April 6, 2015

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble

Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; 2 Corinthians 3:1–8; Psalm 35:1–11

This morning I thought about God’s goodness in setting me free from the bondage of sin, and then feeling good about myself, that I was now better able to serve Him and to pray. I didn’t realize what was happening to my heart until I read these verses . . .

Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you . . . Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. (Deuteronomy 9:4, 6)

No matter that God has done great things for good in me, He still requires obedience. He says to Israel, “Now . . .  what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12–13)

Obedience is for my good, not so I can boast or be exalted, but so I can do what He says and be blessed. That blessing is not earned for apart from Him, obedience is impossible. So much for my sinful pride.

The NT reading follows right along with what God says to me in the OT. Paul is writing to the Corinthians and asks, “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation . . . you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God . . . . Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit . . . .” (2 Corinthians 3:1–6)

Paul could have justified pride. His ministry to the Corinthians had born fruit. This was marvelous, but he knew that whatever Christians do that is good and a blessing to God and others is because God makes us sufficient. By myself, I can do nothing. Even a little bit of pride is sinful and robs God of His glory. So much for my sinful pride.

Psalm 35 is a petition of David asking God to contend with his enemies that he might rejoice in the Lord. Verse 10 says, “All my bones shall say, ‘O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?’” (Psalm 35:10)

He sees himself in the same category as those who are poor and needy and being robbed, yet David is a wealthy and powerful king, not at all poor and needy. This is a strong example of humility. He had every reason to be proud (I don’t) but was humble (I’m not).

So much for my sinful pride.

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