Heal Our LandPastor Jerry Gillis - September 18, 2016
God hates pride because it stands in opposition to His nature. God will honor humility.
Community Group Study Notes
- Take note of the manifestations of pride that were mentioned on Sunday (or rewatch the message to hear them again). Do we normally think of each of these as pride? How do we sometimes justify these attitudes and behaviors? Why is it important that we see them accurately? Which manifestation of pride is most evident in your life right now?
- What can we do to crush pride in our lives? Why is this necessary as we represent the Gospel to our circles of influence?
- Conclude your time as a group by asking God to remove pride from our hearts, specifically in the manifestations that we’ve identified (and even the ones we haven’t!).
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6)
So we're going to return to 2 Chronicles chapter 7 where we began this series last week. If you weren't here last week, I would ask you graciously if you would take the opportunity to be able to go back and to listen to the message, because what we did is we set 2 Chronicles 7 verse number 14 in its proper context. Sometimes it gets lifted out of its context when it's used, and as a result, can create some thoughts or ideas about what God is doing, even among our country and those kinds of things that maybe aren't warranted by the text. But it certainly has a lot to say to us. So my hope is that you would go back and take opportunity to hear that so you can kind of level-set where we're going in this particular message series.
And when we talked about 2 Chronicles chapter number 7, we talked about it being the time where King Solomon was taking over for his father, King David. And he was going to be the one who actually built the temple. It was something that David wanted to do, but that Solomon was going to actually operationalize the doing of it. David was going to give him some provisions to do that. And then we see Solomon praying about the temple, and then in chapter 7 we see the dedication of the temple. And we see God speaking to Solomon in response to the prayer that Solomon prayed in chapter number 6. And we remember that what God was doing is He was speaking in covenant language. It was if my people, then this will happen, right? He started with if-then language. And if-then language is reminiscent of the covenant that we talked about in Deuteronomy chapter 28, a covenant that says if you do these things you will be blessed, if you do these things you will be cursed. And so God is speaking in covenant language to Israel, not to America, but to Israel when He is referencing this in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse number 14.
What we also learned last week is that as we begin reading verse number 14, we see God speaking to His people first, before He's dealing with anything else, He's dealing with His own people. And we found that to be something that the whole of Scripture actually supports, that God begins with His own people when He talks to them, just like we deal with our own children first before dealing with somebody else's child, we're dealing with our own kids, and that's what God does with His own people. That's why we came to the conclusion in the America that we live in full of tensions and full of tears and full of trials that we are constantly being bombarded with. Before we start looking outward we decided this, we decided before we look at the ills of our land, we're going to look at the ills of our hearts. As the people of God, before we start pointing our fingers and looking everywhere else we're going to look at ourselves because in the text of Scripture itself, that is how God begins. He says, "if my people, who are called by my name". He's speaking to Israel, and He's speaking covenant language. And so, we began there by talking about that idea.
But today, I want us to actually think about what God wants for His people. He said if my people who are called by my name, and we spent all of our time there last week, but then He actually gets around to saying what He wants that people, the people by His own name to demonstrate. Notice what it says in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse number 14 at the very beginning. It says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves."
Now let's just stop there. We're going to be spending plenty of time over the next few weeks unpacking the whole of this, but let's just stop with that idea where He says, "here's what I want my people who are called by my name to do, I want them to humble themselves". Now that word humble in the Hebrew language is the word 'anah and it means what you probably think it means, it means to be subdued, to be brought down, to be subject to, to be under. Something along that line, to get very low. That's kind of the idea, to be in subjection. That's the idea of the word humble here.
Now why would God begin His covenant language that He is speaking to Solomon, to Israel, why would he begin by saying "if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves"? Why, would God actually begin in that place? Well, there's probably a number of things that we could say, but I would at least say this. It's because God knows what the absence of humility is going to do to the nation of Israel, to His people. He knows what humility's absence is going to end up doing to His people.
