Lucia's Blog: February 2017
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, February 23, 2017

THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION


"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God."  
Hebrews 12:14-15


Our Creator and Lord dwells in unapproachable light. We desperately need His approval and help, but if we are to approach Him, we must understand who He is and what He demands. God is holy, and we may not draw near to Him if we are not holy.  Let us talk about what the Scriptures tell us about the holiness of God and how we might become holy so as to have fellowship with Him.

A dear friend of mine asked me to do a study on our sanctification and God's holiness, and I committed myself to do it.  As with all my studies, I intentionally and consciously push myself beyond my knowledge in search of the Truth in the light of God's Word.  The love of Truth is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man finds. He goes and sells all that he has to buy that field and rejoices to take possession of that treasure. That is how I feel every time I am compelled to dig deeper into the Scriptures seeking God's treasures. I pray that you may feel the same joy. 

The doctrine of sanctification is a doctrine of God's Word that is essential and of great importance to all Christians who desire to obtain eternal life.  The Word of God has explicitly instructed that without holiness, i.e. sanctification, no one will see God and enter heaven, (Heb. 12:14).  Yet, there is a vast body of error that has developed around this doctrine (sanctification, holiness) in the religious world.  That is why we must stress the fundamental principles of sanctification so that we might solve these moral and doctrinal problems that apparently trouble many, even the people of God.  Some misinterpret “sanctification” as the eradication of man's sinful nature (original sin, total hereditary depravity).  This is false since man is not born with a sinful nature.  Others misrepresent "sanctification" as the second grace (entire sanctification) claiming that second blessing or grace provides a state of absolute and sustained perfection in this life.  They mistakenly teach that after man's past sins are forgiven, he, the believer in Christ, must seek the second work of grace, which is entire (complete) sanctification which is attained in the miraculous baptism with the Holy Spirit.  I will be discussing this later in my study under False Concepts on The Subject of Sanctification.  

As Christians, we are called to be sanctified (separate from the world of darkness and devoted to God).
“Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  (2 Cor. 6:17-18).  
It is essential that we understand that the blessing of sanctification for us Christians surpasses the blessing God gave Israel under the Old Testament Law.
“13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”  (Heb. 9:13-14). 

That blessing given by God to us Christians under the New Testament Law of Christ is much better and greater and thus demands greater responsibility on our part.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”  (Heb. 2:1-4).
We need to understand sanctification as it was revealed in the Old Testament that we may make the right application in our lives as Christians under the New Testament Law of Christ.  


I.   DEFINITION OF SANCTIFICATION:

The noun “sanctification” is from the Greek word “hagiasmos” which is used ten times, meaning “holiness,” (Romans 6:19) or “sanctification,” (Heb. 12:14 ASV).  The Greek verb “hagiazo” occurs twenty-eight times and is translated as “sanctify” (Eph. 5:26), “hallow” (Matt. 6:9), or be holy,” (Rev. 22:11).  Thayer defines it as “to render or acknowledge to venerable, to hallow, to separate from things profane and dedicate to God, to consecrate; to purify.”  Vine's Expository Dictionary defines the word “sanctification” as:  (a) separation to God, (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2); (b)  the course of life befitting those separated, (1 Thess. 4:34, 7; Rom. 6:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 12:14).  The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification, (Rom. 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:11).”

To “sanctify” means “to set apart” or “to make holy.”  It does not imply absolute moral perfection. The type of perfection that the Bible speaks of, regarding man, is a relative perfection since we will not be perfect in the absolute sense until we are with God in heaven.  In the Old Testament, many things such as houses, fields, beasts, altars, people and other things were sanctified (I will be talking about sanctification in the Old Testament later in this study).  Today, under the New Testament Law of Christ, all Christians are to be sanctified.  Why?  Because they are to be set apart for the Lord thus consecrated for God's purposes; set aside and dedicated to God's service.  In Exodus 29:43, God sanctified a place of worship (set it apart, dedicating it to His service or purposes).  “7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  (2 Cor. 7:1).


II.   THE CONTINUING WORK OF SANCTIFICATION (HOLINESS):

When we are baptized (we are saved by obedience to the Gospel of Christ), we are immediately sanctified and begin the process of sanctification or holiness (being conformed to the image of Christ).  “14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  (Heb. 10:14).  Therefore, sanctification does not stop with salvation (when one believes in Jesus, repents of his sins, confesses Jesus as the Son of God, and is baptized for forgiveness of sins, i.e., one is washed, sanctified and justified, 1 Cor. 6:11), but it is a continuous process that will continue in a Christian's life until the day he dies.  A Christian's life is then obedience to Christ. The one that lives by His teachings is consecrated, set apart, for Christ.  And though we have been saved (forgiven in the waters of baptism), there is still indeed a battle that rages within us.  Sanctification is not just a one-time thing.  It is a continuous battle and a devoted service to God Almighty.  Paul describes this battle well in Gal. 5:16-17:
 “16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”  
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”  (1 Peter 1:13-15
It is indeed a process of sanctification, being set apart from the world as holy, that continues perfecting us in holiness in the fear of God, (2 Cor. 7:1).  


  • The Holy Spirit Works Through the Inspired Word of God In Our Sanctification:

The Bible explicitly teaches that the Holy Spirit sanctifies only through the Word of God in the conviction and conversion of the unbeliever. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, (Romans 10:17). Only when we put those words into action in our lives, are we sanctified.  The source of sanctification is divine Truth embodied in God's Word ,(John 17:17).  This sacred consecration is not some esoteric influence directly from heaven independent of verbal revelation (the Word of God).  Nor is sanctification or holiness a distinct bestowal on the elect;” those who are chosen arbitrarily by God before the creation as Calvinism asserts.  Instead, sanctification is a choice that mankind must make.  It cannot be forced on man by some irresistible influence (irresistible grace).  The process of sanctification begins in the heart of men.  Peter stresses, “15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” (1 Peter 3:15a).  It is a sacred command (sanctification) that demands urgent attention.  It declares that man is not to be passive about his sanctification.  This principle applies to the lost as well.  It is an obligation to reverence God and to glorify God by obedience to His commands, (Matt. 6:9).

It is important that we understand, that apart from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there could never be any sanctification, (Heb. 10:10).  There is no other way to seek pardon for our sins apart from the Gospel of Christ, (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12).  The Holy Spirit (through the revealed Word of God) continues his work in our sanctification.  Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the Truth:  Thy Word is Truth.”  (John 17:17).  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all Truth.   “13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  (John 16:13).  The Holy Spirit, through the inspired writers of the New Testament, has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3).  All that we need has been revealed (through the revealed Word of God): all that pertains to our sanctification through complete instruction and guidance.  The Holy Spirit is God's agent in the process of sanctification but only by means of His written Word, the Truth.

Therefore, as Christians, those who have been redeemed, sanctified, justified and made righteous by the cleansing blood of Jesus, we are responsible for our own sanctification, (1 Peter 1:15). Sanctification is not something that the Holy Spirit imposes on us apart from our obedience to the Gospel of Christ.  God commands all Christians to:
  1. Set themselves apart from sin, be holy and present themselves approved unto God with all diligence, (2 Tim. 2:15).
  2. Be doers of the Word of God and not just hearers, (James 1:22).
  3. Put away all filthiness and malice with all meekness that we might receive the implanted Word which can save our souls, (James 1:21).  
No Scripture anywhere in the Bible affirms that the Holy Spirit does the work of sanctification through a direct intervention or indwelling.  The Holy Spirit sanctifies us through the Word of God and nothing else.  Period!


III.   FALSE CONCEPTS ON THE SUBJECT OF SANCTIFICATION (HOLINESS):

The Pentecostal Movement which emerged from the Holiness Movement teaches that the believer can, in addition to becoming sanctified, receive power from God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In early Pentecostal thought this was sometimes considered to be the third work of grace, but over time it has come to be accepted as the major component of the second work of grace.  In the Holiness movement, the second work of grace is considered to be a cleansing from the tendency to commit sin, an experience called entire sanctification which leads to Christian perfection.  Charles Fox Parham and William Seymour were both Holiness Ministers and were seen by their followers as being used by God to restore Pentecost to the Church.  Their concept of holiness is taken from 2 Cor. 1:15. “Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace (blessing).”  Of course, Paul had already stated in his first letter to the Corinthians that the believers were already sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:2;6:11).  Paul never claimed to have achieved perfection, (Phil. 3:12-14). 

The Church of the Nazarene Manual states the following:
“We believe that entire sanctification is the act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect.”
It is amazing how false concepts or ideas give rise to false doctrines.  Protestants have wielded a heavy influence over most modern writing by teaching the error that man is born with a sinful nature, that is, he is depraved and guilty of Adam's sin.  As a terrible consequence of this grave error, they believe that the Holy Spirit must operate directly on men to overcome their depraved nature and provide entire sanctification so that they can come to holy obedience.  Both doctrines (the depravity doctrine and the doctrine of sanctification) by a direct operation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit are false!!

Their manual proceeds to speak of “the abiding indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service.”  Apparently, they believe that the Holy Spirit dwells personally and provides (apart from God's revealed Word) protection against sin; keeping the Christian's path on the right track, sanctified and consecrated.  On the other hand, the Philadelphia Confession of Faith states, 
“This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated.”  (Article VI).
 Again, Calvinism asserts that man is totally depraved and cannot do good or know the difference between right and wrong.  Therefore, according to Calvinists, since man is born a sinner with a corrupt nature, he is not able to believe in God either. So, God has to do everything for him, and He has to elect those that He wants to be saved. They imply that Christ died only for the elect and that the Holy Spirit has to touch their hearts miraculously (regenerate them) so that they can believe and be born again. This doctrine implies that man can do nothing to be free from his sad state of depravation.  He is totally inactive in his redemption.  The "enabling force" of the Holy Spirit must regenerate the wicked sinner before he responds to the calling of the Gospel. Therefore, this "direct action or working of the Holy Spirit" takes place without the individual's will, election or choice.  Given that the individual is entirely dead (spiritually), he must be given life before he can act. Hence, the Holy Spirit, without means or agencies, regenerates, giving life to the sinful soul. Calvinists erroneously teach that it is vital for the Holy Spirit to intervene directly to initiate conversion.  Moreover, they teach the necessity of a continued indwelling and direct work of the Holy Spirit (of course, apart from the inspired Word of God) because of the “corruption or sinful nature” of men.  This is a fallacious and man-made doctrine!!

Sadly, some of my brethren speak as if they buy this erroneous concept.  Why do I make such a charge?  Because they believe in the personal indwelling and work by the Holy Spirit apart from the Word of God to keep one away from sin.  This is a dangerous doctrine in that it tends to make one's subjective feelings a guide and rule for conduct rather than the Word of God.  My brethren, many of the commentaries, devotional and comfort books are written by Protestants and are very dangerous! They are flooded with false concepts about Calvinism, the indwelling, guidance, and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Take heed!

In 1 Peter 1:22 we read that, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”  Evidently, the Holy Spirit works in the Christian's sanctification.  But, there is a big difference between how or by what means, the Holy Spirit works.  In this Scripture, the apostle Peter is speaking of the beginning of our consecrated life when he states, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the Truth.”  Then Peter proceeds to point out throughout this letter that all Christians must be sanctified, consecrated and continue to obey the Truth.  Notice what Peter instructs them to follow:  “Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”  (1 Peter 2:1). “To abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”  (1 Pet. 2:11).  “Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution...” (1 Pet. 2:13).  “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”  (1 Pet. 2:17). To be “servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.”  (1 Pet. 2:18).   “Wives, be subject to your own husbands...”  (1 Pet. 3:1).   “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way...” (1 Pet. 3:7).  “Have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  (1 Pet. 3:8).

Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit enables, directs and leads the Christian to sanctification (holiness) only through the teachings of Christ (His doctrine and Law) and the apostles.  Therefore, we must submit to His guidance and teaching alone to sanctify our lives.


IV.   SANCTIFICATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:

Things sanctified (consecrated or set apart as holy) by God:  
  1. Mount Sinai, (Exodus 19:23).
  2. The Tabernacle, its furniture, the altar of burnt-offering and all its utensils, (Ex. 40:9-10).
  3. The Temple, (Lev. 16).
  4. A particular house, (Lev. 27:14).
  5. A land and field, (Lev. 27:16-17).
  6. A gathering of people, a congregation, (Joel 2:16).
  7. The Sabbath day, (Neh. 9:14).
  8. God's Word, angels, heaven, mountains, and cities where God appeared, etc. (Ps. 105:42; Deut. 26:15; Job 15:15; Ex. 3:5).
  9. The nation of Israel (as God's chosen people).  “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Ex. 19:5-6).
  10. Priests, prophets, and kings among the Israelites, (Ex. 30:29-30; 2 Kings 4:9; Ps. 16:10), Nazarites (Num. 6:8).  The firstborn, both man and beast (Ex. 13:2).
My question is:  Were these things “perfect”?  Could there be a perfect mountain, land or field?  A perfect tent, tabernacle?  Obviously, the word “sanctification” does not imply perfect, but to set apart or to dedicate, consecrate for certain use or service.  In Exodus 13:2 we read, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” 

According to the “sanctificationists” (those who support the doctrine of entire sanctification), this would imply that the consecration of the babies would make them perfect, removing their “Adamic nature,” also known as the “sinful nature” with which they were born.  Absurd!  This commandment given in Exodus 13:2, was to separate or dedicate (consecrate) the baby or the animal for service to God.  It had nothing to do with moral perfection!

  • Differences Between The Holy And The Unholy In The Old Testament:
  1. Clean and unclean animals, (Lev. 11).
  2. Touching a dead body, leprosy, childbirth and certain biological conditions made anyone unclean (Lev. 12, 15).
  3. Sowing a vineyard with two kinds of seed in the same field; plowing or yoking an ox and a donkey together; wearing cloth of wool and linen mixed together. (Deut. 22:9-11; Lev. 19:19).
One who was unclean was excluded from the community.  Worshiping at God's sanctuary was unlawful.  And though some of the above might not be considered inherently wrong, it was still forbidden or prohibited by God under the laws of the nation of Israel.  He who was unclean according to their laws was considered impure and unworthy to approach God in that condition.
  • Sin Was Another Type of Uncleanness:
Any Israelite could become impure when he sinned against God, (Psalm 106:39; Isaiah 64:6).  The sad part is that the Israelites were marred by frequent and heinous rebellion against God.
  • Unholy Situations Required Sanctification or Judgment:
God often sanctified His people, by cleansing them of their defilements.  Whether it was ceremonial uncleanness, moral impurity, sin and guilt offerings had to be offered, (Lev. 5:1-6).  There was no distinction between the ceremonial uncleanness and moral sin in this matter.  God's people must be holy before Him!  Because of their rebellion and grave transgressions, God had to exercise His judgment over them.  For crimes such as murder, homosexuality, incest, etc., their punishment was death (no sacrifice offering).  There was no sanctification provided under the Law of Moses for those who sinned willfully or defiantly.  God demonstrated His holiness in His righteous judgments against Israel, (Isaiah 5:16).  And though Israel was God's chosen people, that status did not exempt them from God's judgment, (Amos 3:2).  


V.   SANCTIFICATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
  • Christians are saints (sanctified):
The Old Testament, the Law of Moses, serves as our teacher regarding holiness (sanctification) in the New Covenant we have with God.  As Christians, we are saints (sanctified).  “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”  (1 Cor. 1:2).  Notice that Paul called them sanctified, saints despite their failings in their walk with Christ.  In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is admonishing them since they were set apart as holy for God's service and because they were not walking worthy of their calling.  So all Christians are special people.  We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His (God's) own special people that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, (1 Peter 2:9).  Therefore, our obligation to holiness (sanctification) is even greater than that of the Old Testament.  Consider Hebrew's admonition to Christians given by Jesus, the Founder, and Perfector of our Faith about not neglecting our salvation.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”  (Heb. 2:1-4).
Sanctification in the New Testament Law of Christ means to be set apart from sin.  Obedience to God's Word purifies or sanctifies our hearts from the defilement of sin and sets us apart for God's service.  Therefore, the Truth helps us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is our spiritual worship to Him.  The Word of God transforms us by the renewal of our mind, proving what is good and acceptable and God's perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2).  Our God is a holy God and therefore demands that His children be holy as well.  God hates sin and has done something about it at a significant cost. The remedy for sin was His Son's sacrifice.  His holiness is active and alive.  Everything about God is holy:  His wisdom, His power, His judgments and His love. Holiness in our lives glorifies and pleases God.  Now there is a big difference between the view of holiness in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In the New Testament, the definition is more narrow.  It is only a spiritual covenant rather than a national one.  Notice what Jesus said about defilement because of sin, purification of the heart and sanctification.
“10 And he called the people to him and said to them, 'Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, 'Explain the parable to us.' 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.'"   (Matt. 15:10-20).

Remember God's admonition to Peter in Acts 10:15:  “15 And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'”

The realm of holiness in the New Testament is connected to morality and obedience to the Doctrine of Christ, not the ritualistic purity and impurity of the Old Testament.  Thus, sanctification under the new covenant is of a much higher order.  Notice what Hebrews has to say about this high order between the blood of Christ and the blood of bulls and goats under the old covenant.
“13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”  (Hebrews 9:13-15).

Therefore, God's demand for holy living is also of a much higher order.  God calls us to be holy in our conduct or behavior since He is holy, (1 Peter 1:14-16).  As those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, we are called to be holy, without blame before Him, (Eph. 1:4).  We are not to walk any longer according to the flesh but the Spirit, (Rom. 8:1).  We are to lift up holy hands without anger and quarreling, (1 Tim. 2:8).  We are to cleanse ourselves from all defilement, filthiness of the flesh and heart and to perfect our holiness in the fear of God, (2 Cor. 7:1).  Finally, we are to present our whole bodies (members)  as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification or holiness, (Rom. 6:19).


VI.   THE HOLINESS OF GOD:

  • God's Unique Character:  
How do we define our God?  How well can we describe His attributes?  God is holy, (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8).  He is beyond human description.  Yet He reveals and describes Himself in His Word.  Indeed, we can know Him personally.  The concept of “holiness” is simple. It is easy to grasp and explain. Holiness is a fundamental aspect of God's nature.  The Bible speaks of God's holiness many times as part of His nature.  “And one called to another and said:  'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”  (Isa. 6:3).

What does it mean to be holy?  Before we start to describe what it means to be holy, let us first start with the definition of what it means to say that God is holy.  It is here that our understanding of holiness must begin.  In a few words, “holy” is God's fundamental attribute or unique characteristic.  Holiness is that which makes God “God.”  God is unique in His holiness.  The Bible places a supreme emphasis on the excellency of God's holiness.  In fact, in the Scriptures, God is described by the word “holy” more than any other term.  “Holy” is the most common description found throughout God's Word. It is not “His mighty name,” or “eternal name.”  Seldom one reads “His great name,” but frequently, “My holy name,” or “His holy name.”  It is God's perfect character and no other.  And we can see it clearly when the Seraphin shouted it in Isaiah 6:3.  The word “holy” is often used as a synonym for His deity.  That is, the word holy describes all that God is.  It reveals His love as holy, His power as holy, His justice as holy His knowledge as holy and His grace as holy. The Word of God never speaks of God as becoming sanctified.  God's holiness is not something He attained or can lose.  It is what God is!

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”  (Ex. 15:11).  God is different from all other living things in a vast number of substantial ways.  God has a divine nature, and there is none after Him.  “You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.'"  (Isa. 43:10).

    • He is all powerful and mighty: 
When He exercises His divine power, He displays His holiness.
“9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  (1 Thess. 1:9-10). 
    • God is morally perfect: 
"13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one."   (James 1:13).
However, people can receive a measure of God's holiness. This is called sanctification.  God sets something or someone apart as holy to serve Him.  This is vital for Christians to grasp since it is God's primary purpose for our lives.
    • God has always been separate, holy from His creation in Truth:  
"17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."  (Jas. 1:17). 
Even before the creation, He was still holy.  He is unchanging and unchangeable, Therefore, He can never become holier than He already is.  He was never holier than He is right now. He has always been holy.  As I mentioned earlier, God never got His holiness from anyone or from anywhere.  For He is Himself the Holiness.  He is Kadosh, the Holy One, (Isa. 40:25).  He is YHVH ha'elohim hakkadosh, the LORD, the Holy God, (1 Sam. 6:20).  He is K'dosh Yisrael, the Holy One of Israel (Ps. 71:22).  He is holiness itself beyond what any human can fathom to express.

    • Men are called to “be holy for He is holy.”  (1 Peter 1:15).  
The Christians at Thessalonica were exhorted to “abound more and more” in holiness.  
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”  (1 Thess. 4:1-8).  
    •  Holiness is a heart issue:  
Therefore, God calls us to be holy.  Holiness is living one's life as someone who belongs to God.  It is living utterly pure and separated from sin.  God's holiness is the absolute purity of His goodness and nature.  When one speak of God's holiness, one is speaking of the magnitude of God's greatness. He cannot be charged with any wrong.  He is blameless and beyond reproach in His character.  He is unimpeachable.  His love is infinite for that which is infinitely good.  At the same time, He infinitely hates or abhors that which is sin, (Ps. 5:4-6; Prov. 6:16; 8:13; Isa. 61:8; Zech. 8:17).  In Habakkuk 1:13 one reads, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil  and cannot look at wrong.” God is so holy that He cannot tolerate sin in any form before His presence.  His holiness is demonstrated in the punishment of sinners, (Exodus 34:6-7).  David declared of His holiness.  “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”  (Ps. 5:4-6).

One day God will destroy sin forever.  All lawlessness and wickedness are an assault against His holiness.  Therefore, He is preparing this world for an ultimate and divine vindication.  God's zeal burns for His holiness, (Ezek. 36:22-23).  God defends His holiness and cherishes His purity as well, (Exodus 19:5-6).  He punishes sin because He is holy.  The cup of His wrath must be poured out (Isa. 51:17-21; Jer. 25:15).  Not only is He justified for doing this, but because He must, and His justice and holiness demand it.  It is absolutely necessary that we understand.  This is our starting point in understanding God's holiness.  Since God opposes evil with wrath and fury, we must hate and resist sin also.  Why?  Because holiness and sin cannot coexist!  God cannot under any circumstances condone or approve of sin or allow it to remain in us, Christians and others. So what can a holy God do with sinful men since all have sinned and have fallen short of His glory, Rom. 3:23?  The only answer is Christ crucified, the cross of Christ.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  (1 John 4:9-10).
God's love for sinners was manifested through the sacrifice of His Son.  In God's eternal plan of redemption, justice and mercy are reconciled only through the sacrifice of His Son and His bloodshed. “Mercy and truth are met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”  (Ps. 85:10).  “6 for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”  (Romans 3:26).

