In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
There may be no other word used in the Bible that congers up more confusion and misunderstanding than the word holiness. The Bible declares that holiness is a very important component to the Christian faith; so important that without it . . . we are in big trouble!
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
In light of this, it is important to understand what this means, since so much depends on this! The word used for “holiness” is this:
“Purification, a state of purity; to be consecrated, sanctification”
When the Hebrews established a system of sacrificing to God, they eventually built a large temple in Jerusalem. All of the temple equipment went through a ritual of cleansing and was consecrated to God; being made holy.
The best concise definition of holiness; set apart for God, for His purposes only. When we come to faith in Christ, we become holy, by His blood, which He shed for us!
Holiness is a product of Grace; none of us did anything to become holy. In and of ourselves there is nothing holy about us; but by faith and through grace, we came to Christ . . . and He made us holy!
Therefore, it makes sense that if we would experience more holiness in our lives, we need more grace. The road to experiencing more grace in your life is learning the way of humility.
Jesus said . . . “Learn from me; for I am humble and lowly in heart;“Jesus was a humble man. Remember the opening Scripture; “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” We need more grace! So today, we will explore what it means to be humble.
To begin, we must remind ourselves that Jesus did not come to condemn sinners.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
It is interesting to note that Jesus never condemned sinners; He did however denounce and deplore hypocrites!
“A hypocrite is a person who excuses his own sin, while condemning the sins of others.”
The hypocrite does not see his own hypocrisy, because he cannot see, or refuses to see, the flaws in himself. One who cannot see the flaws in themselves rarely, if ever, seek mercy.
Since he does not seek mercy, he has no mercy to give! Moreover, since he is always under God’s judgment, he passes judgment on others.
As a person draws near to God, they become acutely aware of the sins in their own heart. The Holy Spirit is not revealing these sins in order to condemn them, but rather to establish humility and to deepen their knowledge of their own need for more grace.
It is at this critical point that people either humbles themselves before God, or become hypocritical.
Those who choose to follow God will humble themselves and ask God for grace to deliver them from the sin that has entangled them. For those who will try to excuse their sin, the deserving title is hypocrite.
Jesus used a parable to highlight this very issue.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Holiness is not about obeying a set of rules and regulations; that only breeds more hypocrisy. Holiness is about getting rid of pride, which enables us to come to terms with the true condition of our heart.
If we cannot see the depravity of our own sinful nature, we could become “Christian Pharisees” hypocrites full of contempt and self-righteousness.
Whenever we judge another, too often, we do it with a sense of self-righteousness. Whenever we criticize like this, we do it with contempt as the motivation.
Too often, when you get a group of people together, like those mentioned in Jesus’ parable, those who are confident in their own perceived righteousness, they look others with a sense of superiority.
The idea in their heart is that they are somehow a little more holy than the next one . . . this is in fact the very opposite of holiness, because they lack humility!
The holiness we seek must go beyond the living of proud lives, occasionally interrupted by brief moments of self-abasement; we need to allow meekness and humility to become a way of life; we must make a choice to walk in humility.
The hypocrite loves to judge, it makes them feel superior, and too many Christians fall into this category. Remember, Jesus came into this world not to condemn, but to save. Anyone can pass judgment, but who will promote salvation?
- Will the critical one lay down their life?
- Will they love the one they are condemning?
- Can a critical person spend time fasting and praying for the perceived weaknesses in others?
That is what Jesus would do!
One act of Jesus’ love operating through us, would do more to warm a cold heart than all of our wonderful criticisms. So grow in love, give mercy, be humble in heart, and you will be sure to grow in holiness!
Examine your own heart . . .
Do you insist on finding fault in others?
Do you consider yourself to be spiritually superior?
Jesus’ standard of judgment is very high; remember Jesus said; “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
We need to speak out about sin, but our motivation needs to be one of love, with redemptive purposes in mind, not showing others our superficial spiritual superiority!
In the kingdom of God, unless you are first committed to die for people, you are not permitted to judge them.