Now the reason that I can say that is because God is demonstrating kind of covenant language. Remember, He's speaking if-then, if-then, that is covenant type of language. In other words, if His people will humble themselves it will lead them to obedience and obedience brings blessing. If His people do not humble themselves, that is going to lead to disobedience which is going to bring curse. God knows these things about the nation that He is speaking to, Israel here in this context. And what we see when we begin reading through 2 Chronicles is we see that 2 Chronicles is kind of a long narrative about either the presence of humility or the absence of humility, particularly in the lives of the leaders, the kings, but also in the lives of the people.
For instance, Solomon who we're talking about here, he starts out well. Solomon starts out well. In fact, he's kind of dwelling you know, on the idea like can I even do this? Who am I to be able to do this? Listen to what he says in 2 Chronicles chapter 2. Solomon says: Who is able to build a temple for God, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for Him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before Him?" In other words, Solomon's posture of heart is a humility of heart. Who am I to even do this? Solomon has a humility of heart recognizing the greatness of God.
But Solomon, the wisest man in the world, got really stupid. Solomon went from being super-wise to being super-dumb. Because with his power and with his influence and with his wealth came the opportunity to start living his own way, doing his own thing and Solomon did that, and it led to devastation and to ruin in the kingdom of Israel.
In fact, in the kingdom of Israel, the kingdom actually got divided, Rehoboam and Jeroboam actually now divided the kingdom of Israel and you had Judah and Israel now. And when you find Rehoboam, Rehoboam starts out kind of rough. Rehoboam starts out by saying "you know what, these people who are working for me? You think that my dad was tough, I'm going to be much tougher. You think the previous king was tough, I'm going to be much tougher. This is going to be something else. I'm going to beat them down and show them who's boss." That's just pride. That's the absence of humility.
But then he recognizes some things about himself. Look at what it says in 2 Chronicles chapter number 12. It says "the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak," who was the king of Egypt, by the way, "and he said to them, 'this is what the Lord says, 'You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.' The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, 'The Lord is just.'" And then it goes on the say that basically God's going to not destroy them, but He's going to help them learn through this process. So there was humility and there was pride that was going on all in the same kind of basket, right?
You can look at other kings in the context of 2 Chronicles, look at the king Asa in 2 Chronicles chapter 14 it says, "Asa called to the Lord his God and said, Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; don't let mere mortals prevail against you." Listen to his humility, and you know what happened? It says, "The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah and the Cushites fled." Wow! God dealt with him in humility.
But you know what happened later to Asa? It says in chapter 16: "In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted wih a disease in his feet and though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord," He didn't even pay attention at that point. He went from humility to pride.
You see other kings do the same thing. How about Uzziah? You remember Uzziah, Isaiah referenced him. In the year king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, right? Here's what happened to Uzziah in 2 Chronicles chapter 26. It says: "After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the alter of incense."
And then you've got another king later on, Zedekiah, 2 Chronicles chapter 36 it says this about Zedekiah: "Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king," think about that, by the way. That should be illegal. Really, I mean twenty-one, right? "And he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord." Do you know that even God expected the kings to humble themselves before his prophets when those prophets were delivering the word of God?
This is about, 2 Chronicles is about humility or a lack thereof. And God begins by talking in this covenant kind of response to Solomon's prayer. He begins by saying "if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves". Why? Because he knew what the absence of humility was going to do to the nation. It would be no good for the nation in a number of ways. It was going to be no good for the souls of the kings, no good for the souls of the people, no good for the prosperity of the people and by the way, would be no good for the mission of God in the world, because God designed Israel to be a distinct people that would demonstrate His glory in all of the earth. And if they are living in pride, they will never be able to demonstrate to the world the glory of their King. So this had a drastic effect on the life of Israel.
Now, God obviously wasn't casual about this idea because He tied it to covenant language. But this idea is not something that we find. This idea of being humble or humbling ourselves is not just something we find in 2 Chronicles chapter number 7, or in the book of 2 Chronicles. We actually see it in both testaments of the Scripture. And so what I want to do today, is I want us to take what this passage of Scripture encourages Israel to do, and I want us to look and see how this has an effect on who we are as the church. Even though this passage isn't directed to the church specifically, it's directed in covenant to Israel, it has ramifications because further on in the Old Testament and further in to the New Testament, the rest of the Bible actually reinforces this same idea, that we are to be a people of humility.
