Sermon: Pt 3, Dealing With Pride

Written by Timothy

Dealing With Pride, Part 3
Year 2002

This is a continuation of the series on pride, and we are going to see why there are so many different churches. Of course, you can guess it’s because of pride.

Acts 20:25-31- Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Let’s stop here for a moment and ask some questions. Why is it that even from our own numbers men will rise up to distort the truth? What motivates them to do that? Why is it that after Paul leaves, these men will be able to succeed in distorting the truth? What is it about Paul’s presence that keeps people in their place so they do not rise up to distort the truth to draw people away? If you asked these men if they were distorting the truth they would say “No” and believe that they were telling the truth. What causes men to do that? Of course today we need to ask the question, “Why would women rise up to distort the truth?” The answer is simply pride. There is no other reason. Men want to gain attention, power, money, or whatever, but it all comes down to the pride of wanting to be something or to have something a little different than everybody else. People rise up to distort the truth and stand up to say they have a little more knowledge or wisdom than someone else because pride is motivating them to say, “I have some understanding that the other person doesn’t have.” So they teach and draw other people away to follow them. Notice that Paul says he warned everyone day and night with tears for three years. That’s how serious this matter is. Pride is devilish and can do a lot of damage. When Paul’s authority is there and he’s shepherding the flock, these men cannot rise up to do their damage. All of us need to be in a relationship with God so men cannot rise up within the body to do the damage they would seek to do. The flesh is being dealt with and pride is being crucified. We have seen that happen a lot in this body. People come and in their pride they get puffed up. They start teaching or doing other things to draw away people and get attention for themselves.

Sometime just go through the yellow pages of the phone book and look at all the different names and denominations there are for churches. People will often ask me, “Why are there so many different churches?” The only reason is pride. If every man went before God and humbled himself and said, “God, I don’t care about any doctrine that I have, and I don’t care about my own thoughts. In fact, I hate those things. You tell me what your word says.” If we all humbly wait before the cross, God is able to communicate to every single person what his word means. To say we can’t reach an agreement or understanding of scripture is to say the cross has no power. We might as well preach any other gospel. We might as well be Hindus or some other religion. How can 15 different people go into the prayer closet to seek God, ask him to humble them and give them the truth, and yet come out of there with 15 different interpretations of truth? The problem doesn’t lie with God. The problem lies with men.

1 Corinthians 1:10- I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Paul appeals to the blood of Jesus and the cross. He says, “Get before the Lord and become perfectly united both in thought and in mind.” Paul is not asking us to do something that is impossible. What keeps men from humbling themselves before God and asking him what his word says? We want to say we have some special truth or revelation someone else doesn’t have. We are motivated by pride.

1 Corinthians 1:11- My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.”

“I follow this teacher over here. I have this special doctrine.” Men pride themselves all the time in different kinds of doctrine. One church believes in once-saved, always-saved, another emphasizes water baptism, another believes in Calvinism. People go back and forth with all kinds of teachings and doctrines. Churches act like they are somehow special and set aside because they have something that no one else has. There are quarrels and divisions because men are rising up and saying, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos.” We might as well even put our own names in the blank because a lot of people just follow their own wisdom and knowledge even though they say it’s the knowledge of the Lord. Notice that none of the people are saying they are rejecting Jesus Christ. The man who says, “I follow Apollos,” isn’t saying that he’s not in a relationship with Jesus. In fact he’s going to boast of the fact that he’s closer to Jesus than everybody else because he has a special teaching or person he’s following that the other people don’t.

