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The Upward Way : Humility ::: Part1 (march 17, 2002)
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James 4:5-7a
James 4:5-7a

It is our duty to love God. This is to occupy our thinking, and is to be reflected in how we go about our duties in life.

God created man for good purposes. He allowed the deceiver to tempt man knowing man would rebel and choose dying and death over obedience and life. You might asked, why did He do this? We answer: What we can say is that He created man for a high purpose, and to accomplish what He desired He had to give man freedom of choice. Therefore, He permitted what took place in the Garden of Eden for wise and holy ends. He has given us a great deal of revelation regarding what He purposes for man; however, unless or until He gives further revelation in this matter we need to be careful of speculating beyond what we presently have been given. This we know beyond doubt, that while we were hostile to Him, He loved us. Jesus died for us; and He is ever at work to draw men to repentance and faith in Himself.

While it is true that except for Adam and Eve, all others of their offspring have been born with a nature to sin against God, He does not hold us accountable for the fact that we were born with a nature to sin. However, at some point in time, those who come to the age of accountability and know they do wrong, yet choose to do so, cannot opt out of responsibility by declaring they did not mean to do wrong. No indeed!

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
and every tongue shall confess to god. So then, every one of us shall
give an account of (concerning) himself to God. (Romans 14:11-2)

Every one, believer and unbeliever, shall one day give an account to God of what he has done in this life. The fact that each of us must give an account of himself to God makes it imperative that we endeavor to reach others about the justice, the mercy, and the love of God, so that they may be moved upon by God's grace to repent of rebellion against Him and to work to bring their thinking and their activities into line with God's will for each. There is also a measure of comfort to the Christian as His Divine judgment upon our works will not alter God's position toward God's child who has entered into eternal life.

To the truly caring, censorious actions are to be avoided by every Christian who claims to love Him. If we say we love Him why would we want to displease Him? We are called to walk in love before Him and this means in all our relationships with others.

If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness we are
lying and are not doing the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in
the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus
Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have not
sinned (or do not sin), we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:6-9)

We are buried with Him by baptism into death, that as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the
commandment, that, as you have heard from the beginning, you should
walk in it. (2 John 6)

Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as
Christ has also loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a
sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His
commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

Is it a burden to believe in the One Who died to set us free from our sins and sinning against love? Is it a grievous thing to be called one of His children? Is it a burden to love the one who gave Himself to free us that we might gain eternal life and live forever in sweet fellowship with Him? Can there be any greater joy or fulfillment in life than to stand in the circle of His precious family and to have His love poured out on us, to receive all the aid we need to live in truth, and to be able to talk with Him and He with us, and in doing so, to gain His perspective of truth in regard to all that is important to man?

With such a love to pattern our lives after, surely we need to realize it is our responsibility to warn others of the terrible consequences of living in rebellion against Him. All people need to understand very clearly that all men and women were born rebels against God and live in sin; that they are accountable for their actions, and that the only means of escape from the consequences of their sinning is through repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. They need to know that if they steadfastly refuse God's means of salvation and die unrepentant of their sinning, they will be condemned to everlasting punishment.

From what we at MIDHM have concluded from Scripture and found support and confirmation from the reports of others, especially Mary K. Baxter, there are no young children in hell. For a person to be held accountable he must understand that all sin is against the holiness of God, that man is born in sin and is therefore a sinner in his heart, but that God in His mercy to man has provided a way of escape from the condemnation of the law of God. However, the only way to escape the judgment of God is through faith in the atoning work of the Savior, Jesus Christ. See the wonderful love, mercy, kindness, and grace of God in dealing with sinful man!

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified
freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,
to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,
through the forbearance of God, to declare, I say, at this time His
righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of men. Where
is boasting then? It is excluded. (Romans 3:23-27a)

God gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live. (Ezekiel 33:11). God, Who is love, would not consign anyone to hell that did not have an understanding of the condemnation all men are under for sinning against Him, as well as revelation that He has made provision for the salvation of mankind. God waits with long patience for the precious fruit of the earth (James 5:7).

No one will ever be able to fault God for man's unwillingness to turn from doing evil.
Sinners sin because it is in their nature to sin.

• Sinners knowingly choose to violate the commandments of God because they
do not want to yield themselves to His laws.

They see the commandments of God, those written in their hearts, as a disagreeable obstacle to the gratification of personal desires and free self-expression, and as interfering with living life in whatever manner one may choose. The sinner focuses on the promise of pleasure in tasting of the forbidden fruits-the commandments which forbid them being offensive to the flesh in man. Man, being pleasure driven, chooses to ignore them and is deceived, hoping he can get away with tasting the forbidden fruit and refuses to consider there are hidden consequences which will prove bitter in the long run. He hopes he can violate the law "Whatever a man sows that shall he reap," and escape censure and punishment for his actions.

Christians do sin, very often even when they really don't want to; this because of failure to stay in the word of God, in order to maintain the strength necessary to resist the efforts of the flesh to gain satisfaction of its sinful appetites. The sin power that resides in the flesh is able to entice them to yield the members of their bodies to sin.

Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin,
but present your yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the
dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
(Romans 6:13)

It is important, therefore, for every Christian to regularly feed on the truths of God's word and also to put them into practice. God's child is to ever take account of what is true and honest and just and pure and of good report, of that which is virtuous and to the praise of the Lord (See Philippians 4:8), to treat these thing as being the genuine values of life, and not feed on those things that lead to corruption-serving only to feed the appetites of the fallen flesh in man. This is on the growth side. On the denial side, God's child is not to allow the allurements and fascinations of the world to steal in and entice into sin and draw him away from his commitment to Jesus. To do so can only be undermining to spiritual growth. The world's allurements and fascinations are to perish. It can be disastrous when these become the focus of life.

