Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Opponents of Grace: Pride

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 NKJV

In the recent weeks, we've been in a study of the many opponents of Grace. It bears repeating, Paul instructs us to stand fast in our liberty in Christ. If there exists nothing opposing us then there is no need to stand fast. 

 Therefore, we are exposing these varied opponents of Grace. Before I began writing this study, the Lord had already shown me a few of these adversaries. Since beginning this study, the Lord has revealed even more enemies of Grace. Today, I want to explore and expose one of the most deceptive and dangerous opponents of Grace, pride.

The original, original sin

 When I was in Bible College it was interesting to see as we studied the fall of man, that Adam's transgression wasn't actually the first sin ever committed. The first real sin is the pride lucifer expressed. The enemy's biggest sin is his pride. Which is why he continually tempts all of us to indulge in this sin.

 Not to get sidetracked by a theological debate, but I would like to highlight a truth about our enemy satan. If you study the Book of Job, you see the initial calamity and the ensuing theological debate. From that debate, we see all five men blame God for Job's calamities in one way or another. When God reveals Himself, after careful study and following in context, I believe in Chapter 41 God reveals to Job the person of the enemy. That it was the enemy behind his attack, not God. What I want you to see is how God describes satan;
He beholds every high thing; He is king over all the children of pride.” Job 41:34 NKJV

The enemy is the king of pride. This revelation also quells another dumb tradition found in 2 Corinthians 12, about Paul's thorn, see here. Some erroneously have concluded that Paul was becoming conceited so God put some devil on him to ensure he wouldn't become too proud and would remain humble.  Think for a moment, if the enemy is the king of pride, why would God in His infinite wisdom, utilize the king of pride to ensure Paul wouldn't be prideful? That's like the rodent guarding the cheese. Truth is Paul wasn't being conceited, the revelation of righteousness was exalting the Church over the lies of the enemy. 

 This incident highlights the stark difference between God's hand upon us and the self-exaltation the enemy tempts us with. 
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  1 Peter 5:6 NKJV
When we rest in Christ, exalting His Finished Work and not our own He will lift us up in honor. He will cause us to be a success in all areas. However, if we are seeking personal honor, personal exaltation,  to make our name renown and not His, then we are figuratively on our own. In other words, our work and efforts are completed in our own strength. 

 We can see this in God's revealed attitude about pride;
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b NKJV
Strong words from the God of mercy and loving-kindness. God resists or stands opposed to the proud. Why is this? Because pride is humanism. It is man's efforts. It is performance, works, efforts done apart from God. It's man telling God back off, I got this, I don't need you. I can do this myself.

Definition and Characterizations of Pride

 We've seen pride spoke of in the Scripture. Let's define it. Let's examine how it expresses itself in our lives if we allow it. 

 Pride defined in the Greek connotes the idea of appearing above others. We can see this in our lives when we want the accolades. When we crave the praise. When we want the prize, if you will. 

 It is clear why God resists the proud. If we are appearing above others, then where is the Savior? Where is Jesus and the Finished Work? Where is Grace? Oh, it is overshadowed by our fame. It is sitting in the background while we take center stage. 

 How does this manifest in our lives? When we believe it was our Faith that did it. When we prayed that person received healing. When we took charge of the project, it all worked out. If we don't do it, it won't be done right. Again, where is Jesus at? Oh wait, He is in our shadow as we boast in our greatness.

 We must relinquish this mindset. How do we accomplish this? By sincerely desiring to see Jesus name made known and not our own. By always acknowledging the source. It may sound like I am preaching against New Creation realities or our Righteousness in Him, but we must be more aware of our inabilities, our sinfulness, and unworthiness. Wait before you throw the stones, allow me to explain.

 I am not saying go back to self-debasement. I am not talking about adopting a sin conscious. I am not advocating embracing an unworthy mindset. I am not saying unlearn all you have about our perfect right standing and acceptance with God. What I am saying is to become more self-aware of who we are apart from Him and His Grace and Finished Work. 

 Without Christ, the Finished Work, His Grace active in my life, I know I can do nothing. Even the breath I breathe is because He created my lungs. The ability to do anything all originates from Him. So I am saying remember your source. Our abilities, be they mechanical, technological, oratory, or any skill you can name all have their source in His gifting us when we were born. A perfect illustration of this is a shoe. That shoe may be shiny, pleasing to the eye and very expensive. But until someone puts their foot into it, it can do nothing. 

 The other aspect of Pride revealed in the original Greek, is this idea of an overestimation of our works. This is the subtle way pride creeps into our lives. I have seen this in Grace circles.

 This subtle attack entices us to reveal how important and vital above all things our "ministries", works and efforts are. This manifests in various ways. Telling others how our ministry work is more important than all others. The person who feeds the homeless will proclaim how vital this work is. At the same time, the person volunteering in domestic abuse shelters will disagree, no this is what is most important. 

 We begin to compete with one another in the Church. We begin to have an over-inflated view of how vital and important our work is. The harsh reality is we live in a fallen World. The poor, the hurting, the downtrodden, the abused we will have with us always until Jesus returns. The most vital ministry is to simply proclaim Jesus. Proclaim Jesus wherever you are and in whatever you're doing.

 Sometimes we can get prideful in our revelations. "I know healing, or Spiritual Gifts, or Faith, or end time prophecy, or the Grace Gospel." "I have something you don't, therefore I have a spiritual superiority to you and therefore there is nothing you can teach me or show me. "

 We must also guard against allowing pride to make us judge and jury of the Brethren. "You don't feed the homeless? You have no compassion!" "You don't participate in this outreach or that ministry? You need to better walk in love!""You hold a political opinion? You have viewpoints about how a nation should be governed? Grace means we accept anything and any view, you can't know Grace!"

 We must resist strongly this enemy pride. Pride seeks to exalt us and our achievements and effort and not Christ and the Finished Work. Pride says Grace is insignificant. It is effort and our performance that really matter. Pride reassures us that our efforts should never go unnoticed. If they do, then you are justified to leave that church, quit the job, move away or divorce that spouse.

 Pride is self-occupied. Grace is Christ occupied. Let's be Christ focused and not self-focused. Why do we do what we do? Do you assist in ministry to the poor and downtrodden because love motivates you or because you secretly wish others to see your piety? Only you and God know your true motives.

In summation, reject pride and embrace Grace. Pride brings destruction and disappointment. When you believe the hype about yourself failure all too often is the end result. Trust in Christ alone. Rest in Him. Realize all gifts, talents, and abilities originate with Him alone. Thank and praise Him for His goodness continually. Make Jesus your central focus and see that His name is renown and not yours and pride will be defeated and lose its hold in all areas of your life. 
Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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