Yesterday we talked about vanity and presuming upon tomorrow. I got a lot of responses testifying to how this has manifested itself in a number of lives. Last night I got a text from my best friend since the sixth grade and brother in Christ Don Roberts asking for prayer for one of his church brothers who had just been killed in a motorcycle accident. Please continue to be in prayer for the Pena Family as they deal with the loss of Juan.
This morning I was thinking back on the times I’ve presumed upon tomorrow and I realized that it was more than just vanity and basic pride. It’s much deeper than that; it is spiritual pride. What’s the difference? I’m not sure in this short time I can juxtapose the difference so let me just explain what I mean about spiritual pride, some obvious and some not.
In the Book of Job we see an amazing discourse from men who are sure they know what God intends for their and each others’ lives. They feel confident speaking for God, to the point they contradict one another because they believe one to be more in tune to God than the other. In Job 33 Job’s friend Elihu contradicts Job for believing he did not deserve his fate:
“But please, Job, hear my speech, and listen to all my words. Now, I open my mouth; my tongue speaks in my mouth. My words come from my upright heart; my lips utter pure knowledge. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. If you can answer me, set your words in order before me; take your stand. Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay. Surely no fear of me will terrify you, nor will my hand be heavy on you. Surely you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the sound of your words, saying, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me. Yet He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks, He watches all my paths.’ Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words.” (Job 33:1-13)
Thank goodness young Elihu was there to straighten out the other four! Just look at the level of superiority and self-confidence he has that what he’s about to say is of such importance and so wise. And this has nothing to do with his age; I am more than capable in my present age of coming off as spiritually superior than I was a few years ago. And my confidence is stronger than ever! This is the epitome of spiritual pride.
Look at what Elihu says: he condemns Job for saying that he is “pure, without transgression” and Job rightly claims that he is innocent and without sin. Don’t take my word for it, take God’s:
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:6-12)
It was God Almighty who declared Job a blameless and righteous man. As far as Job knew, he was pure and without sin, that is unrepented sin. Could Job have been guilty of spiritual pride? Of course, but not in the manner of which Elihu is speaking.
In the New Testament we have the very familiar passage of the Pharisee and the tax collector:
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)
We become judgmental when we compare ourselves to others. If I look upon someone else and declare them out of the will of God because of how much in the will of God I am, then I am being judgmental and self-righteous. I don’t even have to try to do this; it comes naturally for me. I sometimes forget this about myself. Why is that? Oswald Chambers gives a clear reason for it:
It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harboring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage? We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves, it is the last conceit to go. The only One Who understands us is God. The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit.
“Lord Jesus, give me the courage to look into myself. Lord, reveal to me all the spiritual pride that I am harboring and desperately hanging onto. Help me to understand that I do not understand myself. Only you understand me God. Cleanse me from the curse of spiritual pride that I may be pure in heart. I pray this in your name Jesus, amen.”
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers