The Danger of Human Reason

The danger of Human reason.

Job 20

“I listen to the reproof which insults me, and the spirit of my understanding makes me answer.”

 

            Zophar was a man who was confident he had all the correct answers and all the right doctrine.  As he listened to Job’s complaint, he concluded that Job was sputtering endless nonsense and showing his arrogance in questioning God.  Like the other three friends, he condemns Job for claiming innocence, for like his friends, he believes God blesses the righteous and condemns the wicked. While Eliphaz appealed to his personal experience and Bildad appealed to tradition, Zophar appealed to human wisdom.  However, this wisdom was not derived from divine revelation but wisdom determined by men.  Zophar was confident he was right, for in his mind, the fact that Job questioned his three friends was proof of his guilt.

            To illustrate his point, Zophar draws the picture of a monarch who rises to great power and swells in pride to the point that he thinks he is a god (5-11).  As a result, God brings swift judgment.  But Zophar was enamored with success.  For Zophar, the king's success indicated God’s blessing.  But the downfall of the king was because of pride and divine retribution.  The application for Job is obvious.  When Job walked in obedience, God blessed him with success, but when adversity came, it indicated Job’s pride leading to punishment.  The only response is to repent.

            Like Zophar, we can turn inward to our reasoning in our search for wisdom. Morality becomes based upon “what I think” rather than what God has revealed in his word.  As a result, morality becomes fluid as people change their perspectives.  If the moral compass shifts, it is because we have become more “enlightened.”  When looking for answers to life, we turn inward to ourselves.  What we fail to recognize is that sin distorts and corrupts not just our desires but even our thoughts.  Sin not only affected our moral actions, but it also distorted how we even think.  Consequently, it is folly to trust in our own reason.  Paul reminds us that apart from the redemptive transformation of Christ in our thoughts, we are self-deceived. Satan has blinded people's minds, so wrong becomes right, and right becomes wrong (2 Corinthians 2:4).  Because we rejected God, we have a depraved mind that affirms what is evil rather than what is good (Romans 1:28-31).

            Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar each come to the same conclusion: Job is being punished by God for sin.  But they came to that conclusion by different roads.  Eliphaz appeals to experience.  Bildad points to tradition.  Zophar argues from his own human reasoning.  But each conclusion was flawed, for it was ultimately grounded in their thinking rather than God.  As a result, their counsel, while given with good intentions, was ultimately distorted and corrupted.  In the end, it was they who sinned, not Job.  At the end of the story, God condemns the three friends because they presumed to speak for God but did not base it upon the revelation of God.  When we turn to human reason rather than God’s word and God’s wisdom, then we are ultimately on the wrong path that leads to the wrong conclusion.

            So, where do we turn to for wisdom and strength? Is there a place we can turn for true and correct answers?  What is the proper perspective to have?  The answer lies in the final two communicators: Elihu and God himself.  But that is another devotional.

            

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