Calvin's Sermons on Job Volume 3

Sermons on JOB CHAPTERS 31–42 John Calvin Translated from the French by Rob Roy McGregor VOLUME 3 Sermons 111–159 the banner of truth trust

THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST Head Office 3 Murrayfield Road Edinburgh, EH12 6EL UK North America Office PO Box 621 Carlisle, PA 17013 USA © Rob Roy McGregor 2022 First published 2022 * ISBN Print (vol. 3): 978 1 80040 227 0 Print (3-vol. set): 978 1 80040 223 2 Epub (vols 1-3): 978 1 80040 228 7 Kindle (vols 1-3): 978 1 80040 229 4 * Typeset in 10.5/13.5 pt Adobe Garamond Pro at The Banner of Truth Trust Printed in the USA by Versa Press, Inc., East Peoria, IL

v Contents Serm. 111. The nature of the three stages of sin’s development; the papists’ contrary view of accountability; the believers’ nonchalance toward judgment; the need for self-examination and self-condemnation to escape final judgment. Job 31:1-4 1 112. Those who walk uprightly will be rewarded. Job 31:5-8 15 113. A common Creator and Master: the guiding principle of human relations from kings and princes to masters and slaves. Job 31:9-15 28 114. God insists upon compassion for the fatherless, widows, and the poor, and upon uprightness in dealing with them. Job 31:16-23 41 115. The two things by which man is most easily deceived and which rob God of his glory: wealth and personal merits. Job 31:24-28 56 116. God insists upon the love of one’s neighbours, one’s enemies, strangers, and especially of one’s brothers in the faith, with particular emphasis upon compassionately meeting the needs of the poor within one’s means. Job 31:29-32 69

sermons on job vi 117. Those of high status and power must be humble and peaceable in the face of accusations. Job 31:33, 34 82 118. If God’s people suffer without knowing why, it is to awaken them to their sins and humble them, to bring them to their duty toward their neighbours, and to deliver them from judgment in the last day. Job 31:35-40 95 119. We must not judge hastily why God visits adversities on others because we cannot know why he judges as he does, and we must take offence when God is offended. Job 32:1-3 108 120. Young men, when given by God’s Spirit understanding and wisdom and the necessary skills, may proclaim the word to great and small, young and old, and supersede their elders. Job 32:4-10 122 121. Elihu is an example of an aspiring young man who shows deference to his elders and, without being intimidated by their status and flattering them, will boldly speak God’s truth in his turn. Job 32:11-22 135 122. The preacher has his responsibility to the word, and the hearers theirs. Job 33:1-7 148 123. In all humility, we must be satisfied with only what God declares to us in his word—no more and no less—and live accordingly, knowing that he tests our patience and obedience through affliction. Job 33:8-14 161 124. God uses afflictions to subdue men’s pride and confirm them in faithfulness and obedience to his word. Job 33:14-17 175

vii 125. It is only the elect that God punishes in order to draw them from the grave and grant them eternal life through the justification provided by the Lord Jesus Christ. Job 33:18-25 188 126. Elihu shows the way God leads us to restoration through adversity. Job 33:26 202 127. The path from sin to restoration. Job 33:26-28 215 128. The Christian’s duty is to hear and accept God’s word humbly and without objection, distinguishing truth from error with the guidance of God’s Spirit. Job 33:29–34:3 228 129. Despite sorrows and affliction in the seeming divine injustice of allowing sinners to prosper and the righteous to suffer, true believers must acknowledge with conviction that God is righteous no matter what happens. Job 34:4-10 242 130. God conjoins his power and goodness in dealing harshly with us sinners to demonstrate his graciousness and compassion toward us. Job 34:10-15 256 131. God, who is no respecter of persons, will bring down the proud and defer to the humble and sustain them by his grace until the end. Job 34:16-20 270 132. The iniquities of no man, great or small, are hidden from God’s just judgment. Job 34:21-26 283 contents

sermons on job viii 133. To avoid the fate of unbelievers, Christians must examine themselves and condemn their sins as they live the image of God, submitting patiently to his will, careful not to trouble and afflict the poor and helpless. Job 34:26-29 295 134. Since God’s counsels are beyond our grasp, we must yield to his word by not trying to impose our will upon him and replacing his ordinances with our own, as did the Pope when restricting the cup to the priests. Job 34:29-32 309 135. Listening and speaking are compatible and inseparable activities of wise men of understanding for the authoritative proclamation of God’s word, the only source of true knowledge. Job 34:33-37 322 136. We neither add to nor take away from God’s sovereignty when we do good or evil, but he, when offended, being God and not man, deals with us mercifully. Job 35:1-7 336 137. There are reasons men do not pray and reasons prayers are not answered. Job 35:8-11 349 138. Despite the enormity of our sins and the severity of our current afflictions, God sustains us, guiding our thoughts and deeds in anticipation of his merciful forgiveness in the last day. Job 35:12-16 361 139. Believers must defend the honour of God’s name, for he will defend it and punish all sins either in this life or in the next. Job 36:1-7 374

