One of my good friends in my local community asked an interesting question in his Facebook status recently. He asked, “Why do people need scripture? More than anything, they need scripture so they can judge other people, and at the same time, in a subtle way, as a means to exalt themselves.” He makes some good points, while genuinely wanting to know why Scripture is necessary in the life of a believer in Jesus.
Unfortunately, my friend is right about why many – not all – use Scripture. “Church people” have become rather infamous for their hypocrisy, with many well-known ministers having obvious moral failure in their own homes, while at the same time preaching what other should and shouldn’t do from the pulpit. Even if it’s not as obvious, many of us still struggle from time to time with living our own lives rightly, while advising others how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. None of us are perfect, but hopefully some of us are able to utilize Scripture as it was intended, rather than put others down in order to look better ourselves.
The very Scriptures that demonstrate our need for a Savior in order to be made righteous are also the same Scriptures that caution us against spiritual arrogance. “Do another out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) The Lord promised to take the prideful down a peg or two. He takes the sin of pride seriously. “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.’ ” (Jeremiah 13:9)
When we become spiritually arrogant, we lose sight of the whole point of Scripture! “For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) We are to make sacrifices in order to advance the message of Jesus Christ – this includes laying down our life and all that we are, in order to make Him known. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16) That sounds very humbling.
King Solomon wisely cautions in Proverbs 16:18 that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” He also reminds us that we are to recognize and hate evil, while maintaining a humble attitude: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” (Proverbs 8:13) Contrary to what our minds would naturally think, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor,” (Proverbs 29:23) and “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) God takes pride seriously, so if someone is serious about following Him and being obedient to the commands of Scripture, they will recognize that they are nothing without the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The laws of God should make us realize how unable we are to live a sinless life without the sacrifice of Jesus, rather than serve to puff us up and make us boastful. As the apostle Paul stated, “But He (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness!’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) “Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done.” (Romans 15:18)
Our attitude should be this: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Our only pride should be in the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed for us fallen sinners who are incapable of meeting the holy standard of God’s law without His death on the cross as our atonement.