The Love of God Versus Pride

By John Thiel, mp3

We have been meditating on the boundless love of God. God wants to reveal to us a love that is quite contrary to the love that we have.

“Grant that nothing in my soul may dwell but thy pure love alone,

Oh may thy love possess me whole.

If you pray that prayer very consciously, you are asking God to possess you because is He not Love? That He would possess me completely that nothing is left inside of me but that. Our meditation is to continue the appreciation of that love of God which is to be the source of all our obedience, of all our practices and standards that we stand by as God’s church on earth.

I would like to identify this hour a distinction. A very clear distinction that we need to understand between the love of God and the motivations of human love to appreciate the distinction of that which prompts God into action in contrast with the prompting of our fallen human nature – the love of God versus pride.

The Contrast

We see the contrast expressed and I pray to God that we not only hear it expressed, but that we will experience the contrast.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Our study is the love of God and here very vividly it is expressed to us that where there is the love of the world, the love of the Father is not existent in that heart. Then it qualifies what is meant by the love of the world.

1 John 2:16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Here we are able to understand what is the love of the world, the things that your eyes desire and you love. How many have thought, ‘I would love to have that which I can see’ It is a love. The eyes desire and the lust of the flesh that which is comforting to the flesh. We love that and are comforted by that. Here is the one that is our special focus, the pride of life. We tend to have a mindset that we’ve got to palliate human pride so that people can be motivated to do something. How many times we do that with little children? We make them feel pretty cute about themselves that they will be happy. It is instilled by education plus by Satan.

In the beginning man is born with a bent leaning, a propensity to pride. That is what makes people motivated. Ego-centrism is what is recognized in the psychological world that that is what motivates human beings. Here it is called the pride of life. In deed this is not the love of God. Any man that loves like that the love of the Father is not in him. The things that motivates the world are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. There are other scriptures that will help us to appreciate as we listen to God speaking to us. The pride of life that is not of the Father, the love of the Father has a direct opposite ingredient to this.

The disciples had a great problem with pride if you remember. They depended together with the whole Jewish race that Jesus the Messiah would come and He would lift them up as the great propellers of the world. They anticipated a messiah who would palliate their human motivation, pride. As they noticed something about Jesus, the disciples said, ‘Lord, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Can you see the question? Who really is the greatest? We want to be the greatest. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

What did Jesus point to in a little child that makes a person who is of that nature the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? His own words suggested it – if you humble yourself, if you can reflect that maybe you can see that in a little child. A little child has no ulterior motive. It is totally dependent, it looks for input it doesn’t come out and thrust itself, it looks for input. And then the kind of input it gets it re-plays back. That is a selflessness, a humility that Jesus said that you must become like where there is nothing inside of you that would thrust itself at all, not at all, it is totally humble. He says He took the little child and said he who is like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus had just told them this then the parents came with their children and forbade them to come into the presence of Jesus but it takes a long time for a lesson to drop into mind, doesn’t it? He had just told them that the kingdom of heaven is of little child, the nature of a little child and here they are sending the children away and Jesus said;

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

I love that statement – of such is the kingdom of heaven and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is of the nature of childlikeness of such is the kingdom of heaven from the greatest down to the most insignificant. When we look at the kingdom of heaven who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? In real knowledgeable terms not in character terms but in position terms, who is the greatest? We can read it in Isaiah 57:15 and it is beautifully put there. We know the answer in our minds but the way the answer comes to us from the bible is profound.

Here is the high and the lofty one, the highest in the kingdom of heaven. He dwells on the throne.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

The greatest in the kingdom of heaven, He sits on His throne with those who are converted and have become as little children, the humble and contrite ones. In this appreciation we have a correct appreciation of the great God, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. If He sits on a throne with those of a contrite and a humble heart what is He like? He’s got exactly the same vain of mindset and appreciation.

Psalm 138:6 Though the LORD [be] high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

That is interesting now, although the Lord is high and lifted up on His throne yet He dwells with him who is of a humble and a contrite heart. A proud person cannot dwell with a humble contrite people, he [0:13:52]. There is a contradiction of terms so in God’s character he dwells with those who are childlike, humble and contrite because He Himself is like that. He is not in contradictory terms with those kinds of people but what does it say? The proud He knoweth afar off. He can sense pride far off, He can feel it and He knows it and He has no respect in that direction. He can’t respect pride, He knoweth afar off but He has respect unto the humble.

