At the end of my month at the Great Commission Intensive at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, the Holy Spirit gave me a word of wisdom [see 1 Corinthians 12:8] for a brother called to high-level spiritual warfare who admitted he suffered from pride. I repeat this word for all of us: “War against pride as if your very life depended on it.” Today I read Zephaniah 2:3, and it says the same thing. “Seek the Lord [inquire for Him, inquire of Him, and require Him as the foremost necessity of your life], all you humble of the land who have acted in compliance with His revealed will and have kept His commandments; seek righteousness, seek humility [inquire for them, require them as vital]. It may be you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Pride is a primal sin. It dates back to Eden. It’s deep within us. And we who live to know and operate in the Truth – the Person Jesus Christ Who also comes in written form as the Word or Bible – must wage a real warfare against pride because pride so blinds. Let’s take a look at some verses and phrases from the Holy Bible that diagnose the condition of pride blindedness. 1 John 2:16 describes the society we came from this way: “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things] – these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].” In two places Old Testament prophets write: “the pride of your heart has deceived you.” [See Jeremiah 49:16 and Obadiah 1:3.] A phrase from Job 11:12 in the Amplified describes a proud man very blind to his true state: “…as when he thinks himself free because he is lifted up in pride.” Then Proverbs 11:2 teaches the spiritual yield of pride: “When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.” Finally, Habakkuk 2:4 reveals there is a perversion or twistedness in the proud soul: “Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him.” Pride actually is “the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man” according to Mark 7:22 in the Amplified Bible.
Now that we see our desperate need, how can we get free from pride? How can we attain places of abject humility? First, we must have inside us a great desire to see God – to see the way forward in God. And also a great desire to walk as a kindred spirit to our Elder Brother and Pattern Son, Jesus. Matthew 5:8 tells us the truth, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” John writes in Revelation that it’s the salve or anointing of the Spirit that overcomes the Laodicean thinking of, “I am rich, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing.” The Living Bible proposes, “get medicine from Me to heal your eyes and give you back your sight.” Then, recognize with amazement that Jesus, the Lord of the whole universe, is humble and even lowly. And the more we become like Him, the more we will experience kinship with Him.
There is one more motivation before we get to warfare strategies for the assault against pride. Note these few straightforward verses revealing God’s posture when He sees pride in man. Amos records in 6:8, “The Lord, the God of hosts, says: I abhor, reject, and despise the pride and false, futile glory of Jacob (Israel).” Proverbs 6:16-17 AMP declares that the Lord hates “a proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others]” – it is an “abomination to Him.” Proverbs 16:5 goes further: “Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord.” Then sense His favor on those who comport themselves in humility. 1 Peter 5:5 records, “For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful) – [and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble.” The Psalmist agrees in 138:6 AMP, “For though the Lord is high, yet has He respect to the lowly [bringing them into fellowship with Him]; but the proud and haughty He knows and recognizes [only] at a distance.” And Mary, Jesus’ mother, confirms this same God in Luke 1:51, “He has scattered the proud and haughty in and by the imagination and purpose and designs of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree…the rich He has sent away empty-handed – without a gift.” Isaiah 66:2 is the attitude of heart He wants: “This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word.” David’s Psalm 25 tells us, “The humble He teaches His way.”
Dating from my first steps with Jesus after I surrendered to and encountered Him around May 1995, I entered into the fight to stay in humility before the Lord. I had thick walls of pride to hack through as well as serious internal insecurities. But I truly wanted to see; I desired in wholeheartedness to gain Christ. So whenever pride surfaced, I entered into the war of Spirit vs. flesh. I sought answers from the Lord and His Book, the Bible. Again and again I would go over the promises concerning humility and the precepts addressing pride. Victory sometimes took significant hours per week. The warfare involved hard labor. And in truth, growth in sustained humility took a number of years of perseverance. Today, often after a success, I find there are deeper cuts to go in attaining full freedom from my pride. However, praise the Lord God: because I have cooperated with Him, I now experience longer and longer stretches of clear, cool, good-tasting humility. Today, I only experience shorter or longer skirmishes against pride.
