Archive for Bible

The Antichrist: Who And When?

Posted in Antichrist, Bible, Christianity, End Times, Rapture, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by willnotbesilent

Since the early days of Christianity, scholars and layfolk have been on the alert for the Antichrist. The Antichrist is, according to most theological prognosticators, an individual who takes over the world in the End Times, the exact antithesis of God. Some have suggested that it will be Satan himself indwelling a human being and wielding incredible, almost godlike powers. Some believe that he is represented by the beast in Revelation.

Just as in the case of the Rapture and other related topics, so much confusion, myth, and assumption has evolved around the subject of the Antichrist that the far simpler truth has been obscured. This is another case in which we must fall back to the Scripture and find out what God has to say on the matter, tossing aside the conjectures of men.

First, the most basic thing to do is examine the Scripture that specifically mention the Antichrist. Notice as you look at these references that the only place where the Antichrist is mentioned is in the Epistles of John. One of the first things to realize about the epistles of John is that they are not prophetic. They are purely instructional, written to edify and encourage believers in the tenets of the Way.  Keep this in mind as you read.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. — I John 2:18

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. — I John 2:22

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. — I John 4:3

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. — 2 John 1:7

These are the only passages in Scripture in which the antichrist is mentioned. There is absolutely no reference to the Antichrist in the prophetic book of Revelation, or any other book of prophecy. These are the only direct references to the antichrist. Therefore we should take these verses as a starting point.

First, let’s look at the word “antichrist” itself. It is a transliteration of the Greek “antichristos”, which is a compound word consisting of “anti” and “christos”.

Christos” is the word from which we derive the term “Christ”, and means “anointed one”. “Christos”, of course, in Scriptural terms, is a reference to Jesus.

Anti” means “opposite to, opposing, instead of, or against”. It implies being on the opposite end of the pole or spectrum from the person or thing to which “anti” refers.

Thus it is that “antichrist” means “opposing or opposite to the Anointed One” — or, “against Christ”.

WHEN WILL THE ANTICHRIST ARRIVE?

Refer to my previous post regarding the Last Days. The Last Days began with the ascent of Christ to Heaven and the advent of Christianity (Acts 2:17). John only confirms this when he says,

Little children, IT IS THE LAST TIME: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, EVEN NOW there are many antichrists; whereby we know that IT IS THE LAST TIME. — I John 2:18

John wrote his First Epistle sometime around 100 or 110 AD. The Last Days had begun. He adds, “EVEN NOW there are many antichrists.” He goes on to say that the appearance of these antichrists was a sign that the Last Days had come.

We know from this that (1) The Last Days have begun, (2) The appearance of the antichrist is a sign of the arrival of the Last Days, and (3) there are MANY antichrists!

Whoa. Even now this is starting to sound a LOT different from Tim LaHaye’s ideas of what or who or when the antichrist is or will be. Let’s keep going.

In I John 4:3 he says,

. . . this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

The early followers of Jesus had heard that the spirit of the antichrist would come — and John is saying, in the first century AD, that IT HAD ALREADY ARRIVED! They sit around, wondering when it would show up. IT WAS ALREADY HERE!

In 2 John 1:7 he says,

For many deceivers ARE ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

The antichrist has been around for 2000 years. And yet people even now point to some future day when the antichrist will show up. It’s like trying to warn people that a flood is coming, even while water swirls through the neighborhood and everyone clings to their rooftops.

WHO IS THE ANTICHRIST?

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. — I John 2:22

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. — I John 4:3

John is very clear as to who the antichrist is: The liar who denies that Jesus in the Christ and that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Where have you heard this lie propagated? You’ve heard professors, authors, celebrities, television, radio, comedians, public speakers, and even average folks deny that Jesus came in the flesh and that he is the Son of God. This isn’t a specific individual — it’s a specific TYPE of individual.

HOW MANY ANTICHRISTS ARE THERE?

“. . . there are many antichrists. . .” — I John 2:18
“. . . every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. . .” — I John 4:3
“. . . many deceivers are entered into the world. . .” — 2 John 1:7

Tim LaHaye and others of his ilk would have you watch for a single individual who takes over the world singlehandedly, is possessed by Satan, and has incredible miraculous abilities. But John was already warning in his day that MANY — PLURAL! — antichrists had come into the world. Is there only one person on the planet who does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? Of course not! There are at least millions of people who do not confess Jesus, if not billions!

SO WHO EXACTLY IS THE ANTICHRIST?

First of all, there is no “the” antichrist. There is no “arch antichrist”.

Anyone who is against Christ, who denies his authority and sonship, is antichrist. Do you remember the literal meaning of “antichrist”? It literally means “against the anointed one”.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and AGAINST HIS ANOINTED, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. — Psalm 2:1-3

In short, anyone who is opposed to God and His Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is an antichrist. There are many antichrists, and they have been around for a long, long time.

