Pride and Humility

Scripture: Isaiah 14:12-14, Daniel 4:28-30
Date: 07/07/2007 
Do you struggle with pride? Do you wish at times that you were more humble? What does the Bible say about pride and humility?
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. Happy Sabbath. I again want to extend a special welcome to any visitors that may be worshipping with us this morning. I know we have a number of friends who are guests at Weimar. Our friends, I think, that were here with us last Sabbath that drove all the way from down by Sunnyvale are back today, drove all that way for church. Can you say amen? Bless their hearts. It’s just so good to see each of you. It’s a high day in Zion. Last year they had a bunch of apocalyptic movies that were going to be released on 06/06/06 and so people who were into the occult made a big deal out of that date 6/6/06 kind of like 666. This year someone said, Well, you realize this year in July we’re going to have 7/7/07? And so some pastors got together and said, “Why don’t we make that a time of spiritual emphasis?” and then this Global Rain concept was born, and here at Central church we’ve been… and you know it’s another reason it’s a special day? happens to be Karen’s birthday, 7/7/07, and her father’s birthday also. Karen was her father’s birthday present. So today is Ed and Ed is a twin so it’s his sister’s birthday too, and it’s probably someone else’s birthday if there’s over 365 of you here. In any event it is a high day in the Batchelor family and today they’re having a live broadcast that will be on 3ABN this afternoon so I will be traveling down to Fresno and at four o’clock the broadcast begins. I think some will be gathering in the chapel. They’re going to receive the feed on 3ABN. A number of pastors will be down there. Pastor Stephen Boll will be speaking. Pastor Igor Meyers, some other pastors, Steve Walberg will be there and then yours truly. So I appreciate your prayers. I will not have the opportunity I usually have following the service to greet and to visit because I need to quickly commute. Fresno is a hundred and seventy miles so I need to get down there for the program. I hope you understand.

In the last few weeks, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have felt impressed to deal with some Christian basics. Last week we talked about the Two Roads. This week we’re going to be talking about some very simple things that are somewhat of a paradox and that is the subject of pride and humility. These are opposites but they are two principal characteristics of the primary players in the great controversy; pride being the central motive of the devil and his minions, humility a primary characteristic of Christ and His followers. So we’re going to look at some of these things. It probably is a good idea to begin where it began sort of the birth of sin. It was born in the bosom of pride. Turn in your Bibles please to Isaiah chapter 14. In Isaiah chapter 14 is one of the prophecies that talk about how the devil became a devil. God did not create a devil. He created a beautiful angel by the name of Lucifer. He was the highest of the angels, the leader of the heavenly choir.

Matter of fact, of all of the created beings, the only beings that are not created are God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything else was created by God. All of the other intelligent creatures were created. Lucifer was the greatest, the highest, the most intelligent, the most powerful of all of the created beings. He was the chief of the ministering spirits of God, leader of the angels, but because of all of these features he began to be proud of the essence of what he had. You read about it in chapter 14 of Isaiah, verse 12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” The aspirations of the devil all revolved around me, myself, and I. I, I, I, I. If you look in the book of Ezekiel, turn with me to Ezekiel 28 you’ll find a little more information on what led to Lucifer’s fall and some of these characteristics. Then we’re going to break it down. You’ll find out the very things that led to the fall of Lucifer still contribute to the fall of those who do not have the Spirit of the Lord.

You can read in Ezekiel chapter 28, it says in verse 17, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings…” So you can actually back up in verse 14, chapter 28, verse 14, I should have started sooner. No, I should start verse 13, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.” Commentators believe this is a reference to his beautiful, melodious voice leading the angelic choir. “You were the anointed cherub who covers…” One of the covering cherubs by the throne of God, the ark of the mercy seat so to speak. “I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,” God created a perfect angel, “till iniquity was found in you.” He sinned. He wanted God’s position. I would be like the most high. I, I, I, and that’s one of the principal characteristics of pride. The devil had pride of power, pride of prudence (his intelligence), pride of possessions, and pride of appearance and position. We’re going to evaluate that and there’s a number of examples in the Bible where these mountain peaks of pride and temptation that affect everybody in some capacity or another. Someone once said “Pride is like a compass that constantly points to self.” It’s the supreme point of selfishness. Pride is the dragnet in which the devil captures the most Christians. The spirit of the world is manifested in selfishness which usually demonstrates itself in pride. The spirit of heaven is love and humility which is the opposite of pride.

Now as we evaluate these you’re going to find there are a lot of examples where kings and leaders were overcome with pride in these different areas. Have you heard the expression before “Power corrupts, absolute power…” does what? “…corrupts absolutely.” Power does have a corrupting influence because power gives you attention and it points to self. You’ll notice a lot of those who fell through pride were people in positions of power kings and leaders starting with people who were proud of their success. Nebuchadnezzar is our study for this particular subject. You remember Nebuchadnezzar has this dream of a tree and the whole world is fed from this tree and it’s a very great tree and all of the birds find roosts in its branches and the beasts shade under its boughs and the tree is cut down and he doesn’t know what this dream means and his wise men can’t tell him. Finally Daniel comes, he hears the dream and he says, “King, you are the tree, and you’re going to be cut down. My advice to you is to break off your sins by showing mercy on the poor, by doing righteousness. It might be a lengthening of your tranquility.” Well, the king was convicted by this and he decided to humble himself and to be kind and to be caring about the poor. That lasted a little while, but pretty soon he resumed his very arrogant ways. Babylon was getting bigger and bigger.

