty and powerful defences against all evil. The apostle Paul writes –
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strong holds;
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Cor 10:4-5
But we must open our mouths and make bold faith claims –
we need to encourage ourselves in the Lord.
Faith, says the writer to the Hebrews is the evidence of things not seen. In other words, Faith is the vehicle that takes you where you want to go in God! You can go nowhere without transport. If Satan destroys your transport, you are stuck, right where you are, going nowhere slowly!
Sadly there are many believers are today in that place and Satan is hell-bent on keeping them there. Saved and stuck.
Children of a King, but living like beggars children. Inheritors of the favour and promises of God, but living in fear, anxiety, and loss simply because they have no transport to take them to the things of God, the wealth of all heaven.
Sadly too this is where Satan has gotten the Church, stuck in the arguments of theology and denominational traditions and theories, instead of resting and standing on the promises of God! Powerless and prayer-less institutions bogged down in a darkness of their own devising, instead of burning as lights in a dark world. But my Bible says “let the Redeemed of the Lord say so” – Psalm 107:2 Don’t keep your faith to yourself, let it out of your mouth so that the devil can her it, and start troubling him, – then he’ll stop troubling you.
Let me ask you a personal question, which I urge you to give the most serious thought. Is it entirely possible that a group of Atheists could do everything that is done in your Church today? – Could they read, could they sing, could they pray, could they preach and teach, if the answer is YES, then you are in the wrong place.
When you go to Church to worship and fellowship with one another, – if the Holy Spirit does not show up, and there is NO evidence of his presence and power amongst you, then you are building castles in the clouds and only playing games. If God is not in the house, neither should you be in that house! Now I know that’s serious talk – but if you know me, you will know that I don’t play games. Your soul is much too valuable to God and to me that I should play or pretend with you.
I believe that the Heart of Jesus is broken today for his Church, his Children have been disabled – Crippled and Cursed by fear, without faith, and achieving little or nothing of eternal value. We are all happy to sit in our comfortable pews, sing our lovely songs of Zion, but when it comes to reaching out to the homeless, or the drug addict or the abused wife, or the homosexual boy, or the alcoholic, or simply a neighbour of a different creed or colour, in distress, we pass by on the other side, almost – too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use!
Jesus weeps over us, his heart is broken, his hand is outstretched to hold us and help us, but we have let it go, we have given in to the pressures of life and let go of our visual, valued, vital and vocal faith.
We have put confidence for our healing in the Doctors and Hospitals instead of in Gods miraculous healing power. We have put our confidence in resolving problems in the hands of the Politicians, social workers and therapists, instead of in the hands of God in prayer. We have lost hope for our families, our children, and our community, because we have lost vision, and faith to help us make it.
The Christian life is about faith, nothing more, nothing less, it is all about faith. You cannot survive as a Christian without it, you cannot grow as a Christian without it, and you dare not die without it!
Have you been listening to the devils whisper and lies in your ear – What does it matter if your neighbours and friends, your colleagues and families are lost, take it easy, there will be time later for service and ministry, let someone else do it, let your Pastor take the wrap, let the Elders or Religious Orders take the wrap!
But the writer to the Hebrews remind us that it is only those who “through faith” inherit the promises, – so there will be no reward for mere effort, no reward for service, no reward for sacrifice, no reward for piety, no reward for influence, unless all of these have been the consequences of faith! There is great reward for faith! Jesus will say to all who inherit the promise “Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” – I want nothing more and nothing less!
Now this final word.
In the last chapter of the book of Job, Ch 42, we catch up with Job in his latter days. We read “and the Lord blessed the latter days of Job, more than his beginning, he had 6 thousand sheep, 4 thousand camels, a thousand oxen, and a thousand donkeys, and 7 more sons, and 3 more daughters.” In the Glory we call Heaven, when you and I meet with Job, he will have 14 sons and 6 daughters. (for he had sanctified his family in his role as Priest) and God gave him “double for his trouble”. That is often the way with God, he does not allow the Devil to take anything from us to impoverish us, – if he does, he will eventually enrich us. And whatever the Devil takes, God will himself return to us, either in this world or in the world to come, the double portion. Isaiah 61:7
Not feeling as you once did, not experiencing the joy in Christ you one knew, not singing and making melody in your heart like you used to, … never mind, go on with God! Knowing this – that to have it in your heart – the resolve to do his will and to go on with him is the most glorious way of any, of proving your love to him.
God Bless You – Amen.