ix 140. God uses adversities to further our salvation. Job 36:6-14 387 141. God chastises the elect to keep them humble so they will not perish. Job 36:15-19 400 142. There is none like unto God, whose teachings and works must alone be magnified above all else. Job 36:20-24 412 143. God uses the everyday events in the natural order to display his majesty. Job 36:25-33 425 144. Through the thunder and lightning of his law and word, God teaches us powerfully to acknowledge our spiritual limitations and yield to his will in proportion as we are given the knowledge and power in the Holy Spirit. Job 37:1-6 438 145. God employs weather to punish us for our sins as well as to display his goodness and mercy in caring for us in spite of them. Job 37:7-13 451 146. Elihu instructs us through Job to learn from our ignorance about nature not to challenge God’s wise judgment and deeds. Job 37:14-24 463 147. God instructs us through Job that it is better to remain silent when discussing God’s word than to speak out of ignorance and confuse our imaginings with his counsel. Job 38:1-4 476 contents

sermons on job x 148. God’s grandeur and power seen in creation reveal our ignorance and incapacity to understand his counsels, encourage us to accept his wonders and our adversities as expedient and humbling, and to be restrained in our judgment of his works, as we rejoice in his creation, as do the very stars and angels of heaven. Job 38:4-11 489 149. Be humbled by the majestic and inscrutable works of God, about which you know nothing, and wait patiently for him to crush those who prevail in this life over the godly, for whom all good things were made. Job 38:12-17 503 150. To prompt our humility, God uses the incomprehensible wonders and powers of nature to remind us of the depths of our sins and the vastness of his inexpressible glory. Job 38:18-32 517 151. To prompt our humility further, God reminds us that his incomprehensible power, wisdom, and goodness initiated the innumerable, unfathomable mysteries of human and animal generation. Job 38:33–39:7 531 152. God uses animals to teach us about his kindness in providing for our earthly existence and about his grace in subjecting us to himself and kingdom life. Job 39:8-21 544 153. If we find fault with God or grumble against him, and are unable to learn to hold ourselves in contempt because of our arrogance, all the animals of God’s creation will be his advocates and will teach us humility. Job 39:22-35 557

xi 154. Like Job, all men want to defend their faults, but they would do better not to defend them against God and to accept his judgment and their afflictions as efforts on his part to humble and cleanse them. Job 40:3-11 570 155. God uses animals of great size to demonstrate his goodness, wisdom, and power, and to humble the proud. Job 40:12-24 582 156. Huge, powerful brute beasts, frightful as they are, serve to remind us that it is more frightful to confront God and his majesty since we are powerless, possessing nothing of worth or merit in ourselves. Job 41:1-34 595 157. Job concedes that he spoke in ignorance of God’s private counsel and, now repentant, asks only to know his revealed will better to obey it. Job 42:1-5 609 158. Judgment begins with the household of God, there being condemnation that leads to final destruction and condemnation that leads to salvation, while the condemnation that leads to salvation is accomplished only through sacrifice. Job 42:6-8 621 159. Job, as a priest, is a figure anticipating the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true mediator, deliverer, and aspiration of God’s chosen people. Job 42:9-17 634

1 Sermon 111 the nature of the three stages of sin’s development; the papists’ contrary view of accountability; the believers’ nonchalance toward judgment; the need for self-examination and self-condemnation to escape final judgment. 1 ‘I made a covenant with my eyes, and what have I looked upon in a young lady? 2 And what is the portion of God from on high and the inheritance of the Almighty from heaven? 3 Is there not destruction for the iniquitous and confusion for those who plot (and work) iniquity? 4 Does he not see my ways? Does he not count all my steps?’ (Job 31:1-4) WE have already seen how Job was protesting that he was not the kind of person his friends wanted to make him believe, for their opinion was that he was being rebuked by God. Consequently, he declared he had lived a holy life with integrity. He keeps returning to this position, and not without reason, for this was a grievous trial, and one would have thought that he was a hypocrite despite the fact he had walked in uprightness of heart and simplicity before God. Moreover, he was not concerned for his reputation or for what people would think of him, for God knew him. It is true he would not find it strange that he would be afflicted by God’s hand even if he had walked in the manner we see here, but yet it would have been good for him to know the purpose and reason for which God had visited him in this way. Now, we will see that more fully at the conclusion of this chapter. Let us now look at the present content, which is that Job wants to declare that he served God faithfully and that the very grievous and

