January 7, 2014

Deceitful pride = idolatry

After a quick read of the following verses, I thought that the idol to be confronted today would be the love of comfort, but after reading it again, this goes deeper than comfort . . .

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21–23)

Peter’s value system did not include suffering and death, at least not for Jesus, yet considering how Jesus rebuked him as if it were Satan speaking, this is a universal lie. No one wants to suffer. Some think Christians should never be sick or have trials, but Jesus was open to the will of God, yielding His own will in humble obedience. He did sweat drops of blood over the prospect, but He was committed to do whatever God asked, giving up all rights to-self comfort and even His life. He taught the disciples to have that same focus, not on self but on God.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24–26)

Satan is all for self. He determined to make himself like God, even bypassing the way God transforms those who trust Him. However, his own way didn’t work for him, and it doesn’t work for anyone else.

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 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.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12–15)

In pride, I think I can transform my life. I have tried by doing my best, making resolutions and gritting my teeth in determination. However, this does not work . . .

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)

Just as I could not save myself, I cannot make myself into a new creature. This is the work of God. To suppose I can do it reveals my pride and self deception.

Realizing pride also brings to light other realities. Even as a saved person who thinks that I love the Lord with all my heart, I can stray from Him into self-rule, self-determination, and self-preservation. I used to wonder why I would do such things, particularly after all that God has done for me. But then I remember what the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). 

Such folly shows me how much I need the Savior to guard my heart and keep me close to Him. If I could do it myself, Peter would be correct and Jesus didn’t need to die.

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