Humility is Next to Godliness

Key Verse: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
—James 4:10

Lesson Scripture:
James 4

THE THREE OPPONENTS of the narrow way to life, for the Christians God is selecting in the Gospel Age as a people for his name (Acts 15:14), are his own flesh, the world, and the Devil. All three are mentioned in chapter four of this epistle, which begins by saying, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”—James 4:1,2, New International Version

Then, when we decide to go to God, we still don’t get what our selfish desires want, because of being motivated by the lusts of the flesh, and so James says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (vs. 3, NIV) Thus we see that our own flesh, our selfish desires, are a hindrance to our walk in the narrow way.

Our flesh, in turn, gets influenced by the world and its ambitions and standards. The church is pictured as a “chaste virgin” because she remains unspotted from the world. (II Cor. 11:2) To become involved with the world is likened to committing adultery. James says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (vss. 4-6, NIV) The key to overcoming the world’s influence is to be humble. A good definition of humility is not to think too highly of oneself, or too lowly. Rather, it is to have a sober estimate of ourselves, and then God can use us.

The Scriptures properly tell us that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18) This has been proven to be true from time immemorial in man’s existence on earth. At first a haughty spirit causes a downfall. If the lesson is not learned, and pride becomes engrained in a character, it will lead to destruction or second death. The Scriptures also say, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” (Prov. 18:12) God cannot give honor unless humility is demonstrated.

The final enemy of the New Creation is the Devil. He is the master mind who seeks to use our own flesh and the world to oppose God’s influence in us. James gives us a very simple solution to handling the Devil by telling us to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (vs. 7) Pride is the favorite tool of the Adversary. He seeks to use it on every occasion. The Scriptures say of him, “Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: … I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:13,14) When we recognize how Satan and pride are so completely associated together, we will seek to resist pride coming into our hearts, and in so doing will resist the Devil. To such, God will indeed give grace.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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