They were winning their battles on every side. He was watching all of his building projects become realized and as he walked one day on the balcony and he surveyed this incredible golden empire his heart was overwhelmed and he said, “I’m the one that did this. I am the one. Through my wisdom and my energy and I am a great success. I have arrived. I’m king of the world.” By the way, you know who else said that? Mohammad Ali. I remembered a story, just came to me, when Mohammad Ali was riding on an airplane in first class and he was very gregarious and outspoken and the flight attendant came by just before takeoff. She said, “Sir, you need to put on your seatbelt.” He said, “I’m superman and superman don’t need no seatbelt.” She said, “Yes, that’s true, and Superman don’t need no airplane either and so you should probably put on your seatbelt.” So Nebuchadnezzar is walking on his balcony. (I understand that he’s a very humble man now because of the adversity he’s been through.) He said, “This is a great kingdom.” And right then, you can read about this in Daniel 4:30 “The king spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’” Sound like the devil? “While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.” Now you might underline that in your Bible, “The kingdom is departed from thee.” Pride will make the kingdom of God depart from me.

While the word was still in his mouth the voice echoes from heaven as if to say there is a connection between your proud statement and the judgment about to come. God was making a very clear connection. All of a sudden his wisdom and intelligence that had been a gift from God was gone. He began to drop down on his knees and then all four like a beast. His eyes began to roll around in his head and he went mad. They didn’t know what to do because he was the king, but he was insane, and so they sort of put him out to pasture and he actually went out and ate grass like an ox. His fingernails became long and curled like an eagle’s claws; his hair became dirty and matted it says like eagle’s feathers. It just means it became matted, and he basically became an animal for seven years and at the end of seven years God suddenly decided I’m going to remove the curse. I’m going to lift the cloud of confusion. I’m giving back his clarity. I’m going to give him his intelligence and now he knows it’s a gift from Me and the first thing he does when he gets his wits back is he praises God for everything. The last thing we know about Nebuchadnezzar is he had humbled himself before the Lord. He’s praising the Lord and we have reason to believe he will be in the kingdom probably due in part to the intercession and prayers of Daniel. But because of his pride of his success he lost everything.

Then you’ve got those who are proud of appearance. Some people are blessed with good taste. Some are blessed with good looks. Because of their attractive appearance and their choice of clothing and they just they’re winning that list of the best dressed and they like to parade as they go from place to place and are very conscious of that and they’re proud of their appearance. Now I think Christians should take a certain amount of attention to being neat, to being clean, so that we’re not a distraction, but I don’t think that Christians should spend a lot of money needlessly on apparel. We should not be extravagant. We should not be flamboyant, but you would be surprised how many people even in the church are slaves to fashion, what’ in, what’s not in. They’re reading Glamour magazine. They want to know what’s acceptable. What are the colors this year? What are the designers releasing? We’ve got a king in the Bible that also fell in that area. You can read in Acts chapter 12. This happens right on the heels, Herod the king, he kills James the apostle, puts Peter in prison. God miraculously delivers Peter from prison and Herod is embarrassed.

He leaves town and it goes on to tell us in that same chapter where he tries to fight against the church of God that he makes a speech down there near Caesarea, and he’s dressed up in royal robes. Probably got little gold sequins like Elvis glittering in the sun. The people that were listening to the speech were a little bit intoxicated. I guess they’d had a potluck first and they began to say, “It’s the voice of a god and not of a man. Wow! Look at him, splendid in the sun.” And as Herod heard that he knowing that was blasphemy should never have taken the credit that belongs to God, but instead he thought, “Yeah, I really do look like something, don’t I? You notice the new robe? In style, Nordstroms.” Right then the angel of the Lord came and smote him and he was suddenly doubled over with terrible agony. By the way, this is written in the history book of Josephus and it says in the Bible the angel smote him and he was eaten of worms. Josephus said that he was eaten by maggots. He had ingested something that was contaminated or he got some kind of tape worms. Who knows? But suddenly there he was beautiful on the outside, corrupt on the inside. Doesn’t Jesus talk about those who are like whitewashed tombs that are beautiful on the outside but full of something decomposing on the inside? Pride in the sight of God eats you from the inside out.

By the way, you know what the Bible says about how the devil is going to fall? “I will bring forth the fire from the midst of thee and it will devour thee.” From the inside out Satan is going to be consumed. This is how Herod perished, in great distresses Josephus says. He was so proud of his appearance. He took the prerogatives that belonged to God. He wanted to be God when they said it’s the voice of a god and not of a man. You know that’s what pride really does. What was the first temptation that the devil took to Adam and Eve? “If you eat the forbidden fruit you will have your eyes opened and you will be like God.” He was trying to superimpose on them, he was trying to implant in their hearts and minds his own desire to have God’s position. All pride is really a form of idolatry where you make yourself the object of worship. I want to say that again. All pride is really a form of idolatry where you make yourself the object of worship. Before I take this too far, while I’m talking about proud of appearance, and by the way, Jesus says, “First cleanse the inside of the cup and the dish and the outside may be clean also.” Sometimes we put all of our attention on the fashion and the outside, proud of appearance, we’re not concerned about what is the inside like? Flattery, while we’re talking about pride of appearance.