In Christ, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins.  God's grace and man's obedience (faith, Eph. 2:8; Rom. 16:19) procures reconciliation of sinful men to God.  Sinners are justified by the precious blood of Christ thus being saved from God's wrath to come.  They are saved because they are reconciled and because they are reconciled to God, they are saved by Jesus’ resurrected life and intercession.  Faith in Christ (obedience to His Gospel) separates (sanctifies) the sinner from the wrath of God and gives him eternal life.  In John 8:24 Christ said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

Therefore, God's wrath is to be upon those who reject and do not obey the Truth of the Gospel, (2 Thess. 1:8).  God in His steadfast love and mercy has provided men with the saving provisions found in the Gospel of His Son.  His Gospel saves those obedient sinners from the wrath.  The sinner is then purified (sanctified, made holy) in his obedience to the Truth, (1 Peter 1:22).  The wrath of God awaits only those who hinder the Truth, (Rom. 1:18); comes upon the sons of disobedience, (Eph. 5:6); those who lived ungodly and worldly lives, (Rev. 14:10);  and finally upon all those who died in their sins without repentance and forgiveness, (Rev. 19:15).  Indeed, God's wrath cannot be denied. Christ's work on the cross was indeed related to that wrath.  However, Jesus never became the object of God's wrath, but rather He was the sin sacrifice for sin, (Heb. 10:12).  Thus making saving provisions, allowing mankind to meet God's divine terms or conditions to be saved.

Christians are exhorted to abound in holiness, (1 Thess. 4:2; James 2:26).  The saving Gospel of Christ is a holy way of living rather than just a way of believing.  Faith without works is dead. A living faith is godly and holy living.  The Gospel teaches us how we ought to walk, so as to please God.  Christians don't walk according to the desires of their flesh but according to the Spirit.  Jesus has set the highest standard for moral holy living.  Therefore, our walk must abound in holiness (sanctification). Those who walk in holiness walk by all the commandments given by our Lord Jesus Christ.  They observe all the commandments Jesus has commanded them to do.  Therefore to abound in holiness, we must avoid sin.  The will of God demands holiness in our lives.  He demands purity of both body and soul.  A body set apart for God's service must be kept pure.  What is done in our bodies will either honor or dishonor God.  And God will judge us for them, (2 Cor. 5:10).  Those who do not walk according to the will of God are walking in uncleanness or lawlessness.  Sin will not go unpunished.  For God did not call us to uncleanness but in holiness, (1 Thess. 4:6-7).  Those who reject the Bible teaching on purity of life are rejecting God, (1 Thess. 4:8).  Man's chief goal must be holiness.  Holiness will lead us to our home in heaven.


VII.   HOLY LIVING IN THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN:

As Christians, we must be holy.  God's holiness is our standard for conduct, for our personal holiness.  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Thess. 5:23).  The blood of Jesus sanctifies (purifies) us, (Heb. 9:14; 10:10, 29; 13:12).  The Spirit sanctifies us, (1 Peter 1:2; Rom. 15:16).  The Truth sanctifies us, (John 17:17-19; 2 Thess. 2:13). We are sanctified (cleansed) by the washing of water with the Word “so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”  (Eph. 5:25-27).  We have been washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Cor. 6:11).

The following is how we ought to walk in holiness or sanctification as those who walk in newness of life.
  • Morally:
    • Social Drinking:  
The recreational use of alcohol, social drinking, and the abuse of other drugs is sin.  When the Bible speaks of wine, it is often referring to fermented alcoholic drinks, (Prov. 20:1;23:29-32; 1 Sam. 1:13-16; Gen. 9:21-27; Isa. 16:10; Jer. 48:33; Isa. 65:8; Gen. 40:9-11; Rev. 19:15; Jn. 2:1-11; Rev. 14:10). There is no New Testament Scripture that supports drinking fermented wine undiluted, though wine in the Bible sometimes indicates unfermented grape juice.  The word "cider" ("wine" in the Bible) could be fermented or unfermented.  The wine that's found in John 2:1-11 was clearly not alcoholic like modern alcoholic drinks.  The blessing that the Bible speaks as of blessing was unfermented grape juice.  Ancient people knew how to preserve unfermented wine. They would boil the grape juice to kill bacteria and seal the juice in a jar or boil it until it turned into a syrup. Then they would filter it to remove yeast.  Next, they would cool it (there can be no fermentation below 45 degrees because yeast settles out).  Finally, preservatives (such as sulfur) were added.  These methods of preserving unfermented wine are confirmed and can be found in any good encyclopedia.  Take notice that when grape juice is fermented naturally it will most likely turn into vinegar and not alcohol.

Modern alcoholic beverages (distilled drinks) were known in Bible times.  Modern wines have more alcohol than the wines of Palestine since our grapes produce higher alcohol content and often distilled alcohol is added.  So, should a Christian drink a shot of rum, whiskey, beer or wine?  No! Because intoxication (drunkenness) is explicitly condemned by God.  Consider some Scriptures in the NT that speak against social drinking:  Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:6-8; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; 1 Peter 4:3.  When a person is under the influence of alcohol he loses the clarity of intellect and self-control that he would otherwise have.  God expects us to avoid at all cost, these practices of sinful pleasure and self-indulgence.  They hinder one's ability to think clearly and they impede him from recognizing and resisting temptation.  Alcoholic beverages weaken one's mental judgment, self-control, will power and inhibitions.  That's the reason why the Bible explicitly warns Christians to avoid the lure of alcoholic drinking. Christians should avoid alcohol completely.  It tempts one to sin and weakens one's self-control.

Modern social drinking is condemned.  Notice what the Bible has to say, "For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry."  (1 Peter 4:3).  God demands that we avoid them all (excess of wine, extravagant indulgence, long drawn out, reveling, wild parties with sexual looseness and drunkenness, banqueting, drinking parties, social drinking).  Drinking is a terribly bad example to others!  So, if you drink, please consider how bad your influence is toward others.  It is a bad influence on the young, former addicts, those whom we seek to teach the Gospel of Christ and leads him to sin.  How on earth can a drunk convert another drunk or those who know that Christians should not drink?!  How do you convince someone that you are serious about your faith with a drink in your hand?!  No Christian can be justified, in light of God's call to holiness, supporting and using a substance that has destroyed the lives of so many.  Social drinking destroys a Christian's influence entirely.  It is sinful and violates God's call to sanctification and righteousness.

Alcohol is a gift from Satan and will become a tool in his hands to cause us to stumble and sin.  Some find temporary relief and joy to a difficult life but the consequences are devastating.  Alcohol can mock humans and carries them into irrationality and foolishness, (Prov. 20:1).  It is not wise to be ruled by alcohol and whoever allows it to control him is a fool, (Isa. 5:11).  One who drinks alcohol is a slave to sin.  Sin will lead him to lose his soul eternally.  Christians must never consider social drinking as acceptable even though our society practices and accepts it. Take heed!

    • Immoral Dress (Immodesty):  
As Christians, we cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by fashion.  Short hems, short shorts, tight fitting, sensual and slinky clothing is sinful and does not demonstrate holiness and godliness.  Any clothing that has “sexual attractiveness” or allure, often worn by many Christians, is downright ungodly and worldly.  It does not reflect holiness at all.  Christians are not to be ruled by the gods of fashion or because it makes them look “good,” or brings the approval of society or the opposite sex, or ourselves.  God dictates what is holy and acceptable before Him and not society.  Take heed!

Wearing bathing suits in public is immoral, ungodly and worldly and is not acceptable to God. Bathing suits do not cover the body enough to be considered godly attire.  Nothing can justify a Christian wearing or being seen in public or semi-private situations in such immoral and ungodly attires.  And though many Christians may not swim at a public pool with such immoral attires, they nevertheless dress this way in each other's presence leading others to sin.  Sadly, some of these Christians are married and are committing adultery because of their sinful, unholy behavior.  It is without any justification as we are called to holiness by God Almighty.

We live in a culture where nudity or the “clothing-optional” lifestyle is becoming a big business. Nobody is blushing anymore!  There was a time when our people would be embarrassed by public indecency.  A culture that worships nature and sensuality is prone to dress immodestly.  Many Christians have been carried away by the course of this world, surrendering to the prince of darkness rather than God, walking in pure disobedience.  They would rather be taken captive by our culture's inclinations, rather than obey the admonition to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.   As Christians, who obey their Lord, we must honor the rules of our Lawmaker concerning our clothing.  Otherwise, we are refusing the Lordship of Jesus. 

Alas, today more and more professing Christians have come to think of nakedness as normal and acceptable, even preferable!  Somehow, they believe they have permission to remove the "restraints" of modest dress following the trendy pagan fashions that are physically revealing.  As a terrible consequence of all this, otherwise, sober-minded people have been publicly undressed.  NO! As professing Christians, we must speak the Truth against this modern trend toward nakedness and its consequences.  We must start raising sons and daughters to remain morally pure in an idolatrous culture that worships the flesh.  As Christians who profess godliness, let us not forget that the church is "the pillar and ground of the Truth." (I Tim. 3:15).  Therefore, let us allow those divine principles taught by the revealed Word of God guide our daily living into holiness to glorify God.  Let us not forget that we must dress modestly and discreetly in the presence of men and God. When the heart is right with God, it will govern itself in purity and humility, expressing itself modestly.  Christian modesty will at no cost expose itself publicly in sinful nakedness.

Today, it is disgusting and discouraging to see this problem permeating the Lord's church which He purchased with His blood, (Acts 20:28).  So many times I have to shake my head when I see older women and men not being good examples in the way they dress and in their demeanor.  I have seen this problem among the wives and daughters of our preachers and elders.  Many of these leaders have the audacity to post pictures of themselves with their women dressed (or undressed) with indecent clothing (they themselves in shorts and shirtless) in the public arenas such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and so on.  I refuse to hit the "like" button!  I will not partake of such fruits of darkness.  Take heed!

    • Dancing:  
This is another serious problem among some Christians.  They think that dancing is acceptable by God.  They refuse to recognize that when they move their body in lascivious motions (modern dance); holding closely to the opposite sex while they are dancing is sinful and immoral.  It does not portray holiness and godliness but impurity.  Some dare to justify dancing by rationalizing it.  I could never fathom why so many professing holiness enjoyed the movie “Dirty Dancing” some years ago. They denied there was anything immoral or indecent about the movie when in fact it was full of sensual dancing.  They apparently rejected God's call to holiness!  Dancing is sinful and is not acceptable in the life of a Christian.  Period!  So, if you advocate the sensual dance, it is time to repent that you may not fall under condemnation.  Take heed!
    • Gambling:
The Bible constantly warns against greed and covetousness, (Eph. 5:5-7; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 1:29-32; 1 Cor. 5:11; Deut. 5:21; Mk. 7:20-23; 1 Tim. 6:6-10; 2 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:5).  Theft is taking someone else's property in a way that is not authorized by God.  Gambling is mutual attempted theft like dueling is mutual attempted murder.  In dueling, each agrees to let the other one attempt to kill him.  But killing is still unauthorized regardless of the agreement, (Romans 13:8-10).  So, a gambler agrees to do the same when he lets someone try to take his possessions in exchange for a chance to take the other person's possessions.  The agreement makes both guilty of sin!  Let us not forget that Christians are stewards of God's possessions, (1 Pet. 4:10-11; Lk. 12:42-56; 2 Chr. 28:1; 1 Cor. 4:1-2).  So, the gambler is an unfaithful steward, (Lk. 16:1-2).  The gambler seeks personal gain and profit by taking from others who agree to the scam.  It is self-seeking and selfish.  The gambler violates the law of love since he tries to do to others what he does not want others to do to him, (1 Cor. 13:5; Phil. 2:4).  It is a root of evil, love of money, greed.  Do you know that drinking alcohol, drugs, lying, crime, prostitution, lasciviousness, sexual immorality, and corruption abound where gambling occurs?  The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil!

Sadly, gambling is becoming a scourge in our society, and it works its evil among many professing Christians as well.  And though the world accepts the sin or evil of gambling, reveling in it, it is still a vice or sin that leads to addiction, broken homes and ruined lives.  Eventually, it will result in the destruction of their soul eternally.  It is not godly but worldly.  Children of God must abstain from it at all cost.  Gamblers not only sin but tempt others to sin.  Many Christians will be lost eternally because of gambling.  So why submit yourself to such a danger?  Does gambling harmonize with Jesus' example and His teaching of His Word?  Honestly, what would you think if Jesus would have played a slot machine or roulette wheel, betting on a dice or poker game?  

    • Man and Woman Relationships:
This is a serious one!  Men and women (both married and unmarried) must be completely virtuous and chaste in their behavior and relationships with one another.  Anything that falls under familiarity, flirting and coarseness (vulgarity, crudeness, smuttiness), unwise close friendships with the opposite sex separate from your spouse, even simply being “alone” in various situations is not godly and holy. All these reckless practices can lead to lasciviousness and fornication (sexual immorality).  Remember, we must not allow this to happen under any circumstance.  God calls us to sanctification, holiness.  He demands that we flee temptation and all appearance of evil doing.  Sadly, this is one of the most permissive dangers of our society.  All these unwise practices or situations lead to affairs, lascivious actions, premarital pregnancies, and apostasies.  Be aware, that no Christian is exempt even if they think they can handle it!  The truth is you can't!  Therefore, flee these dangerous situations and be true to your God!!

  • Reverence at Worship:
    • Tardiness:
Tardiness is habitual to many even though there are times when it is excusable.  It shows a lack of reverence and dedication to God.  We are called to be set apart as holy for service to God.
    • Lack of interest and attention to Bible study and Worship:
It shows a lack of care and reverence for the special time that we have chosen to be together as God's called-out people.  It does not demonstrate being set apart as holy for service to God.
    • Dress:
We are to be reverent in the way we dress before God and the congregation.
    • Decorum during the Lord's Supper:
This is a solemn and special time that must not be marred by irreverent and disruptive behavior but a time of meditation on the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
  • Doctrinal Purity:
We are to be blameless in the midst of a perverse generation.  We are not to tolerate sophistry under any circumstance (deception, false teaching), and be in fellowship with false teachers and those who persist in living in sin.  Such tolerance violates God's call to sanctification, holiness.  Therefore, we are not to accept anything that violates doctrinal purity.  God's people must be pure before Him! Any doctrine that teaches that which is contrary to the purity of God's Word or is inherently false must be exposed in the light of God's Truth!
“23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Thess. 5:23).

CONCLUSION:

There is no justification without sanctification.  There is no salvation without justification.  God's message to sinful men is that they should pursue peace and holiness (sanctification) with all people. Without holiness (sanctification) no one will see God, (Heb. 12:14).  God expects His followers to live holy lives and cleanse themselves from all defilement, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God, (2 Cor. 7:1).  We cannot be holy while living in sin.  As Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ in baptism, (Acts 22:16), we must dedicate ourselves to living holy lives guided by God's holy will.  As we do His holy will, we can rest assured that He will count us holy, pleasing and acceptable before His eyes.  As those who have been saved, there is still a battle that rages and we must win by walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, (Gal. 5:16-17).  Sanctification or holiness is an unending process motivated by the love of the Truth.

Christ gave Himself up for the church that He might sanctify it.  His death was necessary for cleansing and sanctification.  The Christian can lose his sanctification and be lost eternally.  If a Christian regresses into a life of sin (Heb. 10:26), he can expect a fierce judgment of fire that will destroy him.  It will be a terrible punishment, worse than any merciless death!  Why?  Because he “has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace”.  He will fall into the hands of a judging God who will render well-deserved vengeance, (Heb. 10:30-31).  Therefore, sanctification (holiness) is vital to be saved and enter the gates of heaven.  It would be wise to remember the admonition made by God when He said, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves... “  (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16).  The Holy Spirit directs and leads Christians to holy living (sanctification) through His teachings found in the New Testament and we must submit to His instructions to sanctify our lives.  God takes his holiness seriously! He will not treat lightly those who profane His name.  Therefore, we must worship Him with total submission and obedience to all His will.  Indeed, God is a consuming fire!

We have a personal responsibility to walk in holiness. We will be judged based upon our choices and decisions in this matter. We have been empowered by God through His Word to walk worthy of our calling, in holiness and godliness.  God does not and will not tolerate sin or anything that is not holy living.  The Lord is to be obeyed in all things because He is the Holy Lawgiver.   We cannot categorize sin if we are to live a life of holiness. God has forbidden the action, and that is the only category that must be considered. There is no such attitude as “big sins” and “little sins” with God. God forbids the action or allows the action. There is no other way to look at sin.  The effects of sin are devastating and destroy our holiness before God.  We must not rationalize our sins or consider our weaknesses tolerable. When we commit sins, God does not find us acceptable. We must separate ourselves from all sin and dedicate ourselves to God.  God is the only One who can dictate what is holy and unholy and not us.  Sin is an offense to God.  Therefore, we must take responsibility for our sins.

May we leave sin behind to be holy before our Almighty God.  May we yield our life to holiness and separate ourselves for service to God.  May we pursue and perfect holiness in the fear of God.  May we strive to be holy because God is holy, (1 Peter 1:15-16).   May we be sanctified through the Spirit of God (God's Word).  May we be set apart by obedience to the teachings of the Holy Spirit found in God's Word.  May we never trample underfoot the Son of God and profane the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified because of our unholy and ungodly behavior.

 I hope that you will take the time to read the words of this beautiful song, "Take Time To Be Holy" and reflect on them.  "Take time to be holy" is a beautiful song that exhorts us to be holy just as God is holy. This profound song emphasizes the need for Christians to be shaped into the likeness of Christ by spending time feeding on His Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17), prayer (Phil. 4:6-7) and walking in the same way in which He walked, (1 John 2:6). God wants His children to grow and cultivate holiness (sanctification) "without which no one will see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14). When we are holy in our conduct, others (our friends) can see Christ's likeness in us.


Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His word.
Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
Abiding in Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow thy Lord;
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
(By William Dunn Longstaff)


Luci

Friday, February 10, 2017

JESUS, MEEK AND LOWLY AGAINST THE PERILS OF PRIDE

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. “
Proverbs 16:18


Few things break your heart more quickly than pride. Someone that you love is going to walk into a disastrous situation because their pride has been inflamed and there is nothing that you can do about it. Jesus came to a proud world bent on self-destruction. Even the righteous disciples were easily provoked individually by their pride. Jesus, the meek and lowly, showed them a better way. Let us see what we can learn from our Lord about pride and the healing remedies that He offers.

The other day I was thinking about the little fox called pride that so often cripples us and robs us of humility, seeking self-glorification.  It robs God of His glory and seeks to glorify ourselves, (James 4:6).  Pride is a constant battle for many.  It is the little foxes that spoil the vines, (Song of Solomon 2:15).  These little foxes are not little at all!  They are very destructive animals that like to eat the tender grapes just before they get ripe.  Not only do these little foxes eat the grapes but they damage or tear the vines to pieces, ruining all the harvest.  Like these foxes, pride is something that we often allow to live in us until it is too late.  These little foxes are like termites that eat away our foundation of Truth and obedience to God, causing devastating spiritual damage. It eventually destroys our relationship with God!  It is a warning to you and me.  Why?  Because, usually it is the little things, the little sins, that tear us down, destroy our homes and marriages. It hinders our prayers, stunts our spiritual growth, causes high stress and kills the Lord's church.  As Christians, we must rid ourselves of these “little foxes” that cause so much damage and keep us from being fruitful. We must “catch” these foxes before it is too late!

In my study, I want to focus on the little fox of  “pride” which is the mother of conceit that eats into the core of the heart. Pride spoils meekness and humility.  The kind of pride I want to talk about is not the pride that we must have in the Lord and His church but rather the attitude of pride that causes us to have a much higher opinion of ourselves than we ought to have.  The kind of attitude that causes us to be wrapped up in our own exaggerated ego.  Such an attitude of the heart consists of conceit, haughtiness, vainglory, high-mindedness, and being puffed up.  The root of pride is the ego found in the heart of man, (Mark 7:21-23).  It is one of the many works of the flesh, (Gal. 5:19-21).  Pride sows to the flesh, and it will destroy us eventually if we ignore it and do nothing about it.  It is deceitful and subtle.  Why?  Because we tend to rationalize our behavior and justify ourselves in what we ought to know is not right.  It is all a matter of the inflated ego; always focusing inward, considering ourselves to be of great importance; making others feel inferior because we are superior to them.  “Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.”  (Psalm 73:6). Pride is indeed a trap from which no one can escape.  It often causes one to have contempt for others, leading him to slander, disdain, disrespect, and ridicule.  It feeds on gratification, honor, attention, praise and the approval of others.  It rages when others fail to notice their accomplishments.  It does not like to be slighted or ignored!  Pride is at the root of all sins.  It becomes more than just a little fox.  It is indeed no little sin, but a big sin that can destroy us eternally.

I.   WHAT DOES PRIDE LOOK LIKE?
  1. In the life of Pharaoh, it looked like:  “2 But Pharaoh said, 'Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.'"  (Exo. 5:2).
  2. In the life of Goliath: "43 And the Philistine said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?' And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.'"  (I Sam. 17:43-44).
  3. In the life of Nebuchadnezzar:  "You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;  I will make myself like the Most High.'"  (Isa. 14:13-14).
  4. In the life of the Pharisee: “11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'”  (Luke 18:11-12).
  5. In the life of Herod: “21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, 'The voice of a god, and not of a man!'"  (Acts 12:21-22).
The above examples are a clear demonstration of pride.  Each of these persons displayed this terrible sin called pride.

II.   THE DESTRUCTIVE NATURE AND DANGERS OF PRIDE:
  • The Root of Pride:
"11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, 'Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?' So he turned and went away in a rage.'"  (2 Kings 5:11-12).
Anger and pride are a pair of sins that go hand in hand.  The source of pride is ego.  It is one of those works of the flesh, (Gal. 5:19-21).  It is deceitful and dangerous.  Pride deceives many by rationalizing their behavior and justifying themselves.  A big problem with pride is that it reduces us to nothing, causing us to lose our love for God and others.  Pride sows to the flesh and not to the Spirit, (Gal. 6:7-8).  It will eventually destroy us if it goes unchecked.

The word "pride" is found six times in the book of Proverbs.  Likewise, the word “proud” is found seven times in the same book.  For instance, we find the word “haughty” three times in the same book.  The word “arrogance” is found once.  The word “conceit” is found five times.  Several passages speak of pride without mentioning the above terms.

Consider the ways in which the proud and haughty in heart (spirit) can destroy his soul:   
  • Pride Destroys Self:
Pride is an overestimation, elevation of self.  It overestimates one's worth.  It is a conceited sense of one's superiority.  A man who is proud is truly a legend in his own mind.

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.”  (Proverbs 26:12).  Now stop for a moment and reflect on this Scripture.  What is man?  He is the work of God.  “Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”  (Psalm 100:3).  God created us from the dust of the earth, (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 12:7).  We are not as smart as we think we are, (Matt. 10:30).  We are not as strong as we think we are, (Job 38:34-35).  Ultimately, it is appointed for every man to die, and after that comes judgment, (Eccl. 12:7; Heb. 9:27).
"42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine also said to David, 'Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.'"  (1 Samuel 17:47).
Here we see Goliath as a champion on the battlefield.  His pride was as huge as his physical appearance.  He could have destroyed David in any other battlefield, but this one was not ordinary. You see, God gave the victory to the one that was humble and who trusted in Him rather than himself. Goliath's problem was his fatal pride, (Proverbs 16:18).

Pride causes man to ignore or counteract the above facts.  The Humanist Manifesto II of 1973 asserts the following under a section entitled “Religion.”
“But we can discover no divine purpose for the human species.  While there is much we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become.  No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”
Sixty-Nine men endorsed this Manifesto.  The names of four of these men began with the letter “A.” Three of them are now dead.  And though we' re not like these men who endorsed this Manifesto II and do not reject deity, our problem with pride is commonly twofold.  Why?  Because we tend to think more highly of ourselves than what we ought to think, (Rom. 12:3).  At times we obey God partially.  We ignore God's commands in our life and do what we believe is right in our own eyes.  We start complaining because God's rules are not fair, so we reject His Word, (1 Sam. 15:3, 9, 17, 22-23).  Those who revel in self, face destruction.  Consider three Scriptures that affirm this:
  1. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  (Prov. 11:2).
  2. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”  (Prov. 16:5).
  3. “One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”  (Prov. 29:23).
  • Pride Leads to Forgetting God:
“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?'”  (Obadiah 3-9)
A vision came to Obadiah to deliver the nation of Edom.  The LORD was stirring the nations for battle against Edom.  God's message to Edom is that He is going to bring them down (“I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised).  He is going to destroy them and shame them.  Why would a loving God do this?  Why is He stirring the other nations to act against Edom? Why does Edom need to be cut down to size?  Because the pride of their heart had deceived them.  The prophecy of Obadiah is the problem and danger of pride.  Notice how proud they were in their heart:  “Who will bring me down to the ground?”  You see Edom's biggest problem was that they deceived themselves thinking that no other nation could defeat them.  No nation could rise against them.  So, where did this pride come from?  Well, verse 3 tells us that their cities sat high in the rocks.  Some of Edom's cities lay at least 5,500 feet in elevation.  As a result of this, they thought they could never fall or be defeated.  Wait, they forgot to take something into consideration.  They forgot God, the only One who can ride in the clouds of heaven and can bring them down.  They deceived themselves ignoring that God was the source of all of their blessings and that His will is what governs all the nations regardless of what they might plan.  They looked around on the earth thinking that they were the most amazing and most powerful.  But, guess what?  They forgot to put God in the picture!

Forgetting God, our Creator is the foundation of pride.  Pride believes and deceives us with a lie, that we do not need God; that we can depend on ourselves and our own strength.  We think that because we have our own abilities, resources, abundance, prosperity, and worth: that we are self-sufficient, we do not need God.  What a lie!!  The saddest part of all this is that our culture glorifies pride!  Pride is glorified when one is independent and self-assured to the point of harming others.  

As I read Obadiah, I notice that the Edomites took pride in the same things that we take pride in as individuals, as a society and as a country.  The people of Edom took pride in their wisdom, (verse 8). Teman, a city in Edom, was well known for its wisdom and knowledge.  Isn't it something how often we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are so knowledgeable and evolved because of our predecessors?!  We simply believe that we know much more, thinking that those who were before us were either Neanderthals or buffoons.  And since we are so smart, we definitely will succeed where others failed.  Isn't that amazing!

Another thing the Edomites took pride in was their military might and their allies, (verses 7, 9).  But God Almighty declared that the mighty men would be dismayed, (verse 9).  They pridefully thought that their might was going to save them from any attack.  Today is no different.  Many nations today believe that they will continue to stand because of their military success and might.  How about that?!  But the biggest problem they have is that in their sinful pride, they forget that God is in the picture.  They forget to acknowledge that a nation is not powerful and strong because of its military might but because God gave them strength.  In the history of Israel in the Old Testament, we see that Israel did not need fortified cities since God was going to defeat their enemies.  When Israel turned from the LORD, went astray, and built strong cities, those fortified cities were destroyed.  God judges pride, and we see that throughout the Bible.  Our education and human knowledge: our wisdom will not save us from God's judgment.  Our strength and might will not save us from His judgment.

God repeatedly warned the nation of Israel about forgetting Him because of their pride.  Do you remember what God told Israel in Deuteronomy 8:11-20 before they entered the Promised Land of Canaan, the land that He was about to give them?  They forgot God's commandments, rules, and statutes.  They forgot God.  They thought their prosperity and success was by their own might, so they forgot God.  They forgot that their wealth was from the hand of God, so they forgot Him.  But what did God say?  He was going to judge them for doing that.  He will judge us also if we do not repent.  

Jeremiah 49:14-16 quotes the first four verses of Obadiah.  God's judgment was coming because He had already prophesied against Edom because of their pride.  They refused to listen and repent. Therefore, God's judgment was going to destroy everything and leave nothing (verse 5).  The nation of Edom was to be stripped bare and destroyed completely.  
  • Pride Leads to Evil:
As in the case of Edom, their pride led them to sinful actions.  Pride was the basis for their sins.  The Edomites committed all kinds of violence against Israel, (verse 10).  When God allowed the Babylonians to invade Jerusalem (three times), the Israelites were trying to escape it.  But, did the Edomites help them against the Babylonians?  They refused to help them and instead they killed those who were trying to flee.  It is amazing to see how pride and hatred had taken away their compassion for others!!  You see, when one elevates self, he no longer cares or has compassion for other people.  The proud will hurt others because pride dictates who is the most worthy and valuable one.  And we wonder why in our society people break the law and hurt others!  We wonder why violence is rising.  We wonder why everything has progressed for the worse, the way we have it today.  Guess what the answer is?  Yes, pride!! And where does it come from?  From forgetting God and His righteousness.  The problem with forgetting God is that we think we're the most important creatures, so others must suffer.  As a result of this, we have violence and genocide (mass murder).

Pride causes us to lose our compassion toward others.  We no longer care.  Edom was judged for this attitude of the heart.  Edom rejoiced in watching Judah's misfortune and ruin, (verses 12-13).  They looted their wealth.  Pride causes one to take from others even those who are experiencing adversity or calamity.  We have no right to take from others or rejoice because of their adversities even when we have been mistreated.  It is evil!  Pride causes one to show no regard for the well-being of others. So Edom was condemned for partaking in Judah's misfortune and ruin.  Notice God's judgment in verse 15 of Obadiah, “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.  As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your head.”  

What we sow we will also reap.  What we have done to others, God will bring about full judgment in His wrath.  No one will be able to stand against Him, (Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:16; 28; Habakkuk 2:16).  In the book of Revelation, God ends with the same note.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”  (Revelation 22:12).
Therefore, knowing that God will repay according to our deeds or works, we must see the judgment that is coming to each one of us for what we have done.  So if you have failed because of pride, lack of compassion and have forgotten God, now is the time to repent, verse 17.  There is hope in the Lord.  Obadiah's message is:  the humble will be exalted, and the proud will be humiliated.  We rid ourselves of pride when we honor and are thankful to God for all things in all circumstances.   This is our best weapon against pride.
  • Pride is The Greatest Enemy of Repentance:
Indeed, pride is the major stumbling block to repentance.  Why?  Because he who is proud finds it difficult to admit when he is wrong or needs to repent from sin.  Repentance is not only vital to Christians but also to non-Christians, (1 John 1:8, Prov. 16:18).

Many Christians have fallen from grace because they have allowed their pride to interfere with their repentance, (Gal. 5:4).  So often when we try to persuade one who is living in sin to repent (change his sinful ways), he resents us.  He says, “Who do you think you are, telling me how to live my life?”  “I have nothing to repent of.”  I know what I'm doing and am in control of it.”  “I make my own decisions.”  

Sadly, this person's pride has blinded him to repentance.  One good example of this is the alcoholic. He often denies that he is an alcoholic.  He may even feel insulted that one would dare to point out his sin and his need to repent.

The Pharisees were very proud.  They often confronted Jesus with arrogance and would not receive His teachings.  When Jesus found them in the Temple selling animals and changing money, He drove them out, overturning the tables, (Matt. 21:13).  This apparently enraged them (the scribes and chief priests), and they sought to kill Him.  Pride was their number one problem.  They were too proud to admit that they were wrong in using the Temple in such a shameful way.  Their pride blinded them to accepting that they had sinned against God; that the Temple was desecrated.  So what did they do? They felt rage instead of feeling shame.

When people hear the Lord's invitation to come to Him to find rest from their labor and heavy burden, many refuse to accept it and repent because of pride.  It is so difficult for them to admit that they are wrong and need to repent!  It is man's ego that prevents him from admitting that he has sinned.  Sadly, many die in that state.  Their inflated ego prevents them from acknowledging their sins, faults, and shortcomings, (James 5:16).  Pride also steps in the way of the “one another” part of admonition.  Why is it so hard to humbly admit that you have sinned or done wrong and need to repent and ask forgiveness of God and the one you have wronged?!  It is vital that you be at peace with God and all men, but that demands that you be humble and not proud.  God abhors the proud. Who wants to be around a proud and arrogant person?  Do you?  I don't!!  Your salvation depends on it!
  • Proud In Our Speech:
In James 4:10 we have been admonished to humble ourselves before God that He may exalt us. James is speaking concerning pride.  Pride is the root of many of our failings and weaknesses.  Pride is the cause of failing to live a godly life.
“11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”  (James 4:11-12).  
James is saying that when we speak evil or judge another (not with righteous judgment), we are indeed speaking evil against the law and judging the law.  To speak evil against one another is to speak evil against God's Law!  Why?  Because with that negative attitude of heart, we are choosing to ignore God's commands or laws. Like the law to love our neighbor.  James calls this “the royal law.”  When one loves his neighbor as himself, he is doing well, (James 2:8).  It is impossible to love someone and at the same time slander him.  In doing this, we are breaking the royal law, the Law of God.  We are in the place of God and sitting in the judgment seat of God's Law!  When we break God's Law, we're refusing to be under the laws of God.  Bear in mind that there is only One Lawgiver and Judge.  And it is not you or me! He is God!  He is the only One who can dictate law and stand in judgment of the law.  Take heed!
“12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”  (James 4:12).  
Often we have the nerve to judge God's Law and question His commands (laws) rather than humbly to submit to them.  So, who are you to judge your neighbor?  Who do you think you are?  What makes you better or greater than others?  Who gives you the right to judge or criticize someone else?  It is easier to criticize others than to be a doer of the Law.  It is easier to throw stones at others who are doing the Lord's work.  Often we delude ourselves thinking we are the doers and the others are just the hearers.  Do you suppose you are a doer of God's Law when you speak evil of another?!  Right?  Do you think that when you slander someone, you are keeping God's Law?  You are not a doer!  You are not the Judge!  You are usurping the Lawgiver and Judge.  You are not keeping quiet and obeying God's laws or commands.  You are proud and foolish when you speak evil of others, forgetting your place before the Judge of all.  Take heed and stop being proud!
  • Proud In Our Goals and Plans:
“14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.   15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.”  (James 4:14-15).
When we think that we have total control of our lives, we are exhibiting pride.  Why?  Because we are behaving as if we have control over everything that happens to us.  We don't even know what tomorrow may bring.  We don't know what lies ahead of us.  So, why boast about tomorrow, making ambitious plans about your life?  You don't know the future; only God knows!  So, stop acting like you have control!  We seem to forget this truth!  We are arrogant to think so.  You don't know what your life will be tomorrow.  Your life is nothing more than a mist!  Why not say if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that?!  Such boasting is evil!  
  • Proud in Pride:
"15 Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.'"  (James 4:16-17).
This point is similar to my prior one about being proud in our plans.  It is complete arrogance to boast about what we are doing or planning on doing.  We should humbly say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  When we say, “If the Lord wills,” we need to mean what we are saying.  Notice that James says, “you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live.'"  What do you suppose that means?  It means that God is in control and not us.  It is God's will and not mine.  So, stop assuming that we will live and have health.  God is the only One who knows the future and is in control of the same.  We don't know if we will live tomorrow.  Our lives are in God's hands, and we must accept it.  Therefore, do not be proud in your pride as if we have total control over today and tomorrow.  Stop acting as if you were in charge of everything and humbly put your life in God's hands if it is His will.  Start appreciating all of God's goodness and the life He is giving you today!
  • Pride Delights In Boasting:
An excellent example of boasting is the Pharisee who stood at the Temple and prayed saying, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.'”  (Matt. 18:11-12).  He was so blindly proud that he could only see the tax collector's wrongs and failings but not his own.  Notice what Jesus said of the Pharisees, “5 But they do all their deeds to be noticed (seen) by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.”  (Matt. 23:5-7).  You see pride destroys humility!

A person who is full of pride thinks highly of himself and boasts in his achievements.  He wants to be noticed and is self-absorbed in his pride.  He ignores what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.  Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  2 'So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.'"  (Matt. 6:1-2).  The key phrase here is "to be noticed by them (men)."  Pride delights in being in the spotlight and being the star of the show!  We cannot be of any use to the Lord until we willfully surrender our pride and proudful ways.

Did you know that one of Peter's major failures was boasting?  He boasted too much.  The night before our Lord's crucifixion, He instituted the Lord's Supper as a memorial.  He then told His disciples in John 13:36, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”  Peter then asked and boasted saying, “37 Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Our Lord's response was this, “30 Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”  (Mark 14:30).  According to Luke 22:33, Peter made another grand request.  “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”   Moreover, in Matthew 26:33, Peter said, “33 Peter answered him, 'Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.'"  Isn't it crystal clear that Peter liked to boast?  He claimed he was willing to go to prison for Jesus.  He bragged about dying with Christ before he would deny Him.  Just a few hours later, before the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter denied the Lord three times.  He swore he didn't know Jesus though he boasted earlier that he would never deny the Son of God.  

So, why did Peter fail?  Pride is part of it, (Prov. 16:18).  This scenario is repeated many times in the Bible.  Remember the older brother who boasted of his own righteousness and then failed to show compassion to his younger brother who had repented, (Luke 15).  Yes, pride goes before destruction! It is vital that we take heed to Paul's admonition in Gal. 6:1-5 when trying to restore one who has been overtaken in sin.  We must consider ourselves lest we also are tempted.  Tempted to do what? To become self-righteous and full of pride when seeing the faults and failings of others.  Humility is what overcomes pride.  So, if we have the tendency to exalt ourselves, we will be humbled by God one way or another.  On the other hand, if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will exalt us.  Peter failed because he was boastful and full of pride.  So, let us work hard at being more humble so that we may not sin against our God and then find ourselves judged by Him.
  • Pride Causes us to Look Down on Others:
In the Old Testament Moses asked Pharaoh, the great ruler of Egypt to let the children of Israel go that they might hold a religious feast to Him in the wilderness.  Pharaoh's response was, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.”  Here we see a man full of pride.  Pharaoh looked down on Moses and even God Himself.  He would not humble or submit to God because of his pride.  Each time Moses appeared before him, he showed contempt, insolence, and arrogance.  Not even the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians changed his arrogant heart.  He was a proud and arrogant man who preferred to suffer rather than to submit to God's command.
  • Pride Destroys Relationships With Others:
“By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”  (Prov. 13:10).
“25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.”  (Prov. 28:25).
As followers of Christ, we strive for unity, peace, and happiness in our relationships.  Unfortunately, pride destroys all these things.  Why?  Because pride prevents an honest discussion of the issues of disagreement between two persons.  Pride attacks the character of others rather than focus on their problems and differences.  Pride's primary goal is to divide people into hostility.  Pride will not allow anyone to say the words:  “I am wrong, or I was wrong.”  “I am sorry, please forgive me for what I have done.”  “I forgive you.”  

In the New Testament, we read of at least two examples of relationships where pride caused problems.  James and John requested that they might sit at the right hand and left hand of Jesus, (Mark 10:35-41).  Notice the request:  “35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.   36 And he said to them, 'What do you want me to do for you?'  37 And they said to him, 'Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”' (Mark 10:35-37).  Now notice the response, “41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.”  (Mark 10:41).
The ten were greatly afflicted and moved with indignation.  Had Jesus not intervened at the moment, there would have been major trouble among the apostles.  In 3 John 9, we come to know Diotrephes who loved to put himself above others.  There was a division between him and John.  Diotrephes' major problem was that he loved to have the preeminence among men.  Pride is a grave sin, and one must repent of it to be right with God and have fellowship with Him.
  • Pride Destroys One's Relationship (Fellowship) With God:
“A haughty look, a proud heart, And the plowing of the wicked are sin.”  (Prov. 21:4).
“These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:  17 A proud look... “  (Prov. 6:16-17).
Pride is an abomination to God.  Why?  Because its motives and actions are lawless and lawlessness is a sin against the Word of God, (1 John 3:4).  God demands humility and that we walk humbly with Him.  To be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, one must be humble.  For God to exalt us, we must be humble before Him.  God demands that His children clothe ourselves with humility toward Him and one another because.   "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Mic. 6:8; Matt. 18:4; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6).  He demands that we not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, “but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Rom. 12:3).  The Word of God also exhorts us to have the mind of Christ, “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  (Phil. 2:5-8).  Pride is of Satan, and we must be careful not to fall under condemnation, (1 Tim. 3:6).

Satan led Adam and Eve to sin by appealing to their pride. Satan told them that they would be like God, knowing good and evil.  When Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”  (Gen. 3:4-6).  Today, Satan is still appealing to man's pride when he tempts man with the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life.  

God hates pride.  He is disgusted when He sees pride in men.  When a man sets himself above God, it is idolatry, (Exo. 20:3).  A proud and arrogant man appeals to his own worldly wisdom rather than fearing and honoring God, (Romans 1:21-22).  A proud man thinks he knows better than the all-wise God of heaven, (1 Cor. 1:20).  A proud man believes he is self-sufficient and does not need God, (Luke 12:16-21).  Pride is the soil in which all others sins grow and flourish.  God will punish the proud, and His wrath will go against them.  He will not allow anything that's unclean (sin) to enter the gates of heaven, (Rev. 21:27).  


MEEKNESS & HUMILITY:  GOD'S CURE TO PRIDE AND HAUGHTINESS

Why do you suppose we are to be meek and humble?  Should we learn to be more self-assertive or not to be proud and haughty?  What do you think?  What does the Word of God teach us concerning meekness, humility, gentleness and lowliness?  Contrast that with pride, selfishness, self-will, self-centeredness and arrogance.  Which do you think are the greatest qualities a child of God ought to possess?  Pride and haughtiness? Or Meekness and humility?  
  • What Does it Mean to Be Meek?
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  (Matthew 5:5)
The word “meekness” is not a word commonly used in our everyday conversations.  The NASB and HCSB use the word “gentle.”  The NLT uses “humble.”  The Greek Lexicon defines it “to not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek.” Meekness does not mean weakness.  Sometimes it is translated as gentleness.  Meekness is an attitude of the heart, (1 Peter 3:4).  It does not mean to assert oneself for his own sake.  The word carries the idea of restraint, though one has the power to do something.  Wherefrom an individual willingly submits and accepts without any resistance to the will and desires of someone else.  The individual has ability and power but chooses not to use it.  He is willing to put himself in second place and submit to do what is good for others.  Thus, it is a gentleness of spirit.  Meekness is the opposite of self-will, self-interest, and self-assertiveness.  It is in no way a sign of weakness of character as many think, but rather of strength.  Meekness requires enormous self-control to submit to others.  One great example of meekness was our Lord Jesus.  He portrayed this attitude or character of heart in Gethsemane when Peter stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.  Notice what our Lord Jesus said to Peter:  “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”  (Matthew 26:52-53).

Here we see in Jesus the gentleness and humility that keeps Him from defending Himself or acting on His own behalf.  Jesus is showing us an example that demonstrates, that meekness is not conflict but restraint.  We clearly see that meekness is firmly tied to self-control.  Isaiah prophesied about the meekness of Jesus.
“He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”  (Isaiah 42:2-3).
Though Jesus was meek, He still had great power.  Yet, He showed a gentle spirit and self-control, doing His Father’s will and willfully surrendering to His Father.  Moses is another great example that showed the character of meekness.  Moses was very meek, above all men on the face of the earth, (Numbers 12:3).  Both Jesus and Moses were chosen by God to be givers of His Law.  So if you want to be happy, to be led by the Spirit, to avoid destruction and to be great examples of meekness like Moses and Jesus, you must work on your meekness and humility.
  • So, What is Humility?
It is an attitude or quality of mind, (Acts 20:19) by which a person holds low esteem or opinion of his own goodness and importance.  Spiritually speaking, one who humbles himself because of his sinfulness and thus is willing to depend on God to meet His needs.  It is the opposite of pride, haughtiness, and self-exaltation.

I.   MEEKNESS AND HUMILITY TOWARD GOD:

In the Bible, meekness is mainly represented as submissiveness toward God.  Meekness and humility require that we do the following:
  • Recognize Our Sinfulness:
In Luke 18:9-14 we read of a Pharisee who exalted himself and failed to see his sins.  On the other hand,  the Publican, pleaded to God for mercy, admitting he was a sinner.  Notice what verse 14 states, “for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”  Humility is the opposite of self-exaltation and self-righteousness.  We have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, (Rom. 3:23).  Hence, we have no right to look down on other sinners as if we deserve salvation just because we are so good and they don’t deserve it.  We humble ourselves like the Publican when we call on God to forgive us.
  • Depend on of God: 
In Deut. 8:3,11-14,16,18, we have Moses as our example of humility.  Moses knew that man lives not by bread alone but by the Word of God.  Our blessings come from God instead of our might and power.  It is wise to remind ourselves that we are nothing and are weak without God.  It is then that we will begin to depend on God to meet our needs, thus appreciating and exalting Him.  In Matt. 18:1-4, Jesus stated that the greatest in the kingdom is the one who is humble like a little child.  A child does not just forgive but is dependent on his parents.  So humility leads us to trust, appreciate and glorify our God rather than exalting self.
  • Submit to God’s Laws:  His Word
We must be willing to do what God commands.  To do that, we must accept our weaknesses and our failings.  When we obey God, we will believe in Him and do His will.  Moses is our best example of meekness and faithfulness, (Num. 12:3,6,7).  He did according to all that Jehovah God commanded him to do, (Exo. 40:16).  He built all things according to the pattern shown to him, (Heb. 8:5).  Jesus is our other example of meekness and humility.  He came to earth as a man and humbled Himself, becoming obedient, even to the point of death on the cross, (Phil. 2:8).  He was without sin though He was tempted in all things like we are, (Heb. 4:15).  Jesus left us an example that we should follow Him.  He did not sin nor was any guilt found in His mouth, (1 Peter 2:21-22).  Both Moses and Jesus are recognized highly for their meekness, humility, and obedience to God.