So if anyone tells you they’re waiting for Nicolae Carpathia to take control of the UN, just keep these passages in mind. It may save you from the confusion of the dispensationalist, premillennialist fallacy!

The Last Days: When Are They?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, End Times, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2011 by willnotbesilent

In this era of political upheaval all over the world, of constant wars, of famine, disease, earthquakes, storms, and more widespread abandonment of God’s principles, many people are proclaiming our era as “the Last Days”. There is a great deal of debate over this. The return of Jesus Christ has been predicted for countless dates for a thousand years or more. In the case of each prediction, people thought their society had reached a moral and spiritual zenith, and that surely Jesus would come to take His kingdom back. Indeed, even during the days of the apostles, people were waiting for Christ’s return, as illustrated in Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The question is, WHEN ARE THE LAST DAYS?

Some hold that the “Last Days” will begin once the “Rapture” has taken place, but as pointed out in my previous posts, the “Rapture” is a fallacy and a fraud. Some look for signs of the Antichrist, some mysterious individual possessed by the devil himself (We’ll go into the topic of the Antichrist in a following post). The most recent “prediction” for Christ’s return is May 21, 2011.

These folks who try to give an exact date are wasting their time. Jesus Himself said,

 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. — Mat 24:36
 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. — Mat 24:42
 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. — Mat 24:44

This is important to remember: ONLY GOD HIMSELF KNOWS WHEN JESUS WILL RETURN! Men cannot predict it through any means, whether theological, mathematical, or otherwise. God is the one and only being who knows when the Second Coming will take place. If anyone tells you Jesus is returning on a specific date, ignore them. They are mistaken, and arrogant to think they can discover what God has specifically kept secret.

But can we at least know when the Last Days are?

YES! In fact, we don’t need to speculate or wonder, because the Bible is very, very specific about exactly when the Last Days begin.

In Acts 2, when the apostles are baptized by the Holy Spirit (verses 1-4), they begin preaching to the crowds that have filled Jerusalem for the Day of Pentacost. When the people hear these uneducated Galileans preaching in various languages, they are skeptical, suggesting the apostles are drunk (verse 13). At this point, Peter speaks for all the apostles:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, “Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ” — Acts 2:14-21

STOP! In quoting Joel, Peter says that all THIS which the people are seeing, only days after Jesus has ascended to sit at God’s right hand, is a sign of the Last Days!

The Last Days began roughly 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Kingdom of Christ was established through the apostles. A sign of the Last Days is the opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ.

So why are we wondering if we are in the Last Days when the they have been in full swing for millennia? Because false prophets have been preaching lies, telling us to expect a Rapture and support a political state of Israel, to watch for a mystical Antichrist and wait for a spaceship-esque New Jerusalem to descend from the sky. In actuality, THE LAST DAYS ARE NOW, which is why we are told to be vigilant and faithful. This is why we can expect Jesus to return when we least expect it.

So with this in mind, let’s focus on spreading the truth of the Gospel and preparing ourselves as a bride prepares herself for the groom. We don’t know when He’ll knock. But when He does, let’s make sure we’re ready, rather than simply wondering when He will return.

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD!

Writing On The Earth

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

For a little change of pace, let’s back away from blasting tradition and just take a look at something fascinating in Scripture.

We’re all familiar with the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus in John 8:2-11:

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.

Now here’s the Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question: What did Jesus write on the ground that affected the surrounding Pharisees so badly that they couldn’t stick around?

The account of John doesn’t tell us, of course, but amazingly enough, the answer is in Scripture!

O Jehovah, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters. — Jeremiah 17:13 [emphasis mine]

What does it mean to be written in the earth? Well, what does it mean to be written in heaven?

Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. — Luke 10:20

We all know that to have one’s name written in heaven is to be a partaker in salvation. Therefore, one can logically conclude that to have your name written in the earth bears the exact opposite connotation — condemnation.

JESUS WAS WRITING THE NAMES OF THE ADULTERESS’ ACCUSERS!

All the Pharisees, being intimately familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, knew exactly what Jesus was doing as He stooped and one by one wrote their names in the dirt. His words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” only emphasized his message: The Pharisees had forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters — they themselves had committed adultery against God. And here they were, seeking to kill someone guilty of a crime they themselves had committed! Once again, Jesus was pointing out their blatant hypocrisy and reminding them of the condemnation they all faced.

Imagine how disturbing it would be if you were one of the adulteress’ accusers, familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, and you watched Jesus methodically write your name in the dirt, along with the names of all your cohorts. No wonder they left as their names appeared on the ground.

And then the story ends with the ultimate display of mercy. Jesus, the only one present who had no sin, who had every right to cast the first stone, finally rose to His feet.

“Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?”

The woman, perhaps stunned that she wasn’t being stoned at this very moment, could only murmur, “No man, Lord.”

