Saturday, February 25, 2023

Beauty to Ashes; Beauty for Ashes


Beauty to Ashes; Beauty for Ashes

Photo by Naveen Nkadalaveni 2019

As we saw last week, inner beauty is a gift from God, bestowed on those who receive the holiness of His Son by trusting Him as their Lord and Savior. Only then will we see beauty as God sees it, and be beautiful in His sight!

When God’s chosen people and nation turn away from Him by forsaking His holiness to worship idols, whether other gods or earthly pursuits like power, lust, fame and fortune, God will remove their beauty. Their physical beauty will be consumed to ashes under the fire of His judgment (Isaiah 64:11; Lamentations 1:6, 2:1,15; Ezekiel 7:20; 16:12-15, 25; 28:6-7).

God created Lucifer, the angel of light, to be the most beautiful and wise angel (Ezekiel 28:12-19), appointed to lead the angelic host in worshipping God. Through the sin of pride, wanting to set himself above God (Isaiah 14:12-15), Lucifer fell from heaven to earth, where he is now Satan, prince of the power of the air, also referred to allegorically as the king of Tyrus (Ezekiel 28: 6, 7, 12, 17) and the Assyrian (Ezekiel 31:8-11)

Ezekiel 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.… 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

The hatred of Satan for God and man now make him as ugly and evil as he once was beautiful and holy, yet he and his demons can still appear physically and spiritually beautiful to deceive us if we are not careful (1 Peter 5:8), transforming themselves into ministers of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

However God defines human physical beauty, it is clear that just as He created and bestowed it, He can take it away. Earthly beauty passes quickly while we are still in our physical body, consumed like a fading flower (Isaiah 28:1,4), or a moth drawn to the flame (Psalm 39:11), for aging is part of the judgment we face under the curse of sin (Genesis 3:16-24). Such beauty is therefore vainbut a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised Proverbs 31:30).

Yet in the United States alone, billions of dollars each year are spent on cosmetics, plastic surgery, and other rejuvenating “beauty” treatments, not to mention on high fashion and jewelry. In 2015 the beauty industry generated $56 billion in this country, of which 24% was for hair care, 24% for skin care, and 15% for cosmetics. These soon reach the point of diminishing returns, as the ravages of aging continue while we are in our earthly body.

Whether or not our earthly companions consider us to be beautiful is of little importance compared with what God thinks of us. How can we be beautiful in God’s eyes? The apostle Peter warned women that our best adornment is not our hair style, jewelry, or clothing, but the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3: 4, 1-5).

When a nationwide beauty pageant was held to find a new bride for King Ahasuerus, Esther won his heart and the crown without any special beauty treatments or adornments, for her love of God and of His people must have given her a unique inner beauty that appealed not only to the King, but to all who knew her (Esther 2:1-17).  

We cannot achieve such beauty ourselves, for it is a gift from God. When Job questioned God’s treatment of him, God asked if Job could condemn God to make himself righteous, or if Job could give himself power, majesty, glory, or beauty (Job 40:6).

The answer, of course, is that Job could not, for all such attributes are from God Himself (James 1:17). Now that we are under the curse of sin, there is nothing in our own heart or good works that God considers righteous or beautiful (Romans 3:23). But once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the onlyWay (John 14:6) to Heaven, His perfect, beautiful holiness is credited to our account, for He robes us in His righteousness (Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10).

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Only then can God see us as beautiful, for when He looks at us, He sees the perfect beauty of His Son. Then the beauty of the Lord our God is upon us (Psalm 90:17), for He finds pleasure in beautifying the meek with His salvation (Psalm 149:4). We have no power or beauty of our own, but once we are saved, the Holy Spirit lives within us (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30, giving us access to His perfect power, beauty and wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Lord of hosts is a crown of glory and of beauty for those who trust Him (Isaiah 28:5).

Through His plan of salvation, God exchanges our ashes, representing our sin, sorrow and death, for His beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3), meaning the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22), the joy of our Lord (Habakkuk 3:18), and eternal life (John 3:16).

Isaiah 61: 1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

When we are saved, God transforms us from His enemies (Romans 5:8-10) and children of the devil (John 8:44) to God’s friends, His children, joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:14-17), His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), fellow workers with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9), and the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9).

In these new roles we radiate His beauty to others as we spread His Word, for beautiful are the feet of those who spread His Gospel, or Good News! (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15). God allows us to be His ministers, reconciling other sinners to Himself by telling them about His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18). 

Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

How are we saved? By God’s grace, through our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), which elevates us to heavenly places in Him (Ephesians 1:3). When Moses in faith drew near to God on Mount Sinai, his face shone with God’s glory and was visible to all the people (Exodus 34:29-35).

Once Sarah finally trusted God completely to bring her the child He had promised (Genesis 18:10-15), she too must have reflected God’s beauty despite her old age, for King Abimelech wanted her to be in his harem, until God warned him in a dream to restore her to her husband Abraham (Genesis 20:1-14).

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can all shine with inner beauty that is pleasing not only to God, but to others. In Psalm 110:3, King David described the people of God as having “the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”

If we lack that inner beauty, we may fool others who admire our exterior appearance, but we can’t fool God, for He knows our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus criticized the religious leaders of His day for being hypocrites who rejected Him. They appeared holy and beautiful outwardly, while being full of corruption and decay within, like a beautifully decorated burial vault containing rotting bones and flesh. Interestingly, this verse (Matthew 23:27) is the only instance of the word “beauty” or “beautiful” in the four Gospels.

Even though we can’t always see the beauty of God’s design for our lives, He sees it all, from beginning to end, and He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We see the tapestry of our life from the reverse side, where the knots and threads crossing over each other seem to make a tangled mess, but from His viewpoint, the placement of each strand is woven into an intricate, harmonious masterpiece.

When He takes us to Heaven, we will see not only the beauty of our own life tapestry viewed from the right side, but His perfect beauty mirrored in everyone and everything around us, defying description and human imagination (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9). The holy city, containing mansions for each of us (John 14:2), will have foundations and walls of precious jewels, gates of pearl, and streets of gold, and it will be lit by the brilliance of Jesus Christ Himself, the fairest of all (Revelation 21:10-23).

Even our vile, corruptible, aging body will be transformed instantly into a glorious body like that of Christ Himself, never to age, die, sin, sorrow or experience pain or sickness (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Revelation 21:4).

May we allow God to exchange our ashes for His beauty! May we realize that beauty is in the eye of God, see beauty as He sees it, and be beautiful in His sight!

© 2019 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Beauty Is In the Eye of God


Beauty Is In the Eye of God

With today's overemphasis on physical beauty, especially in the wake of Valentine's Day and entertainment awards boasting celebrities trying to outshine one another on the red carpet, it may be time for a reminder that God's view of beauty is far different from ours. I thought it would therefore be fitting to repost the article below. 

When our Pastor’s wife asked me to speak at our ladies’ banquet on the topic of “Beauty,” I must confess that the first thing that popped into my mind was not particularly spiritual. It was an episode of Twilight Zone from the sixties called “Eye of the Beholder,” told from the viewpoint of a young woman who had just undergone extensive plastic surgery in an attempt to look “normal.”

The bandages had not yet been removed, and her time alone in the darkness brought to mind vivid and painful memories of being mocked, bullied and humiliated because of her appearance, and even of having children run away from her in terror once they saw her face.

At long last the surgeon unwraps the bandages, as if he is peeling through the layers of an onion, while explaining that this would have to be their last attempt, for none of her previous ten surgeries had been in the least successful. It would be dangerous and futile to try any further. If this last surgery didn’t work, she would have no choice but to be sent away from mainstream society, to live in a small colony with a few other unfortunates who looked like her.

As the last layer is shed, the doctor shakes his head, turning away with a shudder of revulsion. The nurse cries out in horror before composing herself and handing the patient a mirror. Tears stream down the patient’s cheeks, but to our surprise, the image in the mirror is what we would consider beautiful – symmetrical and well-proportioned features, large eyes, classic nose, full lips, and smooth, flawless complexion.

In shock we see that it is everyone else who is “ugly,” with grotesque, misshapen, asymmetrical faces, pig-like snouts, and scales instead of skin. Truly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and our definition of beauty is highly influenced by cultural norms. In the sixties, when Twiggy was the star of fashion models, the ideal of beauty was epitomized by the familiar saying, “You can’t be too rich or too thin.”

But across the globe, in Mauritania and other African nations, young girls were (and sadly, in some cases, still are) being force-fed a high-calorie diet to fatten them up before marriage, as obesity was considered a sign of wealth, maturity, high social standing, and female attractiveness.