So, what is the application for us?  That we must put away all lawlessness and wickedness showing all meekness toward God.  Moreover, we must be doers of God’s Word and not just hearers.  This demands a lot of meekness and humility of heart.  God resists the proud in heart but gives grace to the humble, i.e., He will exalt you.  Therefore, we must submit to God’s will, draw near to Him, clean our hands, purify our hearts, mourn and weep because of our sins.  That is true humility in action, just as in Jesus’ life (1 Peter 1:22).  It can be accomplished only when we humbly submit to His will and hold ourselves in low esteem.  Repentance is often associated with humbleness of self, (1 Kings 21:27ff; 2 Chr. 7:13; Isa. 57:15; 1 Peter 5:5-9; Prov. 15:31-33).  In Matt. 16:24 we find an excellent definition of  “meekness” without using the word.  To be meek is to deny self.  The selfish one says, "I want this,  I want that…. " The real meek in heart says,  “What does God want?” “Is this according to God’s will?”  The meek will always consider his will last and God’s first.  So we must question everything we do in word and deed as to what effect it will have in God’s service to Him.  Then we will do what pleases Him.

Obedience is humility toward God's Word.  God's Word dictates what's right and wrong and pleasing to God.  “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”  (Isa. 62:2).  Humility to God's Word is to have an open heart to heed His Words. Humility does not try to justify our actions or sinful habits.  Rather it conforms to the will of God and thus is transformed.  It is arrogant to think that our views always have to be correct and that we have nothing to learn.  Humility toward God's Word implies that we be willing to change our beliefs or prejudices in the light of the Scriptures.
  • Accept Life’s Circumstances According to God’s Will:
The meek and humble in heart will embrace persecution, abuse, mistreatment, suffering and hardship without complaining, rebelling (against God) and doubting God's wisdom.  He will humbly accept this reality knowing that it is for God's good purposes.  Moses is one of our examples here.  Though he encountered many problems (his people complained about his poor leadership even though he was doing what God told him to do), he still submitted to the will of God.  I wonder how many of us would have stood for that?  He did!  That is why he was called the meekest man on earth!  Numbers 12:1-3.

Jesus is our other example.  He was led as a sheep to be slaughtered, (Acts 8:32-33; Isa. 53:7f).  Do you suppose it was hard for our Lord Jesus to go to the “slaughter"?  Did that take meekness?  What do you think?  Jesus said, "Not my will but thine be done.”  He left heaven's glory, humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross.  Does that not require plenty of humility and meekness?  Does that not demand both humility and meekness to willingly leave all of heaven's glory to come to earth as a man and be abused as a criminal at the hands of wicked, evil men, so that He might save us?  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!!

So, what do you suppose is the application for us today?  Jesus is our perfect example of humility and meekness.  We must learn to submit to suffering just as He did.  Do you think you have suffered as much as our Lord and Savior did?  I doubt it!!  So, why is it then that we find it so easy to complain and rebel against God when we have problems and trials?  We know, (do we not?) that God often allows circumstances to chasten or discipline us that we might develop our muscle of humbleness, submission to His will and dependence on Him.  All this has but one purpose, to perfect and mature us.  It is good for us in the end.  I can assure you of that!!  So, why try so hard to control your life?  Why not choose to turn to God and trust Him?  Hardships help us to become more humble.  Why?  Because we can easily see our weaknesses, knowing that we cannot solve them on our own, so we humbly turn to our Father in heaven for help.  It is in the midst of my trials, failings, and sufferings that I have learned to appreciate Him and see my desperate need for Him.  And I am so grateful to Him that He is there to rescue and deliver me from all my foes and trying circumstances!! Be aware that our God is not to be blamed for all of our problems and sufferings. Some problems are caused by sin, but others just come our way by chance.  Like Job, there is no sin, but still, God allows Satan to cause us hardship.  Satan is the one responsible for many of our troubles.  God uses them to refine us of our impurities like the potter does the clay and to humble us.

In 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Paul's thorn in the flesh kept him from overly exalting himself.  Satan was the root of the problem and not God!  But God indeed allowed it to happen and remain for Paul's good.  So, our trials and troubles are good for us in that it keeps us from becoming proud and self-reliant.  Thank God for our trials, sufferings, and hardship!  They make us better Christians to the glory of our Father.  Hardship is good for us when we endure it with faith.  The humble and meek are aware of this fact and willingly submit to God instead of rebelling and being bitter or angry at Him.
  • Resist Error and False Teaching With Meekness:
Some wrongly believe that a meek person cannot speak up against error or sin.  Often, when one rebukes others because of sin, some have the tendency to think that he is self-willed, stubborn, pushy, wants to exalt self and get his own way.  Sadly, there are many out there who want to change the image of the church because they stubbornly want to oppose an active stand against error.  They tell us, We shouldn't be so forceful in telling people they are wrong or are sinning."  “We need to be more meek and loving.”  They refuse to acknowledge that even Moses and Jesus resisted error and false teaching.  Take for example Moses who became angry at the sins of his people, (Exo. 32:19,20,26-28,30).  He openly told them they had sinned and called for disciplinary action right away.  Yet, he was the meekest person on the face of the earth!  This is a meek man in action!  There's not the slightest conflict between being meek and opposing error.  The conflict exists in the minds of many because they misunderstand the concept of meekness.  Jesus openly condemned the sins of the Pharisees, (Matt. 15:3-9,12-14).  The Pharisees were offended.  Did Jesus apologize for rebuking them?  Not at all!  He instead went ahead and called them blind guides, telling His disciples not to follow them.  You supposed Jesus should have apologized for not being meek enough?  In Matthew 23, Jesus rebuked them and called them hypocrites, sons of hell, blind guides, fools and blind men, whitewashed tombs or sepulchers, full of hypocrisy and lawlessness, brood of vipers.  “How shall ye escape the judgment of hell?”  These are the declarations of a meek man!!  He who said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.”  Indeed, Jesus our Lord was without sin.  Thus, there is no conflict between meekness and the sharp rebuke of sin, calling each sin or group by its name without any guilt whatsoever, (John 8:41-47; 54-55).

So, what is the application for us?  Meekness demands that we also correct and oppose sin and false doctrine in others who are doing wrong, (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).  We are commanded by God to point out to them their error or wrongdoing in meekness.  Meekness leads us to point out to others their errors and wrongdoings.  Isn't it something that the same Scriptures that require us to be meek also command us to correct others as well?!  Meekness like love must always be exercised toward God.  Like Moses and Jesus, the one who is meek wants to see God's will be respected and obeyed and that demands that one speak out against error or sin.  Are you meek and submitting to God's will?

II.   MEEKNESS AND HUMILITY TOWARD OTHERS:

Meekness and humility toward God are essential to pleasing Him.  That same meekness and humility lead us to be meek and humble toward others as well.  Meekness and humility are vital to our relationship with others.   It will require us to:
  • Submit to Civil Rulers:
Men are to be subject to all manner of human authority.  In Titus 3:1-2, we are commanded to be meek (gentle) and humble toward men, (verse 2).  Likewise, we are told to submit and obey rulers and authorities.  In I Peter 2:13-15, we are told to “ be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors...”  Why shall we submit?  It is God's will.  Humbly submitting to God's Law will lead one to submit to rulers meekly.  So, why is it so hard to submit to laws?  Why would someone cheat on his taxes?  Why then disobey traffic laws?  Because we refuse to submit to what the law says and want to do what we want.  We are self-willed and unwilling to yield and deny self.  Meekness and humility are necessary to avoid this kind of attitude of heart, setting aside our will.
  • Wives Are Called to Submit to Their Husbands:
Wives are called to submit to their husbands.  In 1 Peter 3:1-6, God repeatedly commands that wives are to be submissive to their husbands.  He also requires them to adorn themselves with a meek (gentle) and quiet spirit.  So, why is it that modern women, even Christian sisters, deny the concept of submission to their husbands and that a man is the head of his household?  Why are there so many women unhappy and rebelling against following their husbands' headship and leadership?  I can think of a few reasons.
  1. First, the husband is selfishly misusing and abusing his authority.
  2. Second, he is failing to treat his wife with honor and respect as the weaker vessel, (verse 7).
  3. Third, some wives are stubborn and have a hard time following their husbands’ views even when the husbands are respectful.  Peter says explicitly that wives ought to obey their husbands even when they are not obeying God's Word, (verse 1).  How about that!    
So, why is it that women struggle with this concept of submission?  Because in a feminist world it is humiliating to have to do what a man says.  Feminism has brainwashed many women into thinking that their ideas are just as good as his.  Feminism says, “I've got my pride.”  “I can stand up for myself.”  But guess what?  God demands that women have a meek and quiet spirit. Likewise, children must submit to their parents; employees to their employers.  Meekness and humility are needed to put a stop to stubbornness and rebellion.
  • Honor Others Rather Than Exalting Self:
God commands us to practice humility and meekness toward others.  It is accomplished when we submit to each other.  Paul instructed us to submit to one another in the fear of God, (Eph. 5:21). Peter said, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”  (1 Peter 5:5).  In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul conveys this attitude of humility much better.  “3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” 

The one who is humble considers others as more important than himself and looks out for their best interests.  Our marriages will work properly when both spouses are seeking out the best interest of each spouse.  A friendship will work well when each is seeking out the best interest of the other person.  A church will work rightly when each member is seeking out the best interests of others.  It is important to grasp that our focus cannot be on ourselves, but rather on the well-being and interests of others.  To put this into practice, submission is vital.  Humility yields to the interests of others.  
In Romans 12:3, we have been instructed not to think more highly of self than we ought to think but to think soberly.  “Think so as to have sound judgment.”  So, why not be honest and realistic when attempting to evaluate self in comparison to others?  It is easy to be deluded into thinking that we are more talented than others, have more abilities, better ideas, deserve greater honor than others. When in fact, this might not be the case.  So, why not admit to your weaknesses or shortcomings, especially your sins?  Sadly, people tend to ignore their sins or the gravity of them. 

Start appreciating the good qualities of others.  We have the bad habit of exaggerating our good qualities, wanting to receive credit for them.  But at the same time, we exaggerate the bad points, shortcomings, and failings of others.  The fact that others have different abilities and skills than we have does not make us more important and more worthy than others, (verses 4,5).  Why not then give all the credit to God?  Why not soberly think as God has dealt with each one of us?  Why not give glory to God?  Remember, we are not to be wise in our own opinion.  A humble person does not focus on making a big impression on others, boasting of receiving glory and honor.  The humble will associate with those whom he can help, even if the world does not highly exalt those people.  He rejoices and weeps with others.  Some turn green with envy and jealousy and are too proud to rejoice with those who receive honor and respect.  They think they should have been the ones to be honored.  Others are just too proud to empathize or feel sorry for those who are undergoing trials. They believe that they deserve their misfortune.  (Luke 18:9-14; 14:7-11;16:15; Titus 3:2-3).
  • Serves the Needs and Interests of Others:
The one who is humble has learned to inconvenience himself to help others.  He dies to his own desires to help others receive what they need.  In Matt. 23:11-12, greatness is measured by service rendered to others.  Rather than being measured by how much honor and authority one possesses, (verses 5-10).  The world says, “If you dominate and control others, then you are important.”  Are we really that great and worthy of being exalted?  Right?  God will only exalt us when we humble ourselves to do that which is good for others, regardless of what others think.  Service makes us great in the eyes of God.  But service requires humility.  Service is not doing good to other so that they can serve us later.  It is about doing what we know would help and is pleasing to God and the other person.  Therefore, we should count others as more important and better than ourselves, (Phil. 2:3).  “Let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”  Others' priorities must be more important than mine.  We need to learn to honor one another and respect and care for each other.  We must treat each other with respect and honor even when they don't deserve it.  God does not allow us to scorn others because of their weaknesses, failings or because they are younger or older.  Jesus is our example of humility.  Though He was in heaven with God, in the form of God, He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man, obeying to the point of death.  Why did He do all this? To meet our needs and to be of service to us.  Therefore, let us have this mind among ourselves, which is ours in Christ Jesus.  Jesus, our Lord, demonstrated this honor when He sacrificed His life for us and died on that cruel cross out of love and honor.  We did not deserve such a great sacrifice. And just as Christ honored us, so we are to honor one another with the same self-sacrificing love.
  • Help Others Overcome Sin:
Meekness requires that we not keep quiet when others sin but rather point out their error and wrongdoing.  However, the manner in which we do this will be affected if we don't practice meekness.  “6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”  (Galatians 6:1).  Therefore, we must teach with compassion and self-control to restore the other person.  Our primary goal must be that of helping him bear his burden and so fulfill the law of Christ, (Gal. 6:2). Remember, we are trying to help and not gloat because he fell or sinned, nor to remind him you were right (exalting self over him).  You are not there to hurt his feelings (he's probably already feeling bad because of his sin); that is not what you should be seeking.  You are not there to add more fuel to his problems but rather to help him solve them.  Bear in mind that everything must be done in harmony with the Word of God and with wisdom.  Our goal is to restore his soul and bring him back to God.  Let him know that.  Be compassionate and thoughtful and let him know you care for him.

