In our flesh, how arrogant we are.
We think our good works — which are described by the Divine Appraiser as filthy rags — are worth something in God’s sight. We prove to have too low a view of God’s holy standard. We also show we have too high a view of our performance. This is because we have a too external view of what constitutes sin and righteousness. (We look only at the outside of the cup or garment.) Therefore, though in reality we have only accrued demerit, we consider ourselves righteous and meritorious. Oh friends, tragically, we are “wise in our own conceit.”
We are they who consider ourselves better than others. Yes, God and our neighbors are lucky to have us on his planet, and it would be a better place if there were more of us and less of them. Consequently, based upon this faulty assumption, we treat ourselves better than others. From whence comes our boasting, slander, gossip, lying, and cutting remarks? Why do we manipulate, steal, defraud, bully, use, abuse, and murder? Proud sinner, such responses come from our reasoning that we are “all that.” We constantly prove by our self-evaluation and treatment of others that we are “wise in our own conceit.”
Isn’t it true that we find little need to pray? This sad fact is because our felt-need for God’s help, guidance, and wisdom is incredibly low. You see, if we were desperate and really believed how impotent we were, and how potent he is, we would be found amongst those seeking to “pray without ceasing.” But we are not. “We’ve got this under control,” we reason, and so by our prayerlessness we prove to be “wise in our own conceit.”
Neither do we consult the Scriptures regularly and gather under the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. It is for the same reason that we do not pray — we deem it unnecessary since we are so brilliant. We are not diligent in our usage of the Bible. We are wise in our own eyes. We are “wise in our own conceit.”
Then, when we do know God’s will, it all seems arbitrary to us. Sure, when we deem it best, we will give him a nod and make a reasonable attempt to obey. But frankly, too often we deem him and his ways to be far too tight, narrow, old-fashioned, and inconvenient. Therefore, we prove to be the ultimate judge of when and where we will follow God or forgo his ways. It is our kingdom, power, and glory that matter most to us. Therefore, in regards to his holy Law, we find ourselves disobeying over and over again because we are so “wise in our own conceit.”
Despite our rebellion, we still enjoy much in this life, but here too we see our arrogance. We give ourselves credit for our successes. We do not consider God the sovereign bestower of all our knowledge, wisdom, character, skill, and wins. In our minds, we really believe we are self-made men and women. Consequently, we have only ourselves to thank and are not characterized by humble thanksgiving. We are the champions my friend, and we are “wise in our own conceit.”
And then, when things seem to go poorly, we question God’s providence and wisdom. In our intellect, we conclude God is not-wise, not-best, or unjust in his doings. Like Job, we progress past asking questions and find ourselves making accusations against the Lord. We are the judge and he is on trial. He must give account to us for his doings, and this because we are “wise in our own conceit.”
Oh friends, in our natural state, we are like Adam and Eve. Though we have been graciously loved and blessed, we are consumed with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Sadly, in our fleshly and fallen condition, we are like Lucifer. We are haughty. We are “wise in our own conceit,” and this is a horrid place to remain:
“… He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” (Job 37:24)
Oh friends, how horrible is the condition of the devil, the demon, the man, or woman whom God does not regard. We are like worms or maggots under his wrath. Worst than these creepy insects we are, for we are creepy creatures who have willfully sinned against their Creator. Such proud folk like us are consigned to go through this life separated from God. God does not hear our cry as the Judge is angry with the wicked every day. We walk this earth with no benefit from the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. And when our lives are over, we are relegated to the place where the flame continually burns and the worm dies not. Forever, we will be as we wished on this earth. Forever, we will be those who are not regarded by the only possible Savior of our souls. Forever, we will hate God, and this is because we will still remain “wise in our own conceit.”
However, in Christ, we are humbled through and through.
This is what salvation is — a gloriously humbling by God and man.
First, God humbles himself. He who had every reason to boast, humbled himself, came to earth, took on human flesh, lived the life of a servant, and died the life of a convict. He did this to earn the humility we need and pay for the humility we lack. Then, when his stoop of humility was complete, victoriously he rose from the grave. From that point on, the formerly humbled but exalted Christ had been gloriously humbling men and women like us.
Second, God humbles us. Consider God’s grace as he humbled Nebuchadnezzar or Saul of Tarsus. Both men were taken down from their lofty perches, and both men learned to beauty of God and his Gospel. Friends, this is what happens to us in regeneration. We are given new hearts, new minds, and new wills. We come out of the darkness into the light; out of haughtiness and into humility. Our boast is in Christ alone, and in his image we begin thinking, talking, and walking.
Third, we think, talk, and walk more humbly. Friends, we who have been mercifully and graciously “regarded by God” and transformed, let us respond by practicing the humble righteousness of Christ. Meekness is the Fruit of the Spirit. Let’s show forth God’s fruit.
Let us preach the Gospel to ourselves and find our righteous identity only in the performance of Jesus. We are saved by grace, though faith, and this is not of our own works or doing. Let us take no credit for our justification or sanctification.
Let us consider all we meet better than ourselves. Like Jesus, let us humbly sacrifice for all our neighbors — especially those sharing our own house,.
Let us pray and pray and pray, and let us take good advantage of the Good Book. Read it personally and listen well to those who teach it faithfully.
Let us strive to more quickly say, “Yes Lord.” Let us cease picking and choosing when and where we will obey. Let us be wise and trust our Father’s good will and ways.
Today, instead of giving ourselves credit for our success, let us be radically grateful. Thanksgiving should mark us as we walk in the humility of Christ.
Let us be content and suffer more honorably than yesterday. Let us learn from Job and not accuse God of unrighteousness. Let us learn from Jesus and ask tough questions without slandering our Heavenly Father. Friends, we know not what God is doing; we know not why he does what he does, but let us trust him more and submit our lives to his kingdom, power, and glory.
Yes friends, today, let’s be less like our old parents (Adam and Eve), our old master (Lucifer), and our old man. Instead, let’s walk in the power, image, righteousness, beauty, and humility of Jesus Christ. In ourselves, we are nothing; he is everything. May the undeserved love, mercy, and grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be our only boast. Let’s be loud and proud about God and the Gospel. And then, let us think, talk, and walk like we really believe it.