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The Deadly Danger of a Proud Heart

Tom Pennington • 1 Peter 5:5-7

  • 2017-08-06 AM
  • Deadly Dangers
  • Sermons

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Well, we're taking a break from our study of the Book of Romans for a few weeks here in the summer, and we're considering those sins that are especially deadly in the lives of believers. Last week we looked at the deadly danger of an unforgiving spirit. Today, I want us to look at the deadly danger of a proud heart, the deadly danger of a proud heart.

Sometime back I read a fascinating story of the deadly danger of pride. At 10 pm on August 31st in the year 1986, a Soviet passenger ship named the Admiral Nakhimov sailed with 1,200 passengers. Just minutes into the voyage, the ship's pilot noticed that they were actually on a collision course with a Soviet freighter. The pilot radioed a warning to the other ship, and the freighter responded, "Don't worry, we will pass clear of each other." But the freighter refused to slow down, refused to change course. The captain of the passenger ship retired to his cabin and left the second mate in charge of the ship. For more than an hour, a local dispatcher sent warning after warning to both the passenger ship and to the freighter, but neither of them changed course or slowed down. Only when they were literally about to collide did they respond. One of them threw its engines in reverse; the other turned hard to port to avoid the collision. But it was too late. The freighter rammed the passenger ship at a speed of about five knots.

On impact, the Admiral Nakhimov's lights went out immediately. Remember it was nighttime. After just a few seconds, the emergency generator came on. But two minutes later the generator stopped, and the now listing, sinking ship was shrouded in total darkness. People below the deck—you can only imagine—found themselves absolutely lost. There were no emergency lights. They were lost in the dark below deck on a sinking, listing ship. There was no time to launch the lifeboats. Hundreds of people jumped into the oily water clinging to life jackets and debris. The Admiral Nakhimov sank in just seven minutes. Rescue ships began arriving some ten minutes later. But the passengers and the crew had little to almost no time to escape. A trap below deck, more than 400 lives perished. The investigation took some time to unfold, but the investigators determined there was only one cause for the accident: human pride.

Pride is just as destructive wherever it exists. What I want you to understand this morning is that our pride puts us on a collision course with the people around us, but it also puts us on a collision course with God Himself. Sadly, our self-esteem drunk culture has declared pride to actually be a friend of the soul, necessary for self-fulfillment. The statements are everywhere. One of the most egregious came from actress Kirstie Alley who said this: "I don't think pride's a sin, and I think some idiot made that up." Pride of every kind and variety has become a virtue. It's part of the culture, and it has greatly influenced the Christian community as well. We have been influenced in our thinking by the relentless promotion of self-promotion.

Let me ask you a question this morning. What do you think is the greatest danger to your spiritual life? What do you think is the greatest danger to your spiritual life? According to the Apostle Peter in his first letter (and he learned this lesson the hard way, by the way), pride is your soul's greatest enemy. Pride is your soul's greatest enemy. Why is that? Because it isolates us from the grace of God and from the God of grace.

I want you to turn this morning to 1 Peter. First Peter 5. Peter wrote this first letter from Rome about the year 64-65 AD. He wrote it to churches that were scattered throughout the area that we know as Turkey. Persecution had begun to accelerate across the Roman Empire because of the burning of Rome and Nero blaming it on the scapegoat of Christians. And so, the theme of this letter of Peter's is standing firm through suffering. Its purpose was to teach first century believers how to live as Christians in the mist of escalating Roman hostility.

In 1 Peter 5, as Peter teaches them how to live in the middle of this, he deals specifically in 5 with relationships in the church. He begins in verses 1 - 4 by addressing the elders, the leaders of the church. But then in verse 5, Peter transitions from the leaders of the church to all the members of the churches. Let's read it together. First Peter 5, beginning in verse 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. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Now the obvious theme of this paragraph is humility. In fact, Peter doesn't leave us on our own here. He provides us with his own propositional statement in the proverb that he quotes in verse 5. Notice it. Here's the theme of the passage: "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Now notice, surrounding that propositional statement are three imperatives. In verse 5, "be subject to your elders." Also in verse 5, "clothe yourselves with humility." And then in verse 6, "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." But what I want you to notice about those three imperatives is that Peter connects all three of them to the proverb. Notice at the end of verse 5 that little word "for." The first two imperatives he connects to the proverb by saying you need to do these things "for [because] God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." And notice the word "therefore" that begins verse 6. Before he tells us to humble ourselves before God, he says do that because God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So understand then, the proverb is the hinge on which this passage swings. The proverb presents the biblical case for humility, and the three imperatives on each side of the proverb outline the practical path to humility.