• It is the word of God and the Spirit of God that feed the soul of a man.

Only these can hold the soul of man in purity; therefore, it is important for each of us to continually expose our spirits to their influence. When we do this and trust Him, the Spirit of grace is enabled to help us resist the temptation to sin. The preparation of our souls is our part. If we would be pure we must do what God tells us to do; moreover, it is contact with Jesus that makes us whole.

Likewise, reckon also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive
unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign
in your mortal body, that you should give way to its lusts. Neither
yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but
yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and
your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall
not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law but under
grace…Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves servants
to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether of sin unto
death, or of obedience unto righteousness. (Romans 6:11-4,16)

We need to keep ourselves away from those things that war against the spirit of man. We need to guard our hearts and our thoughts from those things that would steal our commitment to Jesus. We need to lose our confidence in ourselves and rest our entire being on Jesus. Whatever your give yourself over to will determine whether or not you grow spiritually and whether you will be a useful vessel to the kingdom. This is a point Paul brought out: Why is it that (at times) that which I would not do, that I do; and that which I ought to do, I (sometimes) do not (Romans 7:15). It is true that many Christians sin because the thing they desire has such a strong attraction to them that they are not yet willing to turn from it. However, for those who have attained to the age of accountability, and have not accepted the Savior, it can be accurately stated of these that:

• Sinners sin not only because it is their nature to sin but because that is
their preference.

What we have been doing is laying some groundwork for our endeavor to help you gain a deeper appreciation of the need for humility in our Christian walk. Obedience to God and the true service of Him requires that a man humble himself before the Sovereign of the universe. From what we have said, surely you can understand that humility is not a natural endowment of fallen man.

• Humility does not seek to justify itself before God.

Humility is born of the knowledge that no man (outside of Christ) can justify himself in the sight of God. No one can come to God in his own virtue and demand anything of God as if he earned it. Consider the words of Job:

If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. (Job 9:20)

How easy it is for men to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. Many are they of fallen creation that do not hesitate to pursue a course of action without any consultation with the Holy Scriptures or with the Lord Himself, simply because they do not see the necessity of consulting with a higher authority than themselves. Yes, sometimes they do seek the opinions of others, but it is usually somebody other mature Christians. How tenaciously men and women will hold to their opinions against the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures, or the proven counsel of others! Such self-righteousness is native to fallen man.

All of us who are in Christ need to do much better in resisting the flesh. Although the flesh will not be totally ousted in this life, that does not mean that we need to sin. The Lord has revealed regarding those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord that sin has no power over any soul that does not want to sin. Even Christians who sin do so because they desire the fruit that sin offers. The Lord has revealed this:

• The key to safeguarding against sinning is to set one's love on pleasing
Jesus and to love to have His will done in all the little as well as in all
the big things of one's daily life.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:

There is perhaps no sin which has so much vitality in it as the sin of
righteous self (self righteousness). We can overcome lust itself, and
anger, and the fierce passion of the will better than we can ever
master the proud boastfulness which rises in our hearts and tempts us
to think ourselves rich and increased in goods, while God knows we
are naked, and poor, and miserable. (Humility And How To Get It)

Only the humble can approach unto God and attain His blessings. The proud He does not hear.

For God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble
yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may
exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares
for you. (1 Peter 5:5c-7)

Consider the centurion in his approach to Jesus, and the response it brought:

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick
and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the
elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his
servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly
saying that he was worthy for whom He should do this; For he loved
our nation, and he has built us a synagogue.
Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far away
from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him,
Lord, trouble not Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should
enter under my roof. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to
come unto You; but say a word, and my servant shall be healed. For
I also am a man sent under authority, having under me soldiers, and
I say unto one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes;
and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard these
things He marveled at him and, having turned to the multitude
following Him, said, I say to you, not even in Israel did I find so
great faith. And those that were sent, returning to the house, found
the servant well that had been sick. (Luke 7:2-10)

The greatness of this centurion rested in his humility before the Lord. It is worth knowing that although of a different nationality, he loved the Jewish nation and desired to please God, so much so that he had built these Jews of a certain community of Capernaum their synagogue for worship. This, indeed, was a pious man. He understood true greatness and recognized the greatness of Jesus. He showed great respect for His authority; recognizing it came from heaven, and that therefore, this great personage must Himself stand in some special relationship to the God the Jews worshipped.

Though the centurion was a high military official and a great benefactor of the Jews, He did not consider himself worthy to have Jesus come into his house. This man, in his approach to life, was open to what God was doing; and he had a respect to the dignity and the true needs of others, and of what was important and what was not. He must have heard of the teachings of the Lord, and the miracles wrought at His hand, and accepted Him at least as a great prophet. He showed a confidence in the words and the authority of Jesus, and that He was able to speak to things and whatever He declared would happen.

This centurion did not push his favored position with Rome in order to gain a hearing from Jesus. He remained in his own place of honor, showed his respect for the assignment and use of authority, and believed Jesus was able to do whatever He purposed. Truly a humble Gentile, and an example for all mankind as to how we are to treat our exalted Savior!

Do you think that the Scripture speaks in an empty way, The Spirit
Who dwells in us yearns to envy; but He gives more grace.
Wherefore he says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the
humble. Submit yourselves, therefore, to God… (James 4:5-7a)

The Holy Spirit in the believer yearns jealously for the safety and progress of God's child and is grieved when he is drawn away and makes friends with the world. He wants to keep us as true friends of the Savior. Humility will do this!

…….more next time