sermons on job 2 excessive adversities he is now enduring are not because of the offences he committed, but that there is a hidden reason that God knows and men cannot see or judge. In the first place, Job testifies to his integrity when he says that he has made a covenant with his eyes not to look immodestly upon any girl living. Now, it is a sign of great and almost angelic perfection in a man if he can affirm that he has never been tempted by evil, for it is indeed possible for a man to experience a sudden and fleeting temptation and not yield to it, even reject it and hate it. And in fact, it would be a great virtue if all of a man’s feelings were so pure and unaffected by any corruption that he could never be tempted. But Job is better than that. And to understand this better, let us note that there are three stages of vice before sin is effected, I mean before there is actual sin. When James speaks of sin, he uses the example of a child. He says that lust is conceived and then gives birth to sin and sin is effected with the act, when the deed is carried out (James 1:14, 15). Now, I say that even though there is no outward act, corruption consists of three stages. The first is a fleeting thought a man conceives when he looks at something. He will fantasise one thing or another, or even if he sees nothing and his mind is still quick to think evil, he will be transported hither and yon and many fantasies will enter his mind. Now, it is certain that is a mark of depravity, but it is not imputed to us as sin. Now there is the second stage: after we have conceived the fantasy, we are to some degree titillated by it and we feel our will drawn in that direction. Though there is no consent or agreement, deep down there is some disturbance to agitate us. Now, that is a wicked sin which is brought to birth, so to speak. And after that is consent, when our wills become fixed and we would not resist engaging in the evil if the situation permitted. That then is when the third level is reached and the sin takes place despite the fact it did not occur as deed. And this is well worth noting, for although the matter might seem difficult, there is nonetheless no man or woman who is not aware of what I have just said and has not experienced it personally every day. For example, we will wonder when we are afflicted whether God is thinking about us. No one can maintain that he does not entertain such imaginings, for our nature is so corrupt and disposed to evil that it is impossible for us not to have such thoughts. [job 31:1-4]

3 Now, it is already certainly a fault when the thought comes to mind even though we may drive it out and even think, ‘What? I detest that.’ It is blasphemy to think God does not have pity on those who call upon him and is unwilling to help those who seek him. It is the same as if we wanted to deny he still governs the world. So when such things cross our minds, here there is a fault and we must conclude, ‘Alas, Lord, we are pitiable creatures and filled with futility when we are able to imagine such monstrous things. The second stage is when adversity presses upon us and sorrow is multiplied. We begin to murmur, ‘Alas! If God were thinking about me, would I be languishing this way? Would he not be concerned to help me? He is not doing so. He is not showing himself. So it seems that he has abandoned me.’ When we dispute within ourselves this way and the thought enters our heads that God may or may not be concerned for us, it is then that we must know what he has declared himself to be toward us and receive his promises and make them our foundation and say, ‘No, no matter what happens, I will still trust in my God and take refuge in him.’ But even if we finally possess that assurance and steadfastness, if we waver and doubt before attaining that confidence, we engage in a vice which is greater than the first and are already guilty of doubt and unbelief before God because we have been poor at handling such a wicked temptation. Now, following that is the third level. When we are utterly defeated and do not know what to say except, ‘Evil has won, and God has delayed too long in extending me his hand, and I see myself here as one in despair.’ When we are so overwhelmed that we can no longer call upon God and do not regard his promises highly enough to lean on them and rejoice in them, we experience the third level of evil, and just as after an infant is formed in the womb and all we have to do is to give birth to it, so the only thing that remains is the outward act. Let us come now to Job’s statement. He says, ‘I have made a pact (or a covenant) with my eyes.’ We have said that is a sign of great perfection. Why? Because if a man can restrain his eyes so that he sees nothing that attracts him to evil when he looks about and he shows that he possesses a true chastity and uprightness within himself, we are obliged to say that he is pure of all corruption, like an angel. Now Job [job 31:1-4] sermon 111