So let's begin this morning, then, by looking at the biblical case for humility. The proverb. A proverb in verse 5 is the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 3:34. It is a timeless, inviolable law of God's moral universe. Let's look at it together.

Notice the first half of the proverb: "God is opposed to the proud." Now, the Greek word for "proud" originally meant, literally, "to shine above others" or "to show oneself above others." The main idea of this word is to see yourself exalted above others and to look down on them. That's the idea of the word "proud." But pride doesn't just manifest itself toward people, it also manifests itself toward God. Toward people, pride manifests itself as seeing yourself above them as the kind of standard against which they ought to be judged. Toward God, pride demonstrates itself as self-sufficiency and independence: "I don't need God. I don't need His help on this. I can handle this on my own." This is pride. God is opposed to the one who exhibits pride.

Do you understand pride was the first sin in the universe? It began by spontaneous generation in the heart of heaven's greatest creation. Through pride, the being who was once the chief guardian of the holiness of God became the incredibly evil being that we know as Satan. And through Satan, pride was also part of the first human sin, if not the very essence of the first sin.

Since the fall, pride comes naturally to every one of us. If you're breathing this morning, if you're a living human being, you struggle with pride. It is pervasive. John Calvin writes this: "There is no man who does not cherish within him some idea of his own excellence." There's not one.

But the fact that it's common (please understand this) the fact that it's common doesn't make it any less dangerous. Again, listen to Jonathan Edwards, the great American theologian:

Pride is the worst viper in the heart. [Did you hear that? It's the worst viper in the heart.] It is the first sin that ever entered the universe, lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin, and is the most secret, deceitful, and unsearchable in its ways of working of any lust whatever. It is ready to mix with everything. And nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the Spirit of the gospel, or of so dangerous consequence. And there is no one sin that does so much let in the devil into the hearts of the saints and expose them to his delusions.

Do you understand there is no sin more dangerous to your spiritual life than pride? Pride is so deceitful that we can be proud and not even realize it. In fact, pride can enable you to write a book called The Ten Most Humble People in the World and How I Taught the Other Nine. Pride is insidious. I love what one author, how he describes it. He says, "Pride is like a dandelion." If you have dandelions that you struggle with in your yard, you understand this. The writer says, "Pride is the dandelion of the soul. It's root goes deep. Only a little left behind sprouts again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest, encouraging cracks, and it flourishes in good soil."

Pride can manifest itself in so many ways. For example, pride can manifest itself in our accomplishments. Daniel 4:30, Nebuchadnezzar reflected (Daniel writes) and he said this: "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" Listen, you can be very proud of your accomplishments and think that they are yours, when in fact God alone has given you everything you have.

We can be proud in our position and in our status. In Matthew 23:6 and 7, Jesus says this of the Pharisees. These are spiritual leaders, supposedly, of the nation. He said,

"They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and [they love] being called rabbi by men."

But pride in one's position and status doesn't just come to Pharisees. It comes to anyone. That's what I'm saying. Pride is insidious. It is pervasive. And it's a temptation for every single one of us.

Pride can manifest itself in our spiritual activities. Yes, even in our spiritual activities. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us that pride can infect our giving; it can infect our prayers. And in Matthew 23:5 Jesus says of the Pharisees (speaking of their spiritual activities), "They do all their deeds to be noticed by men." Pride can be present in our spiritual gifts, responsibilities and privileges. Romans 12:3, "I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think." He's talking about spiritual giftedness. And he's saying listen, there is a temptation with the gifts you have, the abilities God has given you, to be proud.

We can be proud of our knowledge. This is a real temptation in a Bible church. We study the Bible in every venue. We understand the Scripture, and we can be proud of our knowledge. First Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge makes arrogant…." Paul isn't downplaying knowledge. He talks about the importance of knowledge in many different places. He's simply warning us that knowledge also can be a source of pride for us.

Those are just a few examples. I'm talking about—I haven't even scratched the surface. There are countless other ways that pride manifests itself. This could be a long series if I were to show in you in Scripture all the different ways pride manifests itself. The truth is you and I can be proud about anything. There is nothing about us on which pride cannot latch.

Pride causes us to be critical of the sins of others while we tolerate and excuse our own. Pride fills us with the envy of the gifts and opportunities and reputations of others. Charles Bridges writes, "We cannot bear anything that shines too close to us and will possibly eclipse our own brightness." This is what pride does.

Pride causes us to see ourselves as superior to others: our convictions are more godly, our preferences are more important, our views are more accurate, our personality is more winsome, our plans and ideas are better and more useful, our gifts and abilities are more useful to the kingdom, our heart is more spiritual. Listen, if any of these attitudes are resident within our hearts, we are guilty of the sin of pride.

We need to ask ourselves that probing question (and I do this often in my own heart) that probing question of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4, "What do you have that you did not receive?" Think about that for a moment. What do you have that you didn't receive? You came into this world naked, and whatever gifts and abilities (intelligence, etc.) that you have, God gave you. What do you have that you did not receive? And Paul says, if you received it, then why do you boast as if you didn't?

Now pride is a serious matter. How does God react to our pride? Look again at 1 Peter 5:5, "God is opposed to the proud." The word "opposed" is a military term. It means, literally, "to station or arrange against." This word vividly describes God as taking up arms against and going to battle with the proud person. Now remember, we're talking about Christians here. We've all seen images on TV of military weapons bombarding a particular location. We've watched the bombs explode. We've seen the artillery fire. We've seen, even recently, the mother of all bombs explode and destroy an area. That's the picture behind this word. That's the graphic meaning of the word "opposed." God has taken up His weapons, and He is continually launching His artillery against the proud heart.

Proverbs 16:5, "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly he will not be unpunished." As Isaiah reflects on the future Day of the Lord when God will come and set all things right, in Isaiah 2:12 and 17,

The Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty ... against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.

The pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of men will be abased; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

You see, pride is an attack on God Himself, because it is an effort for us to exalt and elevate ourselves to the place God alone deserves. Daniel 4:37, Nebuchadnezzar says of God, "He is able to humble those who walk in pride."

In fact, let me go one step farther. This is part of God's job description. This is part of what it means to be God. In Job 40, God tells Job if he wants to be God (you remember, He's reproving him) He says, look, you want to be God? OK, here's what you have to do. He says, you must be able to "look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him." This is what God is. He is a humbler of the proud.

Now, the proverb that Peter quotes here, Proverbs 3:34, in its context is contrasting the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. The wicked are proud scoffers toward God, and the righteous have humbled themselves before Him. So this proverb, then, Peter puts here as a reminder that pride is antithetical to who we have become in Jesus Christ. It's the wicked who are proud. Believers are humble. At the same time, Peter puts this here as a warning that pride remains the chief enemy of our souls. Why is that? Listen carefully. Because God opposes pride in His believing children just as much as He does in unbelievers.

Let me show that to you. Turn back with me to an Old Testament text. Turn to 2 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 26. I've been reading in my read-through. I'm almost done with my read-through of the Scripture of this last year and half, reading through the New Testament a couple of times, and Psalms and Proverbs a couple of times, and the Old Testament. And at the very end of my read-through is 2 Chronicles. And I read this just the other day, 2Chronicles 26. Look at verses 4 and 5. We're talking about a man named Uzziah. Verse 4 says,

He did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

And then it talks about some of his successes. But go over to verse 15. In the middle of verse 15, we read this:

… Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped [notice this] until he was strong. [verse 16] But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

He usurped the position of the priest. The priest tells him in verse 18, "Get out of the sanctuary … [you've] been unfaithful." But verse 19, he continues. And verse 20 says,

Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him. King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of … [Yahweh]. And Jotham his son was over the king's house judging the people of the land.

Uzziah was a believer, but God chastened him severely for his pride. Go over to chapter 32. It's true of Hezekiah. Clearly, Hezekiah was a believer in the true God. We'll find Hezekiah in heaven. But notice 32:24: "In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill; and he prayed to the Lord, and the Lord spoke to him and gave him a sign." He healed him. Verse 25,

But Hezekiah gave no return for the benefit he received, because his heart was proud; therefore wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come on them in the days of Hezekiah.

