Monday, August 27, 2007

Emerging Arrogance

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;"
--2 Timothy 3:1-4

Daily we are inundated with a flood of evangelical literature and e-mails and website postings that all indicate a crazy new form of arrogance flaunted by Christian leaders. Much of this is new doctrine -- under various guises, with inventive interpretations that suit the need of the moment. Perhaps nowhere is this most evident than in the new teachings on so-called "servant leadership."

But before we point the finger, we need to look within. Anton Bosch's most recent devotional focuses within first. How much of the leaven of our age has permeated our thinking, our beliefs, our lifestyles, our doctrines, our practices, our interpretation of Scriptures? See for yourself. . . . .

Arrogant: Who, Me?

Do you think you are humble? Have you overcome pride? If your answer is positive, then you are arrogant and proud! Only those who continue to be aware of pride in their lives have any hope of being humble. Those who think they have achieved humility have missed it by a mile.

“But pride is a small sin in comparison to murder, adultery and addictions.” Well, that’s what most people think. But pride is the worst of all sins and lies at the root of all other sins. It prevents the sinner from seeking God’s grace and forgiveness (Psalm 10:4). It spoils our relationships (Proverbs 13:10) and stops us from learning anything (1Timothy 6:4). Pride was behind the fall of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-14) and pride was part of the equation that led to Eve eating the forbidden fruit (1John 2:16). Pride caused Cain to slay Abel and pride prevented the Jews from recognizing their Messiah.

We cannot begin to understand how destructive pride is to every aspect of our life. And we do not comprehend how it infiltrates every area of our emotions, thoughts and actions. Pride is not a minor flaw of our personalities – it is the most evil and most pervasive of all sins.

We need to see how God views pride if we are to understand how serious it is. James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5 both say: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” These verses do not qualify the statement by saying that God resists the unbeliever who is proud. God resists all who are proud – believer and unbeliever alike. Romans 8:31 says that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” But the reverse of this verse is too awful to contemplate: If God is against us, who can help us? And God is against the proud. So who will help or defend them. God says: “The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5). This is not a minor “problem” this is the worst of all sins and must be eradicated from our hearts.

The Tempter has always been very good at rebranding and repackaging sin in more acceptable guises. Thus pride has been renamed as self-assurance, self-worth, self-esteem good self-image, self-confidence, assertiveness, coolness and so on. But it is all the same old ugly sin of pride. (Any word that has self in it is simply another word for pride.) Churches have been so deceived that many are preaching that pride is a good and acceptable quality and that Christians should be confident and have a good self-image. This is not the message of the Lord, but the message of the Devil who seeks to bring everyone under the same condemnation that he is under (1Timothy 3:6). Already in the Old Testament Malachi spoke of those who camouflage this sin as a positive quality when he said: “So now we call the proud blessed” (Malachi 3:15).

Solomon says that there are six things that God hates, and seven that are an abomination to Him. The first of these is “a proud look” (Proverbs 6:17). Proverbs 16:5 says: “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” Pride is so serious that it is listed along with all the other filthy sins as evidence of a reprobate mind (Romans 1:30, 2Timothy 3:2).

Just as the law of gravity determines that what goes up must come down, God’s laws determine that all who are proud will be brought low and will be humbled. There are literally dozens of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament that explain that pride will always lead to humiliation and a fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19). “A man's pride will bring him low" (Proverbs 29:23).

Many modern churches are more concerned with growing their numbers than preaching truth. Thus their preachers continue to build people up in their boastful arrogance since that makes people feel good and brings them back to the church. Preaching messages that reveal the sin of pride, self-achievement and arrogance are unpopular and therefore are seldom preached. That is why many modern Christians are deluded into believing that God is happy with their arrogance and why few seek true humility.

To aggravate this problem, most preachers swagger about in their egotistical conceit, filled with their own self-importance. Thus they set an example which the believers falsely assume to be signs of greatness! Personally, I have no interest in meeting ministers and pastors since I mostly come away from such meetings disgusted by these displays of self-importance and arrogance. Even when the preacher is not preaching, it takes a few minutes of observation to figure out who the pastor is. How can we identify him? By the self assertive way he handles himself and by the way people kowtow to him. This is certainly not the example Jesus set and has more in common with the attitude of Lucifer than of Jesus. May the Lord have mercy on His church!

One of the delusions that flow from pride is that we think we can hide it under a cloak of false humility. But like the elephant hiding in the strawberry patch, pride cannot be hidden. It is always glaringly evident no matter how humble and meek we try to act. For some reason humility is the hardest thing to counterfeit. The falseness of fake humility is always glaring as pride shows through the veneer of servanthood. When an arrogant person tries to act humble he looks like a 300 pound man trying to wear a toddler’s clothes – it just does not fit.

The message of the Bible is one of brokenness, humility and meekness. The very foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3-5). Jesus said: “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Only the humble receive grace (James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5). David got it right when he said: “A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17).

The blinding effect of pride is probably most evident in your life by the fact that as you read this, you are thinking of how it applies to other people you know. Be honest now. Have you read these paragraphs and felt instant conviction? There is hope for you. Have you read these paragraphs and immediately thought that it applies to others more than to yourself? If so, you are in serious trouble and you don’t even know it!

The Truth:

"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:4)

Evangelism: Only the Spirit Can Give Sight

"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." --2 Corinthians 4:3-4

The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it. A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. In his autobiography Franklin recounts in some detail how he listened to the mighty preaching of the great evangelist. He even walked around the square where Whitefield stood to learn for himself how far that golden voice carried. Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist's prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted....

The inward operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary to saving faith.

The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men.

A. W. Tozer
From: Renewed Day by Day, Volume One