Disease: Pride. Cure: Joy!

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away, from the faith,

paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of liars

seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.

I Timothy 4:1-2

 

Any passage dealing with falling away from the faith is difficult. Scripture clearly teaches that those who have accepted Christ as Lord are sealed by the Holy Spirit and therefore will never fall away. They are presented to the Father by Christ as a gift, loved by the Father. Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing will ever separate God from those He loves. Once a man is saved, he is always saved. There is no middle ground in Scripture. You’re loved by God or under His judgment.

But it is undeniable that, from our human perspective, some do fall away. I can think of scores of people I know who at one time professed Christ with their lips, but now live as pagans. They, like Judas Iscariot, have heard the words of Jesus but betray Him with their works. A man who falls away has never truly embraced Jesus Christ as Lord. For sake of culture or the esteem of man he has engendered of himself a spiritual high, not from the Spirit. Everyone has a religious spasm or two during their lives.

This is the difference between the true believer and he who professes with his mouth, but does not confess with his heart. The temptations of the world will overcome the strength of the false believer, as no man can resist the lusts of the flesh by his own strength. It is the Spirit who provides the way of escape, and the unbeliever does not have the Spirit. He has no way of escape. He will fall to the temptations of evil, for he finds no joy in Christ and must substitute something else in his life for the joy he seeks.

Hypocrisy is the mark of a “seared conscience.” Hypocrisy dulls the mind and spirit to the teachings of Scripture. The seared conscience does not feel the touch of the Holy Spirit in conviction, encouragement, exhortation, and peace. Hypocrisy allows for an increase in knowledge, but hinders the application knowledge. A hypocrite quickly becomes spiritually bloated, believing himself to be righteous without displaying the fruit of righteousness.

I am convinced by seeing my own hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of others that the foundation of hypocrisy is pride. Pride whispers to the mind that its own knowledge is sufficient. Pride takes a man from being submissive to the Word of God to being dismissive of the Word of God. Pride destroys trust in the Scriptures and places my own intellect and logic above Scripture. A heart riddled by pride is a heart that is calloused, a conscience which is seared. Pride refuses to acknowledge the vast chasm between the infinite mind of God and my own very, very finite mind. A seared conscience and pride cannot be separated.

The obvious question is “How do I keep my spirit alive and fresh, not becoming dull to the Word?” There is no better place to start than kneeling before the Throne of God. The grace of God both saves and sanctifies. We worship a God “able to keep you from stumbling.” Without the constant, sustaining grace of God, my heart will become once again calloused and seared. Callousness is my natural state. Apart from the grace of God, I know nothing else. The grace of God keeps me from believing “doctrines of liars.” And only the grace of God accomplishes this. After a lifetime of sanctification, should God remove His Spirit from me, I would instantly turn and sprint with all my might back to toward the fires of hell. Thankfulness for the grace of God keeps the soul tender to the promptings of the Spirit.

Secondly, we must beg God to increase our joy found in Him. Joy provides the incentive to obey, to evangelize, to read Scripture, to pray. Every Christian virtue is an outpouring of joy. Spending time with God increases the joy found in Him. As I read the Bible and pray, God increases my joy in Him. The cure for callousness isn’t dogged obedience and determination. It is joy! The more I appreciate Christ, the more I want to be tender to the Scriptures. And the more tender I am toward the Scriptures, the more alive I become in Him. The cycle of Christian growth spirals upward in ever increasing joy. All one must do to join the cycle of joy is ask. God does not refuse the heart which earnestly seeks Him.

Ask, and it will be given to you…he who asks, receives. Matthew 7:7-8

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One response to “Disease: Pride. Cure: Joy!”

  1. Moose says :

    Ummm, good point. One Question what sin does not spring forth from a heart of pride? Also a true cure for pride (in general) would be the total opposite of pride (humility). Pride is a general term that many conservative Christians accept and think of as quite deep (which it is literally) but I would encourage you to take it one step up from pride because the only cure for pride in itself is humility.

    But I whole heartedly agree that it is very hard to be surrounded with Scripture as a textbook, and not treat it like such. I need to be person that will take it one step beyond a critic’s study. I need to instead of judging things in the world that aren’t there I need to try and be changing them in myself and that is the whole point of the passages talking about looking for sin in our lives (matthew 7 Galatians 6) because it is easy to become self-righteous and be haters.

    We do need to be lovers but that comes through in not only more of a desire to do what the Lord wants it also comes from doing what the Lord wants regardless of how we feel. How much more does this mean to you and me when we see that Christ did not want to go to the cross? He wanted to stay with His friends…but regardless he decided to do the will of the Lord before even his own desires.

    Desires (joy) are good and we should be praying for them but that should NEVER negate the fact that we still do the Lord’s will. That shows even more of our love for the Lord, Amen?

    God, I love you so much I will even do the opposite of what I feel like doing right now to express my love for you.

    I know that there are some authors out there that seem to be saying it is very important to have a desire…and their example is of a husband bringing flowers to his wife and saying “Honey I got these flowers for you because I should get them for you and it was not that I wanted to because I would have rather got something for myself but it is that I need to do loving things for you.” (more will be said about this in my blog)

    I am not saying that you make it into a legalistic task. That would deter from the whole point of obeying the Lord, but do you ever find that you change something without trying or pursuing it.

    I would even suggest steps that may seem a little more drastic. For instance when you have a conflict with a brother in Christ what is often the easiest ways outside of prayer to apply a desire for them (I am not saying that prayer isn’t important). You spend money and time on them. Often it is true your heart is where you spend your money.

    So I would say the same for something like buying biblical literature and reading it. I would suggest buying a really nice looking Bible. I would suggest I know this sounds drastic but being in the word even twice the length that you are in it now. Not because these are specific rules that I think others should follow but because these build in you a natural desire. Even greater and deeper thing that I have found that works is actually trying to spend time applying the Scriptures and talking to others as often as you can about applying scriptures to change your life.

    Also we should pray to love and enjoy the Lord and His Word and all that these would entitle.

    Amen, good post I think this might have given me a great incentive to add some to my blog.

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