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Irrelevant Spiritual Claims

Philippians 3:4-6
… though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. (NIVIUK)

Pride gets everywhere: it is the essence of sin which has infused the whole human race.  Pride says that, ‘It is from me, of me, due to me and the glory goes to me’.  No wonder that pride will always try to exclude Jesus, because, "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever! Amen" (Romans 11:36).

It should not be surprising that the real Jesus is unwanted when pride is encouraged in education, congratulated by recruitment agencies and fostered in every society.  We envy the success of people who achieve (or whose family have money or power) and desire their confident lifestyle.  Alas that confidence of self-ability is embedded into Christless religion too.  It may be the excellence of self-discipline or the fervour of good works.  In Paul's case it was also his family background and religious education.  His pride drove him to the pinnacle of blindness, in thinking that he was perfect: and therefore surely God must be very pleased with him.

The three accounts of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1-18; Acts 22:1-13; Acts 26:12-18) all show Paul as a broken man before Jesus.  His heritage had meant nothing, and his zeal was misplaced.  He had missed the point because he was blind to the truth about Jesus.  He had no concept of grace until his pride collapsed and he started looking up to Jesus.  But that endpoint to his pride was also the start-point to a real relationship with Jesus.  You cannot have both self-pride and Jesus: one will displace the other, depending on which you love best.

Alas, too much Christless and proud religion has wormed its way into the church, defeating its joy and immobilising its mission.  The Lord Jesus Christ has been replaced by strategic thinking, secular ideology or self-contented laziness; but all dressed up in a spiritual veneer which fools most people except God.  It is time for God's people to turn from such foolishness and accept the Lordship of Christ over themselves, their families, their money and their church.  Then they will be the breath of fresh clean air in the office or factory, the fields, markets or the docks.

 

Prayer 
Holy Father. Thank You for Your Word which teaches me not to place my confidence in human thoughts and energy. While I thank You for the privileges I have received, I know that they are all irrelevant in the face of knowing You through Jesus Christ. Please forgive me for the sin of pride which has invaded my life deeper than I know, and give me faith to look to You alone, dependent on Your grace day by day. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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