There are many Biblical references to human physical beauty, but Scripture does not define it. Rachel (Genesis 29:17), King David while he was still a young shepherd (1 Samuel 16:12), Bathsheba whom he later desired (2 Samuel 11:2), his son Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25), Queen Vashti (Esther 1:11), and her successor Queen Esther (Esther 2:7) were all called beautiful, but their looks are not described in detail.

We do know that David was “ruddy,” or rosy-cheeked, and Absalom had long, thick hair and was free of any blemish (2 Samuel 14:25-26). Even gray hair is considered beautiful on the head of an old man (Proverbs 20:29), perhaps because it represents the wisdom of experience, which is more beautiful than gold or jewels.

Proverbs 8: 10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Today the passages in Song of Solomon in which the Bridegroom extols the physical virtues of His beloved, and vice versa, seem almost comical to us. Describing teeth as a flock of sheep, hair as a flock of goats, or temples like pieces of pomegranate (4:1-3) is not prime material for a Valentine or love letter of today.

Was Jesus, the holy Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), physically attractive? The prophet Isaiah said that He had no beauty that we should desire Him, yet this was in the context of His excruciating death on the cross, in which His body was bruised, beaten, bloodied and marred beyond recognition. 

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

But in the account of Jesus teaching in the temple as an adolescent, we are told that He continued to grow in stature and in favor with God and with man (Luke 2:52), suggesting that He was physically attractive.  As He was the perfect, sinless Son of God (Matthew 14:33; 16:16) and the physical representation of the Father (John 10:30; 14:7-9), I believe that Jesus was beautiful in His earthly form.

Scripture says that the Lord is beautiful (Psalm 27:4; Hosea 14: 4-8; Zechariah 9: 16-17), and that the branch of the Lord, namely Jesus Christ the Messiah, is beautiful and glorious (Isaiah 4:2). Revelation tells us that He is glorious in power and in majesty, seated on His throne like a precious jewel radiating brilliant rainbows of shining light! (Revelation 4:2-3).

God created the universe, and it was very good (Genesis 1,2). We can only imagine its pristine beauty before it fell under the curse of sin (Genesis 3), yet even now we can see God’s creativity, glory, power and majesty in the beauty of His creation, whether in the colors of a sunrise, the vastness of a starry night, or the microscopic detail of a leaf or even of the cells and atoms themselves (Psalm 19:1).

The adjective “beautiful” is used to describe the priestly garments of Aaron (Exodus 28:2, 40), the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 3:6; Ezra 7:27; Psalm 96:6; Isaiah 60:13) the nation of Israel (2 Samuel 1:19; Isaiah 52:1), Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:12) and Mount Zion (Psalm 48:2; 50:2). The name of one of the gates of Solomon’s temple, where Peter healed a lame man, was also Beautiful (Acts 3:2,6,10). These have in common the quality of being set apart, sanctified, or made holy for God’s service (Romans 15:16).

Accordingly, as Scripture confirms, the holiness of the Lord is beautiful, and we must worship Him in the beauty of His holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29, 2 Chronicles 20:21; Psalm 29:2; 96:9). We cannot be holy on our own, for all have sinned and come short of His glory (Romans 3:23). We can receive the holiness of Jesus Christ only once we are saved by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven.

As we shall see next week, only then will we see beauty as God sees it, and be beautiful in His sight!

© 2019 Laurie Collett

Saturday, February 11, 2023

How Does God Love Me? Let Me Count Three Ways.


Photo by Sheba_Also 2016
Valentine’s Day started me thinking about perfect Love, the Supreme Lover, and the ultimate Loving Gift. God’s love for us is infiniteeternal, and unconditional, for it has no limitstranscends all time, and requires nothing in return.]

