How can I be right with God?

11 min readMarch 05, 2022


Christ , gospel , atonement
Jeff segoviaBy: Jeff Segovia
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Key Text: Job 9:2

The world is full of mysteries and many questions arise in the human mind concerning a lot of things. But not all questions need a concrete answer. There are questions that just don’t make sense or don’t matter at all. However, there are questions of which the required answer is a matter of life and death, heaven or hell. If such important questions won’t be given a definite answer, a man’s life will hang in a balance and uncertainty will fill his mind and heart, and the unknown will govern his life.

One such question is found in the Scriptures. It was asked by Job who suffered the loss of all that he had. But it was through his suffering that he was able to ponder upon this question:

But how can a man be righteous before God? --Job 9:2


Job was prompted to ask that question when one of his friends told him essentially that he should repent. Job had three visiting friends who “made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him (Job 2:11)”. These three friends of Job were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.

Bildad told Job,

If you would earnestly seek God And make your supplication to the Almighty, If you were pure and upright, Surely now He would awake for you, And prosper your rightful dwelling place. --Job 8:5–6

Moreover he said,

Behold, God will not cast away the blameless, Nor will He uphold the evildoers. --Job 8:20

Bildad’s advise to Job was not bad at all. In fact, he was right. His point was that Job should repent or be made right with God for He deals favorably with the righteous but never upholds the evildoers. However, Job was still perplexed and to his friend he replied:

Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God? --Job 9:2

Understanding who God is

Job then continued and talked about the sovereignty of God, His power over all, and that He does great things. Among the things which he said, there are deep things about the nature of God which he realized. The following are so:

God will not withdraw His anger, The allies of the proud lie prostrate beneath Him. How then can I answer Him, And choose my words to reason with Him? For though I were righteous, I could not answer Him; I would beg mercy of my Judge. --Job 9:13–15

What can we learn about God from Job’s realizations? We see here the reality of God’s wrath. “God will not withdraw His anger”, Job said. We also see here the reality of God’s justice: “For though I were righteous, I could not answer Him; I would beg mercy of my Judge”. Job acknowledged that God does not just forget and forgive. His wrath towards sin and the sinners is real and His justice demands that the guilty be punished.

Moreover, there is a striking conclusion that Job uttered. Look at this:

It is all one thing; Therefore I say, He destroys the blameless and the wicked.’ --Job 9:22

God destroys the blameless and the wicked. Isn’t it surprising? For sure we are not surprised that the wicked will surely be destroyed. But the blameless? How can Job say that? For Job knew and we ought to know as well that no one is really blameless before God on his own. Job even said about himself:

I am blameless, yet I do not know myself; I despise my life. --Job 9:21

Job said he was blameless while at the same time he didn’t know himself. The point is that like Job, we could be righteous in our own eyes or when we compare ourselves with others. But in reality, “all our righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)”. In life, we ought to know two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self. A right understanding of who God is — His nature, His attributes, His works, and His will will surely make us understand who we are in the most deepest sense. It is when we truly know God that we will be crushed by the reality of our sinfulness and this compels us to cry out for mercy.

Now, knowing who God is and having an understanding that God destroys the self-righteous and the wicked, Job said:

If I wash myself with snow water, And cleanse my hands with soap, Yet You will plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes will abhor me. --Job 9:30–31

Job knew that every effort to cleanse himself will be in vain. No amount of pure water can wash a sinful man clean. No amount of soap can ever whiten a sin-tainted, sin-filled heart. Job also understood that God is holy, that He is not like a man:

For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both. --Job 9:32–33

“For He is not a man, as I am”. That statement implies that Job understood that God is indeed transcendent, that He is completely other, that He is totally separate from His creation when it comes to nature, that He is indeed holy. Given these in-depth realizations of Job, he knew that if ever he desires to be right with God, there has to be a mediator between them who may lay his hand on both of them.

So Job was in utter distress because of his suffering and having realized who God is, guilt and condemnation were added to his agony. In understanding who God is, he also got to know that his greatest malady was not his sufferings but that he could not be right with God on and by his own for he was helpless to save himself.

We have the same malady

Now, don’t we have the same malady as that of Job’s? The Scripture testifies that no one is righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:10), no one does good (Rom. 3:12), all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23), and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and that the soul who sins shall die (Ezek. 18:4), and that all are guilty before God (Rom. 3:20).

Given that we have the same malady as Job, we ought to also ask the same question:

How can I be right with God?

The Remedy to the Malady

So, how can a man be right with God? First, let us remember that God is just and His justice should be satisfied, that God is holy and His holiness should never be compromised, that He is wrathful towards the wicked and their sins so His abiding wrath should be removed if any man should be right with Him.

Secondly, we have to understand what it means to be right with God. To be right with Him means, as the Lord Jesus said, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48)”. The righteousness that God requires is utter perfection. This righteousness is His own righteousness. He only accepts His own righteousness for any other form of righteousness is just a filthy rag before Him. So then, this righteousness is not found in us but in Him alone. Seeking this righteousness in us or in others is a quest that just ends in vanity — it’s fruitless, lifeless, futile indeed. Thus, only God can give us the righteousness that He Himself requires in order for any man to be right with Him.

And now, how can you and I be right God? The answer is in the following passage:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. --Romans 3:21–26

So the answer is found in the person and work of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the very righteousness of God given to man by whom we can be saved. It is through faith in Him, that is, trusting Him for what He did for us, that we can receive this righteousness. But how did this happen? How did Christ’s sacrifice pave the way for our salvation?

Here it is: Christ was put forward by God as a propitiation by His blood. A propitiation is simply a sacrifice that removes wrath. At the cross, Christ became cursed and curse (Gal. 3:13–14), He became sin though He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21a) because “the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)”. He became an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10) for He is God’s Righteous Servant who* “shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)”*. The Lord Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross satisfied the justice of God, upheld His holiness, and removed His holy wrath. That’s how He secured the salvation of many. God sent His Son to save sinners an He condemned sin in His flesh “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4)”. God made Jesus the offering for our sins that we might become His righteousness in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).

Now, let us go back to Job’s problem (and ours as well):

Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both. --Job 9:33

God Himself provided us the Mediator in order for us who are sinners to be reconciled with Him who is holy. Jesus Christ is now the Mediator between God and Man. Paul wrote:

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, --1 Timothy 2:5–6

The Son of God took the form of a bondservant and was obedient up to the point of His death at the cross (Phil. 2:7–8) in order that He might reconcile us to the Father. That’s how He stood in the gap between the holy God and sinful men. Until today, His mediating work continues as He sits at the right hand of the Father in His high priestly office making intercession for us (Rom. 8:34).

Thus, our justification, that is, God declaring us righteous before Him, is because of Jesus Christ. We are “justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ”. Christ became our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30) and we are God’s righteousness in Him (2 Cor. 5:21b). We receive this righteousness by faith alone in Christ alone, it is not something that we should attempt to achieve. Having known this truth, we must remember that not our works made us justified in God’s sight — it is only the works of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a conclusion, may we always remember how blessed we are for being made right with God by God through Christ. May we remember how David himself described what it means to be blessed:

just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” --Romans 4:6–8

All Scripture quotations are in NKJV.

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