Now, there's two things that I'm going to tell you today and I'm going to tell you a lot, because I've got more to say than I have time to say it, so you're going to have to get on the train, all right? There's two things that I'm going to tell you that are the big kind of pieces that I want you to not miss today that I think this passage leads us to and that the whole of the Scripture affirms. Here it is. Two quick things. God is attracted to humility, that's number one. And God will honor humility, that's number two. If you miss everything else, don't miss those two things, because on those two things the entire message today is going to hang. Alright? God is attracted to humility. Let's start right there.
In fact, I want to borrow when the Lord spoke through Isaiah, and remember that Isaiah was ministering in a time where some of these kings that are mentioned in 2 Chronicles, like Uzziah and others, he was ministering during that time. Listen to what Isaiah, or what the Lord says through Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 66. It says this: "This is what the Lord says: 'Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is this house you will build for me: Where will my resting place be: Has not my hand made all these things and so they came into being?' declares the Lord. 'These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.'"
You know what's interesting about that passage? When He says, "these are those who I look on with favor", that actually means these are those that I attend to, these are those that I pay attention to, these are those that I am attracted to. Who is He attracted to? The humble. That's who he's attracted to. This is very important for us to be able to grab hold of because God is attracted to humility.
Now I'm going to tell you two reasons why God is attracted to humility and here's the first one: Because God hates pride. That's the reason He's attracted to humility, that's one of the reasons is because God absolutely disdains pride. You might think that that's an actual big statement like too strong, Jerry, I can't believe you said God hates pride. I think you're going to see very clearly that God hates pride. All through the context of Scripture and the reason that God is beginning here with Solomon saying "humble yourselves" is because God hates pride because He knows what it's going to do to them.
I mean, think about it in biblical history for just a second. Stay with me right here, look this way. Think about this in biblical history. Pride is what made Satan, Satan. Pride is the lure, the hook that Satan used to cause the image-bearers of God to fall into sin. Pride is what caused humanity to think that they could build a tower to the heavens in Babel. Pride is what Israel grabbed onto when they wanted a king for themselves so that they could be like all of the other nations. The whole Bible is full of illustration after illustration. And if you want to run all the way to the end of the text we can do that too. Because pride is the global vice in the book of Revelation that's attributed to mystery Babylon. So from beginning to end, God hates pride because He knows what it does to His people.
I love the way that C.S. Lewis framed this in his book "Mere Christianity". He said it this way: "According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison; it was through pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind...it is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began." I think C.S. Lewis got it absolutely right, because he sees clearly in the narrative of Scripture that God despises pride.
In fact, in the New Testament when Peter is writing to the persecuted church, listen to what he says in 1 Peter chapter 5. He says: "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but shows favor (or grace) to the humble." See, here in this passage of Scripture what we see is we see that God shows grace to the humble, or favor to the humble. Same thing.
God's attracted to the humble, but do you know what God is also doing? Actively opposing pride. Do you know what that word 'oppose' means in the original language? It means to keep at arms length. If you want to use a football term it means to stiff-arm. God is actively stiff-arming those who are full of pride. But He's attracted to those whose hearts are humbled before Him. You see, the reason that God is attracted to humility is because God hates pride.
Now, here's the thing. Some of us, in our minds right now are going, yeah, pride's easy to see. I'm not talking about the pride that you can see from somebody else outside of the church. I'm not talking about that. Some arrogance, I'm not talking about that. I want to talk to us, and do you know what we do? We are involved in spiritual pride, and it's very hard to detect sometimes.
I'm going to borrow from the insight of a man of God from yesteryear, in the mid-1700's there was a man named Jonathon Edwards who was absolutely brilliant. And Jonathon Edwards wrote an essay that had a really long title. See, the Puritans back in the day, they did not write tweetable things. They wrote essays that sounded like the titles of a PhD thesis. And the short version of this essay that he wrote in the mid-1700's that I recently read, was called "Undetected Spiritual Pride", and then it had a colon and then like another paragraph as the title. And what I've done is I've read this, and so what I want to do is borrow some of Edwards' thoughts, but I've recast them for us because he wrote in kind of high you know prose and English and all that kind of stuff. And I want to just break it down for us. And I'm borrowing some of his ideas, but I'm kind of filling in gaps at the same time, so he and I together are going to share this with you if it's okay. I want us to see some manifestations of spiritual pride because we're talking about us. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves.
How do we see spiritual pride begin to manifest itself? Here's the first way. We become fault-finders. Let me explain what I mean when I say this, and here's my hope. My hope is that everybody's paying attention for yourself, because you know what the fault-finders do? The fault-finders will end this message and they'll hear this sermon, and then I'll talk to them in the atrium and they'll be like, "Man that was a really great sermon. I sure hope that my cousin was here." "Man, what a sermon. My neighbor needed to hear that." "Man, what a sermon. I wish the presidential candidates would listen to this message." Maybe you and me need to listen to it. Maybe instead of being a fault-finder, maybe we're actually thinking about ourselves and how we are responsive to what God wants to show us about our own souls. That's where spiritual pride starts to enter in.
Let me give you a second thing. A critical spirit. Let me explain this. Here's what I mean. It means that when we see sin in other people, we speak with such extraordinary contempt about their sin. And when we find out sin about ourselves we never speak with that level of contempt about our own. We've got a critical spirit. Part of it comes from sometimes we are extraordinary narcissists that are perfectionists that would never say it this way, but actually are saying 'I wish everybody was more like me. Why can't everybody be just more like me? My preferences, what I like, what I think should happen and my kind of moral perfection. Why can't everybody be just like me? I can't believe that these people do this, I can't believe that these people do that.' But when something happens to you, you just always want to talk about grace. Because it's remarkable that you even fell into an error at all because you're so near-perfect, and everybody else is so contemptible. This is a manifestation of spiritual pride. You've done it and I've done it. Let's not lie.
Let me give you a third thing. Superficiality. This is a manifestation of spiritual pride. Here's what I mean. I mean that when we come to church we know how to present ourselves well. We may know some of the language, we know when to stand, we know when to sit, we know when to raise our hands and sing, we know the words, we may bring our Bible, we may throw a few bucks in the offering plate, we may know our way around talking about some things. So when everything from the outside is presentable, and we've got all that in place, man. We've got our stuff together for everybody to see, but we have lost sight of the cancer growing in our soul. We don't pay attention to that. We don't deal with the internal root of some of the problems but we can present ourselves well. It's superficial. We're more concerned at that point, about being acceptable in the eyes of other people in the church than we are about being right before God. It's superficial.
Let me give you another one. We could talk, we've got a bunch of these. I don't know how long you want to stay. Spiritual pride manifests itself in being easily offended or defensive. In being easily offended or defensive. You know what I'm talking about there? We live in an offense culture. Everybody's looking for an excuse to be offended. And then to tell everybody about it. About how offended you are. Do you know why you're wanting to tell everybody how offended you are? Because you're trying to establish your moral superiority over who offended you. That is spiritual pride. That's all it is. How many of us are guilty of that? I would bet 100%. That would be my bet.
And we get defensive. Hey, in my worse moments, I've been defensive before. Somebody said something and I got defensive about it. Why? Because I'm walking in the flesh. But in my moments where I'm walking in the Spirit, there have been times where somebody has said something to me and it could have offended, but I just agreed with them. And then they didn't know what else to say. It just ended the conversation. I just agreed. Yeah, you're right, that is, yes, that's true of me. Pray for me. I will pray for you. Because you need prayer.
Hey, here's the thing. The Bible says actually that for those of us that are in Christ, we have died to sin and we are to die to self. Do you know how hard it is to offend a dead person? Very difficult. I don't know too many people that are dead that if I just walk up and go 'you're ugly', what are they going to do? They're not going to do anything. They're not popping up out of that thing going 'what, you want some of this? Throw some hands.' No, they're not doing that. They're just laying there, because they're dead.
When we die to self and we die to sin, we recognize the glory of what God has done on our behalf, we're not easily offended. And we're not overly defensive. Just manifests spiritual pride when we are all the time.
How about this one? We're presumptuous. I know it's a big word. Let me explain what I mean. It means when we get so bold with God that we forget humility. We can have confidence in approaching the Lord. The Bible has told us that we have that confidence, but we have that confidence the Bible says because of Jesus. Not because of ourselves. And see, if we lose our sight of that, we can become so bold that we become manipulative or we become whatever, right? We don't want to find ourselves in that place.
There are people that do what I do that put themselves on television and that are fleecing whole groups of people out of their, what they call their boldness, and they're bold enough to actually say things on "God's behalf" that God's not saying. Like, "it's 9/11 and so God's told me to tell you to sow a $911 seed. What? What did you just say? And he's being all bold.
I remember that there was a campus ministry on a university campus that got so enraptured with this idea of boldness and he was calling everybody to be bold - and by the way, boldness and confidence in Christ always is paired with humility. Boldness is not absent of humility. But in this case, it got absent because you know what happened? They got so bold, here's what they started doing in this campus ministry. They starting commanding God what to do. God, I command you to do blank. Back away. Run for your life. That's presumptuous. You're presuming upon God. Humility doesn't presume upon God. It recognizes that God is God, and that we only have confidence in approaching God because of what Jesus has done, not because of who we are.
Here's another one - attention-seeking. I've got more, man if we just want to talk about them. Spiritual pride, man. This is how it exhibits itself - attention-seeking. Now some of us that becomes really obvious, right? All we have to do is look at your social media stuff. That's all we have to do, right? Here's a picture of me. Here's a picture of me from this side. Here's a picture of me from this side. Here's the under picture of me. The whole reason for that by the way, of that much of that, is to get comments. Look how good you look. I know, I know. I know. You don't say that. You don't return that. It's just, oh, thank you. I didn't even know that I took 400 pictures of myself and put them up there. What? Like my cameras going..I don't..something's wrong with my iPhone. This is crazy. Wow! But thank you so much for what you said about me and pretty I am.
Sometimes it's a lot more subtle, right? We won't brag outright, but we'll be in a conversation that we manage the conversation to get to something that we can brag about, but we didn't initiate it. We can just manage it to get there. That's just subtle spiritual pride trying to make it's way out, right? Just kind of one of those, oh, I overheard you guys say 1 John? Oh, that's such a great book. Oh? Have you read 1 John? Yeah, I memorized the whole book. That's just subtle, right? That's just a manifestation of spiritual pride that's subtle.
Or maybe you just seek out the spotlight everywhere you are, or maybe it's just one of those deals - and here's another way that you become attention-seeking. You can't say no, and the reason you can't say no is because you need to be needed. I've walked right into the kitchen of our lives here, haven't I? I'm talking about myself too, here, man. I'm as guilty as anybody else.
How about another one? How about neglecting others being a demonstration of spiritual pride? You know, you want to pass by people at your school. You want to pass by people at your work. You want to pass by people in church because you're trying to get to those who are either more powerful or more beautiful or more like-minded or more like-looking. And all it is a manifestation of spiritual pride.
I got to travel sometimes with a pastor in Atlanta when I first came to know Christ. He would invite me sometimes to go or I would kind of invite myself sometimes. Like, hey, if you ever need somebody to drive you to any of your speaking engagements I'll be glad to do that. And so he actually took me up on that one time. I was like, do you want me to drive? He's like, no, no, I don't. You're twenty. I don't. We're going to another state. I don't want you to drive. I'm like, why? I don't even have my own car. This would be cool. I'll drive your car. He had a Maxima. I'm like, I've never driven a Maxima. That would be great. He's like, no, it wouldn't be great. You sit in the passenger seat. I was like, o.k.
So we went. It was in another state. We had to drive a couple of hours or whatever to another state. And he was going to be speaking in this church, but outside they had this tent thing and when we arrived he just said, hey, the pastors and all the uppity-ups that are putting this on, they want me to come over there and pray with them, or whatever. You just hang here for a little bit. I was like, yeah, sure. Sure. So I'm hanging out under this tent. There's all kinds of people there waiting before they go in to the big auditorium for the pastor to speak that everybody's been wanting to hear. And there's this group of guys - they're probably in their mid twenties, right? Twenty-five to twenty-eight, something like that. And they're all suited up, man. I mean they're like bam. They're all ready. You can tell. These are like young preacher guys. And they're all suited up ready for the big event tonight. And they're almost in a circle but there's a little bit of room, so I'm just kind of like, I'm just looking for people my own age, right? I'm just standing in the middle of the tent. I'm just the dude who came with the guy who's talking.
So I just kind of meander my way over there and I'm just standing there minding my own business. I'm not really saying anything. I kind of smile and say, hi. And then they kind of...and just keep talking. And I was like, o.k., cool. Like, I'm here. I don't know if you know that I'm actually here. I was just wanting to say hi. They just keep talking and it's like, I can't wait to hear Dr. Hunt. And I'm just standing there. Well, o.k. So they keep doing their.. and I'm just minding my business until somebody comes behind me and has me in a choke hold and starts punching me in the ribs. Not hard, but just doing this right here. It was Dr. Hunt, the guy that I came with. The guy everybody wanted to see speak. He's got his arm around me and he's punching me in the ribs, and he says to all these guys, hey, boys - have you met my friend? Oh yeah! We've been talking. He is a man of God. We're so glad that he's here. And I'm in a choke-hold looking at them like, somebody about to learn a lesson right now. And I believe it is all you people in the suits. All of you. Because he's just hanging on to me and they're looking at me kind of like, yeah, he's been standing here while we've been talking, and I'm looking at them like, for real? Because you just left me out completely and you know it. And I know it. And the American people know it. And Jesus knows it.
God hates pride. And pride can be demonstrated in the church in spiritual pride, in so many different ways. And I know we laughed a little bit on a couple of these things but I also know this: that every one of us, when you leave, you've got work to do and I've got work to do, to get before God. Because God is opening the door in our hearts about things that go on in our lives that He's not pleased with. God hates pride.
But I told you I would give you two reasons why God is attracted to humility. The first is that God hates pride, but do you know what the second one is? God's attracted to humility because it's a part of His nature. Now some of you might be confused by that, saying, what? Are you saying that God's humble? Um hmm. That's exactly what I'm saying.
In fact, let me help you understand this. When the Bible talks about the Spirit of God yielding fruit in our life - you remember that, right? This idea that the Spirit of God inside of us yields His fruit - Spiritual fruit. Here's what he talks about: love and joy and peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That's the list. You know that word gentleness also translates to meekness or humility? And that when the Spirit of God produces humility in us it is because it is part of the nature of God. It is the Spirit's work in us.
Humility is a part of the nature of God. You see that no more clearly - you could certainly see it clearly there, but you see it no more clearly than when you see Jesus. If you want to know what the nature of God looks like, look at the person of Jesus. Listen to what Paul writes about Jesus in Philippians chapter two. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, didn't consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Do you remember what I said about this idea of the covenant - when God is speaking to Israel and He saying humble yourselves, that the reason for that is humility would lead them to a place of obedience and obedience leads them to a place of blessing. That's exactly what Jesus demonstrated. Because the Bible says that Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Jesus' humility led Him to obedience to the Father. You see humility, ladies and gentlemen, is a part of the nature of God. Do you know why God is attracted to humility? Because God is attracted to things that are of His own nature. He hates pride because it stands in opposition to His nature. He's attracted to humility because it is a part of His nature.