sermons on job 4 does not make that declaration in vain. So, let us acknowledge that he has lived in this world like one of God’s angels. It is true that he was not naturally like that. Likewise, when he says he made a covenant, it is after taking advantage of the fear of God in such a way that he had put his wicked lusts underfoot and won the victory over his heart, that he was able to bridle himself and box himself in securely and say, ‘I will covet nothing evil or long for it or desire it. There will be no inclination in me to offend God, and I shall exercise restraint in what I see, in what I say, in what I hear.’ That, then, was Job’s covenant. It is not that he possessed such integrity in his nature. He was a man subject to his passions, as we are, and we must not doubt that he experienced many trials in his life, but he walked in such a way that he was accustomed to fearing God to the point of not conceptualizing evil desires. So, he was so used to it, as we say, that is, it was so ingrained in him that he was no longer gadding about in search of something or other to become actively engaged in. In summary, we see here that Job wanted to state that he was not only trying to serve God but that he had tried so hard that he conquered and made captive all of his fleshly passions, with the result that it no longer cost him to serve God because he did not have those struggles that we endure because of our weakness and even because of the corruption in our nature. Now, let us note that this did not happen by his own power. He could not achieve such perfection on his own, but God had to renew him in such a way that he was separated, so to speak, from the ordinary run of men, for it is with good reason that David made this request of God: ‘Lord, turn my eyes away so they will not look upon futility’ (Psa. 119:37). If Job had had by his own diligence what he declared, there is no doubt David could have also achieved such constancy that he would never have imagined any futility and his eyes would not have been led astray or distracted in any way soever. Now, thus it is that David confesses he could not possess that or obtain it except by God’s pure grace. It follows then that Job could not of his own free will make such a covenant and say that reason was so dominant in him that he was victorious over all his emotions. But here he intends to attribute to God the praise for such a benefit. So his intention is not to boast and magnify himself as if he himself had achieved such a [job 31:1-4]

5 benefit, but he realises that God had governed him so effectively that he was no longer stimulated to evil by his eyes. Furthermore, when Job speaks this way, let us note that what he really means is that if a man looks at a woman or a girl and is tempted to evil, he is already committing a sin before God—yes, even though there is no actual deed, even though the man does not make an effort to corrupt the girl or seduce her, even though his will has not gone so far as to conclude, ‘I would like to.’ So, although a man does not conceive the desire but resists the temptation which stirs him, he still does not fail to offend God. And that point is well worth noting. In fact, we hear this statement our Lord Jesus makes about the subject, that we must not think we are acquitted or absolved before God when we have abstained from adultery with respect of the body, for he who but looks upon a woman is judged an adulterer before God, simply if the look is unchaste (Matt. 5:28). And what is more, as I have already said, if the will is not set on it, we must still confess the sin before God with humility. The Papists well say that if a man consents to evil, that is, if he desires evil so much that he is dead set upon doing evil if the opportunity presents itself, oh, they confess it is a sin to be condemned, but if a man feels some wicked desire, provided he does not consent to it totally, the Papists say that it is not sin. That is a damnable blasphemy. Scripture says, ‘You shall love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength’ (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). And what does it mean, ‘all your mind and all your strength’? God did not limit the love that we are to have for him just to our hearts and affections. He says that our minds and our senses must be involved also, as well as all our strength, that is, all of the faculties and powers in our nature. If a man now conceives some evil, even though he does not consent to it fully and his desire is not fully given to it, will he, I ask you, love God with all his mind? Not at all. If the smallest fraction of a man tends toward corruption, even though he tries to fulfill the law, will he love God as he should? Certainly not, for sin is nothing but the transgression of the law of God. Let us conclude then that all the wicked fantasies we have when we are enticed to do evil are just that many sins and that we would be in sermon 111 [job 31:1-4]

