If you ask most Christians what the most dangerous thing the devil has to cause us to stumble, I bet most of them will answer “Pride”. After all, most Christians can readily quote Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (NASB). Well… the first part at least… and they at least will tell you it’s in Proverbs somewhere. 😉 Would you like to know the real answer to the question? Let’s look at how our Lord and Savior Jesus described the devil when he was speaking to the Pharisees who challenged the authority of Jesus:
John 8:44 (NASB) 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
He is the father of lies. That’s where he gets us. There is Truth (God is Truth… His Word is Truth) and anything that is not truth is a lie. And the devil is the father of lies. That applies to outright lies, lies by omission, and “white lies”. The big clue is in the use of the word “lie”. But there is another word that should trigger our recognition of a lie… and that word is “false”. False prophet, False doctrine, False motivation, and False humility. There are many ways we can discuss this point, but for now I’d like to limit this portion to false humility. First, lets look at our call to humility found in 1 Peter:
1 Peter 5:5-7 (NASB) 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
We are also told in James 4:10, “10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Both sinful pride and false humility stem from the same lies… they are born of lies about who you are. For pride is thinking more highly of yourself than you are, and false humility is from confessing lies about who you are. Sometimes the lies are to protect the pride that actually fills your heart, other times the lies are a confession of the lies you believe in your heart… lies that falsely accuse you of lacking worth. I’m more worried about negative self-talk, “I’m stupid”, “I’m a horrible person”, “I’m not worth redeeming”, “I’m not worth saving”, “No one will miss me when I’m gone”. These are not the confessions of a humble person… because True humility cannot exist contrary to the Truth of God’s Word. First, and foremost… even the sinner needs to know that he is loved by God. Accepting this Truth, by faith, is the first step toward Salvation. No wonder the enemy tries so hard to block this truth among even those who are born dead in sin….
Romans 5:8 (NIV) 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now, for those who have been born again, do you think the enemy gives up his fight against you? Absolutely not! While he cannot kill you spiritually, if he can get you to accept his lies about who you are, then he can limit your effectiveness, hinder your calling, and get you to abandon your spiritual gifts. Let’s look at a wonderful list (from Neil Anderson’s Book, “Victory over the Darkness”) of who we are as born-again believers in Christ:
- We are identified with Christ ► In His death (Romans 6:3,6; Galatians 2:20) ► In His Burial (Romans 6:4) ► In His resurrection (Romans 6:5,8,11) ► In His ascension (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-3) ► In His life (Romans 6:10-11) ► In His power (Ephesians 1:19-20) ► In His inheritance (Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:11-12)
- Through the Blood of Christ, and In Him each of us is… ► the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13) ► the light of the world (Matt 5:14) ► a child of God (John 1:12) ► part of the True Vine (John 15:1,5) ► a friend of Christ (John 15:15) ► chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16) ► a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:18) ► enslaved to God (Romans 6:22) ► a son of God; God is spiritually my Father (Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 3:26; 4:6) ► a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Romans 8:17) ► a temple — a dwelling place — of God. His Spirit lives in me (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19) ► united with the Lord and one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17) ► a member of Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30) ► a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) ► reconciled to God and a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) ► a son of God and one in Christ (Galatians 3:26, 28) ► a Saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1;Colossians 1:2) ► God’s workmanship–His handiwork–born anew in Christ to do His work (Ephesians 2:10) ► … (the list is huge, skipping a few…) ► chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4) ► a son of light and not of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5) ► … ► a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9-10) ► an alien and a stranger to this world in which I temporarily live (1 Peter 2:11) ► an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5:8) ► born of God, and the evil one–the devil–cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
Proper humility begins with knowing who you are in Christ. It continues with acknowledging that we are all one body, with Christ as the head, and that our brothers and sisters in Christ share in this identity in Christ. We are humble ourselves to each other in the presence of God, and He will lift us up. Much as Jesus instructed in Luke 14:7-11 that we should take the last seat rather than the first. When you were born again in Christ, you were made spiritually alive. You are now as spiritually alive as you will ever be… for Jesus paid the ultimate (both greatest and final) price for the removal of sin. Just as a baby is as alive as it will ever be, that is not to say the baby won’t grow and mature. In the same way, we are to grow in Him. As long as we walk in the flesh, we will be at war with the flesh, particularly the in the mind. This is the battleground for the enemy. Notice, the word calls us the enemy of the devil. At the fall of man, enmity was placed between woman and the devil. The world falsely elevates the devil to a position opposite God. God defeated the devil and booted him from the heavens long ago…and then His Son Jesus defeated him again on earth. As far as God is concerned, the devil is one seriously defeated foe. The devil wages war with us now, and after Adam we had lost that fight… but Jesus won that fight for us, so in Him we share in Christ’s victory. I hope this serves as an encouragement. Do not think of yourselves falsely, and do not make false confessions, or partake in the fruit of the devil (his lies). The only weapon we have against lies… is the Truth. Now, some of these confessions are so much easier to say than to believe and to walk out. There is a very real reason why we are told to “take up our crosses daily” and to follow Christ. We need to remind ourselves that the flesh and the inheritance of sin and death were put to rest on the cross, so that in Him we might have life, and that all of these things are true about us because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is an important list to review regularly, and to confess over our lives. We may not always demonstrate what we confess… but we always demonstrate what we believe. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Let the Truths of your identity in Christ grow your faith, so that you may be holy and blameless in His sight. Finally… let us encourage our brothers and sisters by reminding them of who they are whenever we witness false humility (self-deprecation posing as piety)… be firm and loving in your rebuke, and then remind them of who they are in Christ.
Ephesians 4:25 (NIV) 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.