You’ve got to be careful about complimenting the external. Now it is appropriate, and I think we should be appreciative, and I think we should be gracious and as Christians it is nice to sometimes offer to a person a little bit of encouragement and say you look nice today. I don’t think there is a lady here that doesn’t like occasionally having someone notice that they’ve done a nice job decorating or that their appearance is nice. Everyone appreciates that kind of complement. I’m not talking about that. I think that’s good manners, but sometimes people go over the top and they gush and they flatter. I think we’re especially guilty of that when it comes to children, and we just make such a deal over the outward appearance that they begin to think that’s what their worth is. Somebody said one time that modesty is the triumph of mind over flatter. Job 32:21 “Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; nor let me flatter any man.” It’s not talking about a complement. Someone once said complements are like perfume; sniff, don’t swallow. You’re taking too much. You know the Bible says honey a little too much makes you sick. So we’ve got to know how to do this appropriately. Somebody else said flattery is artificial sweetener. You don’t want to take it too far.

In the book Child Guidance, if you take notes this is page 178, there is a statement here I thought is worth considering. “Self will and pride are evils that turned angels into demons and barred the gates of heaven against them and yet parents unconsciously are systematically training their children to be agents of Satan by inculcating within them pride.” We ought to as far as possible try to encourage them, but also encourage humility. Now this is a very delicate balance. How many of you have heard about people who are struggling with low self-esteem? With your children you want to encourage their self-esteem. I do think it’s important for parents to give encouragement for the sake of people striving to do better, to improve, especially if someone is struggling in some area. If the kid’s room is constantly looking like a terrorist bomb went off in a suitcase and finally they make an effort to clean it up a little bit, say, “Hey, your room looks much better.” Give them some encouragement that their efforts are being noticed. That is appropriate, but when you go over the top and you start to say, “You’re so smart. You’re so much better than everybody else. You’re the best looking kid on the block.” You’ve got to be careful because what do you think that builds in them? They attach their value to those things.

Some people struggle with what they call low self-esteem, but when you really think about it you know what low self-esteem is? It’s a lot of self-consciousness. Some people their low self-esteem is really pride on steroids. They are so preoccupied with what everybody else thinks of them that they’re insecure all the time. Well, they’ve got to stop worrying so much about what everybody else thinks of them. The solution is not to constantly feed their ego. Did you hear that? Some people who struggle with low self-esteem, it is really a problem of being preoccupied with what everybody else thinks. The solution is for them to get the victory over that preoccupation rather than you have to constantly feed that black hole of their pride. I think that pop psychology today has got everybody so preoccupied with affirming and encouraging and building up everybody else and some cases what we’re doing is we’re just helping people who are already addicted to themselves; we’re giving them one more fix. Where, if we’ve got the mind of Christ, you need to have that balance. Christians should not think too much of themselves, but at the same time you ought to realize what you are in Christ. There’s a balance there. So that also plays off in the idea of flattery.

Another struggle. Some people are proud of their position. What about that? Did the devil, was he struggling with what his position was? Haman in the Bible is our case study on being proud of your position. You remember in the book of Esther Haman, boy he is exhibit A in pride. You remember the king one time couldn’t sleep and so he starts reading through the chronicles and he hears that Mordecai has saved his life from assassination. So the king is musing, “What shall I do to show some thanks and gratitude for what Mordecai did in saving me?” Right about that time Haman is consumed with anger because Mordecai won’t bow to him so he says, “I’m going to go to the king and I’m going to ask for the king to give me permission to hang Mordecai from the highest gallows. Matter of fact, I’ve already built the gallows.” He was so presumptuous. So he comes in to the king. Before he can speak and make his request known, the king says, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here. I need to ask you a question. What shall be done for the man who the king delights to honor?” Haman thinks within himself, “Well, who would the king possibly want to honor more than me? Who would he want to promote more than me? I mean, he’s already promoted me to the highest position next to him. The only next position is if I could have his position.” I have a theory that Haman was already plotting the king’s assassination. He was thinking, here the king is getting ready to honor Mordecai for saving him from assassination, and Haman is wishing he could be king. So you know hwat he says.

His heart, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Haman says, “I can tell you what you should do for the man who the king delights to honor. (After all, who would he want to honor more than me?) Get the king’s horse the king rides on and get the king’s robes that the king wears and get the king’s crown that should be on the king’s head and then get one of the king’s most prominent officers and parade this person up and down the street on the king’s horse and say, ‘Thus shall it be done for the one whom the king delights to honor!’” It sounds to me like Haman wanted the king’s position. He wanted the king’s horse and the king’s crown and the king’s robe. What’s left but the king’s throne? Am I right? Can you imagine his shock? The Bible says “a haughty spirit goes before a fall.” When the king says, “Sounds good to me. Take everything that you just said and I want you to do it…” and he’s thinking he’s going to say for me. He says, “…for Mordecai your enemy.” Oh, he went out of that place overwhelmed with humiliation. He who exalts himself will be humbled. Mordecai who put God first, he is exalted.

