Olivia, five, and her best friend, Claire, were in a
nativity play at school. Claire was
playing Mary, and Olivia was an angel.
Before the show, a young boy went around the dressing room
saying, “I’m a sheep; what are you?” Each
child responded politely, including Olivia, who proudly
declared that she was an angel. The boy
then turned to Claire and repeated the question to her: “I’m
a sheep; what are you?”
Claire simply said, “I’m Mary.” Realizing
Claire was a lead character, the boy tried to justify his
own role by saying, "It’s hard being a sheep, you know.”
“Yes,” said Claire innocently, “but it’s also hard being a
virgin (Basset in Larson/Elshof).” Claire
didn't know how profoundly she had spoken!
Those of us who try to live godly lives can also
testify to how hard and difficult it can be!
One man who really had it tough as a believer was Job.
In this sermon, we'll consider this unique book's
background, then we'll look at some practices of purity in
Job's life found in chapter 31, and then we'll elaborate on
a final application. Anytime we face
suffering in our lives, Job is someone with whom we can
Let's consider this book's background.
The book opens by telling us that Job lived in Uz and that
he was one of the greatest people of the East.
The most likely spot for Uz is the area known as Edom
, which is southeast of Palestine . Job's
friends came from places near Edom . So
Edom is the most likely place.
Now what is the era in which this story occurs?
There are several indications that it took place
during the time of patriarchs: 1) we see that Job functions
as a priest for his family; 2) Job's long life is typical of
the patriarchs; 3) a term used for money in Job 42:11 is
only associated with Jacob in Gen. 33:19; 4) the name for
God, Shaddai, is one that predates the name used for God
after the Exodus, which is Yahweh; 5) Job's wealth is
measured in terms of livestock, as was the wealth of the
patriarchs. So the time period is
that of the patriarchs, before the Exodus.
The authorship of the book is unknown.
The most likely candidates would be Job, Elihu, or
even Moses. Whoever the author was, he
had an unshakable faith in God.
With regards to structure, Job is a unique
book. As your bulletin and this slide
show, there is a prologue, Job's dialogs with his friends,
Job's dialogs with God, and an epilogue.
Job's debates with his friends occur in three cycles.
The friends' speeches start out with gentle probings,
then they become stern rebukes, and finally they became
quite accusatory with false crimes being presented.
All three tried to get Job to confess his sins since
they believed that his harsh suffering was a punishment for
some horrible sins that he had committed.
Job, however, maintains that He is innocent and wishes to
debate with God, since his friends offer him little comfort.
The speech of Elihu falls between the friends'
debates and God's speeches, which heightens the importance
of what God says. In God's speeches, he
asks Job many questions that Job cannot answer.
In the epilogue, God approves of Job's innocence,
tells his friends to repent, and then restores Job's health
and wealth to him. The book can be
outlined in this way:
Job is tested (ch. 1-2)
Job is anguished (ch. 3)
Job is challenged by his friends (ch. 4-37)
Job is approved by God (37-42)(modified Jensen).
The book of Job teaches many great lessons: God can
bring good out of evil; suffering is not explained nor is it
linked to one's morality; suffering may make no earthly
sense to us, but it may make heavenly sense as other
spiritual beings who watch our struggles; God puts great
faith in those who serve Him faithfully!
Each of those lessons would be worth pursuing, but this
morning, let's look at chapter 31 where numerous practices
of purity of Job are presented by Job himself.
This is Job's concluding speech with his three
friends. Job continues to maintain his
innocence against their false accusations.
Job describes his purity by using an "if-then"
approach: if I have done this wrong, then let this
Job makes this kind of statement to really say that he had
NOT done the wrongs of which he had been falsely accused.
These practices of purity show us how Job had very
high ethical standards. Let's look at
each practice now.
In the first place, Job describes his moral purity in
verse 1-8: “I have made a covenant with my eyes.
Why then should I look upon a young woman?
