[i]by Evan Schaible[/i]
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence " (I Cor. 1:27-29)
It is astounding to me the arrogancy of man. In general - all of man. In particular - each man in particular. Perhaps the most wicked of all sin is pride. It can lead, like a lamb to the slaughter, even the most devout believer into the depths of apostasy. Man's nature is self exaltant, and man relishes in the rays of human applause. It is a scary thing when men speak well of you, it is even scarier if all men speak well of you, and the scariest of all things is when men, preachers especially, seek the applause of men.
The goal of the Christian life is not ministry, but conformity. Any person, believer and unbeliever alike can preach. We see examples of this in numerous pulpits all across our country - unconverted men preaching powerless sermons to unconverted church members and gaining nothing more than two-fold sons of hell seated in the pews. The blind leading the blind - both falling into a ditch. Preaching is useless if the preacher is not conformed to the image of Christ.
This is the goal of the Christian life: "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19) And this that we might "be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:30).
Anyone, as I said, can preach a eloquent sermon. With a few hours of study and a class in public speech you can produce an orator the like of Peter - but the one thing the assembly line preachers lack is unction. But man loves to be exalted and glory in his intelligence, his fine speech and his learning. But God abases these things and chooses foolish things to confound the fleshly desires of carnal churchmen who's only desire is to glory in the flesh, and in the presence of God. This is wickedness in the highest degree and many a man has fallen into it - it is deep seated in the being of man.
If God were to allow this pride to go unchecked in man - and exalt him in undue time by seating him at the left hand of God - that man in his pride would slip down off of his throne and sneak behind throne of God and thrust him through with a sword. He would not be content with the left hand of God - but rather yearn for higher power and would do whatever he thought necessary to gain more and more power and control. Unregenerate man seems to never be able to simply rest in the love of Christ and be content with that he has - but not only that he is always seeking power over his fellows and the praises of men. Pride is quite possibly the most deceptive of sins - and ensnares many a true believer.
If we have seen God high and lifted up, we will have also seen ourselves in all of our sinfulness and self-centerdness. And we will also realize that we will never be anything other than we were - and that Christ must be formed in us as we have no goodness, nor any righteousness in us apart from the goddnes and righteousness of Christ. "No flesh shall glory in His presence" and until we are quickened and renewed we are hopeless and without God in the world.
We are to be like Jesus - "meek and lowly". Christ is our example and our aim - not man - but Christ. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" our Lord says. To be poor in spirit is to realize that we are nothing, we can do nothing, and no matter how hard we try we will never be able to earn our way into God's favour. "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66:1,2). God doesn't look to the one who has the largest ministry; or to the one who has seen the most conversions, but to the humble and contrite man who trembles at His words. God doesn't need what we have - his hands have made all things. He desires that we yield ourselves to Him and let Him work in us all the fullness of Christ.
We cannot plead our own righteousness at the throne - for we have none to plead. The poet says in awestruck worship, "before thine everlasting throne we have no luster of our own" and this will ring true in the heart of the true Christian. We can only please Christ and His righteousness before the throne of grace. We can only plead the grace of God - and this is repulsive to the unregenerate man in his pride. We must come humbly and admit our need - and only the humble will admit the need to be made the righteousness of God in Christ.
This attitude - humility - is looked at as weakness in the world. It is looked at as base. It is looked at as foolishness. The world looks to its own while we are to esteem others better than ourselves. ".But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence " (I Cor. 1:27-29) Flee to the risen Son and confess your need. Let Him work in you this disposition of soul. Jesus is there waiting to comfort the lowly believer who comes in utter need and humbly. "Come unto me" the Saviour calls, "and I will give you rest".
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon