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Job 9:21 – “Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul”

20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.

22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.

Job 9:20-21

Living by spiritual laws and aspiring to righteousness sounds noble, until we fail, and fail and fail. Our flaws spontaneously betray lofty ideals. We cringe at angry words, dishonest deeds, impure thoughts that arise despite our best intentions.

It’s easy then to plunge into self-loathing, feeling worthless when we cannot tame our unruly human compulsions.

Soon enough, we give up on the process. Because it doesn’t feel good anymore. Sure, it has its perks and rewards, that feel good sabbath infusion, but then we inevitably crumble again. Feeling bad feels bad, so we abandon the script.

What about those who Leave Religion?

For those who abandon traditional faith structures, their moral compass may come from inner soul-searching rather than outward religious law. Without prescribed codes, the process of refining character and finding meaning must arise from within.

This inward focus can lead to profound self-understanding and wisdom, in touch with one’s authentic spirit. Ethics are chosen through personal examination, not inherited from external authority. This process can be very liberating.

Yet something may also be lost when leaving organized faith communities. Shared codes, though sometimes restrictive, can provide guardrails when inner moral intuition wavers. And the soul work of repentance and redemption may be less clear without rituals of confession and atonement.

What did Job mean by: “Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul.”

Everyone should decide that for themself. For me, I interpret this scripture as “If I were perfect, I would not know my soul.”

Job acknowledges that as imperfect beings, humans are bound to experience a refining process and soul-searching journey due to their sinful nature. It reflects the idea that life is a spiritual journey with opportunities for growth, learning, transformation and soul work.

By confronting the darkness within, we gain self-understanding and humility. Our pretenses are stripped away, leaving our core soul exposed for examination.

Because we aren’t perfect, we can learn to know our souls.