Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pride

Now, if I'm not mistaken, the worst sin is pride. Satan fell because of it. It's the sin that makes us hard-of-hearing spiritually. It's the sin that makes us fall into comparative mode. We Christians can't stand adultery, won't put up with all sorts of stuff. But this pride thing...in our church every week...and do we get upset? No.

Weirdly, sin is something we cannot ask God to rid us of. Actually, most of the time when we ask God to get rid of a sin, we're asking amiss. For the most part, we are the ones who are called to cooperate in getting rid of our sins. We do this by reading the word and the word purifies us. For the most part we collaborate with God in purifying ourselves. But the sin of pride is pretty much tossed into our court. That's because it's a sin that takes credit for the work God has done. Let's say the Lord helped us get over adultery...if we aren't careful we'll be proud of ourselves. This leaves us in the situation of being proud of our holiness and totally forgetting that God did the work in us. We are told over and over to fight against pride -- pride of life, pride of wealth, pride in our social position..but especially spiritual pride. So all those prayers -- "Oh God, please let me not be proud!" -- just don't cut it. It's a sin we have to set our energies against. Let's do it. It's in our court.

Now why should we do this? Because there is a curse upon those who have spiritual pride. St Paul says wherever the cross is rejected, we are under a curse and we also have carnality. Paul defines carnality as arguments over denomination. If you're in the kingdom you crucify the flesh and its carnality... you say I am above denominations and arguing as to which set of laws and which denomination makes me better than you.

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Once one ends up in legalism one ends up with a cursed life. It's a tough walk...not sinning and yet not using the grace of God for lasciviousness. We must do good because God is good and because He loves us. But we must not fall into legalism and trust in our good works. Legalism only breaks God's church into tiny little pieces, each with their own scattered sets of laws which they can use to say they are better than other folks. God doesn't care if someone is Catholic or protestant or seventh day adventist. He cares about his son. We preach Christ crucified. We are determined to know nothing except Christ crucified.

11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

And faith boasts only in the work of God.

The purpose of the cross is to bring us to the end of our works, our wits, our wisdom, our self-righteousness, our selves. We find Christ is the wisdom and power of God only when we come to the end of ourselves. The foolishness of God is the cross, the strength of God is the cross. The cross is totally weak and totally foolish in man's eyes. But when we come to the end of our wisdom, our righteousness, our strength, we realize the cross is stronger than man's strength and wiser than man's wisdom. And how can we be proud of our wisdom or our ability to endure and follow the standards we set up for ourselves? God has given us the mind of Christ and his own righteousness. To try to add our own righteousness and wisdom to that is like being given a wonderful garment and being unwilling to give up our old filthy rags.

We have come into the Promised Land but we have let a lot of the canaanites hang around. What does God do in that situation? As he did in the old testament, he did in the old, he sends a thorn of flesh to buffet us to keep us humble. Poor Paul! No chance for him to fall into pride with God allowing a messenger of Satan to stir up trouble for him wherever he goes.

Let us avoid pride. God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. But pride invites destruction. We can't expect God's grace to help us if we can do things ourselves. But strangely you don't hear Paul or any of the apostles saying anything negative. What they did say is: I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me. I can do all through Christ who lives in me. It's a tough balancing act. But God has asked us to to it.

It is not our effort. No tree brings forth fruit by effort. We as Christians cease from our struggling, our sins, our good works and yield to Jesus. It is Jesus in us, the hope of glory. It is immanuel, God in us. So let God lead and live in us. Let God prune us. (Never ever ever let a human prune you. Jesus says God is the pruner.) Only the cross releases the grace and the power of God. We can't follow any rules unless the grace of God helps us. And if we have pride we don't allow God to live his life in us.
-C
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