Listen, God takes pride, even in the hearts of those who truly believe in Him, very seriously.

There are countless other examples. Pride led Miriam to rebel against Moses' authority and brought the plague of leprosy on her. Pride led David to count his army and brought a great plague which killed 70,000 people in Israel. Pride caused the disciples to argue about who was the greatest and exposed them to the temptation that caused them to flee from Christ. Pride moved Peter to swear his loyalty to Christ and led to his denial of our Lord.

Do you understand? If we ignore the pride in our hearts, and if we allow it to grow undisturbed, we have declared war, in one sense, against God. But more frighteningly, God declares war against us. He will not allow us to steal from His glory. If we defend our pride, we distance ourselves from God's grace, because "God is opposed to the proud."

Now go back to 1 Peter 5 and notice the second half of this proverb, "But [He] gives grace to the humble." He gives grace. The most popular definition of grace is "unmerited favor." If I ask most Christians "define grace for me," they would say "unmerited favor." And that's true as far as it goes. But it doesn't go quite far enough. If you've been in our church any time at all, you know that my favorite definition of grace comes from the pen of A.W. Pink. Here's what he writes as he defines grace. It is "The favor of God to those who not only have no positive desserts of their own, but also who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving." In other words, grace isn't just God giving us what we don't deserve.

Grace is God giving us the opposite of what we deserve. Grace is that reality in God that moves Him, because of His own character, to do good to those who are not only undeserving, but who deserve exactly the opposite. It's not just unmerited. It's favor in spite of demerit.

Notice what Peter says. God is—literally, the Greek text says, "God is giving grace." The idea is it's a present reality. This is how God consistently acts. This is God's constant practice. He is giving grace to the humble. Now understand, it's not that we earn grace by our humility. Grace by definition isn't deserved, can't be earned. But God has set a prerequisite, a condition that must be present where He bestows His grace.

Notice, God only bestows grace "to the humble," those who have humility. It's interesting. The ancient Greeks didn't think of humility as a virtue; in fact, they thought it was demeaning. It's actually the Old Testament Hebrew word "lowly" that informed Paul's use of the New Testament word "humility". In fact, the Greek word for "humility" really means "lowly minded", lowly minded. One lexicon defines it this way: "It's having a humble opinion of oneself. It is a deep sense of one's moral littleness." That's a great description. A deep sense of one's moral littleness. It's the opposite of self-esteem. It's the opposite of pride.

This change is so foundational, it is so important (listen carefully) that it always accompanies true salvation. In Matthew 5, you remember, our Lord lays out the Beatitudes, the attitudes that characterize a redeemed person, the path that marks out the path to redemption. And He says it begins here. "Blessed are the" what? What's the first one? "Poor in spirit." Blessed are the beggars in spirit. Blessed are those who understand their spiritual and moral littleness, and that they have nothing to offer God. They come begging.

Or take Jesus' description of the tax collector. I mentioned this a couple weeks ago from the message on Isaiah 66. Think about how God describes, how Christ describes the heart of a truly repentant person. It's that tax collector, you remember? He finds himself—he won't even lift up his eyes to heaven. He's so ashamed of his sin. He won't even look at God. Instead, he's beating his chest as a sign of his utter disgust with himself, his utter remorse. And what does he say? "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!"

If you're not a Christian, understand this. The very fact that you are not is an exercise of your pride against God, because He has revealed the way to be right with Him. And you have decided not to obey that command. You've decided not to come to Him. And if you have any hope of being right with God, you must give up your pride. You must humble yourself in the dust before God your Creator; acknowledge He gave you everything, that He sustains your life, and that your only hope of being right with Him is through the life and death and resurrection of His Son. It's the only way.

But it's interesting. In two places in the New Testament we're told that God resists the proud Christian but gives grace to the humble one. This is what prompted Augustine, the great reformer, to say, "For those who would learn God's ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second thing and humility is the third." Martin Luther put it this way. "It is God's nature to make something out of nothing." He did that in the creation, right? "It's God's nature to make something out of nothing. That is why He cannot make anything out of him who is not yet nothing."