His infinite love reflects His almighty power (Genesis 17:1, 18:14; 28:3, Jeremiah 32:27; Colossians 1:16) to give us all good things (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13); His perfect wisdom, to know and do what is best for us (Psalm 139Romans 8:28; 11:33-36); and His omnipresence, to protectembrace and comfort us no matter where we go (Psalm 139Revelation 1:8).
 He alone is love itself (1 John 4:8), the source of all blessings (James 1:17), and the light that overcomes all darkness (2 Samuel 22:29; Psalm 112:4; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:5; 8:12; 12:35,46; 1 John 1:5). He made His loving plan for us (Jeremiah 33:2-3from the foundation of time (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4); He loved us from before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:16;Jeremiah 1:5); and His love is everlastingcontinuing throughout eternity (Jeremiah 31:3). We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
We know His unconditional love through His grace, as He gives us blessings we don’t deserve (Ephesians 2:8); His mercy, as He spares us from the punishment we do deserve (Psalm 109:26; 136:26; Isaiah 30:18Romans 11:30; Ephesians 2:1-7) and His universal acceptance of all who have faith in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection as the only way to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), regardless of their racesex, or religious heritage (Galatians 3:28).
Because His love is unconditional, it is self-sacrificing to the point of death (1 John 3:16), it flows from a servant’s heart (John 13:5-14), and it is unmerited, for there is nothing we can do to earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9). He gave us the perfect Gift of His sinless Son, Who willingly laid down His life for us (John 15:13), empowered by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:2-4). And He did all this while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8Ephesians 2:5), rebels against His truth (1 John 4:3), and His enemies (Romans 5:10).
The incomprehensible richness of this love is possible only because He is One in Three Persons: our Father (Matthew 6:9); Jesus, our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15); and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter (John 14:16). Each Member of the Trinity not only exemplifies what each of these relationships should ideally be like with their earthly counterparts, but each is perfectcomplete, and ever present to sustain us.
God the Father sits on His throne in Heaven (Psalm 45:647:8; Matthew 5:34, from which He rules all thingseverywherethroughout all time, commanding all matterspace and time. Yet He is our Abba Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), our Daddy Who loves for us to come running to Him for reassuranceforgiveness, and encouragement (Luke 15:20). We can boldly approach His throne (Hebrews 4:16) with our requests because when our Holy Father looks at us, He does not see our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son Who was the perfect sacrifice reconciling sinners to Holy God (Romans 3:25: 1 John 2:2). 
Not only was Jesus that perfect Sacrifice, and now the High Priest Who intercedes for us while sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews12:2), but He is also our Betrothed, for the church of born-again believers is His bride. He is our Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), Husband (2 Corinthians 11:2), and Beloved (Song of Solomon 2:3,8-10,16,17). 
According to the Jewish marriage custom, a man seeking to marry breaks bread with his beloved and her father, and if she accepts his proposal, she drinks from the same cup that he does. He then returns to his father’s house to build an addition for himself and his bride, and when his father decides the new home is ready, the groom returns unannounced to claim his bride, carrying her off with a great shout in the middle of the night. Therefore, the bride-to-be must keep herself pure and ready, for she knows that he will come back for her, but she doesn’t know when. 
When we place our faith in the power of Christ’s shed blood, it is as if we drink of that cup of suffering with Him, and during the remainder of our earthly life we become more conformed to His image through those sufferings and through the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). We are the bride awaiting Christ’s return, and only the Father will determine when the mansion He is preparing for us is ready (John 14:2-3; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). Without warning, at the sound of the trumpet, He will snatch us away to meet with Him in the air (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) and take part in the marriage ceremony and feast (Revelation 19:7-9).
We must therefore be like the wise virgins awaiting the Bridegroom’s return, keeping our lamps trimmed and filled with oil, symbolizing being filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1-13). Only through the Spirit is it possible for us to remain separated and holy as His bride, preparing for His return.
Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit, Who indwells each believer at the moment of salvation (John 14:17), is our constant ComforterCompanion, and Guide (John 16:7). At the moment of salvation, He gives each of us at least one spiritual gift to use to grow the church by sharing the Gospel, to fortify the church by helping, exhorting, and teaching fellow believers, and to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 12).
Throughout our Christian walk, the Comforter enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, described in three groups of three (Galatians 5:22-23): the sweet fruit we enjoy of love, joy and peace; the fruit governing our relationships with each other (longsufferinggentleness, and goodness), and the fruit of self-control (faith, meekness, and temperance). 
As our Companion, He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), for He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). How can He leave us, for He inhabits our very body (1 Corinthians 3:16) as His temple! As our Guide, the Spirit constantly draws our focus to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:13-14), teaches us to understand the Scripture (John 14:26), and allows us to know that we belong to God evermore (1 John 4:13-16).
Praise Him that He allows us to be children of God the Fatherjoint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) through our relationship to Our Father and as the betrothed of God the Son, and His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) through the work of the Holy Spirit!  What greater love could there be?
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 
© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pride and Unbelief


Pride ad Unbelief

In my opinion, all sins can be boiled down to pride and/or unbelief. The first four of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship to God (Exodus 20:1-11); when we break any of these, it is because we fail to believe that God is Who He says He is. He is the only true God, the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer (1 Peter 4:19; Isaiah 54:5,8), with attributes of infinite love, mercy and grace (1 John 4:8; Hebrews 4:16), as well as omnipotence (Revelation 19:6), omniscience, and omnipresence (Psalm 139:6-8). Knowing and believing this, why would we put any god before Him, worship an idol, take His name in vain, or not honor Him with our worship at designated times and always?