1 Corinthians 1:11- My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Just because you call yourself by the name of Jesus doesn’t mean you are in unity with him. They were running around saying, “I follow Christ.” There’s even a boasting in the name of Jesus. People who boast by saying, “We’re non-denominational. We don’t belong to anybody else,” or “We’re full gospel,” are still boasting in different men. You can have the most noble name you can find. Even the name of Jesus can be a source of division and a cause for pride. Instead of a man saying, “I follow Jesus,” and therefore he’s humble and broken, walking in fear and trembling, it puffs him up. “Hey, I follow Jesus. I am in the right church. This is where I need to be and it’s the best place. God hasn’t shown me anything else. I follow Jesus only.” There’s a boasting in the name of Jesus that looks pure and clean on the surface, yet underneath there’s pride that says, “I am separated and different from everybody else.” That’s why there are so many different groups splitting off with many different doctrines. If men came before God and sought him to find out what his truth was he would tell them. But if we don’t want to give up our opinion and ideas of what the word is saying, if we are really not willing to humble ourselves before God to be taught, we will never hear. The sinful nature isn’t going to say, “I’m not being humbled and teachable.” It’s going to be proud of the fact that it’s teachable and humble and has a certain wisdom that nobody else has. When you have this secret wisdom and pride, you seek to convince other people that you are right. You seek to draw them aside so that they might follow your teaching and somehow be as exalted as you are. That’s why these churches grow so much, because pride is exalted time and time again. There are so many added teachings and concepts and because one church has a different terminology than another. It looks like wisdom instead of just the pure simple gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:13-15- Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.

I know people who are experts on Calvinism. I know people who are experts on what their church believes or a particular doctrine. They are literally baptized and immersed in that doctrine. That’s all they see and know. The narrow road and understanding of scripture is much, much deeper than just some simple doctrine or one person. It can only be revealed to us by the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 1:17- For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

A lot of people interpret this passage to mean that Paul didn’t water baptize or didn’t believe in that doctrine. He’s trying to make the point that God did not send him make disciples of Paul. God did not send him to baptize in the name of Paul or start a church called the First Church of Paul. He was sent to preach the gospel. He emphasized that it was not with words of human wisdom, because when you begin to draw disciples after yourself it shows you are preaching the gospel with human wisdom. You then change the terminology and do it in the power of self. Your wisdom does not come from the Holy Spirit. It comes from an outward motivation of what the flesh can preach and put together in all its fine, intricate ways.

1 Corinthians 1:17- For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

The minute I begin to preach the gospel in a worldly fashion, to turn it just enough to make it fit my plans and puff me up, the minute I begin to say I have some extra wisdom, I have emptied the cross of its power to deal with people’s lives. Where the cross is doing its work, opinion is dying. People will be perfectly united in thought and mind. There will not be splinter groups of everyone having different thoughts. There may be some difference from young Christians growing up in the Lord, but as they get before the cross they will grow and mature. For example, we had someone who was baptized into our church and yet they believed in once saved, always saved. We felt that his heart was good and we allowed him to come in and worship. We knew eventually he would grow. We didn’t sit down with him day after day and expound on this whole issue or continually go over all the scriptures. Yet we reminded him he needed to continue to seek God. Sure enough he continued to pray and one day he came out of the prayer closet saying, “I can’t believe that I ever believed that doctrine was true.” He was indignant with himself that he ever saw that in scripture. Why did he change? It was not because we hounded him or brought logic to him, but because he got before the cross and asked God what was true. We are not going to empty the cross of its power to unite us perfectly in thought and mind. There will be absolutely no division. We can all get to a place where we are saying the same thing. But of course our pride has to go.

1 Corinthians 1:18- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. . .

Most people don’t understand it. For them it holds no real power. When you talk about the message of the cross there’s a blank look on their faces. They want to return to a “logical” argument of discussing doctrines. They never get before the cross to know that it really has power. If I am in a discussion about doctrine with someone else, and we can’t come to an agreement about it, we can say we know the cross has some power to deliver us and give us wisdom. We know that if we get before God, the cross can crucify self and pride to get us to a place where we have the mind of Christ. We can close the conversation for the moment because we know that the truth will be shown by God’s power. We have faced that power and we know the cross is able to do it.