That story is a great example of what the fruit of pride is. Some people are very proud of their position. Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Mark 9:33 the disciples kept silent when Jesus said, “What were you arguing about?” Why? “…they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.” What did they mean by that? They were already beginning to argue about who would hold what position in Jesus’ new kingly cabinet. Judas said, “Look, I’ll be treasurer.” James and John said, “We’ll sit on the right and the left as His advisors.” Peter and Andrew said, “Wait a second! Why you? Why not us?” And pretty soon they’re all arguing about what their position was going to be in this new kingdom of God. Isn’t that interesting? They had no idea what was required. Matthew 23:11 “he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be abashed” (humbled), “and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” When you’re invited to a dinner Christ said, “Do not look for the seat of prominence,” but you say, alright look, I’m willing to take one of these side back seats. I’m willing to go to the peanut gallery. You take one of those seats, and He said it is better for someone to say, “No, no, no, you deserve this seat, this position of prominence,” rather than to have them say, “Look, you can’t sit in that chair. I’ve got someone important in that chair.” If you exalt yourself and try and strive for position, you’ll be humbled. You humble yourself, you’ll be exalted.

Do you feel like you’ve been passed over at your job? Other people maybe who did not do the job as well or who have not been there as long or did not have the seniority or the training, suddenly you are passed by because of some favoritism and they were given the position. Don’t let it bother you. Be content to serve where God has put you. Let others exalt you and not yourself. Christ in His time will lift you up. You take a humble position, you take a humble attitude and say, “Lord, I’m going to serve You faithfully where I am. I’m going to put my promotion and my status and my rank in Your hands and when You see fit (if You see fit) I’ll accept whatever position You put me in.” When you strive and you claw and you try to manipulate and you connive and you email to try to get yourself, you campaign so that you can get elected to the next highest position that doesn’t please the Lord. Leave that in God’s hands and you’d be surprised. God will defend you. He’ll fight for you. If you try to get the highest position for yourself you might find it backfires. You could get demoted. Leave it with the Lord. He sees what’s going on. Better to let Him do it than to do it yourself and have it backfire.

I mentioned this I think at prayer meeting this week. It’s often true, one of the most stressful times of dispute in a church is when the nominating committee gets together and people’s positions are chosen. You’d be surprised how jealously some people feel about their position, and I’ve seen some churches (Praise the Lord! not this church.) where members are ready to take each other by the throat over serving Jesus and who gets what position. “How dare you put them on the decorating committee? They have no taste at all! I’ve been on that committee for years. That’s my position.” Leave it with the Lord, amen?

That leads me to another position. One of the most deadly forms of pride of all is spiritual pride. Luke 18:10 we’ve quoted this many times. Jesus tells a parable. “Two men went up to the temple to pray,” both members of the same church going to the same temple, “one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” One is considered the religious austere a conservative. The other, he’s sort of out in the world. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” That’s prosperity preaching, and it’s this “name it and claim it” theology and it’s all about if you worship Jesus, He’ll do this for you and He’ll give that to you and you’ll win that and you’ll get this and you’ll expand your borders and it’s all about “What’s in it for me?” Now the best thing that can happen to a soul is what will happen for God.

When you become God’s territory you’ll end up being happy in the process, but the bottom line is you belong to God, you live for the glory of God. It’s all about God. Every time it starts becoming “What’s in it for me?” And it’s okay. God does things that we pray about, but when you’re really converted, why do you ask for anything for yourself when you’re really converted? It’s so you can give it back to God. If you ask for anything for yourself, if you ask for the salvation of your kids, why? So they can live for God’s glory. If you ask for any success or prosperity for yourself, why? You know we all want more convenience, we all want more comfort, but ultimately it should be so I can better serve Him, so I can better witness for Him. It really should be about God. That’s the ultimate goal that we want to arrive at. “But the publican,” he stands “afar off,” doesn’t feel worthy, “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’” The only time he says “me” is in connection with “a sinner.”

Spiritual pride is some of the most deadly and dangerous forms of pride. In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, page 154, “The evil that led to Peter’s fall, that shut the Pharisee from the communion with God is proving the ruin of thousands today. There is nothing so offensive to God, so dangerous to the human soul, as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” It is the sin of Laodicea. When the church says, “I am rich and increased with goods.” What’s that? That’s pride. God says, “You’re poor and wretched and blind and naked and you don’t know it.” The more proud you become, the more poor you become. The more humble you become “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The two things are at war. Never are you more like the devil than when you are proud. Never are you more like Jesus than when you’re humble because that was one of the greatest demonstrations of His character. Matthew 6:1 Christ said, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” Do you ever think when the offering goes by, “I wonder what others are thinking of what I’m putting in?”

You don’t need to answer that. Jesus talked about the Pharisees who went to the temple. They would blow a trumpet before they dropped in their bag of gold so they would get the praise of men. Were they giving to God or were they giving for their own benefit? Some people when they give they want other people to know that they’re giving and they start to manipulate and attach strings to how the money is spent. It’s not just an anonymous benevolent gift to God. They want to still control the gift somehow because they want everyone to know it’s from them and really it’s not a gift from the heart to God. Jesus, one of the first things He took His volleys at when He began preaching, He said, the hypocrites do these things because of pride. They do religious things for proud reasons. They give to be seen. They fast and they could look so pious and they would try to make their faces look gaunt and they’d scruffy up their hair and they’d kind of drag their feet down the street and some would say, “What’s the problem?” “Oh, I’m fasting. I’ve been fasting for days now because I’m spiritual.” They’d fast to be seen of men. They weren’t doing it for God’s benefit.