All right - so that was the first one that I told you, right? God is attracted to humility. But I also told you, the second thing, is that God will honor humility. We see that when it plays out in 2 Chronicles, right? With those who humble themselves before God and how God does a work in the nation of Israel. But we also see that in other places of the Old Testament.
In fact, listen to what Zephaniah said. Chapter number 2: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger. This is God actually honoring humility. The idea there is when we seek humility - and I'm talking about a humility that is centered in knowing who God is and us surrendering ourselves to the nature of who He. Zephaniah actually says that we'll be sheltered in the time of God's wrath. That this is a part of how God honors humility. You see, I'm telling you this because there are really multiple ways that God honors humility. He honors it in His people Israel. That's what I'm telling you right now. We see He honors it in his people Israel.
In fact, Jesus tried to help us understand this idea of humility in a parable that He told. Because Jesus was always dealing with these Pharisees - these teachers of the law who were self absorbed with their own righteousness. Jesus was trying to help them understand that the way of God is the way of humility. Listen to what the Scripture says. Jesus tells the story. To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' And Jesus said "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
You see, God doesn't want us to be a people who exalt ourselves. That is more characteristic of the enemy Satan than it is of anything else. God is the exalter. And when we trust Him to do that in His time and in His way, God will do that because we've humbled ourselves before Him. Instead of taking a view that looks through our nose at the rest of the world in our pride, we actually understand what it means to posture ourselves under God and let Him be the one who exalts ultimately in due time.
So, God honors humility in His people Israel, but we also see secondly that God honors humility in His Son. Do you know when we were reading Philippians two just a moment ago and we talked about Jesus' humility - you know how that ends, right? Here's what it says: being found in appearance as a man, Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge (or confess) that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. You see, Jesus' humility led to His obedience and His obedience bought blessing and exaltation.
You see, the principle in the Scripture is when we humble ourselves before God, God will do the exalting. But when we exalt ourselves, God will do the humbling. That's why God is trying to get our attention, I believe, through something He said in covenant to Israel, but is applicable to His Church, and that is we must be a people that humble ourselves, because God will honor our humility by showing the world what it looks like to follow and to love and to serve someone other than ourselves - Jesus the Christ.
But God will also honor humility in His Church. He honored it in Israel. He honored it in His Son. And He will honor it in His church. Listen to what Peter said again. "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." Then listen to what He says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time."
Now Peter's talking to persecuted people - listen - and sometimes when things aren't going our way, when we continue to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, do you know what that is? That's a place of protection. It can feel heavy. Don't get me wrong, it's heavy to be under the mighty hand of God. But it's a place of shelter. And in due season, when we humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, do you know what God is doing when we are under His hand? While we are under the hand of God, God in those places and those dark times is shaping us and molding us and making us more like Jesus so that in due time He says here they are. Here they are. These are people after my own heart, after my own name. That's ultimately - listen - that's ultimately what is going to happen upon Jesus' return. We will be transformed into the glory of the resurrected Son of God. And we will be known and we will know this is the glory of what is going to happen.
God has not not not necessarily promised that in our humility in this life that we will be exalted in this life. We will be eventually, and maybe He'll do it in this life. Maybe He'll do it as a trophy of grace to demonstrate to the world this is what it looks like to be shaped in the crucible of humility. Because ultimately the reason that God is doing this is because God has a mission in the world. He wants his people to demonstrate to the world the nature of who He is, and we cannot do that when we are so full of pride. We can't.
So I tell you all these things to say that if there's ever a group of people, ever a group of people in the history of the world that ought to be humble, it's the people of Jesus. You know why? Listen carefully. Because the gospel of Jesus Christ crushes pride. It destroys it. Because when we realize what the gospel says, the gospel says that we are so hopeless in our sin, we are so beyond help that Jesus actually had to die for us. This wasn't a scenario where God could just pull us aside and give us a talking to. Jerry, this is what you need to do. This wasn't a scenario where God could put us in a life time out and say, take two years to think about what you've done and come back better. This was not one of those scenarios where God said, "Clean yourself up before you show up to me." We were so helpless and so hopeless, lost and in bondage to our sin that Jesus had to actually give his life to break the chains from us. To break the bonds of sin. When we understand the gospel, where can pride live in that? It cannot live! Pride has no oxygen when we have the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Which is why, ladies and gentlemen, if we want to crush pride in our lives we must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday we get up and breathe. Because ultimately, the gospel is the best news you've ever heard when you came to know Jesus, but I promise you it's the best news you've ever heard today. It will be the best news you've ever heard tomorrow. And what it will do is crush pride and help us to recognize that it was our sin, our sin, for which Jesus had to die because there was no other alternative. Where is pride in that?
