If you sin, what do you against him? or if your transgressions be multiplied, what do you to him?…
Elihu, in these words, brings out his views of God in the form of questions, which views are of an Epicurean character. He looks upon God as a being so far above human concerns and conduct as not to be influenced by them. There are those now who have sympathy with these sentiments. They say God is too high and too great to be affected by the sin or righteousness of man. The doctrine of the Bible is, that man's conduct does influence God as well as man.
I. ANSWER THE TWO QUESTIONS THAT ELIHU, IN HIS SCEPTICISM, PROPOUNDS.
1. "If thou sinnest, what doest thou against Him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him?" A man that lives in sin, and multiplies his transgressions —
(1) Sets God at defiance as his Sovereign Ruler.
(2) Violates His laws.
(3) Rivals God.
(4) Opposes God's nature.
(5) Casts off His fear and restrains prayer.
(6) Rejects His mercy, grace, truth, and love.If God was an Epicurean God, man's sins may not affect Him; but all His revelations of Himself to us go to show that He is our Father, Sovereign, Saviour; that He hates sin; that He loves the sinner. Hence our sins do influence Him. The Bible abounds with illustrations of these particulars.
2. If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? or what receiveth He of thine hand? A righteous man (truly such in the scriptural sense) gives to the Almighty —
(1) Praise for what He is.
(2) Thanks for what He does.
(3) Obedience to His laws.
(4) Submission to His will.
(5) Himself a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
(6) Love for love. "We love Him because He first loved us."
(7) His testimony. He is His witness.Numerous illustrations of these particulars also may easily be collected from the Old and New Testament. The second part of this text, Elihu has no doubt about. Neither have those sceptics in our day, who sympathise with him in his former sentiments.
1. "Thy wickedness may hurt, or injure a man as thou art." As to the hurt your wickedness may do your fellow, it may depend much upon the nature of the wickedness and the character, relations, and circumstances of your fellow man. One form of wickedness affects one man in one way, and another a different way. For instance, lying will hurt where swearing may not; and drunkenness where dishonesty may not. This thought more particularly applies to example. But look at the particular in its general application. Thy slander may hurt another man's character. Thy false accusation may hurt his feelings and reputation. Thy theft or dishonesty may hurt his property or circumstances. Thy calumny or detraction may injure his influence for good upon others. Humanity is one body — one family — one society; and it is impossible for one member to do wickedly without affecting in some way or other, to some degree or other, the rest.
2. "Thy righteousness may profit the son of man." On the same principle that wickedness hurts our fellow men, righteousness is a benefit to them. If the term righteousness here be understood in a broad sense, as right-doing according to the moral instinct, it is profitable to man in a world like this, where human nature is so prone to wrong-doing. If the term be understood as the righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ — as received from Him in justification, and as wrought in Him in good works, according to His Spirit — it is still more profitable to man. This may be shown in the terms used to designate such: — the "light of the world." Light is good and useful in darkness; — the "salt of the earth." Salt is good and profitable in many ways. Righteousness implies truthfulness, honesty, goodness, purity, humility, benevolence, temperance, brotherly kindness, charity; and each of these is profitable in its influence on our fellow men. As wheat, fruit, flowers, vegetables, etc., in the natural world are profitable to man; so are the fruits and flowers of righteousness in the moral world. Learn —
1. Your responsibility to individuals and society in respect to your conduct towards them.
2. Your responsibility to God in respect to wicked or righteous conduct before Him.
3. The necessity of having a new nature within in order to live righteously before God and man.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?