1 John 2:16 …the pride of life, is not of the Father…

He knoweth it afar off, it is directly different to Himself who is love.

In James 4:4, he is writing to his church in the time of James and he helps them to appreciate, you’ve got some mingling here together of two principles.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

The lust of the flesh, the pride of life, when you have pride you develop re-activism. Lust that acts in the spirit of the world has to do with envy. If somebody has got more than what you’ve got the pride of life wants to keep up with the John’s. it is an experience of always comparing ourselves with each other to try and keep at pace with the expressions and joys and comforts of that lust of your eyes and the lust of the flesh. This is the spirit that worketh in the world. if you are a friend of that, there is a characteristic inside of God that is [0:17:03]. It doesn’t fit, it is something that He resists and so He puts it further here.

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

God resists the proud. Why does He resist the proud? Because it is a condition of His personality that cannot harmonize with that. His love characteristic is totally foreign to that particular characteristic.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

To sit on a high and a lofty place together with God can only take place in the heart and in the experience of the person who is like God where there is no pride, non-whatsoever that motivates Him. The nature of God’s personality is in total opposition to the pride of life just like light is opposite to darkness. It is entirely different. That is the reason why Isaiah 55:8-9 is chronicled. Here we get the correct appreciation. It comes right down to the very root of God’s existence in contrast of roots of what Satan has established in the human race. A direct different way of looking at things, a different mindset, a different character state, a different motivation of our lives.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

55:9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It is in total separation, the direct opposite, so we must understand this as we contemplate our learning of God. We must examine together now God’s nature of love in actions as it contrasts with the nature of pride in actions. So we can see the two opposing forces very vividly not only about it but in our own appreciation.

John 3:16 is a text we know so well.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son

If you reflect back to our last divine service on the subject of God and His activity of love we recall that there was a struggle that existed in the heart of the Father when it came time to deal with the lies that Satan had put in this planet earth. There was a struggle and He had to submit to the strong appeals of His son, yet God so loved us that He gave His only begotten son. How deep is this concept, He so loved us? In Romans 5:8 is expressed for us that the depth of this amazing personality trait;

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Are you able to meditate on this concept that God had a struggle to let go of His son? And as He struggled, what went through His mind? ‘I have to give my son to these people who will reject Him? They are yet sinners. I love Him so much and I can hardly let Him go and I am sending Him down to earth where who know is going to actually going to respond to this? Can we begin to appreciate the motive behind God’s personality? There is nothing in it that suggests a sense of self gratification, nothing whatsoever. Father, Son and Holy Spirit exercised obedience one to the other when the going got hard. They had agreed already before sin ever came that that is what would happen. But then when it came to the actual action that is when the going got hard. That is when there was a struggle in the heart of God. ‘How can I let my son go?’ and then when Jesus was there at Gethsemane there was the going hard again and He said, ‘Father if it be possible I can’t go through with this, it is too much.’ So what happened? He says, ‘not my will by thine be done.’ Here we see that in the action of God and His love the challenge of the contrast of pride as the multiple action is laid bare. We read it here in detail in Philippians 2:6-10 remembering that God so loved the world that while we yet sinners God had a struggle and He gave His son in obedience and did not refer the slightest bit to good result just that He loved.

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Here He was, He was high and lifted up, He was God Himself. How much did He love us?

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Can you see the challenge here, the contrast to pride? He had a reputation. He was God of the universe and He looked at the human race and He said ‘I will give up my reputation. I am not going to get any result here may be, it doesn’t matter. I love these souls. I will give myself. For God so loved the world, that He would give up His reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man and being found – that was not good enough;

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The humiliation went lower and lower and there was no point in time when any satisfaction of success activated Him. It goes on to say that because Jesus did that He totally humbled Himself. This was what the father could really feel warm towards because the Father was like that. The characteristic of the Father was demonstrated in Jesus and what did the Father do with Him? Remember He dwells in a high and lofty place with him who has a contrite and a humble spirit.

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;

2:11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If you see the beautiful thoughts that are in between those lines that the Father was absolutely thrilled with the reflection of His own personality. When two people are so perfectly united it becomes like an atomic fusion, it just heats itself up, it gets better and better, hotter and hotter. This is what He sees, His own personality displayed in His son Jesus Christ as a human being and He gives up all and even is prepared to through the suffering of humiliation to the cross and this is for us to meditate about. An absolute opposite to the transactions of one that clings to the reputation. We live in a situation where we will obey if we get some good results. Don’t we? If I know that what I am going to do is going to give me comfort, joy and happiness I will be obedient. Don’t we train our children like that?