1 Corinthians 1:18- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The cross is all powerful and it can deal with men and remove pride. You know its effect and you know it works in your life. But as long as the cross is an intellectual thing or a discussion from a book you’ve read, you will never know its power. The cross has a stinging quality to it. It is revealing and painful. A man who has experienced it in his life can testify to you that there is a rough side to the cross. Before you ever get to the resurrected life you have to be crucified with Christ. That holds true for our opinions and our pride. It holds true for us seeking to draw other people to follow us. It is the very power of God. The reason somebody says, “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Christ,” is because they have not come before the cross to have all their pride crucified.

1 Corinthians 1:19- For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

If you have ever tried to share a scripture with a Jehovah’s Witness you will see how frustrated they get. The scripture itself baffles the intelligence of man.

1 Corinthians 1:20- Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Where is the learned man? Where is the man that has studied scripture and can understand the power of the cross in what he’s saying? All this talk, debate, wisdom, and pride motivating men to say they have wisdom, cannot reveal to any man the power of the cross. He’s saying, “Where is the scholar that can show me this?” Don’t get in the mindset that you have to have a Ph.D. to be considered a scholar. Some people are self-made scholars. They just sit around and study, examine and read. They study the scriptures, but they don’t walk away from the cross more humbled and broken than when they started. So they never really have an understanding of scripture. What do you think happens if you go to scripture, study and examine it, but the cross doesn’t crucify your pride? You will walk away from it thinking you have some understanding of scripture and then you seek to enlighten other people. You seek to draw them aside and get other people to say, “I follow so and so.” You seek to promote yourself because pride can’t help it. When Satan fell from heaven he brought one-third of the angels with him. There is an aspect of pride that brings other people down with it.

1 Corinthians 1:21- For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

God was pleased. It made him happy to save those who believe through the foolishness of what was preached. The gospel that we preach is utter foolishness to those who are perishing. It will not make sense to them. It will sound ridiculous to them. You will sound like you’ve lost all contact with reality, understanding, logic, and wisdom. But that is the nature of the cross. You don’t have to get into a long-winded debate. No man has to be anything. All he has to do is get before the cross and that’s it. So simple! Yet the pride of man will not allow him to accept it.

1 Corinthians 1:22- Jews demand miraculous signs. . .

Give us something to demonstrate that this wisdom is true. Something we can boast in and say, “We have this wisdom and these are the miracles that confirm the message.” I received a flyer in the mail from a church that said, “Signs and wonders are following our message.” They were boasting of that very fact. That just appeals to man’s pride. How often did Jesus turn to people and say, “Don’t tell anybody the miracle that just happened”? How many times did Paul run into trouble after he healed somebody? Sometimes it caused him more trouble than help, but not always. One time after he cast out demons the people wanted to bow down and worship Paul. Jews demand miraculous signs so they can say, “We can testify that God’s miracles worked here.” You have to accept John the Baptist before you ever get to a miraculous Jesus. Jesus said that John the Baptist was a prophet and more than a prophet, yet he performed no miraculous sign. Not one. People have often asked us why we have don’t have miracles or manifestations of tongues since we believe in them. I don’t know why God’s will is that way now, but maybe later on those things will happen. But I do know you need to get to John the Baptist first. You have to get to the rough part of the gospel to prepare for a miraculous Jesus. It says in scripture that though John did not perform any miraculous signs, everything he said about Jesus was true. Jews demand miraculous signs. They want to be puffed up and brag, “Our message is true. God signified it. He’s there with us.”

We were at a retreat one time where a man was speaking and teaching. He wanted so much for a miraculous sign to happen that he just kept talking. He went on for about two hours until somebody spoke in tongues or did something that confirmed his message. The sign happened to be demonic, but that didn’t seem to matter.

1 Corinthians 1:22- Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

How often do we hear that foolish statement, “What does the Greek say?” I have yet to find that when somebody tells me to look at the Greek it so transformed my doctrine that I fell down before them and said, “You’re right.” They can bring in little adjectives and conjunctions, but it ultimately does not really change what is said. You can twist it, alter it, and distort it, but you can’t totally ruin it. Greeks look for wisdom so they can confuse the issue. You can say, “I have an understanding you don’t have. I have some wisdom that you’ll never understand. You’ll have to accept what I tell you.” The Greeks look for wisdom and being puffed up with ideas. So men in their pride say, “I follow this person. I have this understanding.” There are so many churches, doctrines, and traditions because of pride. But if we preach the cross, the simple cross, those things just fall into place and die. We don’t preach miraculous signs. We don’t glory in those things. We don’t preach all kinds of Greek and wisdom. We preach a cross.

1 Corinthians 1:23- but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

A stumbling block. Jesus does miraculous things, but not according to our demands. Not when we want him to and not to puff up our message. So he becomes a stumbling block. He just won’t demonstrate himself to be true when you really want him to do it. Why do you think 2 Thessalonians says in the last times there will be all kinds of miracles and wonders? To deceive people. The pride of man wants to say, “Our church has miraculous signs.” But to preach Jesus crucified means he does miracles as he sees fit. It’s not according to the wisdom of man. It’s a lot more subtle than people suspect.

1 Corinthians 1:23-25- but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Now look at verse 26 and see what he’s appealing to. He’s saying, “You guys are all puffed up. You are claiming to follow Paul or someone else. You’ve got this wisdom from the Greek and these miracles.” Paul’s reminding them of just who they are.

1 Corinthians 1:26- Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

These believers didn’t have Ph.D.’s and lots of understanding. Even if you had a bunch of Ph.D.’s in Greek, how do you know that you would have the correct understanding of the Greek? If you want to take it to the total extreme of pride, unless you have the original manuscript that Paul wrote with his stationery letterhead at the top, you wouldn’t really know that you had the truth.

1 Corinthians 1:26-28- Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are,

Who has spiritual wisdom? Who understands the cross? The man who has lost his own wisdom, his desire for miracles, his desire to be puffed up and realizes he indeed is really nothing. Not by intellectually saying it, but by a conviction of the heart.

1 Corinthians 1:29- so that no one may boast before him.

To whom does God choose to reveal the secret of the cross? You can’t learn the cross from a book. You can’t learn it from a sermon. You cannot do it by yourself. It must be applied in your life daily. It’s more than you suspect. It’s more powerful than you want it to be. If the cross for you is something that gives you just enough conviction in your life to make you feel comfortable, then you don’t have the real cross. You’ve heard people say, “God is really working in my life. I know he is because he’s really convicting me.” That’s not the nature of how the cross works. It is the power of God, and therefore when you have the cross working in your life, it is overwhelming. It is more than you can handle. It is faster than you want to grow and it’s more than you like. It calls for more perseverance, strength, and wisdom than you can possibly possess. Any man that has a cross he can contain, does not have the true cross.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31- It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Let there be no more boasting of who men are. No more saying, “I follow this man or this doctrine,” or “I belong to this church” or “We’re Independent Baptists.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with the label itself, it’s the boasting in it that’s the problem.

Mark 10:13-14- People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.

Jesus has emotions and feelings. He was indignant.

Mark 10:14-16- When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

There must be humility that comes by the power of the cross or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

1 Corinthians 3:1- Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly mere infants in Christ.

He’s writing to the Corinthian church. They had miracles, prophecy, and tongues. They had every gift there was to have. They were a spiritually gifted church. In the midst of being spiritually gifted, having tongues, revelations, dreams, visions, interpretations and prophesies they were mere infants in Christ. They were worldly in Jesus. How sad it is that so very often it’s the miracles, the revealed wisdom of God, the prophesies, and the understanding of scripture that puffs men up in pride rather than humble them. Instead of them falling down before God and acknowledging that God has worked those things in their life, they say it with their lips but it’s not in their hearts. It doesn’t drive them to a thankful heart or to a heart of fear and trembling.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3- I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

You are jealous over somebody else’s spiritual gifts. That doesn’t mean it comes out of your mouth in an argument or you walk over and say, “Hey, I want that spiritual gift.” How does it come out? Competition in the body. Why do you think there are so many ministries? There are even ministries for burned out ministers. Why? Each man is puffed up in his own wisdom and understanding. He has something to offer the body of Christ that nobody else has. There’s quarrelling among people. Why? What produces quarrelling? The pride and haughtiness. One person says, “I have a correct understanding of this passage,” and the other person says, “No, I do.” If you put those two together in one room, they will quarrel about who has the correct understanding of that passage.

1 Corinthians 3:3- You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

You are just acting like basic human beings. Aren’t you acting like you’re at a family reunion rather than worshipping God? There’s nothing spiritual about your discussion. Speak in tongues, raise the dead, do all kinds of miracles, talk about scripture, look at the Greek and Hebrew, the point is, you are acting like mere men. You haven’t gotten before the cross to really grow up.

1 Corinthians 3:4- For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

“I follow this group over here.” That’s just acting like basic sinful human beings.

1 Corinthians 3:5-7- What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

God will use a donkey to turn a man from sin if necessary. It would probably be more effective.

1 Corinthians 3:8- The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.

What is each man’s purpose? To draw people after their own teaching? To say, “I follow Apollos?” To show them the Greek and puff people up? To say they belong to a certain group and be puffed up in a special doctrine? If the cross does not stand out in any church, they don’t have it. Understand it clearly! If they are not preaching the cross and something else is emphasized in that congregation, they have missed it. If they are known for any other doctrine or any other teaching other than the cross of Jesus Christ, they have already missed the mark. What is the one all-important thing? What is the power that delivers us from pride and sin in the body of Christ but the cross? Unless that cross shines out in a discussion of doctrine and in fellowship, unless that cross is the central theme, unless people walk out of that church knowing their flesh will be crucified, they haven’t received the truth. You can do all your little special traditions, and you can think that all those things that you’re doing are righteous. The Catholics don’t think that their traditions are wrong. They think the traditions bring them closer to God. There are so many churches that think their little routines bring them closer to God, not further away. But you don’t walk out of the Catholic Church knowing that the cross crucifies the sinful nature. You don’t walk out of Baptist or Messianic churches thinking, “The cross is the only thing that can deliver me, and I see it working in people’s lives.” Unless you walk out knowing that cross is more powerful than you want it to be, you have not yet experienced the gospel. You have been puffed up in wisdom and all kinds of miracles, but you haven’t yet received the gospel. The cross is the all-important thing. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose. That purpose is that every single person would find and be able to acknowledge that the foolishness of God is the power of our lives. Every person should be able to say, “The message of the cross is life.” Anything else is drawing people away unto themselves.

1 Corinthians 3:9- For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

He’s saying you belong to God. “Men are nothing” is the message. That doesn’t mean you don’t respect Paul, but only because God and the cross are first in his life. So many ministries, doctrines, teachings, and foolish discussions are motivated by pride. Men always try to say, “This person agrees with me.” If the discussion doesn’t lead everybody to see the cross, then there’s no power in it. When we pass out tracts or I am in a discussion with somebody, I never really have in mind to deal with the issue at hand. If I am talking with a Baptist who believes in once-saved, always-saved, I really could care less about that doctrine. My goal is to take that doctrine and show him the real problem is that he’s not dead to self. If he says, “OK, I see what you are saying,” but the cross is not there, I am not satisfied. I have gotten people to see my point but then I will come back and say, “No, you do not see my point,” because what we are pointing to is the cross and being crucified in the flesh. When we’ve had discussions through the computer talk boards about hating for Jesus, we know that if we come out and say, “Jesus doesn’t mean for you to literally hate,” they will agree with us. Eventually you have to get to that point to say, “Look, we are not saying that you literally walk up to somebody, slap them in the face and say, ‘I hate you in Jesus,’“ and they say, “Oh, then we agree.” Then we type back and say, “No, we don’t agree. You don’t see. You say it intellectually, but it’s not in your heart. The very repulsion you had at that passage, the very fact that you opposed it shows it was not in your heart. The understanding was not by the power of the cross but by an intellectual manipulation of the word.”

1 Corinthians 4:6- Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”

That is an all-important passage. Where do you think the term “inner-healing” came from? It did not come from scripture. Where do you think all these different ideas, concepts, and general labels came from? There’s the “Deliverance Ministry,” or the “Full Gospel” ministry because people go beyond what is written. There is a pride that wants men to be drawn away to our church or congregation. By the way, any church that isn’t driving people away isn’t preaching the gospel. When people came to repent, John the Baptist said, “Who warned you?” He was basically saying, “Get out of here. You’re not going to repent.” He tried to talk them out of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:6- Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

If your concept is just the word, the cross and nothing else, then preach exactly what’s in the word. Why do you think scripture says, “Preach the Word”? Scripture after scripture, the Word is what we are to preach. When the people were dedicating the temple in Nehemiah’s days, it says that Ezra stood up and read the law. He didn’t give them some nice story about building the wall. Scripture says they found the lost book and as he read through the law people were weeping. They were confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers. But the minute a man starts to go beyond what is written and gets into all sorts of different concepts (though he says he’s basing it on the word), then people being to take pride in that man, church, idea or concept. The nature of the word is that if I am preaching straight from the word and somebody else down the street is doing the same, if we are just reading it line for line by the power of the Spirit, then neither one of us is saying anything any different. How am I any different than the guy down the street if we are both saying the same thing? There’s nothing special about either man in that situation. But if the man wants to be special or to be known as something different, then he alters a word or creates a doctrine from the word. Then there’s a contrast. Tim preaches this, that guy preaches something else, which one am I going to follow? That’s the pride of man seeking to draw people over to themselves. That can be done in the name of Christ. A man can be saying, “I preach only the straight word and they don’t,” and still be in pride. It works both ways. The nature of pride is very sinister.

1 Corinthians 4:7- For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Everything you have comes from God. Your wisdom and your understanding are from him. It didn’t come from man, from a scholar or from all kinds of studying. It didn’t even come from all your effort. It came by the hand of God and by the power of the cross. So why do you boast that you did not receive it as if to say you studied and figured this out on your own. Or to put it in more sinister terms, people claim that God revealed it to them and to them only.

1 Corinthians 4:8- Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings and that without us!

Paul is sarcastically saying, “You guys are so exalted, so close to God, so in tune with the Spirit that you became kings and we didn’t even know about it. You did it without us.”

It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t use men to preach the gospel, but it means any understanding of the gospel comes from God, even though it was through his servants.

1 Corinthians 4:8- Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!

It sounds like the boasting gospel of today, doesn’t it?

1 Corinthians 4:9- For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.

In Romans times, when they would bring in people to watch for entertainment they would save the condemned men for last so they could all watch them die. It’s like the grand finale.

1 Corinthians 4:10-13- We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Again, Paul is sarcastically saying they are so exalted and so put together. They each have their own “special” wisdom. He is using a contradiction in terms. “We are apostles and this is our position. You think you are exalted. Do you want the position of apostle? Where do you think you will be?” Go ahead and pray before God to make you an apostle or missionary. Ask to be put first and made great in the kingdom. Guess what you will become. The scum of the earth, and the refuse of the world, not the First Church of the Apostle Tim. You will be slandered. You will have to work hard with your own hands. You will be cursed and persecuted. The more you become a fool, the more the cross has its power, the more the world detests it. Go ahead and become great in the kingdom of heaven, and you will become the garbage of this world.

1 Corinthians 4:14- I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.

He is warning them. “I warned you night and day with tears for three years to watch out for such men.”

1 Corinthians 4:14- I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.

It is a matter of salvation. It’s a matter of your growth in Jesus Christ and getting beyond milk and onto solid food. It’s a matter of the deep things that Jesus came to bring. I am not even concerned with shaming you, that’s not the point. If you walk away ashamed, that’s not what I sought to accomplish. I sought to warn you that this is an important part of the gospel because it is about the pride of man. If you have a church where people are saying, “I follow this person and that doctrine,” in their hearts, lives and actions, you will find people losing their salvation.

