Monday, April 21, 2014

Pride: God's Solution

            I guarantee that you are more prideful than you think you are. I am.
            Sometimes I try to ease into subjects, but it’s late and I’m tired [it was at the time of writing], so let’s make a point and get out.
            We know that pride is a sin. But we don’t know how prevalent it is. Any sin, ANY sin, can be drawn back to pride. That is because when we sin, we are telling God that we know better than Him, that our plan is better than His, that our word is better than His Word. Nothing less than that.
            I used to live in open pride, taking assurance in the gifts God has given me. I thought that I had gotten myself there, and thought because I had intellect that I knew better. God humbled me with the mistakes I made.
            But even after I started living for Christ, I still find myself dealing with this issue. Don’t be surprised if you find the same. I continued to fail to realize that everything I am is a result of God, and without Him all I have is my sin.
            But now I have no sin to my charge, and receives blessings unnumbered. Why is it that way?
            God, and God alone, saved me. We know from the Bible that our salvation is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We know there is absolutely nothing we can do for our salvation. Why, then, do we think there is something we can do afterwards? We rely solely on God on this all-important matter, but once He has delivered us, we think we can live apart from Him and succeed. How foolish.
            What, then, should we do? We should live our lives as we obtained our salvation. Sole reliance on God. Realize there is nothing (you’re going to hear this word a lot; don’t let it become any less important) we can do to live for God apart from God. God set it up this way on purpose. If we can obtain salvation, we have a reason to brag about our goodness. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9). If we can live under our own power, we have reason to brag.
            That involves us getting glory. But that’s not the way it should be. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11). Where are we at in comparison to God? “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). We are inadequate to do anything on our own.
            It goes further than that. We can’t just not do it on our own. We have to let God do ALL of it. Leave nothing to our own strength. Where does our strength come from? God. Where do our gifts come from? God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). Every gift we have is from Him. He, unlike us, does not change.
            Where does our next breaths come from? God. This is the perspective we have to have. There cannot be any percentage of reliance on ourselves.
            Because that is pride. And pride is sinful. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).
            “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12). Any time we think we can stand on our own, we will fall flat on our faces. I think that is evident in anyone’s life.
            Not convinced? Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Nothing. There is no sliding scale of nothing. The only way we can accomplish anything is by abiding in Christ and having Him abide in us. Without Him- well, you get it.
            Why would we put any reliance on ourselves? A Holy, Sovereign God is offering to do all the work through us. Do we think we are good enough people to do it on our own?
            Isaiah painted this vivid picture: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). Did you catch that? Our RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags. Your BEST DAY is disgusting to God. The Hebrew behind these rags are rags of a woman’s ceremonial uncleanness- menstrual rags. Yes, I went there, because God did. THAT is your holiest day. We are like leaves blown away by our own iniquities, He says.
            Don’t miss this: God doesn’t care what you can do. He could not care. We are filthy to Him because of our sin that He hates. Pile up your best work, it will fall short of His glory. Show your worst, and there is further proof of your inadequacy. God isn’t interested in what you try to do. He’s interested in what He CAN do.
            Give up. Quit trying. Let God take the reins of your life. But there’s one condition. If God is working everything through your life, He gets all the glory. There is no room for you on the shelf. It’s nothing you’ve done. You’re a sinner that God by His mercy saved, and by His grace has given gifts and weaknesses so that He can get the glory through them.
            Yes, weaknesses. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:7-10). God gave Paul a weakness so that Paul would not be exalted, and so God can show His strength through it. And God does the same with us.
            Do you have a sin you struggle with? Have trouble sharing the gospel? They are weaknesses you have to deliver up to God, and tell Him even though you don’t have the strength, you’re trusting in the One who does.
            I finished reading in Deuteronomy a couple weeks ago. Moses is one final time called a servant of God. I wondered what made him gain that title, given by God Himself. It is simple. Moses prayed for strength to lead, and God gave it to Him. Then, whenever something great happened as a result, he reflected all praise and glory to God.
            Remember in the beginning of Exodus, when Moses complained to God that he was “slow of speech”. The entire book of Deuteronomy is a series of speeches delivered by Moses before he dies.

            Don’t ever think God can’t do something through you. Don’t ever think you can. And don’t ever take the glory for what He does.

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