sermons on job 6 God’s debt were it not that he sustains us by his infinite goodness. But he forgives his people. Even so, they must recognise those fantasies as sins, and whoever makes excuses for himself only provokes God’s wrath and covers over the evil to his condemnation. For hypocrisy must finally be uncovered and revealed and punished with all the rest. Consequently, those who imagine they do not fall short and do not offend God when they are tempted to do evil gain nothing. That does not correct their way of living, for that hypocrisy will have to be grievously punished. So, let us remember, as I have already said, that although we do not consent to the sin but are only titillated, so to speak, and experience some desire but resist it, it is already a fault and a weakness in us. If we but experience some wicked desire, it is already a sign of the corruption in our nature. And in fact, if the evil did not dwell in us and we were not already turned from the uprightness and integrity that God had put in the first man, it is certain our eyesight would be much purer and more chaste than it is. And all our senses, as hearing, speaking and touch, would be pure and spotless. There would be no impurity. That being true, let us weigh carefully what Moses says, that when Satan came and seduced Eve and her husband subsequently after they listened to him and were corrupted by the ambition to be like God, they considered the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and saw that it was desirable for acquiring knowledge (Gen. 3:6). What? They looked upon the tree? Adam and Eve had not already seen it earlier? For God had said to them, ‘Do not eat the fruit I have forbidden to you, for in the hour that you eat of it, I tell you that you are separated from me and condemned to death’ (Gen. 2:17). So, Adam and Eve contemplated that tree previously. Why then does Moses impute that to them as sin now? Because they knew it to be desirable, that is, they had a wicked and perverse appetite when they thought it was good to eat of it. And where does that appetite come from? From their hearts, which were already corrupt, and it immediately clouds their eyes, similar to when a man’s eyes are clouded by his intemperate drinking. The disease is obliged to be in them, accompanied by a burning sensation before they are ruined, or else there has to have been an accident. Or else when a man goes blind, there was previously [job 31:1-4]

7 a cataract or some other such thing which deprives him of his eyesight over a period of time. So it is with all the other wicked glances which are to be condemned, for if there were not already some wicked desire that had already infected and corrupted the heart, then the eye, as I have said, would be pure and clear of itself, and we would be able to look upon God’s creatures without being enticed to do anything evil. Now, it is true we cannot now open our eyes without conceiving some wicked desire. We cannot say, ‘That is beautiful’ or ‘That is good,’ without immediately offending our God. Is that not great depravity in us? So, let us realise that it is sin which reigns in us, as in fact it has occupied us since Adam’s transgression, making our nature so corrupt that we cannot look upon a thing that we might call beautiful and good without offending God, whereas we should be encouraged to love him and praise him for his goodness in doing so many good things for us. So, instead of glorifying God and being motivated to love and serve him, we cannot say, ‘That is beautiful’ or ‘That is good,’ without being tantalised, indeed enticed to avarice or whoredom or other lustful acts. In brief, everything that is beautiful and good under heaven turns us from our God, to whom it should lead us. Is not God the source of all beauty and goodness? Now, it is true that this wicked desire does not dominate and must not dominate God’s children, but I am speaking of what is natural to man until God works in him. It is true that believers will not be so perverted and have their understanding so depraved that they are always drawn to evil, but they will nonetheless always have some remnant of that infection which is in the mother’s womb. In other words, they will have some deep-seated urges to entice them to evil, even though they may hate it and repel it at first. And in fact, as I have said, who does not imagine that God does not care for him as soon as he endures some misfortune? And that is blasphemy, an execrable blasphemy, if we consent to it and our fantasy lingers but briefly even though our will was not resolved on it. So we see now that if a man is tempted to do evil even though he does not consent to it before he repels the temptation and battles against it, he nonetheless offends God. Why so? Because it is a transgression of the law, as I have pointed out. It must also proceed from sermon 111 [job 31:1-4]

sermons on job 8 an evil source, for the eye itself is not corrupt. That is not where sin begins. Where then? In a man’s mind and in his soul, for the evil emotion is in fact hidden within, before the eye turns toward evil and is impelled toward it. That is why I said that Job, by protesting that he abstained from every wicked and immodest look, shows us that those who are infected with evil cannot excuse themselves before God unless there is no fault in them. Therefore, let us learn to be on guard and not to go easy on ourselves, as I have already mentioned. I say we are to be on our guard, for it is very difficult, I tell you, to keep our eyes from being tempted by some wicked lust or inordinate desire when we look upon the good things of this world without being touched by greed, when we see comforts, delights, and pleasures at every turn without being induced to desire what God does not grant us, when we look in every direction without there being lust, self-glorification, covetousness, and everything else to entice us. It is impossible or it is very difficult and surpasses all our strength to the extent that it is almost impossible for us to open our eyes without imagining something that offends God. That being true, let us learn to be vigilant, for we cannot, no matter how hard we try, avoid being rebuked and having to take refuge in the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, let us conclude that we must struggle valiantly, seeing that we are so corrupt that we cannot use our senses in any way or apply them to anything without some remnant of our wicked corruption, which is displeasing to God. That, then, should encourage us to be diligent. And then in the second place, let us learn to humble ourselves, seeing that the devil tries to put us to sleep through hypocrisy so that we will not realise our sins with the result that the evil grows worse. So, let us enter into ourselves and after examining our imperfections, let us cry out before God, saying, ‘Alas! Lord, you have granted me the grace to desire to move forward in your service. I put great effort into it. I try very hard. I resist all my passions and wage war against myself, but I am still not righteous before you. Lord, there is much to rebuke in me!’ That is how believers, after working long and hard at it and applying a strenuous effort beyond their own strength, must always retain that zeal to condemn themselves when vice is mingled with the good that God gives them to do, and [job 31:1-4]

9 they must learn to admit before him that they are wrong and humble themselves if they are to obtain mercy. Such are the points we have to note in this passage. Now, no matter what happens, although fantasies enter our minds morning and evening and from that we understand our natures are wondrously corrupt, we must nonetheless not lose courage but always march on, praying that if our good God has begun to move us forward, he will continue to do so and increase the power of his Holy Spirit. And if we entreat him earnestly and feel we already have one foot on our wicked affections, let us put both feet on them and trample them down so thoroughly that they will never be able to rise up again. And when the devil comes to tempt us and urge us to evil, do not let him get the best of us, but let our good sense always have the upper hand. In a word, let God’s Spirit so control our hearts that despite any evil affections, they will be restrained as with a bridle, even chains, and let them not raise their heads lest they toss us in every direction, but let us always remain steadfast and resolute, saying, ‘Our God must govern us, and we must follow his holy will.’ When we are experiencing evil fantasies, that is how we must take courage and always walk the good walk, knowing that this good God will sustain us, not that we should not confess that our fantasies are not just that many sins but that they are forgiven. And that is a point where we differ from the papists. The papists say that evil desires are not sins provided they are resisted. That is an execrable blasphemy. If such were true, God would have to renounce himself and revoke his entire law. And theirs is a considered opinion, not one arrived at by simple, uneducated people, but one deliberated and taken by great, learned men in their schools, or rather their diabolical synagogues. We, on the contrary, say that all evil desires are sins but not imputed by God because he wipes them away by his goodness and freely given mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe. And having such comfort, we must try even harder, as I said. Moreover, Job clearly shows that he knew he would have been guilty if he had given an unchaste look, for he adds, ‘What is the portion of God from on high? What is the inheritance of the Almighty of the heavens?’ Now, here Job is pointing out that he is not talking to make sermon 111 [job 31:1-4]

sermons on job 10 himself look good in the eyes of men and gain the reputation of virtue and holiness, as do those who seek only to be praised here below, but that his eyes are fixed on God and is speaking here as in his presence and asking him to be his witness and judge. And that is the mind we must also have, for, as said earlier, as long as we want our lives to be approved by men, there will be no end to lies, pretence, and deceit, so much so that it will cause us to call black white, vice virtue, and vice versa. That is what we will do if we try to gain men’s approval. So, whoever wants to walk uprightly and have the integrity Job speaks of here, oh, it is certain he will have to collect himself and cease to be off the right path here below and say, ‘Who will speak ill of me?’ No, that will have to be cut loose, and he will have to present himself before God and say, ‘Well now! What is my situation? It is with God that I have to do. If I please everyone on earth, I will gain nothing.’ We must all remain silent before God, for he is not content with good looks, impressive false pretences, appearance, and the like. He looks upon the heart. He searches our thoughts and exposes everything that is hidden in the darkness. Inasmuch as that is true, let it encourage us to walk uprightly and with integrity. But that is not what happens. We are drawn in many directions. We are likely to devise deceptive and impressive stories to make us appear what we are not, and when we cannot do better, we cover ourselves with fig leaves as our father Adam did (Gen. 3:7). For that reason, let us note this lesson carefully which is placed before all believers so that if we want to walk as we should, we must not behave as if we were before men or as if we think only of their opinion, but let us set our minds upon the heavenly Judge and know it is to him that we must answer and give an account. So much for that point. Moreover, as I have already pointed out, Job is here acknowledging that God will not tolerate lustful looks without punishing them. Why not? Because every one of them is an offence. And then he adds that iniquity will be cut off. By that he means that the one whose eyes are given to vanity, even if he does not consent to it completely, is nonetheless condemned as a sinner and wicked before God. Let us recall what was said about Job’s time, for although we do not know whether he lived before the giving of the law or not, he nonetheless came before the prophets, as I have said that he was mentioned as a [job 31:1-4]

