Justification And Job

"...The best of men, when they have had near and efficacious representations of the greatness, holiness, and glory of God, have been cast into the deepest self-abasement, and most serious renunciation of all trust or confidence in themselves. So the prophet Isaiah, upon his vision of the glory of the Holy One, cried out, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips,” (Isa. 6.5) nor was he relieved but by an evidence of the free pardon of sin, verse 7. So holy Job, in all his contests with his friends, who charged him with hypocrisy, and his being a sinner guilty in a peculiar manner above other men, with assured confidence and perseverance therein, justified his sincerity, his faith and trust in God, against their whole charge, and every parcel of it. And this he does with such a full satisfaction of his own integrity, as that not only he insists at large on his vindication, but frequently appeals unto God himself as unto the truth of his plea; for he directly pursues that counsel, with great assurance, which the apostle James so long after gives unto all believers. Nor is the doctrine of that apostle more eminently exemplified in any one instance throughout the whole Scripture than in him; for he shows his faith by his works, and pleads his justification thereby. As Job justified himself, and was justified by his works, so we allow it the duty of every believer to be. His plea for justification by works, in the sense wherein it is so, was the most noble that ever was in the world, nor was ever any controversy managed upon a greater occasion. At length this Job is called into the immediate presence of God, to plead his own cause; not now, as stated between him and his friends, whether he were a hypocrite or no, or whether his faith or trust in God was sincere; but as it was stated between God and him, wherein he seemed to have made some undue assumptions on his own behalf. The question was now reduced unto this, — on what grounds he might or could be justified in the sight of God? To prepare his mind unto a right judgment in this case, God manifests his glory unto him, and instructs him in the greatness of his majesty and power. And this he does by a multiplication of instances, because under our temptations we are very slow in admitting right conceptions of God. Here the holy man quickly acknowledged that the state of the case was utterly altered. All his former pleas of faith, hope, and trust in God, of sincerity in obedience, which with so much earnestness he before insisted on, are now quite laid aside. He saw well enough that they were not pleadable at the tribunal before which he now appeared, so that God should enter into judgment with him thereon, with respect unto his justification. Wherefore, in the deepest self-abasement and abhorrence, he betakes himself unto sovereign grace and mercy. For “then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no farther,” (Job 40.3-5)"

(Works Of John Owen, vol. 5: Faith And Its Evidences, 15-16)