If you will do that then this will happen, if you will do that and that then I will give you this. And the child is growing up with an ego-centric satisfying experience. ‘I feel good because I pleased my mummy and my daddy and now I’ve got some results.’ That is the pride of life. When we start praising our little ones you can see them bristling with pride, there is great smiles on their face. And we think that this is the right ingredient to help a child to obey. But there is something inside of a child that we are meant to be bringing out that is completely different. It is Christ that likes every man that comes into the world and a child loves to please, the child loves to do the right thing and if we generate that principle instead of trying to enlarge the satanic ingredient we will have a completely different child, it’s a reality.

Here we are studying the exact opposite of not obeying for results. we see this in Steps to Christ the natural human motivation as it is expressed here, we will do wonderful things. We would be wonderful Christian brethren motivated by the pride of life.

It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. By what means, then, shall we determine whose side we are on? {SC 58.1}

The best order you can find is in the bible, can’t you? You can study the bible and say, ‘yes, everything that God has said is so good. I am going to pursue that and for the motive of my pride of life which is the esteem of others, the love of influence. Isn’t that pride? I am better than the others and I have a desire to influence others. The love of influence, not the love of God. ‘oh, I can’t do that because my self respect will be dragged down.’ ‘it feels good to be generous, doesn’t it? It makes everyone feel good about me.’ This is the pride of life. This is what motivates to actions even in Christian circles, am I right? But Isaiah 53:2 tells us why Jesus was rejected by the Jewish [0:33:23]. If Christ would have come to palliate this kind of motivation they would have accepted Him, wouldn’t they have? But what did they see in Him?

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.

Here is the true meaning of this person. For the human ego there is nothing that will attract you to Jesus, nothing, it is a dry ground, there is no beauty there that you will desire him. We’ve got to really meditate on this. We say we love Jesus. ‘I want to go to heaven, I want to be with Him, I want to enjoy His favor’. And that is what motivates me. That can be totally from the pride of life. Look what God did when He obeyed His son and when His son obeyed Him. What imperilled their future? Were they doing it for a good future as a multi-force or were they prepared to sacrifice everything? Very interesting motives here.

The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul. {COL 196.4}

What does that suggest to you? That God’s love is of a nature that He would act at motive of love even if the whole heaven would be imperilled. He is not motivated by heavenly savings He is motivated by imparting to others to treat them in love, that’s all. And all the heaven could be imperilled, that is God’s love. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperilled.

The two opposing principles are illustrated when God dealt with Adam and Eve and thereafter, and we remember a story in the lives of Cain and Abel. Here we have a perfect illustration of the principle of God’s love versus the principle of human motivation.

Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

God had no respect to Cain and his offering but Abel, yes. Does that ring a bell of a text we read before?

Psalm 138:6 Though the LORD [be] high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly:

Why did God have respect to Abel’s sacrifice and not to Cain? Remember there is something in God’s love that reposes the proud, He respects the humble. Here we have a deeper appreciation to observe. What was the problem with Cain that God resisted and had no respect to his sacrifice? What was the problem?

Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings…{PP 72.1}

What did he come with? There was something inside of his heart. What caused him to murmur?

He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb, and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor. He presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out. {PP 72.1}

Isn’t there right under? That he would come to God and please God by what I have done and secure and expect to secure the divine approval, ‘I have done my best for you. All my labor I am giving to you.’ Then God is not satisfied. How many times I have had that, I have done my very best and it is not good enough.’ What is speaking? The pride of life. Cain did exactly that, Cain obeyed in building an alter. He obeyed in bringing a sacrifice but He rendered only a partial obedience. But there was something mingled with his obedience. What was that? Pride. Pride was responding to the request that you come with the sacrifice to your creator. And in that pride thing I will do just what God says but just a little thing hiding somewhere especially when it has to do with the part of my pride. Here lies an important ingredient in our self examination. When it comes to what God wants of me am I coming with a love of influence? That I will dress in a certain way, I will eat in a certain way to show the people around me that I am a real reformer and I can ride on the high estimation of others. Cain sacrificed and God had no respect to it. How many in the Christian world are of this caliber? Thank God for the words of inspiration, I will not make a judgment that isn’t from God.

The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; {PP 73.1}

True faith, which relies wholly upon Christ, will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adam’s day to the present time the great controversy has been concerning obedience to God’s law. In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. But the Scriptures declare that by works is “faith made perfect;” and that, without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.” James 2:22, 17. He that professes to know God, “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. {PP 73.2}

Here we get to the very right core of obedience, a lost of pride to obey where we obey everything even if pride is chased by it. As you meditate on this as we continue through the program of understanding the love motivated obedience to all the different subjects and standards that we stand for in this church we can make a good examination of ourselves. Am I doing Cain’s obedience or am I doing Abel’s obedience. We are prepared to obey a far as it is comfortable to human pride. Aren’t we? I can see benefits coming from it to satisfy my desire. But to be obedient even to the degree of Jesus where the outlook was a dead end, there was no benefit and [0:47:34]. My personal heaven becomes imperilled. But I will obey even if it looks like everything will fall down under my ear. This was the obedience of God. This is the obedience of faith, the obedience of Jesus, the ones who did it before us and it is spelt out very clearly in His own words in Isaiah 49. When we obey we must open ourselves to ridicule, to discomfort, to loss of faith, to burdens that Jesus carried for us. We must be prepared to obey to such a degree and Jesus did it. He came to the world and He could not, and He came to the tomb and He could not see through the port of the tomb but still He obeyed, still He surrendered.

The True Motive of Love

Jesus came and showed His love to us that even when we were yet sinners He would do all this for us and He came to His own and His own received Him not.

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Have you ever felt like that? You’ve laboured so hard and it is all big loss and you think, ‘what is the use of going any further?’ have you ever said that?

Isaiah 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb [to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

What was He motivated by? Results? No. just to be obedient to His father. If everything failed it mattered not. That is what His motivation was, the true selfless love of God. And He saw no good results, the cross was one of the dead-end road for Him. When that experience comes to you and God wants you to obey are you conscious of the love of God? There is only one consideration in the love of God – I am doing what my beloved wants, that is all. This kind of attitude is that of those who are represented by Abel.

The Sacrifice of Abel

When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him, and yet are disloyal to His Father’s commandment. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easygoing, accommodating, crossless religion. But Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”—The Signs of the Times, June 16, 1890. {1SM 382.2}

The love of God is a cross-bearing religion. And if I am going to obey, partially where it doesn’t bear a cross to do it, where I am not going to be put out by it, then I am not acting on the love of God. It is action of self, of human pride. It is a crossless religion. And we said, ‘but I have suffered long enough’ but that suffering was for my own good results. But when I suffer and I can’t see any more results that’s the very perfect love. That is the perfect obedience. But Jesus said, if any man will come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Down the dead-end road as Jesus did. And He couldn’t see through the port of the tomb neither will you. But you are going to do as He did. I am going to suffer, I am going to do, I am going to follow irrespective of the results.

The admonition of what we read in Philippians 2 is the one that I would like to close with in that respect because He just quoted there about how Jesus made Himself of no reputation took upon Himself the form of a servant but was obedient unto the death even to the death of the cross. There are not just deaths, there are a lot of people that but they die like the terrorists. They die that they may go to paradise, different motives all together. This is a motive that is the motive of Christ and this is the admonition of Philippians 2

Philippians 2:1 If [there be] therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.

2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Is not that a beautiful word? Consolation, you are consoled in Christ. If it doesn’t work out it doesn’t matter, I still going to be doing it. Let nothing be done motivated by the pride of life because if you are motivated by the pride of life what will happen? You will start comparing each other, you will start to judge each other, strife starts coming in, ‘why are you better than me’ that is what happened to Cain. Isn’t it? What happened to him? His faith failed. Whenever your faith falls because somebody has done it better than you examine closely what made your faith fall, it describes what we just studied. Let that disposition, let that attitude be in you which was in Christ Jesus who went through this self-denouncing way for the benefit of you and me.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

You see what He is saying? You might obey my presence because you want esteem, you want to get my influence, you want to get my support. Don’t just obey in my presence obey much more in my absence. It is God’s love that is going to work in you as you permit this to penetrate.

Cain came with murmuring. He did it but with obedience and murmuring. Wonderful admonition, wonderful understanding, let us take this admonition, let us make it our own, appreciating the deep revelation of the contrasting principle of the love of God and my own human pride motivation. May God grant us the victory over that natural motivation that each one of us is governed by until Jesus shines and only He. God grant us, this is my prayer, Amen.

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Posted on 28/08/2012, in Divine Service Sermons, God's Love (Series). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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