I first wrote this post as part of the “Too Much Talking: Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Job” devotional series from 2019. This post is about our confession of faith as spiritual warfare, and measuring what it is to call yourself “born again.” We are born again of water and of the Spirit as Jesus describes it in John 3:5. This post is above all a reconsideration of the sufficiency of Christ and a heart check on how self-sufficient you may have become spiritually over the course of this year. I felt like revisiting this post was perfectly appropriate for the season we are in biblically and culturally. Enjoy, and find a personal bible study guide to delve deeper into these topics on your own at the bottom of this page. Here we go…
Confession is warfare speech. Whether confession of sin, or confession of belief, there is power in straightening out the facts.
Job’s confession is that he sinned by speaking out of turn. The man who maintained relentlessly his innocence throughout a brutal trial of public opinion, confesses his sin of presumption, in that he spoke of “things far too wonderful for [him].”
God had called him blameless in the beginning of his story. His dutiful commitment to sacrifice, offering, prayer, and conscientious living was unparalleled. Indeed he was rich in integrity and in possessions. Before his trials he had experienced exactly what the psalter proclaims in Psalm 112:
How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying His commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust in the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away their hopes thwarted. Psalm 112
Before Job’s afflictions, this psalm described his life perfectly. He was committed to goodness and from his giving he received.
Yet, here is the gospel that Job had to encounter, the one he learned through a battering ten rounds in the ring with Satan and his henchmen– the wretched and poor and blind and naked, the unclean must look to Jesus so that from His giving they might receive.
Job’s most damning affliction was his skin disease, the boils and oozing sores. The reason this was more oppressive to his spirit than losing everything, even his children, was that it mortified his attempts at righteousness. A skin disease made him unclean.
Job of course predates Levitical law, but even if just by foreshadowing, let’s contemplate the spiritual weight of his ceremonial uncleanness.
His religion was useless if he couldn’t perform it. An unclean person could not sacrifice. They were quarantined. They couldn’t be touched, less they render the other person unclean.
If the skin disease was chronic they were required to leave their hair uncombed, tear their clothes, and call out as they passed other people, “Unclean! Unclean!”
For a person who did heal, they had to present themselves to the priests to be examined, receive a purification ritual involving sprinkling on of blood, shave their head, wash their clothes, and take a bath. (Leviticus 13 & 14)
I want to draw a parallel here between pre-affliction Job– wealthy, religious Job– along with his wealthy, religious friends and the church of Laodicea.
We meet the Laodicean church in the books of Revelation and Colossians.
Paul instructed the Colossians to pass the letter he wrote them on to the Laodiceans. Paul also told the Colossians to read his letter to the Laodiceans (which is unfortunately lost to antiquity.)
“And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea,” Colossians 4:16.
The two churches must have had a bit in common for their individual admonitions to be mutually applicable.
In Colossians and Revelation you will find 4 shared themes: 1. references to riches, treasure, inheritance, wealth, and gold; 2. references to “putting on,” “clothe,” “clothing,” and “white robes;” 3. terminology about baptism and water; and 4. mentions of the identity of Christ as the only saving, renewing, justifying authority in the universe.
The Colossians are told to “put on your new nature.” Putting on our new nature is our baptism in Christ as we have died with Christ, are hidden in Christ, and have been born again a new creation– find this argument everywhere in the epistles of Paul.
Paul also tells the Colossians to “be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him,” Colossians 3:10.
The problem with the Colossians, and also with the Laodiceans, was that they did not think very much of Jesus. They didn’t take very seriously what Jesus did by sprinkling His blood on their uncleanness and being the living water baptismal font into which they were cleansed.
The Colossians bought into a lie that Jesus was an angel. So Paul begins his admonition to the Colossians with a strong statement about Christ:
Christ is the visible image of an invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realm and on earth. Colossians 1:15-16a
In Revelation, Jesus introduces Himself to the Laodicean church saying:
This is the message from the one who is the Amen– the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation. Revelation 3:14
The Amen is the “let it be so.” In other words, there is nothing God does without materializing it through Jesus. Strong parallels between Colossians and Revelation!
But also to the book of Job! Oh my goodness, if only Job and his friends could know what we get to know through our inheritance of scripture:
That our works do not save us. That Jesus is not just a good teacher or our chummy guru. His is the blood for our purification and the baptism that makes us clean–
A clean that we must have to approach God!
We are baptized once to be cleansed, and it is enough, because Jesus died once for all to purify us and we only need to be baptized once, not over and over and over as it was under the old law, because Jesus is the Amen; once you’re baptized in Him “it is so.”
Jesus could easily say to Job and Job’s friends what He said to the Laodicean church:
Buy from Me gold that has been purified in fire! Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be ashamed of your nakedness. Revelation 3:18 (paraphrase of NLT).
“Trade in your good works for My good works!”
The Laodiceans are famous for their indifference. If they were anything like the Colossians, indifference does not mean that they lacked in religious fervor and diligence. Job gave fastidiously and energetically to his religious practice. So does the American church.
The Laodiceans water, of course, is also famous. They had no water of their own, so they piped it in and travelled it through valleys using a siphon. A Roman siphon was basically a big U. How it worked was: a great enough amount of water had to pour down into the bottom of the siphon from one side of the valley to create sufficient force to push the water at the bottom of the siphon up the hill and out the other side of the pipe.
Because the water was piped in from an outside source rather than being generated from a natural spring, I’m imagining that water could settle at the bottom of the siphon for a while before there was enough water accumulated to move it up and out. The pipes of the siphons of Laodicea are still scattered about its ruins. They are heavily corroded and are thought to have gone into disrepair frequently while in use because of quick calciferous build up.
Colossians 2:21 tells us of the works of the ceremonial laws: “that such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them.” Just like the Laodicean water pipes.
In comparison, Jesus is Living Water.
“Living Water,” is even today a term used by Jewish rabbis, as the name designating a baptismal font that is connected to a natural source of water. Being tapped into a natural water source causes the baptismal to stay clean as opposed to a bath that would need to be emptied, purified, and refilled.
The Laodiceans, and Job, and his friends were indifferent about their baptism. They were indifferent about the glorious, praise-worthy, awesome, re-creating power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our partaking in His work through our one-time cleansing baptism.
They instead preferred their own riches of goodness. Lame.
They say, “I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing! Revelation 3:17
Presumption of the highest order! They were so satisfied with the heady perfume of their own trifling, ceremonial rightness, that they didn’t want very much for Jesus. And they didn’t think very highly of His taking away of their uncleanness and His washing of their garments.
They’d rather crucify Christ over and over for justification, and empty and refill that baptismal font over and over and over for their purity.
Job’s oozing, chronic, boil-y, skin disease is the best thing that ever happened to him.
The one thing that he couldn’t fix himself– the one point of righteousness he couldn’t attain himself– lead him to the Living Water, which alone could make him clean.
And that is what he confessed when he said, “It is I– and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things that are far to wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen, I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard of you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:3b-6
Buy from Me… ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. Revelation 3:18
Our confession, what we must speak out, especially if you have been a Christian for awhile is: I will never stop needing Jesus.
For a more detailed study read:
Revelation 3:14-22; Colossians 1-4; Zechariah 3; John 1; Hebrews 7-9; Matthew 23; Matthew 8:1-4; John 7:37-39; John 2:23-4:42; Luke 4:27; 2 Kings 5:1-19; Leviticus 13 & 14; Hebrews 6:1-6; Nehemiah 8 & 9 (Nehemiah 7:66 – 12:43 for bonus points).