The fifth Commandment is transitional, dealing with our relationship to our earthly parents as the first model we have for our submission to God’s authority (Exodus 20:12). The remaining five commandments deal with our relationship to others (Exodus 20:13-17). If we are guilty of pride, we consider our own worth and our own needs to be greater than those of others. Pride could therefore lead us to commit murder, theft, lying, adultery, or coveting, in thought even if not in deed.

Faith, the opposite of unbelief, keeps us from breaking the first four Commandments. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:5-6). Jesus said the first, or most important Commandment, was to love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength (Mark 12:29-30). Self-sacrificing, agape love, along with a servant’s heart, keeps us from the sin of pride and from breaking the remaining Commandments. Jesus summarized these by saying, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mark 12:31).

Our pastor gave an excellent message on what he considered to be the worst sin, namely the sin of prayerlessness. This, too, could be considered a sin of pride and of unbelief. We may fail to pray because we pridefully trust in our own flesh to solve our problems, mistakenly thinking we don’t need God’s help, even though without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Or, unbelief may keep us from prayer, if we don’t believe that God loves us infinitely, wants to bless us, can do anything in His will, and works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Pride was the sin that caused Lucifer, God’s chosen, wisest, and most beautiful angel of light, to fall from Heaven and become Satan. He imagined that he was superior to God and should be exalted over Him, not realizing that God had created him and endowed with all his gifts and talents (Isaiah 14:12-15). How sad when anyone, driven by pride, uses what God has given them not to glorify God, but to rebel against Him, leading to their own destruction (Proverbs 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:6). Yet Lucifer, even after he became Satan, was not guilty of unbelief, and even all the angels that rebelled along with him and fell to earth as demons still believed in God’s power and trembled at it (Matthew 8:28-29; James 2:19).

Unbelief as well as pride led to the fall, as Eve began to doubt God’s Word when Satan tempted her with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). So, pride also played a role, as Eve imagined that eating the forbidden fruit would make her as wise as God (Genesis 3:4-6). The sin of unbelief by those in Jesus’ home town resulted in their missing out on His miracles (Matthew 13:57-58)

The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the ongoing, persistent denial that Jesus is Lord, Son of God and God Himself, Who died, was buried and rose from the dead as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). John even referred to those who denied Christ as antichrists (1 John 4:3). Pride and unbelief are what keep people from being saved. 

When people trust in their own good works and religious practices to get them to heaven, their pride prevents them from realizing they are sinners in need of a Savior. When people foolishly misplace their belief in the false god of evolution (Psalm 14:1), or in the leader of any religion who lies dead and buried, their unbelief in the living, risen God keeps them from salvation.

A good example of both sins can be found in Luke 22, at the Last Supper on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Judas betrayed Jesus when Satan entered into him (v. 3-6; v. 47-48), which would not have been possible if he believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the Son of God. Pride was paramount in the disciples’ dispute over who among them was the greatest (v. 24), which is particularly shocking as it immediately followed Jesus’ symbolic portrayal of giving His body and shedding His blood for them (v. 15-20). Jesus then reminded them to follow His example of having a servant’s heart (v. 26-27).

Immediately after Jesus warns Peter that Satan wants to destroy him and all the disciples, and that Jesus is praying for Peter to have unfailing faith (v. 31-32), Peter succumbs to the sin of pride, boasting that he will follow Jesus even unto death (v. 33). But Jesus accurately prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster’s morning cry.

At the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples fall into the sin of prayerlessness, which, as we have seen above, may result from pride as well as unbelief. Jesus asked them to pray not to fall into temptation (v. 40), yet they fell asleep (v. 45-46) when He most coveted their prayers. Rather than asking them to pray for Him, for the agonizing ordeal He was about to endure, Jesus selflessly was concerned about them falling into temptation. The temptation to lose faith and fall prey to unbelief would be great as they were about to see their Messiah unjustly accused, sentenced, whipped, beaten, scourged and crucified.

May the remembrance of our risen Lord, Who allowed His body to be broken and His blood to be shed to pay for our sins in full and to grant eternal life to all who trust Him (John 3:16), keep us from the temptation of giving in to pride and unbelief.

© 2012 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives