What was Job's sin?

God said Job was blameless, and Job's friends accused him of sins he hadn't committed. So why did he have to repent in the end? What can we learn from Job's example?


Job did indeed sin, in spite of the fact that God called him blameless and upright. How could both statements be true?

Job was blameless in virtually everything that he did. He was a model husband and father. He was generous with his wealth and his time in serving the people of his community. He obeyed God in every aspect of his life. Even his closest companions could not find a single real fault in his behavior, though his friends tried their best to imagine what he might have done. However, when God showed Job his sin, he repented—not just superficially, but with a depth of sincere sorrow and regret.

He explains his sin in his own words. In responding to God's questioning, he said: "You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. [That is, Job, unaware at the time of the 'behind the scenes' activity between God and Satan, assumed all his problems were a result of God's discipline. He had stated that he had lived righteously before God and was undeserving of the treatment that God was bringing into his life, as if God was unjust in His treatment of him!] Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, 'I will question you, and you shall answer Me.' I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job:42:3-6).

In his suffering, Job had charged God with acting unjustly. He had pleaded for an opportunity to appear in court with Him. When God finally speaks, His comments are not what we would have expected Him to have said. God primarily speaks of the awesome acts of creation, the awesome creatures in it and His care for all that He has made. In doing so, He shows how little understanding Job has of the big picture. How could Job argue his case with God as an equal? If God is so attuned to His creation, how could He be unaware of Job's suffering? Job comes to perceive God in a way he never had before!

Part of what Job repented of was the capacity within himself, as brought forth in his trial, of being at odds with God. He may not have believed beforehand that he was capable of arguing with and questioning God's goodness and justice and wisdom. In the crucible of this trial, that capacity within himself was brought to the fore, and he said things about God that an enemy would say.

This greater self-realization led him to deep repentance. When he realized this about himself, he repented, not necessarily of what he had done, but of what he was—a being capable of becoming an enemy of God. In the end, he said that he abhored himself—that capacity in himself to believe evil about God. That is an important realization for anyone who will live under God's sovereignty for all eternity. By the end of the account, Job had made a conscious decision to live by faith in God's goodness, and to never question it again, regardless of any provocation or temptation to do so.

There are important lessons we can learn from the book of Job. We should realize that a person's trials are not always a result of his or her own mistakes or sins. They can come about from other sources or other reasons, and so we should not level false accusations as Job's friends did. We should also learn from Job's experience to maintain patient respect and trust in God even in the midst of our sufferings (James:5:10-11). Seeing God's greatness and our own insignificance can help us to have a realistic perspective and to learn whatever lessons we can from the experience.

For more insight, read our booklet The Road to Eternal Life .


elcherry's picture

Job did not sin. To err is necessarily sin. He did not realize that God was testing him. The point of The Book of Job is that, only God knows the heart. Job cursed the day he was born and wished he was dead, but he did not curse God. Therefore, Job maintained his perfectness. In order for a man to sin, he must have been given a law. The strength of sin is in the law. Where there is no law, there is no transgression. God does not reward sinners with good things, neither does he hear a sinner's prayer. Therefore, you are wrong, because you judge after the appearance. God judges the heart.

God showed Satan to be foolish, without knowledge. The book of Jobs gives an inside look at Satan's prideful wicked heart.

The book of Job is a comfort for all the righteous who suffer persecution, even though they do good deeds.

Sabrina Peabody

Sabrina Peabody's picture

Considering the three main definitions of sin (transgression of God's law - 1 John:3:4; whatever that is not of faith - Romans:14:23; if you know to do good and do not - James:4:17), why then would Job say he "repents" in dust and ashes?

I also found this article on how the Bible defines sin helpful: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/how-does-bible-define-sin/


KARS's picture

Hi elcherry, the bible says all have sinned but one. That is our Savior Jesus Christ.

Vanity is a form of sin. How could anyone think they totally understand God the Father? We really don't understand everything about God our Father. His mighty power holds many things together and keeps the gravity on this earth so we can live on it.

Sure science has taught us what they found in their
discoveries which we learned in school, but there is so much more.

To think that one is totally like our God in all that He is; is vanity. I can't make my own flower without using His seeds. Everything belongs to Him and we use it to make other things with His things.

To perfect ourselves and become Christ like takes the help of God our Father's Holy Spirit. Without it, we are fighting a losing battle. With the help of His Holy Spirit we change our negative ways of thoughts and deeds and replace them with the fruit of the spirit. Job had alot of the fruit of the spirit but he also thought he was a "know it all". He found out different and repented. As the article said:

"There are important lessons we can learn from the book of Job. We should realize that a person's trials are not always a result of his or her own mistakes or sins. They can come about from other sources or other reasons, and so we should not level false accusations as Job's friends did. We should also learn from Job's experience to maintain patient respect and trust in God even in the midst of our sufferings (James:5:10-11). Seeing God's greatness and our own insignificance can help us to have a realistic perspective and to learn whatever lessons we can from the experience."
Job did learn his lesson and the Lord blessed him once more.


HoldingOn's picture

I think Job's sin was rooted in pride. There are things we know because God have left them objectively knowable, and then there are things we know because God has revealed them to us specially. Other than that, all else is speculation. To base belief upon speculation, especially in regards to God is akin to what Satan did when he presumed that it was even possible to be like the most high. Job in essence set himself on equal footing with God even upon knowing:

He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him,
That we may go to court together.
There is no umpire between us,
Who may lay his hand upon us both

This is why we are instructed to "cast down every imagination that sets itself against the knowledge of God"

Our recourse in suffering is to cry out to God and be comforted in Him, but never to seek justification against him. All of his judgments are perfect. It is hard to do, but he gives grace in our weakness.

Thank you for the article. It helped me through a trial.


rwp_47's picture

Job's issue wasn't what he had done, but what he was - unfinished. He had done nothing wrong. Even God said that no one else was like him - and that he was a perfect man.

imagine a pianist who had developed perfect machine like technique. But like a machine there was no soul in his music - no feeling or expression. But technically he was perfect.

God has created man for the unimaginably fantastic purpose of becoming his own children - for the purpose of literally becoming God beings - like the Most High himself. But to be like him you have to have more than just flawless technique. Job was an unfinished project. All that had been completed in him up to that point was perfect. But there was more to go. For one thing - the necessary vision and understanding of exactly who God is was something that Job had simply not as yet fully comprehended or appreciated. Computer-wise he didn't as yet have all his software installed. What was installed was fine - it just wasn't complete. Consider - he wasn't in that respect so different from Lucifer originally. As Ezekiel says of Lucifer ... "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee." Job had to be completed so that he, unlike Lucifer, wouldn't be blinded by his own brightness (his own beauty) and go astray. Lucifer was so beautiful and wise ... and Job was so righteousness within himself. Both could get lost in their own self importance. So in the book of Job God took care of that unfinished piece of business with Job. Job was given a vision of God's greatness that would forever have the effect of keeping Job humble. After that Job would no longer even begin to imagine that he, like Lucifer did , would ascend above everything and be like the most High. Job was given the absolute understanding that there is nothing like the most High - including Job himself.

An important key to remember is that perfection doesn't imply that no further growth is necessary or possible. And that even applies to the Word as Revelation 5 plainly shows. When asked who was worthy to open the book - the answer was - no one. The Captain of our salvation had to be made perfect first - and like Job - he was made perfect thru sufferings. That's how we grow. And we better know that if it was good enough for the Word of God then its good enough for us as well.


rwp_47's picture

In the article above it erroneously states -

"Job did indeed sin, in spite of the fact that God called him blameless and upright. How could both statements be true?"

The article's writer is like one of Job's "friends" that came to "comfort" him? Job didn't sin. Even God said he was a perfect man. Job was simply unfinished. That's not a sin. There was just an understanding that Job didn't have yet ... because he hadn't been developed that far yet. God - as the master potter - had shaped his vessel and now he was intending to put it in the furnace to cure it. The fact that it hadn't been cured yet doesn't mean there was anything wrong with it. It just wasn't finished. Satan was the furnace God used to cure Job ... it even showed how he stoked the fires ... that's all. So don't be surprised when you're put thru your furnace yourself!

If suffering was always and only a punishment doled out due to sin then explain Jesus' sin! Because without doubt he suffered. And no ... it wasn't for the reason you think - he suffered for the same reason Job did - (because he wasn't finished yet either) because he wasn't yet able to take the book from the Father's hand and open the seven seals (Rev 5) - prior to his suffering and death as the Messiah he hadn't attained to the position as our perfect captain. He wasn't the perfect captain needed to re-establish God's kingdom on the earth. He - like Job - had to learn some things first. And that's why he suffered!

Saying that Job sinned is absurd. "How could both statements be true?" They can't be! Its an absurdity. He was (like all of us) just a work in progress. But unlike us - he was perfect - God said so (unless of course we don't believe him) - and the Master Potter was just taking him thru the next step in the process from intermediate perfection to finished perfection. Isn't the Church supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth? If you can't even run with me - how will you run with horses? How???

Bishop Wilbert ...

Bishop Wilbert L. Clewis's picture

Regarding Job, I believe we are missing some major points. Points to be taken into consideration are: the word perfect and upright. Hence Job, was complete (perfect) as to his mind and heart, and Straight or Correct (upright)as to his moral deportment. The sin of Job is hidden in Chapter 1:5. In the text Job made sin offering for his children, but not one for himself. As a priest Job was suppose to offer up a sin offering for himself first. That He didn't do! Please see read Lev:9:7, 8; Hebrews:9:7

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