Sadly, not all sinners will be satisfied with our good manner.  Some become angry no matter how loving and caring you are when you approach them.  Remember how much the people complained about Moses and Jesus.  It is vital that you examine yourself to make sure you're not selfish and self-righteous or too wise in your own opinion when trying to teach and restore those who have fallen in sin.  Under no circumstances seek to win an argument just to prove your opponent wrong.  Don't forget you have been in the sinner's shoes before.  You also have sinned and will do so perhaps again. Approach the one to be restored with the same consideration that you would want others to approach you with.  Be consistent with the Word of God.  This will remove sharp or vigorous rebukes and even anger and bitterness.  I don't deny that sharp rebuke is needed at times.  It is much easier to be compassionate to others when you remember you have been in their shoes before. 

Avoid quarrels at all cost.  Why?  Because God has commanded us to be meek and gentle when correcting our brethren as well as our opponents.  Notice what 2 Timothy 2:24-25 has to say regarding this subject.  “24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”  

It is crucial that we keep in mind that meekness is fundamental in teaching those who have been taken captive by Satan.  Our primary goal is to help them repent and to restore them to the flock and rescue them from Satan's snare.  Be helpful and have the right attitude as teachers.  We will be ineffective teachers when we have the wrong attitude and say, I'm right, you are wrong.”  I hope you will be able to see how great meekness and humility are when we are trying to defend the Truth and correct all error and wrongdoing.  Meekness is about being kind and not quarrelsome.  It is about being longsuffering, enduring evil even though we might be right.  We must avoid quarrels. Some argue just to keep from admitting that they are wrong.  They are not honest.  Why?  Because they don't care about one showing them the Truth but are just looking for anything to avoid conceding (accepting, acknowledging they're wrong).  Some get angry and lose self-control and say things they don't really mean at the moment but end up regretting later.  Remember, this could be you or me.  

Correcting error and teaching those who are antagonistic toward the Truth must be done in meekness and gentleness. When teaching about error and wrongdoing, it is vital that we grant the thought process of others.  That is, not responding with insulting words, saying he is an idiot because he can't understand evil, hell and is not able to grasp the point that you're trying to make.  Please, be meek and humble and above all be careful with your words!!  The same applies to our brethren. Why not try to put yourself in their shoes and understand the situation with great effort, reasoning with the Scriptures with all meekness and gentleness of heart?  (1 Peter 3:15).  Don't just argue without reasoning!
  
Every now and then some people just love to repeat the same arguments over and over.  They think that by talking longer and louder, they are going to win the argument.  How silly and foolish is that!! Use sound judgment and interrupt the discussion if you think they are not listening and are not sincerely heeding the evidence.  “Cool it” and wait until you and they are calmer.  Teaching is not about power.  We're God's instruments to let the Light of the Word shine through.  Teach with longsuffering and forbearance (tolerance).  Humility (lowliness) and meekness lead to longsuffering (patience) and forbearance, (Col. 3:12-13; Eph. 4:12).  Knowing this, why do you get angry and lose your temper (no self-control) when you're trying to teach and defend the Truth?  Why not seek to be meek and humble and continue in your efforts, instead of giving up just because the other person has disobeyed God's Word?  What would have happened to you and me if God had given up on us every time we failed to do what He's taught us?  Be wise!  Why not tolerate (forbear) those things or those we don't like?  Why not suffer the personal slights of those we're teaching?  Remember not to give up and retaliate, but keep teaching the Truth!  Understand that most sinners when rebuked will most likely turn on us and find fault when we're teaching them. Don't quit teaching even if you're tempted to do it.  Don't give up teaching just because you're criticized!  Indeed, it takes a meek and humble person to press on and keep on doing that which is good despite hardship.  Do you know that meekness and humility is also a characteristic of wisdom from above, (James 3:17)?  Wisdom is sometimes taking a back seat to others; putting the will and interests of other above ours.  Wisdom is listening to what others have to say rather than being argumentative just because we think we are right.  Take heed!
  • Strive for Unity, Peace, and Harmony:
“2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance (forbearance) for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  (Eph. 4:2-3)
Humility supplies peace and unity.  How?  A humble person is willing to submit for the good of others.  He does nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit but with humility regarding others as more important than himself, (Phil. 2:2-3).  On the contrary, the proud, conceited and arrogant man is too concerned about his ideas and ways.  He is not aware that this will lead to strife and division.  He is blind and not able to see that he's causing conflict (doctrinal) when he insists on following his foolish ways and way of thinking rather than God's ways and thoughts, (Isa. 55:8-9).  He will stubbornly insist that others accept his foolish ideas and ways. He refuses (not willing) to concede.  This will, of course, lead to conflict.  

The meek and humble avoids envy at all cost and is willing to yield, (James 3:13-18).  Alas, how often is peace ruined because of envy and jealousy!  It is worldly and devilish!  God's wisdom is pure then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. The proud is also envious when others receive honor and praise.  The meek does not care to be exalted or who gets the glory as long as righteousness prevails (good is done).  He will die to self for the good of others.

Meekness demands doctrinal purity as well.  To allow error to stand without challenge (correction) is not meekness.  Peace at any price leads to unity in sin. The meek will please God first.  He is willing to listen (reason) for the sake of the wellbeing of others, doing that which is righteous before God. Under no circumstances will he pressure anyone with his own desires and intentions to harm the church.  He is also willing to forgive rather than retaliate.  Meekness and humility are willing to forgive when others repent, (Col. 3:12-13).  He is aware that he too was a sinner and is ready to forgive others as they seek God to forgive them.  Bear in mind that God will not forgive us if we don't forgive others, (Matt. 6:12ff).  So, what is it that keeps so many from forgiving others?  Why is it that we keep holding grudges even when others have repented?  Why not bless our persecutors rather than taking vengeance on them?  Why try to “get even” and not make things right?  Why not make right the wrongs others have committed against us?  Why not be humble and strive for peace rather than vengeance?  Pride is the answer to all of these problems.  So, what is the cure to pride?  Meekness and humility!  

CONCLUSION:

God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud, (James 4:6).  God's grace is greater than man's sin,  (Rom. 5:20).  God's grace is not available to those who want to remain in sin and fail to turn from it.  The proud and self-centered person is primarily concerned with themselves and their own desires.  They are not willing to humbly submit to God and resist the snares of the devil, (James 4:7). God will indeed resist them and will not forgive them until they humble themselves.  Meekness and humility (submission to God) is the path to God's grace.  It is the remedy for pride!  It is the solution for selfishness, self-centeredness, worldliness and ungodliness.  It is the answer for religious division!  It does the will of God rather than what one desires.  It is vital to keep in mind that submission to God is also the remedy to all bickering, verbal conflicts, and spiritual unfaithfulness.  Submitting to God is a quality of humility.  The humble recognizes that God is greater and above ourselves.  He esteems others as better than himself, (Phil. 2:3).  The humble and meek will put himself under God's rule.  He will live by the Word of God.  He will do those things which please God.  We must learn to train ourselves to be humble toward God, His Word, and toward one another. Humility and meekness demand the renewing and transformation of our minds.  It is the only way to stand right before God.  Meekness and humility will lead to serving one another, knowing one another and honoring one another as God has commanded.

The meek and humble person puts God first, others second and himself last.  Pride leads to destruction.  Be careful of pride, haughtiness, and arrogance!  It is a dangerous little fox that can kill our souls and rob us of heaven and our reward.  It always leads us to fall away from God.  Pride is among those sins that God hates, (Prov. 6:16-19).  It is destructive to self, our relationships with others and mainly to our relationship with God.  Pride delights in boasting and is the greatest enemy of repentance.  It causes us to look down on others.  Pride spoils meekness and humility.  The one who is meek is gentle in spirit, disciplined and mostly self-controlled.  The meek and humble rule in God's kingdom.  The proud will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.  The meek and humble mourns over his sins.  He trusts in the Lord and finds delight in Him as well.  His hope is in God and not in the pleasures of this world, himself, his achievements or abilities. 

Meekness is not weakness or lack of power.  In fact, it assumes a state of power and strength that remains under control.  Authority is exercised with gentleness, putting the interests of others above our own.  It is essential that we practice humility and gentleness when correcting our brethren and are teaching the lost.  It will reflect wisdom from above that God requires of us.  We are commanded to help others in the spirit of gentleness and not use our power or strength to our own advantage. Husbands are to submit their own interests to the best interests of the family.  Fathers are to humbly submit their authority to rear their children in the way of the Lord.  Wives, are to submit their own interests humbly to the best interests of their family.  We are to control ourselves with meekness and humility.  The meek and humble heart is willing to receive the Word of God and allow it to mold and transform his life.

So if you are struggling with pride or even arrogance, beware that there is more hope for a fool than for you.  Start diligently humbling yourself under the mighty hands of God, that He may exalt you.   Remember that “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.”  (Prov. 16:19).   So, where do you stand before God?  Are you living in pride or arrogance, thinking that there will be no Judgment Day?  Are you living as if you are in control of everything?  Are you relying on God and not yourself?  Are you too proud to admit your faults or sins?  Are you too proud to humbly ask forgiveness?  Are you too proud to go to that person you have sinned against and admit to him that you have sinned or done wrong?  Are you too proud to say “I am sorry” when you are wrong?  Are you too proud to speak and associate with certain brethren?  Are you too proud to associate with those who are below you?  Are you too proud to forgive those who sin against you?  Are you too proud to teach the gospel to the lost, the homosexual, the alcoholic, the prostitute, in a few words those who practice lawlessness? Is pride taking control over your life?  Are you proud in your pride?  Are you proud in your speech?  In your plans?   Are you too proud to let others know you are a Christian at your job, school, everywhere?  Does your life live up to God's standards of meekness and humility?  Are you putting the needs of others above your own?  Are you submitting to God with all meekness and humility and correcting your sins?  Are you exercising meekness and humility toward God?  Be honest and answer those questions and repent accordingly!

May we cultivate meekness and exercise humility rather than pride and arrogance.  May we humble ourselves before God and others that He may exalt us.  May we serve, honor, respect and learn from one another with humility and meekness of heart.  May we never under any circumstances allow pride to cause us to sin against God and others.  May we have a humble and meek heart to admit our weaknesses, sinfulness, and unprofitableness and repent of them. May we honor others, serving their needs and interests rather than exalting ourselves.   May we never drift away from God's path because of pride.  May we never allow pride to destroy our relationships with others and especially with God. May we help others overcome sin with meekness, compassion, and self-control.  May we always show a gentle spirit, acting according to God's principles of righteousness.  May we appreciate God, trust Him and give Him the glory rather than exalting ourselves.

Luci