Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Christian's greatest spiritual danger

In a recent conference I attended, there was a panel of godly and seasoned ministers who were asked various questions. One of the questioners inquired "which are the three greatest spiritual dangers of Christian ministry?". Ian Hamilton, the minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church answered "pride, pride and pride". What is true for Christian ministers is equally true of Christians also and we must always be on our guard against this slippery enemy of our souls.

John Calvin emphasises in a number of places in his Institutes of the Christian Religion the need for true humility. In Book 2:11 he explains that “True humility gives God alone the honour”. He then quotes Augustine of Hippo who taught that "when a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, 'Delivery'; what was the second rule 'Delivery'; what was the third rule, 'Delivery'. So if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second and third and always I would answer, 'Humility' ".

The teaching of holy Scripture is abundantly clear concerning the spiritual danger of pride and the need for true humility. Listen to three passages.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:12). This is as sure as the law of gravity. Those who exalt themselves will be abased and similarly the humble will be exalted.

James understood this truth as he teaches that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:6-7). Therefore, we must seek the Lord to grow in humility and seek the Lord in prayer for pride to rooted out of our souls.

Finally, listen to Peter, the apostle who learned that pride is a real enemy of the soul when he boasted that he would never fall away from Christ and then he denied his master three times. Peter exhorts: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:6)

May we all be aware of the danger of pride because some Christians do not realise that this is even a problem. Then once we acknowledge this spiritual danger, may we pursue three things: Humility, humility and humility!

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