Humility is a necessary virtue for every Christian, because it's (Listen carefully. Do you hear what Peter's saying?) it's only to the humble that God gives grace. Now think about that. Grace is absolutely essential to the Christian life. Peter uses the word "grace" nine times in his two letters. He connects grace in his letters to our election in eternity past, to our salvation in time, to our sanctification (our being made progressively like Christ), and even to the great display of God's grace at the Second Coming.

Do you understand, Christian? We can accomplish nothing of any spiritual value in the Christian life apart from grace, nothing. Grace then is essential to our spiritual survival. And Peter says God only gives grace to the humble. In other words, He withholds it from the proud. This is one of the inviolable laws of God's moral universe. Like gravity, you can acknowledge it and thrive, or you can deny it and bring great harm to yourself. It's simply a reality. God gives grace to the humble, but He resists or is opposed to the proud. That's the biblical case for humility.

Let's look at, secondly, at the practical path to humility, the practical path to humility. I hope, if you're a Christian, you understand how important this is and you want to be rid of your pride, you want to grow in humility. How does that happen? Well, understand that ultimately humility is a gift of the Spirit, according to Galatians 5. The Spirit gives us the grace to be humble, and then He responds to that grace with more grace, or to that humility, I should say, with more grace.

But how does the Spirit do that? How does He produce this change in us? How does He move us from pride to humility? Well, the path is outlined for us here. It's defined in the three practical imperatives in this paragraph. In other words, look at the commands in this little paragraph, and you will have outlined for you a path from where you are in the struggle with pride to greater humility. Here it is. Let's look at these steps.

The first step on the path from pride to humility is submit yourself to human authority. Submit yourself to human authority. Verse 5 says, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders." Now, some commentators only see a lesson here about young men honoring older men. But it's far more likely that Peter means younger men should submit to those who serve in the office of elder. Two reasons stand out for that point.

First of all, the Greek word for "elder" in both verse 1 of this chapter and in verse 5 is the same word, and in both cases, it has no article in the original language. Clearly, 1 - 4 is referring to the office of elder, and there's no compelling exegetical reason to change that meaning in verse 5.

A second reason that that has to be what he means here is how Peter uses the Greek verb "be subject," how he uses it here in 1 Peter. He uses it six times. And every other time he uses that verb "be subject," (you can look them up yourself) every time it means "to submit to someone who is in a position of rightful authority over you." So Peter means here in verse 5 that younger men are to submit themselves to those who are in a position of authority in the church. Now the Greek verb "be subject" has military overtones. It means "to place yourself under the authority of another," as a private does to his sergeant or to his general. The primary application of this principle is for young men to submit to their elders.

But the general principle, as he's dealing with pride, is much broader. If you want to pursue humility, start by submitting yourself to the rightful human authorities God has placed in your life. Now let's just be honest. We all struggle with that. We all struggle in our pride with submitting to proper human authority. Whether it's in the home, whether it's in the church, whether it's in the workplace, or whether it's in the government at large, we struggle with this. But if you want to move from pride to humility, you have to acknowledge that God is on His throne, He has established human authority whether they are good or bad authorities, and He has called us to submit our wills to them as part of His own order in the world He's created. Acknowledging that, responding to that, is the first step to humility.

Let me ask you this morning, think about the people who are rightfully your authority in this life. How are you doing with your submission to them? You say how do I do that? Well, the Westminster Larger Catechism suggests several ways you can submit to the authorities over you. This is the collection of the wisdom of a lot of godly leaders who put together the Westminster Catechism. Here's how. And they've pulled these from Scripture passages.

Show those over you respect in attitude, words and actions. Pray for them. Thank God for them. Imitate their virtues. Cheerfully obey their lawful commands. [In other words, that aren't outside Scripture, that aren't in conflict with Scripture.] Willingly accept their correction. Be loyal to them. Have a forgiving spirit toward their sins and weaknesses, and bring them honor by your behavior.

That's how you can submit to the authorities God has placed in your life, whoever they are. If you want to move from pride to humility, you must submit yourself to the human authorities in your life.