To which Jesus replied in all the love of a Father to a penitent child, “Neither to I condemn thee. Go thy way. From henceforward sin no more.”

Understanding what Jesus was writing in the earth lends a whole new perspective to the story that only magnifies the amazing omniscience, wisdom, and mercy of God. This is what Christianity is all about.

Now here’s the question we should all ask ourselves: If we had been present for the event of John 8:2-11, would Jesus have been writing OUR names in the ground?

Jude and Eternal Security

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Jude is a very short epistle, in some Bibles only occupying the space of a single page. But it is a powerful epistle, and filled with poetic analogies. In this epistle, Jude (or Judas), brother of James, writes to the church warning them about false teachers.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. — Jude 3

By reading this verse, we know Jude was writing to people who were saved and were active in the body of Christ. This is important to remember as we continue to read. In a previous post, I pointed out the fallacy of “Once Saved Always Saved” — also known as “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Frozen Chosen”. In this post, I am about prove that, if Christians cannot lose their salvation through willful sin or being led astray by false doctrine, then the book of Jude would never have been written.

Jude continues to mention “certain persons” who had “crept in unnoticed” — he doesn’t mention names, but does make it clear that they are present and perverting the Word under the Body’s very nose. He then goes on to say something interesting:

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as those indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. — Jude 5-7

The reference to the people saved out of Egypt is, of course, the children of Israel. We know that, once in the wilderness, the Hebrews rebelled more than once, finally culminating in refusal to enter the Land of Canaan. Out of all the adults who had left Egypt on this exodus, only Joshua and Caleb believed God would keep His promise and give them the land, despite the intimidating giants and their cities (Numbers 14:1-10). God condemned them to another forty years of wandering in the wilderness until all of them aged twenty years or older at the time of their rebellion had died (Numbers 14:27-35). Not long afterward, during the wandering, Korah started a mutiny against Moses and Aaron, only to be destroyed, he and his followers, when God opened the earth, which swallowed and destroyed them (Numbers 16).In fact, Jude later refers to Korah’s destruction in Jude 11.

The Bible refers to Christians as God’s new chosen people (I Peter 2:9). In an earlier post, I pointed out how Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea was a type, or foreshadowing, of Christian baptism and salvation. If those of Israel who rebelled against God never got to enter the Promised Land, and Jude used these rebels as a warning to those of the church, then we can conclude that Christians who turn away from God’s true doctrine and follow after falsehood are in effect rebelling against God and will not see the eternal reward of salvation. If that is not the case, then Jude was using an inaccurate comparison.

Jude then goes on to use the instance of the fallen angels, whom God at this moment has locked up until the day of judgment, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In each case, he is referring to those who turned away from God and brought punishment down on themselves. He is using these examples as warnings to the Christians to whom he addresses this epistle. Again, if Christians cannot lose their salvation and bring condemnation upon themselves, these examples would be inaccurate. But this is the Word of God. God never uses inaccurate comparisons.

Jude spends a large portion of the epistle describing the false teachers and their fate. “They have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Jude 11) Remember that not only did Korah perish, but also those who followed him. The same can be said of those who were followers of Christ, but are led astray by false teachers. Both the leaders and those they lead will meet with the same fate.

Jude ends his epistle with this admonishment:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. — Jude 20-21

The core statement of this sentence is, “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. It is up to us to remain in God’s love. In fact, Christ himself said,

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love — John 15:10

This was said shortly after He warned,

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. — John 15:6

The word “abide” is translated from the Greek meno, which means “remain, tarry, not to depart”. It is a command to Christians to remain in Christ’s love, or else we will meet with the same fate as Korah or the fallen angels or Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said in John 15:6 that the branches that wither and dry up are cast away and burned. It is because of His love, His desire that we be saved, that He commands us through Jude to keep ourselves in the love of God by building our faith and praying to God.

Christ gave us the gift of salvation. It is up to us to keep it or throw it away.

This is the whole point of the epistle of Jude: To not listen to false teachers and perverters of the Word and be led astray to destruction by their falsehoods.

What Is II Timothy 2:15 Really Saying?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by willnotbesilent

In II Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul gives advice to a young preacher whom he has been mentoring. Among this advice, he gives a nugget of wisdom which, due to the archaic verbiage of the King James Version, is all too often misunderstood. I take the following from the KJV:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Most folks use the opening of this verse (“study to shew thyself approved”) to emphasize that we are to study the Bible regularly. While there is no doubt that studying the Scriptures is a good thing for a Christian’s strength and growth, they are unfortunately using the wrong verse to prove their point.

The Greek word Paul used, and has since been translated into “study” is spoudazo, which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “hasten, make haste; exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence”.