11 man of antiquity (Ezek. 14:14, 20). Therefore, Job belonged to a time when God had not yet given a fully ample teaching or such clarity as has come since, for the prophets clarified greatly what was obscure in the law. Job lived in an earlier time. Consequently, he had only a tiny spark, so to speak, if we compare it with the teaching which has come since. Even so, he knew well that he could not be tempted by an evil desire without being guilty before God. And what does that mean for us who have the Sunlight of Righteousness that dazzles us at midday, as it were? It is a figure of Jesus Christ with his gospel who has brought to us such a great light that we have no excuse. If we say, ‘I do not understand that. It is too exalted and too profound.’ What does that mean? That we do not have an ample enough teaching when God’s will has been fully manifested to us? How will we be excused if we do not know what Job knew? And as a consequence we see the nature of God’s vengeance, which is frightful in the papacy, since those beasts have denied that a man has sinned when he is tempted to do evil, when he has urges within himself and wicked imaginations, provided he does not consent to them fully. And by comparison with them, there is Job, who had no such teaching, as I have already stated, but who knew that well. So, let us take a good look at ourselves, since God granted us the grace and privilege of having his truth much better known to us than it was at that time. Let us be watchful, and as soon as we open our eyes, we will feel some emptiness within ourselves, some wicked affection. Let us have the insight to say, ‘Oh, there is some evil hidden in there. We have offended our God and our eyes are already defiled when the evil appears externally, when there are sparks. And are there sparks without fire?’ So, we must learn to condemn ourselves. In fact, were it not for God’s mercy, we would be destroyed because of our hidden sins, for his mercy is the portion of our inheritance, which is prepared for us from on high. It is true that men can clear us of guilt, but we will still have to appear before God, who will pass judgment quite differently. It is noteworthy that Job says ‘from on high’ and ‘from heaven.’ The thought is repeated here, but it is not superfluous. Why not? Without spelling it out, he makes a comparison between God’s judgment and sermon 111 [job 31:1-4]

sermons on job 12 the opinions we can acquire among men. So, men can justify us all the time, and our filth and weaknesses will not be known. So we will have the reputation of little angels and we will think there is nothing to fault in us. Now, what have we gained? Nothing at all, for God is calling us to a higher level. Well, it is true that here below sinners will be able to absolve themselves and easily find approval from men, for we will see among men only the appearance of virtue, but on high God will reverse all the meaningless opinions which hold sway for a time. Therefore, let us learn that just as we are guilty after being urged on by evil desires, so is our compensation made ready in heaven, that is, on high, unless our good God spares us and displays his paternal goodness toward us. That, then, is what we have to remember if we are to magnify our God’s goodness when we see that he does not punish us rigorously and if we are to be incited to ask him to pardon our sins every day. Now, Job says immediately, ‘Is there not destruction for the iniquitous and affliction for those who commit crimes? And does not God see my ways and count all my steps?’ Job is here expressing more clearly that portion and inheritance which he spoke of, and he is doing so to cut us more to the quick concerning our sins. It is true he does not insist upon everything spoken of in the law, and he does not use as many words, but the Holy Spirit nonetheless is giving instruction for all by his mouth. He does that because when we hear of God’s judgments and the punishments he sends upon sinners, we are so nonchalant that we are scarcely moved. Consequently, our Lord has to awaken us and make us more aware of how frightful his wrath is and how horrible it is to have him against us. That is why Job adds this declaration: ‘Is there not destruction for the iniquitous, and will the wicked not be afflicted?’ What does this destruction mean? That the wicked deserve to be exterminated; that God casts them out and utterly destroys them. The word means more than reward or inheritance, for men, as I have said, convince themselves that they will escape the worst and receive a much lighter punishment. It is like a criminal held in prison. He does not realise he has deserved the gallows and convinces himself, saying, ‘Well, I will escape the gallows and be whipped. I will be banished.’ Consequently, I am saying that men [job 31:1-4]

13 do not fear God’s wrath such as it is. They are not conscious of the punishment they deserve because they are not thinking about eternal death. So we see why Job, speaking of the portion that is prepared in heaven for all the wicked, adds with good reason that it is a destruction and a confounding that cuts them off. Now, by that let us realise that the Spirit of God is rebuking our nonchalance. If at the outset we paid attention to God’s judgments and were sensitive to our sins, we would have no need for him to state the point twice. It would be enough for us to hear it once. But the Holy Spirit, speaking of the portion God is preparing for those who have contempt for his law, adds ‘destruction’ because we are brutish and when we are told something once, we do not grasp it. We are beset by such apathy that if God were to strike us hard, we would not feel the blows of his hand. How then will we be cut to the quick as we need to be by the threats he gives us? It is certain that if he only speaks, we will not be touched or stricken within ourselves, since we cannot be humbled enough by the blows of his hand. So, let us note carefully that our nonchalance and apathy are being condemned here. And for that reason let us wake up when God takes care to encourage us this way, and let us be instructed to pay better attention to ourselves. That is what we need to observe in this verse. Now, by way of conclusion, when Job asks, ‘Does not God see my ways and count all my steps?’ let us note that he is applying to himself the teaching he had given as instruction to all, for he had said, ‘What is the reward, or what is the portion of God from on high, what is the inheritance of the God of heaven?’ God had spoken that way about everyone, but now he is applying the teaching for his own use and saying why he spoke the way he did. Therefore, as often as God’s judgments come to mind and as often as they are brought to our attention or we read them, let us be wise enough to enter into ourselves, and let each of us look at himself as he is, for God’s judgments must not remain buried within us and never be spoken of, but each person must let them have their effect in himself for his individual use. That, then, is what we have to note when Job deals with a general teaching and immediately looks at his own self. ‘God,’ he says, ‘sounds out and knows my ways.’ In other words, since God is the Judge of all men, he sermon 111 [job 31:1-4]

sermons on job 14 himself will not be able to escape his hand. ‘Does not God,’ he asks, ‘know all my ways and count all my steps?’ He says that in order to point out that God does not count simply from a distance and look at what is evident here below, but that his is a close-up look to see and note down all our works, that his sight is indeed not dim, that it is not diffused. Job is noting that God counts, that he numbers everything so that nothing escapes him and is not forgotten. Do we not now have a better opportunity, I ask you, to acknowledge our ways and count our steps inasmuch as we see that everything is present before God? Why is it that men have such great difficulty in recognising a hundredth of their sins? Such a man will even commit a sin a hundred times a day and scarcely think about it once. Why is that? It is because we do not appreciate the fact that God watches over us and that he sees us so clearly that nothing is hidden from him, and that he forgets none of our works and none of our thoughts. So, let us weigh carefully the words of this verse, that God knows our ways and counts our steps, which means that the number of them is placed before him and that every last one of them must be accounted for. That is the lot of those who cover their evil with lies and pretexts, for everything must come to light. What remains then? That we think about ourselves more closely than has been our custom and always be on guard so that we will not be surprised by the ambushes which assail us from all sides. And when we see we are subject to falling into the many vices that our nature is filled with, let us examine them carefully and be displeased with them and admit our guilt before God. And as we grieve because of our sins, let us still confess with David that it is impossible for us to know all our faults (Psa. 19:12). And for that reason let us beseech this gracious God that when he sees in us the shortcomings and sins that we ourselves cannot see, he will be pleased to cleanse us of them by his mercy and that in that way we will have no other assurance of our salvation than that he receives us in mercy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and that we have this washing by which we are cleansed, which is by the blood he shed for our redemption. Now let us bow before the face of our gracious God, etc. [job 31:1-4]

15 Sermon 112 those who walk uprightly will be rewarded. 5 ‘If I have walked in lies and my foot has hastened to deceit, 6 let God weigh my works in the balance of justice, and let him discern my integrity. 7 If my step has turned from the path and if my heart has walked after my eyes and a stain has adhered to my hands, 8 let me sow and another eat the fruit, and let my plants be uprooted.’ (Job 31:5-8) AFTER Job protested that he had lived chastely and that as a consequence his eyes were not defiled by an evil look, he adds that he lived so uprightly among his neighbours that his foot did not descend into deceit or malice. So we now see him touching on another kind of integrity than the one he mentioned yesterday. Here he will also discuss the principal aspects of human life in detail, and with good reason. For it would not be enough for a man to abstain from adultery unless he is also innocent of larceny, deceit, and other things contrary to the law, since God does not want what he has joined together to be separated. He gave all of his law for the regulation of our lives, and when he forbade adultery, he also condemned thefts, lies, and other violations of the law (James 2:10-11). Consequently, it is not enough for the person who would like to serve God to be free of one sin, but he must make his entire life conform to the law, for, as I have already said, to do otherwise would be to separate things which can in no way be separated without violating God’s righteousness. That, then, is why Job, after protesting that his life was chaste and modest, adds that he deceived no one and that his foot never turned toward falsehood and malice. And this deserves careful note, for it is one of the principal items God asks for in his law, that we have the kind of integrity not to sermon 112 [job 31:5-8]