For what is the allotment of God from above and the
inheritance from the Almighty from on high?
Is it now destruction for the wicked and disaster for
the workers of iniquity? Does He not see
my ways and count my steps? If I have
walked with falsehood, or if my foot has hastened to deceit,
[then] let me be weighted on honest scales that God
may know my integrity. If my step
has turned away from the way, or my heart walked after my
eyes, or if any spot adheres to my hands, then let me
sow, and another eat. Yes, let my harvest
be rooted out.” To make a covenant
was a solemn matter and usually involved an animal's death.
So, Job had made a serious pledge not to let lust get
the best of him by gazing steadily upon his virgin slaves.
Job believed that such a sin would bring destruction
and disaster. He was well aware that God
knew what he did and where he went. Job
"wanted to maintain a pure heart, and not to [tempt] the
mind to become corrupted by dwelling on impure images or
indulging in unholy desires" (Barnes).
Job then says that he has been honest in his business
transactions; he did not do business by using falsehood,
deceitful dealings, turning from the path of virtue, or
being covetous and underhanded. God's
honest scales would prove his integrity.
Isn't it interesting that Job valued God's assessment of his
life over that of his friends? Brethren,
it looks like this passage is addressing us.
Are we striving to live pure lives sexually, to be
honest in our business dealings, and to seek God's favor
over that of other peers?
Are we trying to guard our eyes, to keep our hands clean,
and to live for God's approval? Job's
close relationship with God caused him to treat his female
slaves with respect and to treat others with honesty.
Does our close relationship with God affect the way we treat
Like Job, let's strive to show moral purity!
The next practice could be called marital purity.
Notice verses 9-12: “If my heart has been
enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my
neighbor's door, then let my wife grind for another,
and let others bow down over her. For
that would be wickedness. Yes, it would
be iniquity deserving judgment. For
that would be a fire that consumes to destruction, and would
root out all my increase.” Listen to
Job, here; listen very carefully because he cuts against the
grain of our loose American culture like a chainsaw!
One source in 1986 estimated that about 65% of
American men and 40% of American women commit adultery
(People). Another source from 1991 said
that it was actually lower than these percentages: 35% for
men and 25% for women (Patternson/Kim).
Whatever the true statistics may be, we are reaping the
whirlwind of such immorality! Let's
get back to Job. What's interesting here
is that if Job was written in the patriarchal time, Job did
not know “You shall not commit adultery,” but listen to his
keen insights. He describes adultery as
wickedness and an iniquity. He also calls
it a crime against society worthy to be taken before those
who were judges. Then Job compares
adultery to a consuming fire that destroys everything in its
path. Job knew that adultery was sin, it
had severe and far-reaching negative consequences.
Listen, don't let the office become your moral
downfall. Do all that you can to keep the
home fires burning! “What was once
labeled adultery and carried a stigma of guilt and
embarrassment, now is an affair—a nice-sounding, almost
inviting word.... [But] sexual promiscuity has never been
the established custom of any human society [throughout
history]. Our culture is near the point
of total saturation. The cesspool is
running over” (Petersen in Swindoll). And
God is smelling the stench! Job proclaims
his marital purity. Let's go against the
grain of our culture and demonstrate lives of marital
The next practice Job underscores is social purity.
In verses 13-23, Job is claiming that he has been
upright in his treatment of others; he specifically mentions
groups that were the underprivileged in his day: slaves, the
poor, the widows, and the orphans. Of
course, the law of Moses later shows that these groups were
very dear to God's heart.
Job was ahead of his times by seeing slaves as people, and
not as property. Job then explains how he
had fed others, had raised others, had clothed others, and
helped all to find justice at the city's court.
When he says from my youth and mother's womb, he means that
he has constantly served these groups for as far as he can
remember (Coffman). His care for others
has been a life-long practice. Job never
tried to take advantage, oppress, or injure anyone in these
helpless groups. What about us?
Have we mistreated or ignored the underprivileged in
our society? Have we ever had a potluck
for those who work at the Recycling Center ?
How much of our wealth is being used to serve others?
Have we spent any time lately in the home of a widow
or widower or in visiting our nursing homes?
Let's practice social purity!
The next practice of Job could be call financial purity.
Look at verses 24-25: “If I have made gold
my hope, or said to fine gold, 'You are my confidence';
if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and
because my hand gained much.” In
22:24-25, Eliphaz had urged Job to make God his treasure.
It looks like Job is saying that he has always kept
God as his treasure and never exalted money in an idolatrous
way. Job was a wealthy man; he had gold,
livestock, property, and houses, but he never let these
things become his hope or his confidence.
This is similar to what the apostle Paul told Timothy with
regards to rich Christians. In 1 Timothy
6:17-19, Paul says that the wealthy Christians shouldn't be
haughty or trust in their wealth, but they should trust in
the living God and to be rich in good works!
They should be ready to give and to share in order to
be laying a good foundation for eternal life!
There was once a family who always put their change
into a small box. When they collected
$5-10 dollars in their box, then they would give it to
someone who came to the door seeking funds—like the Girls
Scouts, someone selling candy for the school band, someone
asking for a donation to a worthy cause. Usually,
there was more than one family member at the door, and if
they felt they should help a person, they'd say, “We'd
better get the box!” The children in this
family learned not only the advantage of saving funds but
also the joy of sharing them to help others!
Let's do our best to practice financial purity
because life does not consist in the abundance of things
Job next underscores his spiritual purity in verses
26-28: “If I have observed the sun when it shines,
or the moon moving in brightness, so that my heart has been
secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, [then]
this also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I
would have denied God who is above.”
In Job's culture, it was natural for people to worship the
sun, the moon, and the stars, so Job was going against the
grain again. Job is denying his
participation in any pagan worship of these heavenly bodies.
Job says that he not only did not practice blowing
kisses with his hands toward other gods, but also he kept
his heart from being enticed to do so. He
clearly saw that to worship the heavenly bodies would be to
deny the Creator Who had made them!
Here's a little parable that almost hits us too close to
home. There was a spaceship hovering
around the new multi-million dollar football stadium built
recently in Arlington , TX . One alien
asked the other, “What is this enormous structure with seats
for so many of the earthlings?” The other
alien replied, “It must be a great temple to their god.”
With the changing of the season, how many of you will
soon be blowing kisses with our hands towards the diamonds,
the parks, and the pools during times that you should be in
worship with the saints? Idolatry can
come in many forms; it's really anything, any hobby, any
sport, any pleasure, any person, any band, anything that
steals our heart from God and Christ!
Like Job, let's work hard to maintain our spiritual purity!
Then Job talks further about relational purity in
29-32: “If I have rejoiced at the destruction of
him who hated me, or lifted myself up when evil found him
(indeed I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for a
curse on his soul). If the men of
my tent have not said, 'Who is there that has not been
satisfied with his meat?' (but no sojourner had to lodge in
the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveler).”
Job again has been meticulous in his conduct
towards others. He has not rejoiced at
his enemy's calamity nor pronounced a curse against him.
Job treated everyone well who came to his tent; he
was hospitable and opened his door to strangers.
This Job is amazing; he doesn't miss a thing!
He may have lived in the patriarchal age, but he was
even anticipating Jesus' teachings. Do we
treat our enemies with kindness and travelers with
hospitality? We should because the
apostle Paul tells us to treat our enemies with benevolence,
and the writer of Hebrews tells us to host others passing
through (Romans 12:17-21; Hebrews 13:2).
Let's do our best to maintain relational purity too!
The next practice could be called devotional purity.
Verse 33-34 of the NKJV might be a bit misleading.
One commentator noted that the Hebrew allows another
interpretation which makes better sense: “If I
have covered my transgression as Adam, by hiding iniquity in
my bosom, then let me fear the great multitude, let
me dread the contempt of families, let me keep silent, and
let me not venture out of my house.”
The point is that Job was not trying to be deceptive or
hypocritical. Job's friends had made
false accusations against him, but Job refutes such charges
by saying that he has always been scrupulously open and
honest. It's amazing how sure and
confident Job was of his purity! We
recall how God first describes Job as a blameless and
upright man (1:7). We sing a hymn that
says, “Keep me from secret sin; reign Thou my soul within.
Purer in heart, help me to be.”
How many of you would be guilty of your own private
Watergates? Let's show devotional purity!
Then Job emphasizes judicial purity in verses 35-37:
“Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here
is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would
answer me, that my Prosecutor had written a book!
Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, and bind it
on me like a crown; I would declare to Him the number of my
steps; like a prince I would approach Him.”
Job is continuing to declare his innocence.
Many of the terms here are involved with a legal
proceeding, and Job wants God to be the judge and reveal to
him his wrongs that have been listed in the prosecutor's
book. Job is tenacious to the end, "eager
to have his case settled, and confident of the outcome” (
Anderson ). A preacher once gave a survey
to members in his congregation asking the question: “If you
died today, would you go to heaven?” The
responses they could chose from were: yes; no; I don't know;
I think so, but am not sure. About 40% of
these members answered in a negative way.
Who do we resemble more? Are we confident
like Job or are we doubtful like those who did the survey?
If we were put on trial for our faith and living in a
godly way, could we defend ourselves, just as Job has done
in this chapter? Let's strive towards
The last practice of Job is territorial purity found
in verses 38-40: “If my land cries out against me,
and its furrows weep together; if I have eaten its
fruit without money, or caused its owners to lose their
lives; then let thistles grow instead of wheat, and
weeds instead of barley.” Job argues
that he has done nothing wrong with regards to property; he
has paid the labors their wages and treated the owners
fairly. Job continues to show his
innocence. He has not committed any sin
which merits the severe suffering with which he has been
struck. In this way, Job answers his
Someone has said: “In all the Holy Scriptures there is not a
more beautiful portrait of an upright, godly, righteous man
than that which reaches a climax in this chapter” (Coffman).
Now here's another important lesson that we learn
from Job. If we want to show excellence
in our suffering, then we'd better be practicing excellence
in the purity of our living. You see,
Job's purity is what led to his tenacity.
He could continue to insist on his innocence because he had
demonstrated purity in all areas of his life.
The only thing that broke Job's tenacity was when God
steps in and questions him. His tenacity
then gave way to humility! And his
humility then leads to his ultimate victory, as God gives
His approval and provides him once again with health and
prosperity. Our daily purity lies at the
basis of it all. A researcher did a
survey of Americans in 2006 and asked the question, "Do you
consider yourself to be holy?" Eight out
of ten people who were unbelievers answered that they didn't
consider themselves to be holy. When the
same question was asked to those who claimed they were
believers, seven out of ten answered that they didn't
consider themselves to be holy! That's an
amazing and saddening response, isn't it?
Job argued like crazy for his integrity, yet people who
claim to live on this side of the cross, who live under
Christ's grace, think that they can't be holy, they can't
uphold purity! Has our culture deceived
us into thinking: "Well, there are no saints anymore;
everybody is corrupt, so why try to live a godly life?"
Job shows that you can live a blameless and upright
life if you'll keep God first. God's
grace should motivate you towards even more purity?
Does the cross affect the way you live?
Does Calvary touch your daily lifestyle?
Do Jesus' nail-scarred hands, pierced side, steady
voice, and warm smile help you strive for all kinds of
purity each day? Like the kids said,
“It's hard,” but if Job could do it without a Savior, surely
we can do it with one! Let's say, “I can
do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
(Philippians 4:13)! Start your walk
towards holiness and an eternal home! It
begins by stepping out into the aisle nearest you and coming