There's a second step. Secondly, you must become a slave of everyone. You must become a slave of everyone. Again, look at verse 5, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." All of you. I mean, clearly Peter is now talking to all the members and leaders of the church. No one is excluded here. And he says I want "all of you, [without exception], to clothe yourselves." Now that is a very interesting Greek word. It translates a Greek word, a rare Greek word that's used only here in the New Testament. It's a word that literally refers to tying on the apron of a slave. Now think with Peter for a moment. What do you think he's thinking about when he writes that?

Clearly his mind is going back to the night of the Last Supper. His mind's going back to John 13, where our Lord gets up because (remember), they went to the Last Supper, they went to the Passover celebration arguing about who was the greatest. They get there; there's no servant to wash their feet, which was the normal tradition. So, their feet are completely unwashed, and they eat without their feet being washed. Jesus gets up, and He takes off His outer robe, and He ties on Himself the apron of a slave, a towel. And He goes around (can you imagine this?) He goes around, and He washes each one of their feet. That's what Peter's thinking of. And he says you clothe yourselves with the apron of a slave, and the slave's apron (notice what he says here that we're to put on) is humility.

Now I want you to go back to Philippians 2, because, I think, here is a commentary on this command to put on humility. Philippians 2. Put on humility like a slave's apron. Paul uses the same Greek word for humility here, and he sort of explains it. Notice verse 3. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit." Selfishness seeks personal goals; empty conceit seeks personal glory. And both of them are built on the foundation of pride. He says don't act in pride; instead, (notice what he says) we are to "regard one another as more important than" ourselves. This is not the spiritual version of Eeyore. "Regard" here describes carefully evaluating the evidence and coming to a verdict. We're to take a careful look at the evidence, and we're to come to this verdict: other people are superior to us.

Now don't misunderstand. Paul is not saying that you have to think everyone else's gifts are superior to yours. They may or may not be. Nor is he saying that you have to think that everyone else is more intelligent than you are. They may or may not be. Nor is he saying that you have to think everyone else is more capable than you are. They may or may not be. God has made us all different in all those ways.

What he means is this: we are to see everyone else as deserving of more honor and respect than we do. And then he says in verse 4, "Look out for ... the interests of others." It's our nature to look out for our own interests. Instead, true humility is always looking at others, looking for a way to serve them. It means we're to seek the welfare of others before our own. And, of course, (notice verse 5) the supreme example of humility is whom? Our Lord in the Incarnation. So then, to clothe yourself with humility is to regard everyone else as more important, more deserving of honor than you are, and to willingly become their slave like Christ became ours.

Let me ask you—really, ask yourself this question. Is that how you think about yourself? Is that how you think about, is that your mindset toward your spouse? Is that your mindset toward your children, your parents, your co-workers, your fellow students? Is that how you think about the people in this church? Or do you see yourself as the one who should be served and honored and admired? You say, how can I get there? How can I get to where I regard others more deserving of honor than myself? Lloyd Jones was right when he said there's only one way to get there, and that's by going to the cross. When I come to the cross, and I see that the only way that I could ever be made right with God was by Christ enduring that, when I see that that's what my sin deserved, it humbles me in the dust.

If you want to move from pride to humility, you must submit to human authority; you must become everyone's slave. You must think of yourself as there to serve them. Like Christ said, I didn't "come to be served, but to serve."

And thirdly, you must embrace God's providence in your circumstances. You must embrace God's providence in your circumstances. Look at verse 6. "Therefore…." Because the proverb is true, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time." The Greek word for "humble yourselves" literally means "to make yourself low" or "to bow before someone." It means recognize God's authority in your life. It means submit to His Word in obedience. In fact, it's interesting. Back in 1:2, Peter refers to true believers as those who are (listen to this) "chosen ... to obey Jesus Christ." That's why you were chosen, to obey Jesus Christ. Humble yourself.

But here in the context of 1 Peter 5, to humble ourselves under God's hand means to accept His providence in our circumstances, even in our trials and troubles and difficulties. Notice 1 Peter 4:12 refers to "fiery" trials. Notice verse 19 of 1 Peter 4. First Peter 4:19, "Therefore those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." Those who suffer according to the will of God.

