Prov. 16:5 says, “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord…” God has seen to it that we all occupy the place of blind, helpless, needy sinners totally dependent on His grace. There is no room for boasting. Rom. 3:27. Eph. 2:8-9.
“If anyone is “in Christ” it is because God has taken the initiative. There is no room for “flesh” to glory in God’s presence. I Cor. 1:27-31.
In John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” How is it that so many religious people today are so sure of themselves? What kind of a spirit is it that produces such presumption?
The only reasonable place for us is one of humility and submission before a great and holy God before whom we will one day stand and give an account. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6.
I Cor. 8:2 says, “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” There is no room for being cocksure and complacent in God.
One key ingredient of true spiritual knowledge is the keen awareness that we are helpless undeserving sinners.
When any human being truly encounters God and is allowed to “see” Him in any measure as He is, that person also sees himself for what he is. Job abhored himself. Isaiah saw himself and all his people as “unclean.”
When Jesus revealed himself to Peter and his fellow fishermen in a miraculous fish catch, Peter’s response is described in Luke 5:8: “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
As surely as we are utterly dependent upon God for spiritual knowledge, so are we dependent upon God for our righteousness.
Any approach to God based on any righteousness we might think we possess is wasted effort. God has no respect for any man who imagines that he is acceptable and qualified to approach Him through anything he is, or anything he has done, is doing or intends to do. Read Luke 18:9-14 about the Pharisee and Publican who went to the temple to pray. “ 9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
God desires to reveal Himself and to enter into a relationship with men, but He is looking for a certain kind of man. Is. 66:2 says, “… but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” See also Is. 57:15.
Jesus said in Matt. 18:3, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Most men are far too proud to take the place of a child before God. Yet, in reality, what are we before His greatness?
Read Solomon’s prayer for wisdom (I Kings 3:6-9). In particular he said in verse 7, “…I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.” That is a good place to occupy.
False religious knowledge produces evil fruit in all who are influenced by it in any measure — even God’s elect. That fruit includes such things as pride, presumption, complacency, spirits of division, zeal, ambition and other such things.
It’s good if we can say from our hearts, “Lord, I don’t know anything as I ought to know it and I’m totally dependent upon you. I desire to know what you want me to know, whatever will bring glory to you and help to fulfill your sovereign will in my life.”
Man in his natural state knows nothing about God nor does he care. All he cares about is following his natural inclinations and seeking to gratify his natural desires. Rom. 3:9-18. I John 2:15-17. All that he is and knows and does is corrupted by sin and spiritual blindness. II Cor. 4:3-4. He calls evil good and good evil. Is. 5:20.
No man ever comes into possession of spiritual knowledge without divine revealtion, the direct personal intervention of God. I Cor. 2:9-14.
This is the reason men respond differently to the gospel. In John 6:44-45 Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” The natural man hates this truth because he is a rebel, but it is the truth nonetheless.
Two people could travel life’s road side by side and experience similar things yet one be softened and prepared for the gospel and the other untouched or even hardened.
Jacob and Esau were brothers — they had the same environment, the same father and mother — yet see how differently they turned out. Though Jacob was by nature a schemer, yet God brought him to a place where he became Israel, a prince of God (Gen. 32:28).
Esau was a profane man, interested solely in what his flesh needed and desired. He saw no real value in his birthright. He totally missed the spiritual significance of being heir to Abraham and Isaac. Even when he realized he had lost out and begged for his father’s blessing, I doubt he understood what he had lost. He saw only the natural blessing of being heir to a wealthy man. Gen. 27:34. Heb. 12:16-17.
God has, down through the ages, similarly separated men and women unto himself, revealing Himself by various means — according to His own schedule — that their hearts might be made ready to receive the King, who died and rose again that we might live and reign with him forever! Hallelujah!
Seeing the Kingdom
One thing needs to be made clear, however. Unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). Even one prepared of God is still a natural man until he experiences the new birth. I Cor. 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
He may be around a true ministry of the word. He may be able, through his natural intellect, to grasp in a measure many of the ideas and teachings that pertain to God’s kingdom and its citizens. He may even seem to be able to put them into words in such a way that you would think he truly understood. Yet, unless he is born again, such a religious profession — in reality a religious effort — is in vain. Like the house built upon the sand it may appear to be very solid and impressive, but let just the right conditions arise and it will be evident that the necessary foundation is lacking. The house will fall and the ruin will be great (Luke 6:49).
No religious “house” will succeed that is built upon that which is merely human. No amount of intellect, will power, zeal, resolve, self-righteousness or human effort of any kind will avail.
(Psa 94:17 KJV) Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
(Ps(Gal 4:11 KJV) I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
a 127:1 KJV) Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
(Isa 65:23 KJV) They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
(Isa 65:24 KJV) And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
Luke 13:24 makes it obvious that that is the case: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
Multitudes are putting forth a religious effort of some kind believing that they can thereby be acceptable to God. Paul spoke in Rom. 10:2-3 of his fellow Jews: “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
If the fear of God is the beginning of spiritual knowledge and a work of separation and preparation is a necessary part of the foundation, then the new birth is the door. Only after we pass through that door do we begin to see God’s Kingdom as it truly is — and even then, seeing is a process.
This is why Jesus stressed the need of those who professed belief to become disciples — learners — thereby coming into possession of truth that would make them free. John 8:31-32. In reality many of them were children of the devil (John 8:44).
John said this of Jesus in John 1:11-13: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This truth is greatly misunderstood in our day. The modern concept of “receiving Christ” as praying a little prayer to Jesus in the sky to invite Him into one’s heart fits in well with the easy-believism that has filled churches with lost men and women who know nothing of the new birth. Make no mistake, however — there is no new birth unless Christ, by the Holy Spirit, takes up both residence and possession of our hearts.
The tragedy in our day is that most religious conversion has nothing to do with Christ, but is an empty form devoid of spiritual reality. It has a form of godliness but denies (or resists) the power thereof. II Tim. 3:5. “
This great God has placed all authority into the hands of His Son, Jesus Christ, who said, “All power” (authority) “is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matt. 28:18. The relationship is such that what the Son does perfectly represents and is fully backed up by the Father. Reject Christ and you reject God. It’s that simple.
Phil. 2:9-11 says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
No one can bypass the Son and get to God. John 14:6. He alone has the commission from the Father to establish a kingdom that will last forever. Isaiah 9:7 says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Daniel 7:13-14 says, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Matt. 23:37-38: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
Notice that Jesus said, “How often would I have gathered ….” Christ was the One who spoke to Abraham, who raised up Moses, who led the Israelites to Canaan, who anointed and sent the prophets. He was the Rock that followed them in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:4). Now present among them in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, He was about to be crucified.
Spiritual blindness had resulted in the Jewish leaders rejecting the authority of Christ and bringing judgment upon themselves and their followers. I Thess. 2:14-16.
Christ has the authority of God. It is not for Him to bow to us; it is for us to bow to Him. He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” “
justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.