I mean, Paul had to write to the Corinthians. The Corinthians were full of pride, spiritual pride. And you know what he told them in 1st Corinthians chapter number four? He said this: "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you didn't receive it, I mean if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you didn't?" In other words, ladies and gentlemen, our only boast can be in the Lord Jesus, because we did nothing to be adopted into his family. We did nothing to inherit reconciliation with the Father. We did nothing to secure our own eternal life. We did nothing to make ourselves morally acceptable before God. It is all the work of God the Son on our behalf by the power of the Spirit. It is gift to us. It is not of ourselves so that we cannot boast, it is the grace of God through our faith in what Jesus has done. That's why we can change. That's what we sing about just recently. By His grace, by our faith, we can be changed.
So, are you going to choose a pathway where you do with this Scripture says. The Scripture says, listen to this, humble yourself. Humble yourself. So we've got one of two choices. Humble ourselves, or be humbled. Maybe I could say it this way. Would you prefer to live in a way that attracts God, or in a way that he stands in opposition to? Because that's the difference between living in humility and living in pride. God is attracted to humility, and God will honor humility in his people.
Let's bow our heads together for prayer. In a moment, we'll be gone, but I would say this to you. You might be in the room or under the sound of my voice in this room, the East Worship Center, online, and you may have never come to a place where you've actually surrendered your life to Jesus. Where you've turned from sin, put your faith and trust in him for your salvation. Do you know why you haven't done that? Pride. That's why. That's what pride does to us. It tries to tell us that we are better leaders of our own lives. That I'm doing just fine without Him. See, at the end of the day the Scripture says that the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. And at that point, we're going to realize what a tremendous mistake it was to act as if we were God. So if you want to come to a place this day of surrendering your life to the lordship of Jesus, to know what it means to have your sins forgiven, to know what it means to to live the life of Christ, to know what it means to be reconciled to God and to have eternal life, then we dismiss in just a few minutes, I would invite anybody who has that need to come by the Fireside Room out in the atrium. It's clearly marked. There's some people in there who would love to talk to you. Some of our pastors, some prayer partners would love to take just a few minutes and talk to you about what it means to begin this relationship with God through His Son Jesus. There is nothing you'll do in your life that's more important than that. Nothing. So I invite you to come.
For the remainder of us, I know that God has shown me things in my own heart. And I pray you don't walk out of here unwilling to deal with the things that God wants to deal with you about.
Father, you've seen our our hearts, and we know God that we can sometimes fall prey to spiritual pride. And Father, I pray that this day we would preach the gospel to ourselves all over again, so that we might recognize, yes how beloved we are, how valued we are by you, how precious we are to you. And in the same way that we would recognize how there are times where we forget that. And we act and we think as if we have done something to deserve so marvelous a salvation, so beautiful blessing as eternal life. Father, I pray that you would mold our spirit more into the likeness of Jesus, who was fully truth and fully grace at the same time. Who demonstrated humility that led to obedience. Because God we want to be a people that are used by you for your mission in the world. We want people to be able to see that we have lived our lives under your mighty hand. And you may unveil us in due season. So Lord, we trust you to do that in our hearts, and we thank you for the glory of the good news that you have shared with us in Jesus. And I pray by the power of your Spirit, you would change us so that we made we may look more like Him. We trust you to do this for your own glory, and for our good, and for the good of your mission in the world, in Jesus name. Amen.
God bless you folks. Have a great week.