When the King James Version was translated in 1611, the use of the word “study” was not inaccurate. At the time “study” did not refer specifically to educating one’s self or doing homework. It was more broadly intended to mean “work” or “be diligent” or “try hard”. As time progressed into our own times, “study” came to be equated with taking classes and delving into books. Its synonymous nature with “endeavor” was lost.

Today, people insist that this verse strictly means that we should read the Bible in an effort to understand it. While there is no doubt that studying in our current sense of the word is healthy for the Christian walk, that is not all Paul meant. He was telling Timothy to work hard to live a pure life, to overcome his flesh, and to live righteously and charitably. If we achieve this end, we can, as Paul said, shew (show, present) ourselves approved (pleasing or acceptable) to God, workmen that need not be ashamed.

We can thus gather from this verse that we must work hard to be good followers of Christ. If we are lazy and complacent, we run the danger of not being “approved” or acceptable to God. And we know the fate of those who are not acceptable or pleasing to God.

Peter also says in 2 Peter 1:10:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.

These are admonishments to Christians to be alert, to be strong in godly labor and righteousness.

Notice the grounds for another if/then logic scenario:

IF we shall never fall if we give diligence,

THEN we shall fall if we do not give diligence.

When we fall, we, as workmen, will have cause to be ashamed, as Paul said to Timothy.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. — 1 John 2:28-29

John says that if we do righteousness we are born of Christ — born again. If we abide, or remain in Him, we will not be ashamed when He returns and the Day of Judgment arrives.

If we are ashamed before Christ at His return, does this still mean we will spend eternity with Him?

Jesus explains in John 15:6 that if we do not abide, or remain in Him, we will be cast away.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

It is up to us to remain in Christ, doing His work, laboring for Him, growing in spirit, bearing good fruit. Otherwise we are cast away into eternal condemnation, because we were useless to Him.

Therefore we see that not only is this verse often misused, but it is a powerful piece of evidence against the false Calvinistic doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, or eternal security. Once completely understood, this apparently innocuous verse becomes a weapon against falsehood.

Thank God for the power in His Word!

Tithing & The New Testament Church — Part 1

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, tithing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by willnotbesilent

In nearly every church, the members hear their preacher (or minister, or pastor, or whatever they call him in that particular denomination) remind them frequently and adamantly that they must tithe.

Tithing, of course, being the practice of donating ten percent of one’s income to the church. At a designated time during the service, a church member or two will pass a collection plate. The congregation fills the plate with their tithes. Or the church has a locked and secured collection box near the entry where the members slip in their tithes.

From this money the building is maintained and — most importantly of all — their preacher is paid his yearly salary. And so the preacher consistently reminds them, often in a thundering voice, to pay their tithe. He usually sites verses such as Malachi 3:8-10

“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings, you are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

He emphasizes that to fail to pay tithe is to rob God, and will bring down curses — and if they pay faithfully, God will shower them with blessings. And so, fearful of being cursed, not wanting to rob God, and desiring blessings in abundance, the church members throw ten percent of their money into the plate or box without fail.

But is tithing applicable to Christianity and New Testament law? Is the practice of tithing money Scriptural? Let’s find out.

ABRAM AND MELCHIZEDEK

Tithing advocates reference the story of Abram and Melchizedek in Genesis 14, when Abram rescued Lot from four invading kings. Abram was victorious and brought back spoils of war.

Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered you enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

We know from the book of Hebrews that Melchizedek, king of Salem (later to be known as Jerusalem) was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, which is what preachers will often be quick to point out. “Abram gave a tenth to Melchizedek, just as we should give a tenth of all to Christ,” they might say. However, notice several points:

  • Abram did not give Melchizedek a tenth of his spoils until Melchizedek brought him food and drink and blessed him. It was a gesture of appreciation for Melchizedek’s aid and support — a friendly gift — not something done for religious reasons.
  • Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth voluntarily, and not because God commanded him to. Giving to Melchizedek was all Abram’s idea, and Abram’s alone.
  • Abram did not lay claim to the rest, but gave it all (ninety percent of the spoils) to the king of Sodom. So while Abram gave only a tenth to Melchizedek, priest of God, he gave nine tenths to the king of Sodom. If Abram’s actions are to be emulated by Christians today, would we not, after tithing to God, give the rest away? Remember, Sodom was a notoriously corrupt and wicked city. Should we give ninety percent of our increase to homosexual programs?
  • Abram was pre-Christianity, even pre-Mosaic law. His example is not like that of Jesus or one of the apostles, to be held up as something to be mimicked to be a good Christian. Abram burned sacrifices. Should Christians do that? After all, if we are to follow his single gesture of giving ten percent to a priest of God, then we should also follow his example of burning animal sacrifices. Would that not be reasonable logic?

So we see how flimsy this example is in supporting the concept of New Testament tithing.

JACOB’S TENTH

Another story used in an attempt to support New Testament tithing is the tale of Jacob. We are all familiar with the account of Genesis 28, in which Jacob dreams of the ladder ascending to heaven and God extends the same promise he gave to Abraham and Isaac.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to you.”

Again, we have points that must not go unnoticed in this passage.

  • The giving of the ten percent was not commanded of Jacob by God at any point. This was something done voluntarily, a token of thankfulness for God’s provision and protection as Jacob traveled.
  • This promise was given prior to the laying down of the Mosaic law, in which God does specifically command tithing. But as we will notice, since there was no Levitical priesthood in Jacob’s day, Jacob could not tithe in the manner described by God to Moses.
  • Again, if we are to hold up Jacob’s tithing as an example of what a godly person does, then should we not also build altars as God commanded him to do later at Bethel in Genesis 35? Why is tithing applicable to the Christian life, and not altars and burnt sacrifices?

“But,” some argue, “the fact remains that giving to God was something done by righteous men throughout Biblical history. Nothing says we are exempt.” True. I do not deny this. However, our concept of tithing has become skewed, as we shall see as we continue through this study. Shall we give our way, or God’s way? Which do you think God would prefer?

GOD COMMANDS ISRAEL TO TITHE

Finally we come to God’s commandments to Israel concerning tithing. The first time in Scripture that God commands tithing is in Leviticus 27:30-34.

Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one fifth of it. For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. He is not to be concerned whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. It shall not be redeemed.

Let’s continue this system of taking these passages point by point.

  • Nothing in this commandment says anything about tithing money. Tithing, as far as we have read, has concerned “seed of the land”, “fruit of the tree”, and “every tenth part of herd or flock”. Tithing in this passage is strictly in reference to produce and meat.
  • A tithe could be redeemed (bought back) for the worth of the items tithed plus a fifth of its worth. If tithing involved money, how could a person buy back their tithe in this fashion?
  • Tithes were a tenth of everything produced, whether good or bad, regardless of its condition.

God goes into more detail about tithing in succeeding passages. Let’s read Numbers 18:21-32.

“To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting. The sons of Israel shall not come near the tent of meeting again, or they will bear sin and die. Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’ ” Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites and say to them, ‘When you take from the sons of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe. Your offering shall be reckoned to you as the grain from the threshing floor of the full produce from the wine vat. So you shall also present an offering to the Lord from your tithes, which you receive from the sons of Israel; and from it you shall give the Lord’s offering to Aaron the priest. Out of all your gifts you shall present every offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the sacred part from them.’ You shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be reckoned to the Levites as the product of the threshing floor, and as the product of the wine vat. You may eat it anywhere, you and your households, for it is your compensation in return for your service in the tent of meeting. You will bear no sin by reason of it when you have offered the best of it. But you shall not profane the sacred gifts of the sons of Israel, or you will die.’ ”

Remember while reading this that the children of Levi did not receive a portion of the land of Canaan. They resided in cities. They did not farm or raise flocks. Their job was solely to be God’s ministers to the rest of the children of Israel. Now, notice the following:

  • Again, God says nothing about money. He is speaking strictly of food and drink.
  • The children of Israel supported the Levites through their tithes, since the Levites did not have land with which to raise their own food.
  • The Levites were required to tithe from what they received through the tithes of the rest of Israel.
  • Unlike the rest of Israel, the sons of Levi had to offer to God the very best of what they received through Israel’s tithes.
  • The tithes the Levites received were compensation for their ministry. They were supported in matters of food by the rest of the Hebrews.

We still have a couple more passages to examine, but keep all the above in mind as we continue.

Let’s jump ahead to the next book and read Deuteronomy 12:17-19.

“You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd of flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. But you shall eat them before the Lord you God in the place which the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all your undertakings. Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.”

This is where things start to get interesting.

  • The tithe again consists solely of food, not money.
  • The tither and his family were to eat of the tithe in a meal of rejoicing.
  • They were to eat of the tithe at a place of God’s choosing (to be later identified as Jerusalem).
  • They were to share the tithe with their local Levite as with their own family.

Remember, these are the laws God laid down concerning tithing. If we are to practice tithing in the New Testament church, should we not follow the rules God gave regarding the practice? Show of hands: Who has attended a tithing church where the tithes consisted of food, and those giving the tithes partook of the tithes in a meal of thanksgiving?

No one? Hmmm. Strange.

Let’s move on, still keeping the above points in mind.

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 wraps up the details on the tithing practice.

“You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the first born of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord you god always. If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the Lord you God chooses to set his name is too far away from you when the Lord your God blesses you, then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the Lord you god chooses. You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you. At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe or your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord you god may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”

Talk about wrapping it up with a bang! If you have been paying attention, you’ll notice none of this sounds like the tithing practiced by churches today.

