Updated: Apr 26, 2021
There was a man in the Bible who had questions. Lots of them! He was going through a time of difficulty, and he simply didn’t understand why God would allow such a challenging season in his life. As a result of his distress, he began to search for understanding in the hope of having his questions answered, “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know it’s worth.” (Ref. Job 28:12-13 ESV)
After some trial and error, this man, Job, later concludes that if you have questions, you go to God for the answers. Let’s look at three questions we wrestle with today, correlated with five answers God has already provided.
1. Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
According to Romans 1, God didn’t want evil and suffering to reign as it currently does. But if we as a culture continue to pull against the conviction God has placed in our conscience, then He “gives us (humanity) up” to the things our flesh desire:
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind (absence of God-consciousness) to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:24, 26-31 ESV)
Take note of Paul’s prophecy of the last days in 2 Timothy 3, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)
God’s answer to our first question: ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)
2. What does God want from me?
Everyone is searching for purpose. Some people are just more aware of the search than others. To find purpose -- as elusive as it might be -- the first thing one must do is to realize that it isn’t about us as individuals or our personal success. We find purpose when we decide to put our relationship with God first, our relationship with others second, and ourselves last. After all, Jesus told us, “Seek first the kingdom, then everything else shall be added to you.” (Ref. Matthew 6:33) And, according to Paul it is never too early to get started in this pursuit, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV)
Defining personal purpose requires good understanding, and thankfully God has also given us a formula for that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” (Psalms 111:10 ESV) And, He stated it directly to Job as he answered our second question, “‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28 ESV)
3. Will God forgive all of my sins?
Yes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV) Because “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV)
But, the fact that God will forgive all of your sins does not become an entitlement to keep on sinning, “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans 6:15-16 NLT)
Or, you may notice a trend here… God’s answer to our third question is the same as His answer to our first and second questions. In fact, I believe it is God’s answer to all of life’s most difficult questions. Just as he told Job in the midst of incomprehensible struggles and trials, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28 ESV)
May we all choose to live with reverential awe for God, for it is wisdom! And, in so doing, we will turn away from sin and evil and walk in the enlightenment of true understanding!