The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

The Pride of Life & Confidence in the Flesh

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (I Jn. 2:15-17)

I was considering this morning the following question:

Just what does “the world” have to seek after, if it is not seeking after Christ? The answer is always the lust of the flesh (pleasure), the lust of the eyes (covetousness for material gain), and the pride of life. The “pride of life” is the hardest for me to define. But I think the apostle Paul explained what the pride of life was for him:

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:3-11)

The confidence Paul had in his life in the flesh prior to his conversion = the pride of life.

These were the things Paul once considered “gain” when his confidence was in his flesh–

1. Being circumcised (following religious code)
2. Being “of the stock of Israel” (Nationalism)
3. Being of the tribe of Benjamin (Pride in family)
4. Being considered a “Hebrew of Hebrews” (cream of the crop in his nation)
5. Being a Pharisee (religious leader)
6. Being zealous for his apostate religion against the church
7. Being “blameless” in his lawkeeping

But how did Paul view these things now that he was a follower of Jesus?–He viewed them all as “rubbish” compared to knowing and gaining Christ, and being found in Him. These things no longer had any value to him!

And look what Paul says just a few verses later:

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (17-20)

Paul wanted the Philippians to walk just as he was walking, focused on gaining Christ, not glorying in the things of this world. He redefined “the circumcision” as those who worship God in the Spirit. Thus the Christian Philippians–though not circumcised in their flesh–were part of “the circumcision.” Paul wept over those who had their minds set on earthly things, and reminded the Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven! Those whose minds are set on earthly things are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” That wonderful, violent cross has forever broken down the wall of partition between men, and rendered as rubbish all the things in which they once gloried–things which are actually “their shame.”

It is heartbreaking to me to see so many professing Christians today glorying in earthly things. Is it not the pride of life to be “proud to be an American”? Or proud that our relatives have served in some war? Should we be proud that our relatives have helped destroy lives, or should we consider this our–and their–shame? I know this cuts into all that we have been taught since we were born. But the empty traditions handed us by our fathers were and are all leading to destruction anyway. It is high time to denounce them as the rubbish of the world and choose Christ. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Lk. 16:15)

To become a Christian is to undergo a radical transformation in the way we think. When all things become new, our very understanding of life is fundamentally changed. The Sermon on the Mount redefines “blessing” for the follower of Jesus, and gives him a whole new way to behave. What the world views as logical and praiseworthy, the saint now abhors. And what the saint now sees as correct, by following the teaching and example of Christ, the world rejects (Jn. 15:18-20).

Where the world exalts pride, Jesus said the poor in spirit are blessed. Where the world promotes a search for constant laughter and “happiness,” Jesus says those who mourn are blessed. Where the world approves power over others by brute force, Jesus says it is the meek who will inherit all things. Where the world says “only the strong survive,” Jesus says the merciful will receive that mercy which will eternally sustain them. Where the world insists that greater aggression is the answer to man’s constant strivings against one another, Jesus said the peacemakers are “the sons of God.” Where the world teaches that we should avoid suffering at any cost, Jesus said persecution for His sake is a sure sign of God’s blessing.

Dear reader, let us be careful that we aren’t latched onto things that are “passing away,” or seeking blessings as defined by the world rather than God. This is very serious, for to love the world is to prove that the love of the Father is not in us. Let us not glory in our shame. If we are honest, there are many things in our nation’s–or family’s–history that should make us blush (wherever we are from.)

All the nations and families of the earth have fallen. When Paul penned the words, “All have sinned…”, he was in large part explaining to the Gentiles that his own Jewish nation had fallen short just as the Gentiles had. There is no national or familial “high ground” from which one group can glory over another group–unless we wish to lose Christ and pass away with this world. And any doctrine that provides such a “moral high ground” for any group of people on the earth, is a doctrine of devils sent to create enemies of the cross of Christ. Any doctrine that promotes the pride of life and confidence in the flesh, also promotes a departure from the Lord and a choosing of the curse. Be not deceived.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” (Jer. 17:5)

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