  • Tithing was a yearly, not weekly practice. It was a tenth of what came from the field and flock or herd — again, not money.
  • The tithe was to be eaten in the presence of God, at a place of God’s choosing (later to be Jerusalem).
  • If Jerusalem was too far to carry the tithe, the tither was allowed to sell the tithe, take the far more portable money to Jerusalem, and there buy whatever he wanted to replace the sold goods. This is the only instance in which tithing ever involved money — and the money was to be used to buy food for tithing, not given to the temple.
  • Tithers are again reminded to remember to give to the Levites.
  • Every third year, the Hebrews did not have to bring their tithe to Jerusalem. They simply brought it to the nearest town and left the tithe there, where not only the Levites but strangers, orphans, and widows could come and eat.

Again, this sounds nothing like the tithing we see in churches today! In fact, the above passage makes tithing sound a lot more like the American tradition of Thanksgiving Day! And notice the part about every third year. Do tithing churchgoers contribute a tenth of their earnings to charity every third year? Think about it.

TITHING AS GOD ORDERED IT

So, based on the above information, here is how the system of tithing really worked:

The Hebrews set aside a tenth of their flocks and herds for tithe every year at harvest. They then took the tithe to Jerusalem. If the tithe was too much to carry such a distance, they could sell the tithe, take the money to Jerusalem, and buy food and drink to replace what they sold. Then they gathered at the temple to participate in a feast of thanksgiving to God. Now, obviously they couldn’t eat the entire tenth of their produce at one sitting — therefore, once they had finished their feast, the rest went to the Levites so they would have sustenance.

The Levites, in turn, had to select the best tenth of what they received, and offer it to God. This was in the form of the food offering, which consisted of wave offerings and the like, which God laid down in His laws regarding food offerings. The rest they were free to do with what they desired.

Every third year, the Hebrews did not take their tithes to Jerusalem, but rather piled them in their towns so the needy, as well as the Levites, could eat and be satisfied.

Remember, doing something God commands requires doing it the way God requires — otherwise, we are not doing God’s will, but our own. In order to tithe properly, according to the way God laid down in the Mosaic Law, we would need to observe the following:

  • We would tithe with food, not money.
  • We would be sure the tithe went to the Levites.
  • We would take the food to Jerusalem every year.
  • Every third year we would pile the food in our local town for the needy.

Do you see the problem with this?

  • Most of us aren’t farmers anymore. We buy our food at the supermarket more often than not. This presents a problem to the average non-farming individual who wishes to tithe.
  • Nobody knows who is of the tribe of Levi anymore. Bloodlines within the Jewish circle have, for the most part, been mingled, muddled, or lost. This also poses a dilemma for the person who wishes to tithe.
  • Jerusalem is halfway around the globe for many of us. If we were to tithe properly, we would have to fly to Jerusalem every year — the cost of which would be prohibitive for most of us.
  • Again, since so many of us do not farm, how could we pile our tithes in the local food pantry? We would have nothing to contribute unless we went to the store, bought a bunch of groceries, and delivered them to the soup kitchen downtown.

But have you ever seen any hardcore, Bible-thumping, diehard tither of today do any of the above? I highly doubt it. Their tithe is always a wad of bills or a check that they drop into the collection plate every Sunday — and that money goes toward the building, their minister’s salary, and/or church projects.

This “tithing” is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the tithing God commanded of the children of Israel. And yet that is what they call it. Tithing.

TITHING UP TO THE NEW COVENANT

A cursory reading of Scripture will show that the way tithing was practiced throughout the Old Testament never changed.

In II Chronicles 31:4-7, we read about King Hezekiah restoring the observance of the Law in Israel after a long period of godlessness.

Also he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to five the portion due to the preists and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the law of the Lord. As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month they began to make the heaps, and finished them by the seventh month.

No money involved here. Food was brought and laid up in heaps, exactly the way God commanded it be done in Moses’ day. Hezekiah and the people of Israel are in this passage adhering to tithing as it was originally intended.

When Israel returned from captivity in Babylon, the prophet Nehemiah was in charge of reestablishing the practices of the Mosaic Law. Throughout Nehemiah 10-13, he restores temple practices, the observance of the Sabbath, and tithing. You will notice that again, tithing always consisted of food, and never money.

In Malachi 3:8-10, we find the passage that ministers and preachers of today pound into their congregations’ heads on a regular basis.

“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings, you are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Read this passage again, slowly, keeping in mind everything we learned from the passages above. Do you notice something that emphasizes that tithes consist of FOOD and not money?

That’s right. “Bring the whole tithe into the STOREHOUSE, so that there may be FOOD in my house.”

God doesn’t say, “Bring the whole tithe into the treasury (or bank, or collection plate) so that there may be money in my house.” He is talking about food! He is talking about the same tithing practice he commanded of the children of Israel so long ago! The practice of tithing, of giving thanks for the year’s produce, of contributing to the Levite’s welfare, of giving to the needy NEVER CHANGED!

The Old Law was still in effect while Jesus walked the earth. During this time, tithing remained in practice. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in following the rite of tithing to the letter but neglecting to lead a truly godly life in Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

So we see that tithing — with food — was still in force at that time.

But Jesus was about to be crucified and rise again to sit at the right hand of God. The Law of Moses was about to be fulfilled.

Things were about to change.

 

The next post will wrap up this exploration of tithing and reveal some of the greatest misconceptions regarding tithing today. Watch for “Tithing & The New Testament Church — Part 2”!

The Danger Of “Self-Esteem”

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by willnotbesilent

In our era, people are encouraged by teachers, motivational speakers, parents, teachers, books, talk shows, pastors, counselors, and more to maintain their “self-esteem”.  If one does not have self-esteem he is considered in need of guidance or help of some kind. Our culture today is saturated with elements pushing people toward self-esteem. Christian bookstores even carry Christianity-themed books that promote self-esteem.

But is the concept of self-esteem Scriptural? Is it right to incorporate the word of God with the concept of self-esteem?

The term “self-esteem” was first used by a Harvard psychologist named William James. While he studied religion, he did not study it with the idea of finding God’s truth. Instead, he regarded religion as whatever a person chose to believe in order to feel better about themselves and the world around them. Religion to him was not a quest for truth and righteousness, but rather a way to feel good in whatever manner the believer desired.  He came up with the idea of “self-esteem”, which he promoted as the way for a person to discover and believe in their own worth. He taught that a person must not only accept themselves for who they are, but also be proud of who they are. “Self-esteem” has since become the third most commonly used term in modern psychological literature, according to past studies.

First, let’s look at the term, “esteem”. Psychologists argue that there is a difference between  “self-esteem” and narcissism (the state of being completely self-absorbed). This is true insofar as the degrees of self-esteem are concerned, but they are still both the same, as we shall see.

Esteem is defined as “respect or admiration, or the condition of being honored.” As a verb, it means to “hold in high regard; to think much of”. If I esteem a person’s opinion, I hold that person’s opinion in high regard. I consider his opinion better than that of most other people.

Therefore, “self-esteem” is to hold one’s own self in high regard, to admire one’s self, or to think highly of one’s self. A narcissist holds himself in high regard to such an extent that he considers himself better than anyone else, often to a twisted degree. Psychologists today all agree that this person is in error, if not in need of help. Yet these same psychologists teach children “self-esteem”, the concept that they are something to admire and think highly of. While classifying narcissism as a problem, they are planting seeds for future narcissists by teaching the concept of self-esteem. The irony is astounding, when one considers this.

Given the analysis of the terms above, one does not have to think too hard to conclude that “self-esteem” and pride are one and the same. But what does the Bible say about pride? One classic verse comes readily to mind:

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. — Proverbs 16:18

If this verse is true, then the psychologists are setting millions upon millions of people up for destruction. One may think that destruction is an excessive consequence for pride, but God makes it clear what He thinks of pride in Proverbs 16:5

Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

In Proverbs 21:4, he says,

An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing [work] of the wicked, is sin.

But what is so sinful about pride?

Perhaps the best illustration of the downfalls of pride is in Daniel 4, in which Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, is admiring his kingdom. In verse 30, he is walking through his magnificent palace, and says to himself, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Emphasis mine) At that time, Babylon was the most powerful empire on the planet, occupying the majority of the known world. Nebuchadnezzar was doing what any psychiatrist would encourage him to do: Acknowledging his own accomplishments, reminding himself of his own worth and strength, and saying that he deserved the honor and glory that Babylon brought him.

But God had other thoughts on the matter, as we see in verses 31-33:

While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

God stripped the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar, as well as his dignity, his power, his wealth, his sanity, and even his humanity. God brought him lower than any of Nebuchadnezzar’s lowliest subjects. Why? Why did God choose that precise moment, when the words of self-esteem were yet in Nebuchadnezzar’s mouth, to pronounce this judgment on him? Nebuchadnezzar finally found out, as we learn from his own words in verses 34-37:

“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’  At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

He finally learned that nobody, even a man as powerful as Nebuchadnezzar, ever has or is anything but by God’s will. After his humiliation, Nebuchadnezzar understood that he himself had not built the empire, that the honor and glory did not, as he previously thought, belong to him, but to the Almighty. Nebuchadnezzar at last saw that he was nothing, and that God is everything — that he was powerless, and God was omnipotent — that the praise did not go to him, but to God. As he said, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as (add up to, are considered) nothing.” Only when Nebuchadnezzar realized this did God give his kingdom and power back — but now Nebuchadnezzar knew that he had it only by the will of God, and not through any achievement or worthiness of his own.

To further illustrate this folly, let us imagine a pitcher full of water. Someone picks up the pitcher and pours water over their hands to wash them. For the pitcher to say that it washed the person’s hands would be false, because it was the water coming out of the pitcher that truly did the washing. All the pitcher did was hold the water until someone poured it out. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s pitcher, His vessel. God granted Nebuchadnezzar his empire and power so He could use Babylon as a scourge to a wayward Israel. God raised Nebuchadnezzar, and made it clear that He could put him down in an instant. Nebuchadnezzar’s illusions of power vanished.

Thus, pride is to say that we are good, that we are self-made, that anything we are and have is accredited to ourselves. This is all untrue. Psalm 14:3 says, “They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Thus, pride is falsehood, a lie, which God hates.

Pride is also to say that we have accomplished what is only in God’s power to do. Nebuchadnezzar learned that he had not brought himself to eminence, but rather it was all God’s doing. In I Samuel 2:8, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, declares, “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s , and He set the world on them.” God does these things . . . not ourselves. Thus, pride is blasphemy, which God hates.

The apostle Paul was perhaps the most well-traveled, most active apostle in early church history. He wrote more epistles than any other and started more congregations than any other. And yet he said of himself,

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. — I Corinthians 15:9-10

He also said in Ephesians 3:8,

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.

Paul looked upon his ministry and its achievements, not as something he had done himself, or something for which he deserved credit, but as something done entirely by God, according to His grace. Surely there were saints (fellow Christians) who slipped up in their path more often than Paul. There were those, no doubt, who struggled with immoralities of all kinds, far more and far worse things than Paul. And yet he did not consider himself more than they. He in fact considered himself inferior to them. He had all the reason in the world to be proud and boastful, but instead remained humble to the end.

The church of Corinth, an infant congregation planted by Paul and his companions, quickly fell into a grave error. They divided into sects, based on who had baptized them. Those who had been baptized by Paul were saying, “I am of Paul”, while those baptized by Paul’s companions were claiming to be “of Apollos” or “of Cephas (Peter)”. Paul lost no time in addressing this problem in the very beginning of his first epistle to the Corinthians.

Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanus; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. — I Corinthians 1:13-16

Paul did not lay claim to the salvation of the Corinthians. He was but a messenger, a vessel for God’s gospel. He did not want people calling themselves after him, as a prideful person might have allowed, but rather hastened to remind them that they were followers of Christ — not Paul, or Apollos, or Peter. They had not been baptized into the church of Paul or anyone else. They had been baptized into Christ, and Christ alone.

Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14:

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Pride is to say that we are something to admire, something great. David, in Psalm 8:4 says, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” I can envision David looking at the night sky as he wrote this psalm, overwhelmed at his insignificance in the universe. In Exodus 15:11, a verse in the Song of Moses exclaims, “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” To consider that we are mere specks on a tiny planet, on the edge of a small galaxy, in the middle of an astoundingly huge universe, should be humbling. Who are we to exalt ourselves, rather than prostrate ourselves before the majesty of the One who created us and everything around us? Thus, pride is idolatry.

Does this still seem too extreme a definition? Here’s what Jesus said about pride:

That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. — Mark 7:20-23

Pride is classified as evil in God’s eyes. The final destination of the proud is also made clear.

For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. — Malachi 4:1

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant [proud], boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things ARE WORTHY OF DEATH [emphasis mine], they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. — Romans 1:28-32

Here are more verses that equate pride with wickedness:

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. — Proverbs 8:13

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. — Psalm 101:5

Let not the foot of pride come upon me, And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away. — Psalm 36:11

There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. — Proverbs 6:16-19

Do not love the world nor 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 and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. — I John 2:15-16

Since pride is equal to idolatry, let us see what God has to say about idolaters.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. — I Corinthians 6:9

If pride is equal to idolatry, then the proud are listed among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God when the above verse mentions idolaters. Paul then goes on to say the following.

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. — I Corinthians 6:11

If we ARE to enter the kingdom of God, then we must divest ourselves of these follies, including pride/idolatry. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 18:4,

Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A child has no illusions of grandeur. A child looks up to his parents and adults, considering them superior. A child looks upon other children as his peers. If we are to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must take that humble stance, reaching to God with the complete acknowledgement of our own weakness and fallibility. In return for our humility, God — not ourselves — will lift us up to true greatness, as we see in James 4:10:

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

The apostle Peter says in I Peter 5:5

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and ALL OF YOU [emphasis mine] clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.

Do not fall for the false doctrine of self-esteem. We must not raise ourselves up, but rather let God exalt us in His own time, according to how He, and not we, sees fit. Do not attempt to do something only to be done by God. Such is not our place. We are nothing, each and every one of us. Let us strive to recognize our insignificance while recognizing the awesome grandeur of He who lifts up and strikes down, who gives and takes away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

%d bloggers like this: