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The Old Time Gospel

Over 9,600 pages
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"The Lord gave the word:
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Psalm 68:11

A true revival means nothing
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casting out the spirit
of worldliness,
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triumph in the heart.

  Andrew Murray

A Ministry dedicated to preserving the truth and accuracy of the infallible Word of God.
The Old Time Gospel:     "Beware Of Spiritual Pride!"   by William Gurnall

Master Sermon List

Beware Of Spiritual Pride!
by William Gurnall

Pride was the sin that turned Satan, a blessed angel, into a cursed devil. Satan knows better than anyone the damning power of pride. Is it any wonder, then, that Satan sows pride among saints, that he so often uses it to poison them? Spiritual pride is one kind of pride that Satan uses to assault the saints.

One kind of spiritual pride is pride of gifts. By gifts I mean those spiritual abilities the Holy Spirit dispenses to Christians for the edification of the body of Christ as a whole. The apostle tells us of the great diversity of gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Just look around you at the different species of plants and flowers, and you will have some idea of God's love for infinite variety. He has been no less creative with the human personality. Every child of God is unique and important for the proper functioning of the body of Christ.

But when pride creeps in, we begin to create hierarchies among the brethren and among gifts. This inevitably leads to divisions and disputes. Satan knows it and labors to taint every single gift with pride. In so doing he can hurl two stones at once. With one, he strikes the unity of the body as a whole; with the other, he cripples the individual saint.

Consider the possibility that pride is the reason we do so little good for others with our gifts. When pride prevails, we pray, preach, comfort, or console to be thought good by others, rather than to do good to others. We set ourselves upon a spiritual pedestal and, in a manner of speaking, expect those we serve to worship at the shrine of our good works. Will God honor such efforts? He has told us in no uncertain terms that He will not share His glory with anyone else (Isa. 48:11). The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him, but the proud man will find himself in a worse fix. God Himself will be there to resist him. If you doubt it, read His Word: "[He] resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (Jas. 4:6).

Our pride is also the reason we receive so little good from the gifts of other Christians. Pride fills us with notions of our own spiritual sufficiency. We think we are too good (or too holy) to need the help of most other saints. We find few preachers who are "spiritual" enough to minister to us. And if someone offers a word of correction, we close our ears.

Pride fools us into thinking we "are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Rev. 3:17). Alas for us! How long can a soul thrive if it steadfastly refuses wholesome nourishment, and will only sit down to a "choice dish" of high-sounding theory? Just as simple food is healthier for our physical bodies than an elaborate feast, so a steady diet of plain truths and God's ordinances is better for our souls than dipping in the lordly dishes of man's theological assumptions.

If you are one who holds yourself in high spiritual esteem, hear this: Many humble Christians, of low estate by the world's standards, have much to offer you if you are not too proud to receive spiritual food at their hands. Pride always destroys love and separates saints. Without love for all the brethren, we are bound to lose much that God wants to give. The Bible says every saint has been given gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

Here is a word to you who think your gifts are inferior to those of other members of the body: Be content with your condition. Great gifts lift a saint up a little higher in the eyes of men, but they also tempt him to pride. Do not envy those with great gifts; instead, pray for them. It is hard for them to escape the error of supposing that God's grace in them is their own doing. You have a real advantage over them, for you have the help of their gifts but not the temptation of their pride.

Words of Caution

Here, now, are some words of caution for you to whom God has given more or better gifts than ordinary.

Pride wants to grow where the best gifts have been bestowed. So beware of pride! The only thing that will keep you from it is your humility. Remember whom you wrestle with, spiritual wickednesses. Their ploy is to lift you up high in order to give you a harder fall. They will try to convince you that your spiritual accomplishments are a result of your own efforts and that you deserve the credit for them. Surely you know this is not true! In case you have forgotten, think back to what you were like before the Holy Spirit came to you with gifts from God's storehouse. How can you be proud of another's bounty? You may be able to impress other men with your gifts, but you will not impress God. He knows where they all came from.

Where pride flourishes, the body of Christ suffers. Had God given you gifts merely for your own pleasure or edification, the sin of pride would not be quite so bad. But when you use your gifts to lift yourself up, you tear down the body of Christ. Your gifts are necessary to the health of the whole body, but they must be administered properly. You must be careful to acknowledge that Christ is the Great Physician; you are only the assistant who uses His instruments and carries out His orders.

Where pride grows, grace withers. Here is another reason to be humble if you have great gifts: every proud thought you entertain costs you a measure of grace. There is not room for both to prosper in the Christian's heart. Indeed, when grace and pride sit down at the same table, pride shows itself a glutton, and grace leaves the table unfed. Pride must have the most and best of everything to satisfy its appetite. This voracious lust will devour your spirit of praise. When you should be blessing God, you will be applauding yourself. It will eat up Christian love and cause you to disdain the fellowship of other Christians. It will keep you from acknowledging the gifts of others, because that would take away some of the glory you want for yourself. Ultimately, pride so distorts our taste that we can relish nothing drawn from another's dish.

Where pride reigns, God chastens. God will not allow such a weed as pride to grow in His garden without taking some course or other to root it up. He may let you fall into a sin that will humiliate you before men and God, and force you to come crawling home in shame. Or He may use a thorn in the flesh to prick the balloon of your pride. If your pride has placed His honor in jeopardy, expect to feel God's rod of correction. Most likely it will be applied to the very spot where your pride is rooted. Hezekiah boasted of his treasure; God sent the Chaldeans to plunder him (Isa. 39:1-8). Jonah was proud of his gourd; God sent a pestilence to destroy it (4:6-11). Can you expect Him to wink at this sin in your life when He has dealt so firmly with it in His other children?

Where gifts are bestowed, God calls an audit. Suppose a friend died and named you executor of his estate. But instead of dividing his inheritance according to the instructions left in his will, you took the money and put it in your own bank account, then went around town bragging about how rich you were. How long could you fool people with your false prosperity? Sooner or later the rightful heirs would show up and not only take what is theirs, but probably sue you as well. In a spiritual sense, you are only God's executor. He has given you gifts, and specific instructions on how to dispense them. By the time you have paid all the legacies, you will see little left for yourself to brag or boast of. Never forget for a moment that you will be held accountable for the talents left in your care.

Now perhaps you do not keep your gifts from others, but serve the church tirelessly. That sounds commendable. But let me ask you this: who gets the credit for your activities? Suppose a man who was named executor of an estate paid out the legacies as instructed but he pretended they were gifts from himself. Would we not label him a thief and a swindler? A proud soul who takes the credit for his good works is just as much a thief. What is worse, he steals from God Himself!

Warning Signals of Pride

How can you know when you are in danger of committing the sin of spiritual pride with respect to your gifts? Here are some warning signals.

You are in danger of spiritual pride if you catch yourself dwelling on the thoughts of your gifts with a secret kind of contentment, always taking them out to look at and admire. A proud man is consumed with love for himself. He is the apple of his own eye. The great subject and theme of all his thoughts is who he is and what he has that is better than someone else's. Before you protest that you could never fall into the hands of pride, let me tell you that no one is beyond its bounds. Bernard, that great old saint, confessed that even in the middle of one of his sermons, pride would be whispering in his ear, "Well done, Bernard, well done!"

How can the Christian escape those persistent self-promoting thoughts? Run from them as you would from an enraged bear. Do not stand still to listen to these lies, or soon the devil will have you erecting a monument to yourself with the glory of your God-given gifts. Remind yourself daily how weak you are and how utterly dependent on God for every good and perfect gift.

Another indicator that you are caught in the trap of spiritual pride is envy of others' gifts. Keeping our hearts and envy separated is as difficult as keeping two lovers from meeting. It is the sin that shed the first blood: Cain's envy hatched Abel's murder.

Envy is an affront to the character and person of God. When you envy you are questioning God's right to administer His gifts as He sees best. You are also maligning the goodness of God. You are angry that God wants to bless someone besides you. Would you not have God be good? You might as well say you would not have Him be God, for He can no more cease to be good than He can cease to be God! When your envy prods you to belittle the gifts of other Christians, you are really belittling God who gave them.

Envy, like its mother, pride, is the scout for a whole host of other sins. This sin of the heart goes before and sets the stage for all kinds of sins of the flesh. Saul, Israel's first king, fell so low as to plot the murder of the very man who had saved his kingdom. From the day he heard David preferred above himself in the women's songs, he could not get the sound out of his head. Envy brought him to hate, which carried him on to plot David's death (1 Sam. 18:6-9).

Later on, what did envy do to David's own heart but make him covet the wife of his trusted soldier, Uriah, and lead him through a maze of lust, lies, adultery, and murder? (2 Sam. 11:1-27). Not one of these would have been committed had it not been for that rabble-rouser, envy. It is a bloody sin, the womb wherein a whole litter of other sins is formed (Rom. 1:29). Therefore, unless you are willing to welcome the devil and his whole train, resist the sin of envy.

To gain mastery over this sin, you must call in help from heaven. We have a sure promise that the foundation of our grace is stronger than that of our lust, but only if we enlist the Holy Spirit in our behalf: "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy. But He giveth more grace" (Jas. 4:5-6). Do not challenge envy to a duel with your own resolve; you are not strong enough or smart enough to win. But God can give you more grace than you have sin, more humility than you have pride. If you are humble enough to ask for His grace, He will make sure you are not so proud as to envy His gifts or grace in others.

Excerpt from "Christian in Complete Armour"

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© 1999 The Old Time Gospel Ministry
"When to seek God has become life and to glorify God has become self, then you have truly found God."