Confused Humble Pride, Devil-Style
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Peter was horrified at seeing Jesus wash feet. Peter felt a slave=s task was not fit for Messiah. It was beneath the dignity of the office.
In a stupor of amazement, Peter staggered up to the devil=s counterfeit counter. Satan, at his bargain table, offers counterfeit evils that can mimic any good gift from God. Unfortunately, the quality of the devil=s merchandise is quite good, always closely resembling God=s genuine original.
Christ has churches; the devil does too (apostate ones). Christ gives love; Satan lust. Christ gives life; the devil existence. Christ gives bliss forever; Satan offers pleasure for a season. Christ has angels; the devil demons.
Christ offers assurance; Satan pride. The latter was Peter=s problem. The Devil is subtle in dispensing pride. Knowing it is a #1 Christian killer, he uses any method he can to inject it into our hearts. He can make us proud when we think we are being humble, as Peter illustrated here.
John 13:6-7 (Holman) He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, ALord, are You going to wash my feet?@ Jesus answered him, AWhat I=m doing you don=t understand now, but afterwards you will know.@
Peter showed confused pride, devil style. Nothing was wrong with Peter not understanding the why of what Jesus was doing. Much about the Lord=s ways we do not understand. Ignorance is not a sin, but the way we respond to it can be.
Peter=s mistake was not in misunderstanding, but in feeling he had the right to stop Jesus. Peter=s duty was plain, it was to obey Christ. Our place is to submit to God, whether we understand His reasons or not. The Bible may not resolve all our intellectual difficulties, but it does sufficiently light the path we should walk.
To trust, submit, and obey, is better than to understand. We know the Lord always does right. Blessed is the person who, though not fully understanding, does not try to outwit the Lord.
When we are confused about His ways, God expects us to respond by saying, AI do not understand, but I submit.@ The devil can take our confusion and turn it into the pride of AI do not understand, therefore I reject (or rebel).@
People often live in sin and blame their disobedience indirectly on God. Unable to understand every detail about Christianity, they feel this gives them the right to reject it in toto. The problem, though, is not God=s communication being unclear, but our lack of submission.
Some live in sin, glibly saying Bible standards are confusing, too hard to understand. Really? AYou shall not steal, commit adultery, kill, lie, covet, or be unkind to one another.@ What in this is hard to understand?
The plan of salvation is adequately explained. Even children understand it. But unbelievers often say they do not understand. This is confused pride, devil-style. Receiving salvation is not a matter of understanding, but rather willingness.
Why do we require 100% knowledge in spiritual things? We have it in little else. Patients rarely understand the chemistry of medicine. Eaters usually don=t understand digestion. Do listeners understand laws of hearing? Do observers understand laws of light? Probably not. Yet in the spiritual realm we think we have to understand all the minute reasons for God=s every deed.
We have been shown enough to be able to respond rightly. What we don=t know does not lessen, nullify, or impair the value of what we do know.
Peter was not to oppose what he did not understand. His duty was to acquiesce to the One who can give a good reason for all He said and did.
Trust the Lord. Flavel said, AGod=s providences, like the Hebrew letters, are often to be read backwards.@ If we submit to His will we shall in due time understand the Awhy@ of His dealings. It may not come in this life, but someday it will.
A traveler, passing through a woods, saw a huge oak. It had a misshapen trunk and marred the scenery. He said he would cut it down if he were its owner. Leaving the woods, he ascended a hill and reached a scenic overlook. As he turned to view the forest, the misshapen oak tree was the most beautiful part of the landscape. One day, we too shall have a clearer vision of life=s mysteries.
As we face the dilemmas of life, the choice is ours B submission, or confused pride, devil-style.
John 13:8-9 AYou will never wash my feet B ever!@ Peter said. Jesus replied, AIf I don=t wash you, you have no part with Me.@ Simon Peter said to Him, ALord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.@
Two, Peter showed humble pride, devil-style. Peter was adamant until Jesus threatened to remove his chance of sharing in the kingdom=s work. Once convinced, Peter was not content with doing it halfway. He impulsively said, AAlso my hands and my head.@
Our first reaction to this is AWhat humility.@ But look again. He is still displaying self-will. His attitude is the same. He still wants to tell Jesus what to do. Peter was essentially saying if you=re going to do it, do it right, with Aright@ meaning my way.
By refusing Jesus= act of servant-hood, Peter was actually putting himself above Jesus. He presumed to judge the Lord, to pronounce this act unworthy of God=s Son. He thought himself humble to refuse Jesus= advance, but proved himself proud by trying to dictate to the Master.
Under the guise of humility, Peter contradicted Jesus. This is humble pride, devil-style. It is a false misguided humility.
The first requirement of discipleship is self-surrender, a humble willingness to be served as well as to serve. We must let God do to us what He deems best. We either accept what Jesus says and does or we have no part with him. We must believe He best knows what is most helpful for His dignity and our well being.
Watch out for humble pride. It creeps up in many ways: AI=m not capable of doing anything to help the church.@ AI=m not good enough to get very involved in church work.@ AI=ve sinned too much to be forgiven.@
The last one is one of Satan=s most effective ploys. Peter seemed humble, but his protest is the same pride unredeemed people show when so confident of their ability to save themselves that they refuse to accept divine cleansing.
Humility becomes presumption when it sets aside free grace. Humility is misplaced if it says the Gospel is too easy to be accepted, too good to be true.
Lost people want to do everything for themselves, to earn salvation, rather than accept what Jesus did for them. They would rather work their way to Heaven, serving Jesus, than to have Him serve them and make the way possible. Peter would have very likely been more than willing to wash Jesus= feet. He would have considered it an honor.
The philosophy of earned salvation contains a pride that assumes a person can be good enough to deserve Heaven. Pride thus masquerades as humility.
Humility is the first precept in Godliness, the key to unlock every Christian treasure. We cannot be saved without it. We cannot grow in grace without it. No wonder Satan counterfeits it.
If we mourn over our sins, yet let this sense of unworthiness keep us away, will this supposed humility save us? No. It is counterfeit.
All the remorse in the world is not sufficient to save. We could cry till Judgment Day and still be lost. Grief is useless unless it drives us to the cross.
Do not go to Hell because too proudly humble to be saved. Devil-work makes us believe there is humility in doubting God=s grace shown in Jesus.
Who are we to say grace is too good to be true? If God has ordained it, what right do we have to nullify it, to reject Jesus= blood, to make the cross null and void. We cannot undo the cross, but can make it of no effect as far as our own life is concerned. Don=t lose Heaven under the pretense of humility.