A key thing in overcoming pride is obedience to Psalm 119:11. Storing the Word in your heart does hold you back from sin. James 1:21 adds, “…in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.” The more verses you take in that warn against pride and promise humility the better. The Holy Spirit then has Truth to work with. He brings up the Word just when you need it, and right at the threshold of thought, you can choose to think and declare words of humility over your soul. The idea is to literally become the Word in one area at a time. From John’s Gospel, Jesus is the Word made flesh. We, too, are to become a walking, talking, functioning Word of God. For example, when swelling rises up, say aloud Psalm 36:11, “Let not the foot of pride overtake me.” Or state the truth of Matthew 23:12 over your soul, “Whoever exalts himself with haughtiness and empty pride shall be humbled (brought low; and whoever humbles himself – who has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly – shall be raised to honor.” You might have to do this a lot. I did.
Another key is commanding your soul to bow low. As much as you need to, speak with authority, “Soul, humble yourself before the Lord.” I have done this, at times, all through a morning or the better part of a day. And over extended seasons. Once you have won some battles over pride and the Lord’s dominion within is more established, less work is required. As with other weapons, if you are vigilant and watchful and utilize this command at the very first sign of pride, a win will happen more quickly. Both James 4:10 and 1 Peter 5:6 direct us to humble ourselves. Along this line, take thoughts of pride and grandiose self-centered thoughts and projections captive to the obedience of Christ. Refuse such thoughts. In this, it helps to keep your inward gaze on Jesus. Dethrone feelings of pride by staying open to the heart of God. Militantly cast down imaginations and high things that rise up against the Truth – the true knowledge of God found in Holy Writ. [See 2 Corinthians 10:5.]
With the Word, we need the Spirit. Welcome the Holy Spirit in full measure. Pray in the Spirit i.e. in tongues for extended hours. Ask stronger saints to pray for you. James 4:5-6 reveals, “The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us – and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love. But He gives us more and more grace [power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully].” After all, the Holy Spirit is the producer of humility, lowliness, and meekness or the grace to wear the Lord’s yoke – these are of His fruit. Too, God is our source of love. And the pursuit of agape love will deny envy, jealousy, vainglory, conceit, and pride a place in us. So 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 prescribes. At the point of testing, draw upon the Spirit inside. Pray: “Lord, Your love for brother Ed or sister Ellen.” “Lord, You be humility in me.”
Another primary tactic is found in Galatians 2:20. Declare it this way: “Pride is crucified with Christ; pride no longer lives and reigns in me, but Christ reigns in me.” Use 2:20 as well for selfish ambition, self-exaltation, or any traits of self-centered life. At the cross, we entered into the circumcision of the flesh – “the circumcision not made with hands” of Colossians 2:11. This “a spiritual circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt carnal nature with its passions and lusts).” Now we can pray as needed, “Lord, cut away all pride, vainglory, and conceit.” “Uproot pride. Go to the very taproot.” Pray repeatedly until pride is subdued – until it is nailed down in the crucified position. Your aim is to once more experience a free-flowing stream of the life of God from within, and taste His humility.
Insecurity turns out to be a root of pride. Because insecurity drives a soul to hunger for attention and recognition, the swelling of pride often results. In my own life, asking the Lord to heal my insecurities greatly lessened pride’s hold. What such a soul really needs is the unconditional love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the intimacy (into-me-you-see) and expert nurture the Godhead so freely gives. I have prayed with powerful results, “Lord I receive Your perfect love. I receive Your perfect nurture.” Confidence has come. The humility of Christ has become my default mode. When the flesh-dominated self again seeks center stage, state, “My drive for attention, recognition, adoration, and worship from others is crucified with Christ. Christ and His Christ-nature reign in me.” According to Galatians 2:20 PHILLIPS, “I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old “I”, but the living Christ within me.” The Amplified Version reads, “I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Psalm 100:3 reveals the truth that slays seeking the place of God; “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” All glory to my Maker—my Designer. The Author and Perfector of my story. We must keep our gaze upon Him to overcome in general and overcome pride. Hebrews 12:2 AMP encourages, “focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity] . . . ”
In and around people, especially around the Body of Christ, 1 Peter 5:5 is mandatory: “Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another.” Wear a servant’s garb by praying for the needs of others, and watch any inflated emotion, caused by an inordinate focus on yourself, go down low. Continuously confess aloud Philippians 2:3, “I consider others (name them) more excellent – more highly than myself.” I encourage: keep at this confession until it is grafted into your soul. Verse 4 explains how to obey verse 3: Regard the virtues of others. Look to their interests above your own.
Also in Body and family and civic life, bear in mind Jesus’ teaching from Luke 14:7-10 – a lesson in humility. “Then he gave a little word of advice to the guests when he noticed how they were choosing the best seats. When you are invited to a wedding reception, don’t sit down in the best seat. It might happen that a more distinguished man than you has also been invited. Then your host might say, ‘I am afraid you must give up your seat for this man.’ And then, with considerable embarrassment, you will have to sit in the humblest place. No, when you are invited, go and take your seat in an inconspicuous place, so that when your host comes in he may say to you, ‘Come on, my dear fellow, we have a much better seat than this for you.’ That is the way to be important in the eyes of all your fellow-guests! For everyone who makes himself important will become insignificant, while the man who makes himself insignificant will find himself important.” Direct yourself at all times to go low. The Apostle Paul considered himself last in the triumphal procession. [See 1 Corinthians 4:9.]
And most helpful in successful spiritual life is the practice of removing yourself to a place alone with the Lord and His Word after times with fellow humans. Some duration given to prayer and the Word keeps you walking in just what the Word promises and keeps you dependent on the very Source of humility – Christ. You stay centered in Him. You stay anti-pride in your stance. Such a discipline reminds you that you are a container of Another. As you grow in grace upon grace, this right discernment protects you from spiritual pride or pride in your spiritual gifts and exploits. As John 15:5 reveals, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me – cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing.” Always know He is the Treasure; we are just the vessels. 2 Corinthians 4:7 puts it beautifully, “However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.” Emblazon this on your heart: to God belongs the glory and the thanksgiving for what He is making of you.
We have talked about using the Word to overcome the flesh. Know that you have to make your flesh submit to the Truth. At times, you must hammer your flesh down with powerful and pointed verses. At other junctures, you have to use the “sword” of the Word to cut through or hack through the flesh, specifically pride. When pride is hard to conquer, demons are likely involved as they feed on pride. In such cases, the all-powerful weapon of the blood works when you are not strong enough with other weapons. Remembering Jesus drenched in blood at the cross humbles us. But the cry aloud of “the blood, the blood, the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ stands against you” in the face of aggressive demonic spirits does prevail. [See Revelation 12:11.] Couple this with repentance for allowing pride in your heart. Ask the Lord to forgive you, and also forgive yourself. Follow with the prayer: “I loose myself from a spirit of pride.” Then command pride to go. All in Jesus’ name.
Finally, the call to humility is a call to know your true condition apart from Jesus, Savior and full Zoe Life Source. Jeremiah 17:9 instructs us well: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?” Proverbs 3:5 adds, “Don’t ever trust yourself.” Thankfully we have the Lord. We have the Healer of pride blindedness. And we can pray day after day Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me…. When far away you know my every thought…. You know what I am going to say before I even say it…. I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from God!… Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad (any hurtful way), and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Readings I recommend in your pursuit of humility:
Humility by Andrew Murray
How to Get Rid of Self by Betty Green
Available from www.bettygreenministries.com
The Veil of Self by Art Katz
Online article at www.artkatzministries.org/articles/the-veil-of-self/
Walking in the Spirit by Katherine Bell
Request by email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the end:
Daniel 4:17 “This sentence is by the decree of the [heavenly] watchers and the decision is by the word of the holy ones, to the intent that the living may know that the Most High [God] rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will and sets over it the humblest and lowliest of men.”