1 Corinthians 4:15- Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t honor men in a holy way or respect them in a pure way. He is saying you may have ten thousand guardians, teachers, or groups supporting you, but you only have one father through whom God used to bring you to the gospel. Who is your father but him who is the scum of the earth? Who is it you are calling “My Father,” and who brought you to Jesus Christ, but him who is in chains and looks ridiculous. Him who is the greatest fool of all the Christians. The nature of pride isn’t really going to want to say, “I follow the scum of the earth.” Unless there’s the morbid part of pride that likes to batter itself down with self pity like its cross is heavier than somebody else’s.

1 Corinthians 4:16-17- Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

No more boasting of men. Who are men and what do they matter?

2 Corinthians 12:20- For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.

They want Paul to come with love, grace, mercy, blessings, and words of encouragement. But Paul says he may not be able to be what they want him to be.

2 Corinthians 12:20- For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

The Corinthian Church was one of the most disorderly groups there was. People talked out of turn, and women were not wearing coverings, all because of arrogance, haughtiness, and men being puffed up.

1 Samuel 15:23- For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.

This passage tells us that there are churches coming before God boasting in who they are and what they teach. They are idolaters. When you can turn to a church and say, “You are in idolatry,” and point out their arrogance, then you are preaching the gospel. When men begin to boast of who they are, who they follow and all the different ideas they have, when they become arrogant in their relationship with God, they are idolaters. In fact, it would be better if they just went out and worshipped Buddha because then the lines are drawn clearly. Remember these men come in with false humility. They preach of humility, they preach about the cross, they will even say they follow Jesus Christ, but remember the Corinthians had the same problem.

1 Samuel 15:24-26- Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.” But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”

All as a result of the arrogance that was in Saul. He asked for forgiveness of sins. He asked for permission to worship God, but the arrogance was too deep and the sin had been committed. There was no turning back. How many people come before God to worship and they are puffed up in the arrogance of who they are? There’s no humility in them.

Zephaniah 3:4- Her prophets are arrogant; they are treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.

He made a blanket statement and judgment. They don’t have the humility that comes from the cross. Just listen to sermons and what they say. The boasting of the man and how God has worked. Why is it these TV shows like to show miracles taking place? I hate it when they advertise revivals. You don’t advertise a revival! All you are doing is motivating people to come get psyched up. They are prepared for “revival” before they even get there. I hate it when leaders tell the congregation, “Wasn’t this the most blessed time you’re ever had?” and they agree with him.

Zephaniah 3:4- Her prophets are arrogant; they are treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.

Where there is pride you find a ripping, shredding, tearing, and manipulation of the law because man has to stand apart as different. He has to have something nobody else has. His pride has to be fed. It’s a savage beast that just refuses to stop eating. Pride has to have something different. If we all preached the same thing, then why would our church be any different than anybody else’s? That’s just the point. It’s not to be different than anybody else’s.

Luke 9:46- An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.

That argument still goes on today. Where you don’t find the cross I can guarantee there are arguments going on in the heart. If the contest in the church is to see who can appear the most humble, then people will not argue about who is the greatest. If the contest in the church is who speaks in tongues the most, then you’ll find a contest for everybody to speak in tongues. It just depends what the contest is. If the contest is to preach fiery sermons then you will find out who is the most fiery preacher who can use words to convict people and move their emotions. The contest of who is the greatest still goes on.

Luke 9:47-49- Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all he is the greatest.” “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons . . .”

They didn’t seem to catch the point. “Yeah, Yeah, Jesus, we know. OK, so we’ll all strive to be little children, right?” I am sure there was plenty of competition. Who can wind up being the littlest child by the time it’s all over with and therefore be great? I have seen it in our own church. I’ve seen several brothers get together to play a little game of soccer in my back yard and it turned into the national championships.