They were doing it so others would think how spiritual they were. Spiritual pride. It’s really the sickest form of pride because they’re doing it ostensibly to serve God, but really serving the devil because they’ve got the devil’s spirit while they’re serving God. Pride is from the devil. Praying to be seen of men. Praying these long prayers. And Jesus said that they’re robbing widow’s houses but they pray long prayers for pretense and they were going to get the greater damnation because of that. Spiritual pride. How can the disciples be fighting among themselves about position in God’s kingdom? Isn’t there something wrong with two Christians strangling each other about who gets what position to serve Jesus? I went to pastor a church one time when I was a young pastor. I never will forget. I was still very idealistic about how exciting it was to be a Christian and that Christians were saints and I saw the head elder and the head deaconess get into a wrestling match.

It was a small church and there were only about three members and of course two of them the head elder and head deaconess were two of the three. It’s true. And they were trying to throw each other physically out of the church. Standing at the door. I think the deaconess won because she was bigger. I thought to myself what is wrong with this picture? Here they are physically trying to throw each out of the church and they both claim to love Jesus who said, “Love you enemies,” and they can’t love each other. They both, when I talked to them alone, they both felt justified in what they were doing. Pride. Before I forget, what do you think causes most disputes in church where people can’t forgive each other? Somebody is offended and their pride is offended and they just can’t let it go, they just can’t forgive. They say, “I’ve got to make a statement. Got to teach them a lesson, and if I give in they’ll think they’re right.” So what?

In marriages I bet the greatest percent by far of marriages that crumble is because somebody hurt somebody else and they can’t forgive. They won’t humble themselves, say, “I love you. I’m sorry.” Some people have gone through the divorce and permanently separated and just be… and they would have gotten along, they could have reconciled their relationship, but they just could not admit they were wrong and because one or the other could not admit they were wrong they ended up with this impasse or standoff that ended up in divorce or separation. Pride. Too proud.

Friends who may have been friends for years have some falling out because one can’t admit they’re wrong because they’re proud. You know one of the first things you do as a Christian is you admit you’re wrong. You humble yourself and you repent and you confess to God, “I am a sinner.”

Spiritual pride. Jesus said, “Beware of scribes that desire to go around in long robes,” (pride of appearance again) “they love the greetings in the marketplaces” the titles rabbi, rabbi “they love the best seats in the synagogues and the best places at the feasts to devour widow’s houses and for a pretence they make long prayers. These will receive the greater condemnation.” Spiritual pride. If I were to name the kings of Israel, let me test you. King Uzziah, good king or bad king? Principally a good king. You read the record it says he walked in the commandments of the Lord, God was with him, God blessed him, he was successful, had victory over his enemies, he built all these great buildings and even made these machines of war and he was a very successful king, the longest reigning, second longest reigning king of Judah. Manasseh reigned longer. Uzziah reigned fifty-two years. Can you imagine having one president fifty-two years? But you know at the end of his life because success, building, power, position, it all began to work on him over the years and everyone said, “Oh, king, live forever! You’re so good. You’re so great. God is with you.

You’re successful.” And even though God had blessed him, the blessings of God backfired because he took the credit himself. He thought, “You know I can do anything I want. I’m king. Matter of fact, the only thing I can’t do is I can’t go into the temple because I’m not a priest. Wait a second now. God is with me. I can do what the priest can do!” So one day Uzziah, knowing that the Bible strictly said only the priest were to burn incense he said, “Look, I can do whatever I want. I’m king.” He took an incense censor. He walked into the temple and he said, “I’m going to do the work of the priests.” The priests saw the king walk into the Holy Place and they said, “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here. You’re not a Levite; you’re not a son of Aaron. It is not for you.” He said, “I’m the king!” And all of the priests gathered and they made a physical wall. I don’t have time to read it all to you. You can find this in your Bible II Chronicles 46:14-21. Finally the priests made a wall and they said, “You’re not passing us. This is not going to be for your honor. What you’re doing is against God.”

He thought, “Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m the king!” You think how could such a good king suddenly get so bad? Pride. And while he was in a rampage because they had the audacity to stand against the king and say, “You can’t enter into the Holy Place,” leprosy popped out in his forehead and they then physically took the king and they said, “You’re a leper!” And lepers weren’t supposed to be in the temple. They threw him out. And the king went and found a mirror and he realized he had leprosy and he was overwhelmed with grief and humiliation. For the rest of his life until he died he had to dwell isolated quarantined because of his leprosy. It started out as spiritual pride. He thought he could do anything, even spiritual things, and it turned into leprosy for that king.

How did Saul finally lose the kingdom? More concerned with what the people thought than what God said. He was listening to the people, and he went to offer sacrifice. He was supposed to wait for Samuel who was a Levite, who had the right to offer sacrifice, but he said, “Look, I’m the king. I can do what I want.” When Samuel finally came and he saw that Saul was taking the prerogatives that belonged to the priest, he said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m the king. I’ve been chosen by God. I’m the anointed.” He said, “You’re going to lose the kingdom now. The kingdom is going to depart from you.” You notice the kingdom was lost to Uzziah because of pride? The kingdom was lost to Nebuchadnezzar because of pride; the kingdom was lost to Saul because of pride. King Herod died because of pride. Is the Lord maybe trying to tell you and me that a lot of Christians are going to lose the kingdom because of pride? We need to learn to humble ourselves before the Lord.

Mark 15:9-10 Pride is what nailed Jesus to the cross. You ever thought of that? Why did they turn over Christ to Pilate? Mark 15:9-10 “Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?'' For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.” What is envy? Envy is being jealous at the success of another and it’s because a person’s pride is being wounded. Jesus was handed over because they were jealous. It offended their pride that without His education all of the people followed Him. Their positions of prominence were being threatened by Christ. Their pride was at risk. Pride nailed Jesus to the cross.

Well while we’re talking about the kings, proud of possessions. Hezekiah is our story here. You know this. We’ve talked about it many times. Hezekiah was sick, terminally ill. He cries and he prays that God will lengthen his life, God says, “I’ve heard your prayer.” Good king, he’s a good king. “I’m going to lengthen your life fifteen years and as evidence of that I’m making the sundial go back ten degrees.” God does something He had never done before or since. In the days of Joshua the sun stood still, but for Hezekiah it went backwards. All of a sudden all around the world sundials stopped and then they began to retreat and after they went back fifteen minutes they began to resume normal again. The astronomers in Babylon saw this. They said, “What in the world is the meaning of this?” and they enquired all around the world, they got on the Internet to find out what’s the cause for this phenomenon. Pretty soon some caravan reached them and said, “This is a miracle because of Hezekiah prayed. Isaiah…” They said, “We’ve got to find out about this God that can make the sun go backwards.” They send ambassadors to Hezekiah to find out about God, about Jehovah. Instead he thought, “Oh, you’re from Babylon!” that was the center of learning and intelligence and the sciences, “You’ve come to learn from me? Wow!” He felt maybe a little insecure.

He said, “I’m not as wealthy as Babylon. Maybe if they see some of my wealth they’ll say… Maybe I’ll get invited to their social functions.” His pride bubbled up. Good king, had pride in his heart. God needed to reveal it to them. It says he took them in and he showed them all of his armory and he showed them his treasures and he showed them his incense and he showed him the kingdom. And Isaiah said, “Where did these ambassadors come from and what did they see?” He said, “They came from Babylon to see me!” He didn’t think that maybe they came to find out about his God and the miracle. They came to enquire about God, but instead of them seeing God he eclipsed the vision of God with his stuff. All they saw was him and his stuff. I’ve told you stories before. I’ve been smitten when people come to visit me and they come to our cabin up in Covelo I’ve taken them on the tour to show them all of the solar electric and the independent power system and the gravity flow water. You know when we built our house up there and I found the flow I’m proud of it. I’ll admit it. Sometimes people come to find out about God and all they see is me. They can’t see God because I get in the way. All they see is my stuff. So the judgment comes from Isaiah. The Lord sends Isaiah to Hezekiah. He says, “I’ve shown them everything in my house.”

Isaiah says, “Everything you’ve shown them is going to Babylon.” They came to take something from Israel back to Babylon. They were supposed to take God back to Babylon. How different the history would have been, but now instead they’re going to take what they saw. People will want your treasure, by the way. Some people are proud of their stuff. People are going to want what they love and if you love your stuff they’re going to want your stuff. If you love your God they’re going to want your God. What is your treasure? People always want your treasure. If your treasure is your God, you’ve got plenty to share, don’t you? You can give them your treasure. If your treasure is your stuff, if that’s your kingdom you will lose the kingdom. Now you know the Bible tells us Hezekiah when he realized this, he humbled himself and so the judgment did not come on Hezekiah in his own day; it came on his descendants. Everything was taken to Babylon because he was proud of his possessions. Now I could talk about that a long time. We are living in the most materialistic age in the history. For one thing, if for no other reason, I’m not blaming you. It’s not your fault. You happen to be born in the generation where they can make more things now than they’ve ever made before. China is strewn with factories making stuff for us to buy. I challenge you to walk through Wal Mart and just look at the labels and see where everything is made. That’s just a side note. It’s not relevant except that they’re exploiting our materialism.

We’ve just got to own one of everything. If your neighbor buys something you don’t have, and these gadgets that they’re selling all of the time on TV, we’re constantly being bombarded with these messages to buy, buy, buy and you know I think at the heart of it is some of us don’t recognize our worth through God. We’re trying to raise our perceived value by owning valuables. We try to increase… we think that what makes us valuable is I’ve got a nice house. Most of us would be just as comfortable in much smaller quarters. The bigger your house, the more you’ve got to clean. Right? The more you’ve got to decorate, the more you’ve got to take care of. You go overseas you’ll find out how many people in one family can live in one room, and you come back home and you become ashamed of how much… and let’s face it, most of our homes are not filled with people. Most of our homes, the space in our homes is not full of people. Most of our homes are full of stuff.

We’ve become very materialistic and you begin to wonder if we’ve made a god out of our things. With the Lord it doesn’t matter so much what kind of car the person drives as what kind of person drives the car. I’ve said this before, but I think it’s an interesting quip. In the world they put the status on what kind of house the family owns, with the Lord it’s what kind of family lives in the house. In the world it’s what kind of dress did she wear on the red carpet, and God is more interested in what kind of woman is wearing the dress. We’ve got all of our priorities backward because the devil has twisted them around and the focus is on me. He lost all of his possessions when he became proud of his possessions. I Corinthians 4:7 “that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?” Job said, “I came into the world naked, I’m going out naked.” You don’t really own anything. Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul?

Then there are those who are proud of how much they know. They are proud of their intellect; they’re proud of their genius. And who knows? Maybe it began to play on Solomon later in his life. He thought he was so smart, pretty soon he began to marry all of these wives and the wives turned his heart away and he began to do some really dumb things. Finally at the end of his life he realized it was all vanity because all of his treasures and his earthly kingdom would be left behind. Some are proud of their wisdom. Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Someone once said when the head swells, the brain shrinks. Now I believe in education. I think we should always be learning. I wish I had spent more time in school learning.

I’ve got a hungry mind, but when you become proud of what you know, one thing I’ve discovered is it only takes a moment for the Lord to allow you to make a fool of yourself because even the most intelligent person is capable of some really dumb things. You can humiliate yourself if you start trusting in your wisdom. Right when you start thinking you’re really smart, God can make you look the other way. Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.” And please don’t forget I believe in education, but it wasn’t the fishermen who crucified Jesus, it was the PhDs who were very into their own rationalization and interpretation and we know now looking back they were all wrong. One of the arguments against Christ is they said, “None of the educated religious leaders have acknowledged Him as the Messiah. If they don’t think that He’s the Messiah, how could He be the Messiah with all of their intelligence?” Well, they were wrong.

A lot of intelligent people in the world today who believe in evolution, but they’re wrong and someday they’ll find out. Say amen. Thank you. I Corinthians 1:27 “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…” You know one of the other downsides of intelligence, I believe in intelligence, but I believe that it must be taken with humility. When a person starts thinking they’re so smart, they can’t learn anything. It’s hard to teach them anything, they’re so sure of themselves. One of the problems with people who are trusting in their intelligence and proud of their intellect, you can’t tell them anything. They become very arrogant and conceited. Jeremiah 9:23 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me…’”

You know I’ve talked a lot about pride and I want to finish here talking about the opposite of that. This is the spirit of the world. We’ve talked about pride of possessions, pride of appearance, pride of position. The Bible tells us that it’s humility that is the characteristic God wants. In our memory verse it said “to do justly, to love mercy, and to…” what? “…walk humbly with thy God.” One of the first things the Lord had to teach the children of Israel before He brought them to the Promised Land, He took them from Egypt. They had to wander. Why did they have to wander? Deuteronomy 15:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,” we need to remember where we came from. He goes on to say in Deuteronomy 8:3 “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” God humbled them so that He could save them. Job 22:29 “When they cast you down, and you say, `Exaltation will come!' then He will save the humble person.” Psalm 25:9 “The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.” Psalm 37:11 Jesus quotes this, “But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Matter of fact, the love chapter, you know what it says about love? “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” That’s the NIV. Love is humble, real love. It’s the opposite of proud. God gives more grace to the humble, James 4:6, therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but (He) gives grace to the humble.” You’ve got those two things that are opposed to each other pride and humility. Now having said all of that, here’s something I think that is important for you to understand. You must choose humility. You can choose to be proud. You can choose to be humble. The Bible never says that you should pray that God will humiliate you. The Bible says “humble yourself.” Humble yourself. God can allow you to go through an experience that will be humiliating, but it still won’t humble you. One plague after another came over Pharaoh, but would he humble himself? You have to choose to humble yourself. Humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up. You can choose not to be proud. You can choose not to live for yourself, not to think about yourself. You can choose the mind and the attitude. You can choose the spirit of humility. That’s a choice you can make. As you do that you give God permission to do wonderful things in your life. God sometimes will allow adversity to come to teach us humility. Adversity has a tendency to humble us. The adversity in the wilderness humbled the children of Israel. The adversity or the plague that came on Hezekiah humbled him.

King Uzziah, the leprosy humbled him. II Corinthians 12:7 Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations,” Paul said, look, God has spoken to me. I’ve had an “abundance of revelations,” I could become proud of that and to avoid that from happening, “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” Why did God allow him to suffer? To humble him. You might be going through some trial right now. Everybody has varying degrees of trails. What is one of the main reasons that God often allows us to go through trials? It might be some trial in relationships, some trial or distress that you’re going through physically like Paul. It could be a financial challenge, something unexpected. Why does God often allow adversity? To help us realize that we’re not in control, that we are not God, that He is God, to humble us and help us realize how much we need Him. Proverbs 27:6 sometimes God will use other people to humble you. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” I praise the Lord for my wife.

Sometimes I’m doing something and I think, “Wow! I did a great job,” and I’m feeling pretty good about myself, and Karen will bring me right back down to earth and she’ll say, “Doug, do you realize you got your words mixed up here or you completely left out the verse you were talking about…” Something like that, and it’s like the Lord is using her to balance me out and say, “Maybe you aren’t as spectacular as you wanted to think you were.” Faithful are the wounds of a friend, it might wound a little bit, but if it’s given in love, that’s good. God allows that sometimes to humble us, and we need to know how to receive those things, when they come, in the right spirit. Humility comes before greatness. Now I hope to live and reign with Christ someday, but that’s never going to happen unless I’m humble now. Moses, who is now in heaven next to Christ, he didn’t take a fiery chariot, but you know I think one reason the Lord did take him, the Bible says, Numbers 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very meek…” Some of your versions say “very humble, above all the men who were on the face of the earth.” Think about that. He had the opportunity to live in the palaces of Egypt.

He could have had the whole world bowing down before him; he could have been looking upon the pyramids when they were still glistening with their golden façade in the sun. That’s when Egypt was still in its glory. He could have been the king of all of that. He walked away from it because he wanted to serve God. Humble man! But now he’s on golden streets, isn’t he? Now he’s in the presence of Christ. That’s better than the pharaoh. He humbled himself and God lifted him up. Before greatness must be humility. He is greatest among you, Jesus said, must first be your servant. Before a butterfly flies it’s a worm, and we need to realize our status if God is going to lift us up.

You know, in closing I think probably I should talk about how God exalts the one the most who humbles himself the most. God will humble the most the one who exalts himself the most. Who is going to receive the greatest humiliation of any creature in the universe? Satan. Why? Because he wanted God’s position he exalted himself more than any. He is going to be humbled more than any. He who is walking next to God on gems by the throne of God, God is going to bring forth a fire from the midst of him and put him down in the pit and he is going to be in the lake of fire. He is going to be demoted more than any. Who humbled Himself the most? Jesus. See the devil wanted to go from creation to creator; he’s going to get the opposite. Jesus was the Creator becoming creation to save us. He went from the palace down to the pit to save us; He will be exalted the most.

These two principals and you’re going to model one or the other, everybody here, you are going to be following in the pattern of one of the two. These two principals are acted out in the existence of Christ and the devil. Philippians 2, my last verse, verse 5 to 11, “Let this mind be in you…” Remember you must choose humility. You must let it be in you. It wants to be in you, you’ve got to let it. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself…” Yes, you can. You can choose to humble yourself. It might mean apologizing to somebody because you’ve been too proud. It might mean just accepting what your position is in life and saying, “Lord, I’ll serve You wherever You put me.” You know what that means. Christ “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We will become like the One we worship. If we worship the king of humility God will give us the mind of Christ. We must let that be in us. I want to be more like Jesus, don’t you? These two motives, these two characteristics are at war in everybody’s heart. The selfishness and the pride and it manifests itself sometimes through our position our appearance our possessions. You know what that is, our intellect, we’ve got to be right. We’ve got to be in the position of power. That all comes from pride. We need to ask the Lord to help us be like Christ, to give us His Spirit. Is that your desire? That’s mine. I would like to be like Jesus and that’s going to be our closing song, More About Jesus 245. Let’s stand together as we sing about our Master. 245.

More about Jesus I would know, More of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.

In a moment we’re going to sing verse three and I’d just like to give you an opportunity to act upon what we’ve heard this morning. Maybe you’ve detected some of the challenges in your heart and some of your anxiety and some of your dissatisfaction is springing from just pride. Pride is never satisfied but always wanting more, wanted to be more, be better, own more, and it’s just not the mind and Spirit of Christ. And you’d like to ask the Lord to forgive you for the pride in your heart, it might be unforgiveness or some dispute, to give you the mind of Christ and that spirit of humility. “Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth.” Maybe you have some special request you’d like to bring to the Lord. Ask Him to give you that mind, to liberate you in that area. As we sing verse three come to the front. We’ll have special prayer for you. Let’s sing this. This song is to be sung fast. It’s an encouraging song.

More about Jesus; in His Word, Holding communion with my Lord; Hearing His voice in every line, Making each faithful saying mine. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.

More about Jesus; on His throne, Riches in glory all His own; More of His kingdom's sure increase; More of His coming, Prince of Peace. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.

Uzziah, Saul, Herod, Nebuchadnezzar and others lost the kingdom because of pride. Moses turned his back on the world’s kingdom. Mordecai put God first. Joseph and others I could name found their way to the throne because they humbled themselves. There are these two motives and everybody here is going to find themselves either in the kingdom of God or out of the kingdom of God based on the Spirit and mind of Christ or the spirit of the devil. I pray the Lord will forgive me for my pride. I trust you’re not exempt and that’s also the prayer of your heart. Am I right? Would you like to ask God to cleanse you from that pride, the pride of life that the Bible speaks of as one of the great sins, to give us the mind of Jesus? Let’s pray.

Dear Lord, we bow our heads before You right now. We ask You forgive us for our pride. Help us to have the mind and the Spirit of Jesus. We pray with that publican bowing our heads and saying, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Help us to realize without You we are nothing, that we must first recognize that before You can lift us up. Lord, we want to live in Your kingdom. We know that it’s the meek who will inherit the earth. Help us to have the Spirit of Christ, that meekness, that humility, that we are willing to lay self aside and to put Jesus on the throne in our hearts. We pray, Lord, that You will forgive us, that You will lift us up. Pour out Your Spirit on this church. Be with the remainder of this special Global Rain Initiative that there can be a revival among Your people that will be lasting. We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

You may be seated.

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