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The Pharisees are not all dead yet by any means. Even the most spiritual churches today have many twentieth century Pharisees parading aroundÂ—supposed to be Â“so good,Â” when as a matter of fact they have the devil in them and are as graves which appear not. Â“Ye Â… outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquityÂ” (Matt. 23:28). Am I in that class? Are you?
Notice how humble David was when Nathan, GodÂ’s messenger, pointed out to him his great sinÂ—and see how quickly forgiveness followed DavidÂ’s confession: Â“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not dieÂ” (2 Sam. 12:13). David suffered terribly for his awful sin, but upon fully confessing and forsaking his sins, he was fully forgiven.
Â“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnessÂ” (1 John 1:9). Only upon full confessionÂ—and forsaking of sinÂ—can God fully pardon. Â“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea Â… and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sinsÂ” (Matt. 3:5,6). Â“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercyÂ” (Prov. 28:13).
Even under the mighty ministry of John the Baptist, some would not repent. If we reject GodÂ’s messenger we reject God Himself. Â“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of himÂ” (Luke 7:29,30). Â“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth MeÂ” (John 13:20). Â“He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth MeÂ” (John 10:16).
JobÂ’s Partial Confession
Did Job need to confess any sins? Well, not at flintÂ—he was not conscious of any. But God saw that Job would go much further in his experience of godliness, so He permitted Satan to attack him for his good. After all JobÂ’s sufferings and testings, God began to talk to him (Job, 38th chapter). In Job 40:3-5 we see his answer to the Lord: Â“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.Â”
Now this was not a real, humble, broken, full confession before the Holy Presence of Almighty God. It is as though Job had said, Â“Well, I will hush. I think, Lord, You are pretty hard on meÂ—as righteous a person as I amÂ—but I wonÂ’t say any more, IÂ’ll hush.Â” We know that Job had not fully humbled himself before God, for the Lord said to him, Â“Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?Â” (Job 40:8). It is nothing but right that we should fully humble ourselves before God, the Creator of all things, Who gave His Son to die a cruel death for our poor souls. It is reasonable and proper that we should all make God FIRST in our lives.
How often God does have trouble with us Â“oldÂ” saints! How often He finds it hard to get us into an humble, honest place before HimÂ—where He can fully show us His favor. Oh the terrible, subtle sin of self-righteousness! It was the religious leaders of JesusÂ’ day who caused His crucifixion. It is hard for a person who has a reputation for sanctity and uprightness to humble himself fully and confess openly and fully when some sin is shown up in his life.
The tendency is to excuse ourselves, to justify ourselves, to blame other people, to blame conditions, to blame even God HimselfÂ—that WE may appear to be not so bad after all. Oh the deceitfulness of the human heart! May God help us! Â“And the Pharisees Â… heard all these things: and they derided Him. And He said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of GodÂ” (Luke 16:14,15). So even the ministry of Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected by those Pharisees. Are you rejecting His wordsÂ—any of His words? Am I?
Â“There is no respect of persons with GodÂ” (Romans 2:11). If a religious leader, like Saul of Tarsus for instance, will humble himself and throw away all his self-righteous rags (Isaiah 64:6)Â—God will have mercy on him.
JobÂ’s Full Confession
Thank God, Job did finally come to a humble and a full confession. Â“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashesÂ” (Job 42:5,6). It was then that God began to bless him mightily. However, it was not till Job had prayed for those tormenting friends of hisÂ— prayed Â“forÂ” them, not against themÂ—it was not till then that the Lord gave him a Â“double portion.Â” Â“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had beforeÂ” (Job 42:10). Jesus says, Â“Love your enemies Â… pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute youÂ” (Matt 5:44).
One great lesson we learn from the experiences of Job is thisÂ—no matter how God has blessed us, no matter to what degree of holiness we have attainedÂ—God wants us to always be humble before Him. If you have been saved forty yearsÂ—you need to humble yourself just as much as the drunkard or harlot who comes to the altar for salvation. Â“Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exaltedÂ” (Matt. 23:12). Â“Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exaltedÂ” (Luke 18:14).
Are you a religious leader? Are you an Â“old saintÂ”? Take care, my friend, that you keep humble before God! Maybe you do not look so big in GodÂ’s sight after all. Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, Â“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before youÂ” (Matt. 21:31).
The Praises Of Men
It is an exceedingly dangerous thing to get into a place where you want the praises of menÂ—or where you will accept the praises of people. Â“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that comet from God only?Â” (John 5:44). Â“Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophetsÂ” (Luke 6:26).
Are you a Christian? Have you been bidden to the wedding? (Matt. 22:1-14). Take heed then that you be not too much occupied with other things and neglect that humble, prayerful walk where your chief concern is, not what people think of youÂ—but how you can please God (Matt. 22:14; 20:16).
When someone criticizes you, or when some sermon Â“hitsÂ” youÂ—donÂ’t Â“fight backÂ” and try to defend yourself. Say rather, Â“Well, maybe there is something God wants me to look into in this matter. Maybe that harsh criticism had some truth in it after all.Â”
Â“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due timeÂ” (1 Peter 5:6). Â“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humbleÂ” (James 4:6). God Himself resisted Job till Job gave up his pride and self-justification. It was when Job humbled himself and hilly confessed that the Lord gave him His grace, His favor, His blessing, His help.
Isaiah was a prophet. But one day he caught a vision of the holiness of God and he said, Â“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple Â… Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hostsÂ” (Isaiah 6:1-5).
Thank God, the Lord met Isaiah right on the spotÂ—when he humbled himself and made a full confession. Â“Lo, this (live coal from off the altar) hath touched thy lips and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purgedÂ” (Isa. 6:7). Even a prophet had Â“iniquityÂ” and Â“sinÂ” which up to that time, when the illumination of the very Presence of God shone into his innerÂmost heart, had been apparently unnoticed. Â“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to youÂ” (James 4:8).