Luke 9:49-50- “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Whoever really hungers for the truth, whoever really longs for God is not against you. It’s not a competition of us versus them. It’s all of us together being whatever part of the body God has called us to be without any thought of who we are, whether we get patted on the back, or whether we get a little plaque saying we accomplished something. There will be a lot of church janitors first in the kingdom of heaven. In fact if we ever we need a church janitor, he hopefully will be the most spiritual man in the group. Who do people talk to most of the time when they are in the building but the janitor? That’s why in Acts it says the apostles chose seven men full of the Holy Spirit to wait on tables. The preacher is always in his office doing something. He’s not out sweeping the floors and being accessible.

Philippians 3:1- Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

That commandment is not just there to make us feel happy. The purpose of that passage is not so that I can walk around and not be depressed all day long. It is saying rejoice in the Lord. The emphasis is on the Lord, not the fact that you are rejoicing. There’s a big difference. I’ve heard that passage preached and taught time after time, “You’re just supposed to rejoice.” The point is your rejoicing is in the Lord, not in your rejoicing. Let your glory, honor, and everything be on Jesus.

Philippians 3:2- Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.

He’s not talking about a Christian with a smile painted on his face who sets the example because he’s always rejoicing in his rejoicing.

Philippians 3:2- Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.

Those men who outwardly pray a little longer or wear a particular outfit or do a certain ritual are really dogs. If the cross does not shine out, if that is not the overriding thing, if you don’t walk away saying, “That man knows the cross,” he doesn’t have it. He can do all the special little things, traditions, and trinkets but it means nothing.

Philippians 3:1- Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

Rejoicing is the Lord is a safeguard. It keeps you from being taken in by men who are dogs. If I followed every little thing someone said I would be in a terrible mess. I would never speak in tongues because they don’t exist or I’d speak in tongues all the time because they do exist. I’d eat this food and I wouldn’t eat that food. I’d say the rosary. I would be all over the place. But to rejoice in the Lord purifies your thoughts and puts you right where you need to be.

Philippians 3:2-3- Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

What a man can say and do, who he is, what he is able to study, and how he comes across means nothing. We put no confidence in that. I really don’t think you want me preaching what I have put together and thought about scripture, do you? I wouldn’t be much anyway. Put no confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:4- though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:

He’s saying, “OK, you want to get into a contest?”

Philippians 3:5- circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;

Do you want to get into all these little special things that you do? Do you want to have a contest? I’ll enter in with you. Do you want to boast about this little tradition you have? Fine, let’s sit down and do it.

Philippians 3:6- as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

That is an awesome statement for any man to make. Yet it’s written in scripture.

Philippians 3:7- But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Whatever puffed me up or gave me a sense of spiritual well being, whatever I thought I was being obedient in and doing for God anything other than the cross of Jesus Christ, I consider it a loss. It doesn’t matter if I pray an hour a day because the only thing that gives me peace is the cross of Jesus Christ and being obedient. If he wants me to pray for 10 minutes and I pray for 10 minutes according to the cross, that’s when I have peace. You can pray 6 hours a day and deny your body in all manner of things, yet if Jesus did not call you to pray for that long it was to your profit to make you feel good. I was in a church once where getting an hour quiet time was the thing to do. You asked everybody every single day if they had that hour of prayer time. There was a heavy sense of guilt on many people when they didn’t do it. The all-important thing is the cross. Whatever is to your profit, whatever makes you feel comfortable, whatever scriptures you pick and choose, whatever you can boast in, consider it all a loss and foolishness.

Philippians 3:8- What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ

Understand it’s not if I pray for an hour or if I preach and walk away and think I did something great. If that’s what gives you a sense of well being, you’ve lost the race before it even started. The only thing we should be content with is to walk away from praying or preaching the gospel, or doing anything and say, “The Spirit of Jesus was in that.” The Spirit of the living God, fellowship with him, gaining Christ is the all-important thing. Jesus smiled is all that matters.

Philippians 3:9- and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional. The original audio tape can be ordered free of charge by contacting Sound Doctrine Ministries.

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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.