Let me just ask you. Are there circumstances in your life right now that you're having a hard time embracing, you're having a hard time humbling yourself under God's providence in your life? Notice what Peter says. We're to humble ourselves (I love this) "under the mighty hand of God." The mighty hand of God. That's a common Old Testament expression for God's absolute, irresistible power. Humility begins with seeing the character and perfection and power of God, and that always leads to a sober recognition of our own true condition in God's sight. You remember Isaiah, in Isaiah 6:5, "I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! because I am a man of unclean lips ... I live among a people of unclean lips; [Why?] for [because] my eyes have seen the King, [Yahweh of armies].'" Job 42:5,

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;

But now my eye sees You;

Therefore ... I repent in dust and ashes."

John Flavel said, "They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud." You see, when we struggle with pride, it's because we haven't really come to see God in His glory and majesty. The stars—you go out on a moonless night and (even here in the Metroplex) the stars look so bright at night. But they disappear completely in the light of the sun. The same thing is true about what we think of our own brightness. It disappears when we see ourselves in the light of the Son.

"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." Why? Notice verse 6, so "that He may exalt you at the proper time." Peter remembered that our Lord often said whoever exalts himself will humbled; whoever humbles himself will be exalted. He says, you're going to be exalted? Let God do that. But notice, our exaltation may happen partially in this life. There are many examples of that. But in the New Testament, that little expression there in verse 6, "at the proper time," often has eschatological overtones. In other words, the ultimate fulfillment of this promise doesn't come until Christ's return. Think of it this way: only when Christ returns will we be exalted before all creation as the children of God, as the special objects of His care. It comes then, not now.

Now, one of the chief ways that we demonstrate a humble heart before God, of submission to God, is here in this text. Notice verse 7, "Casting all your anxiety … [upon] Him." Notice verse 7 doesn't begin a new sentence. In the Greek text, as in the New American Standard here, "casting" is a participle. It modifies the main verb of the sentence, "humble yourselves." The participle "casting" tells us how to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand. Here is one of the greatest tests of our humility before God. Do we cast our anxieties on Him? The Greek word for "casting" literally means "to throw something upon someone or something else." It's only used here and in Luke 19, where in the Triumphal Entry the disciples threw their cloaks on the colt as a saddle. Peter's probably drawing on Psalm 55:22, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." What Peter means is this: we, in prayer, are to throw on God anything that makes us anxious. And notice the great encouragement to do this. Verse 7, "Because He cares for you."

Do you understand, Christian, God is your Father, and if it matters to you, it matters to Him? Casting all your anxiety upon Him. You want a simple test of your humility before God? Then ask yourself this question. What do I cast on God in prayer, and what do I decide to handle myself? To whatever extent we fail to cast our anxieties on God, we are demonstrating a heart of independence, self-sufficiency, and that is pride. That is pride toward God.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. If you want to pursue humility, submit yourself to human authority, become a slave of everyone, accept God's providence in your circumstances. That's what He requires. Peter wanted us to know, and he wanted us to be on guard against the greatest danger to our spiritual lives, the danger that puts us on a collision course (listen carefully) pride will put you on a collision course with the people in your life. And it will put it you on a collision course with God Himself, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Let's pray together.

Father, we confess to You that everyone of us here struggles with this sin, every one of us here is tempted to be proud, to allow our hearts to be full of ourselves. Lord, thank You for this serious reminder. We desperately need Your grace. And so, Father, we want humility. May Your Spirit produce humility in us. May His fruit be evident in our lives.

And Father, help us to pursue it, even in the path that you've laid out in this passage. Father, help us to submit to the authorities You've placed in our lives, to think about them rightly, to speak to them rightly, to humble ourselves before You by respecting the authorities You placed around us. Father, help us to think of ourselves as servants of the people around us, not those who ought to be served but, like our Lord, those who serve.

And Father, I pray that You would help us to embrace Your sovereign providence in our circumstances. Don't let us chafe. Help us to embrace it as Your good plan, to live under Your mighty hand knowing that when You choose, You will exalt us.

Father, I pray for the person here this morning who has lived a life of pride, and that pride is most evident, most manifest in their refusal to repent of their sins and to embrace Your Son. Lord, humble them today. May they become a spiritual beggar at Your throne, crying out for your mercy in Christ.

We pray in Jesus name, amen.

Deadly Dangers