When God Resists a Person
Robert Wurtz II
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:5–6 NKJV).
Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil (1 Tim. 3:6 NKJV).
If there is one characteristic of Satan that is most expressive of his personality it is pride. Rather than viewing himself soberly, he thinks of himself far more highly than he ought to think (Rom. 12:3). A prideful disposition is apparently the most repulsive to God of all and when discovered in Lucifer (Satan), disqualified him from the unique presence and peace of God. The disposition itself reeks of enmity with God and is utterly contrary to Him. Of the seven things that Proverbs tells us God hates, a proud look ranks number one (Prov. 6:16-17).
God has gone to great lengths in scripture to reveal His hostility to pride and arrogance. The time would fail to search out every Biblical instance where He has warned us about pride and exhorted us to humility. Contrarywise, it appears to be the one sinful disposition that Satan promotes the most. Consider the fact that you could plunder your goods in riotous living and Satan will berate you for every sin; but you can stay home and walk-in pride (as apparently, the brother of the prodigal had done), and Satan will pat you on the back for it.
And old-time preacher once said that pride is the one sin for which Satan will not make you feel guilty. In modern times there is a great emphasis on self-esteem. It seems to be at the top of the list when it comes to secular emphasis. The great sin of the secular mind is that someone would say something that would injure another person’s self-esteem. Perhaps that previous sentence would sound much different if we substituted the term “self-esteem” with “pride.” Few things does the world encourage as much as it does pride.
Is there any wonder why the first step towards God is to humble ourselves? This initially comes when we confess sins. Simply acknowledging that we have sinned against God is a humbling experience. This is why so many never turn to Christ. They refuse to humble themselves and acknowledge they were wrong and had done wrong. Why? Because it damages a person’s personal pride. Even people who have known the Lord for many years can experience the humbling impact of confessing their sin. As James tells us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16 ESV).
When was the last time you felt bad for being prideful? If you felt anything negative because of pride it came from God. Satan doesn’t discourage pride; he encourages it. He wants us to be just like him–completely detestable to God. Yet even the wicked Ninevites had sense enough to humble themselves before God at the preaching of Jonah. They put on sackcloth and fasted. They even had the animals involved! The pride of life is one of the three tools that Satan employs to damn the race of men (P. Reidhead).
Anything that we do to exalt ourselves is an offense to God. What is most detestable is when men and women exalt themselves in ministry or in church meetings. Exalting ourselves before the people divides the worship of God between us and Him. To do so is to risk competing with God for His own glory. As the prophet Isaiah recorded it, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8 ESV). This is one of the reasons why Paul writes, Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil (1 Tim. 3:6 NKJV). Placing people into ministry who are unproven, who are young in age, or are new converts (newly planted) is a recipe for complete disaster.
God is able to humble proud men and women. Nebuchadnezzar comes to mind. The man went from plush robes in Babylon to body hair like eagles feathers in the pasture. Talk about humiliation. He lost his mind and went mad — grazing and chewing grass like a wild ox. Nevertheless, God prefers prevention. Paul tells us that he was given a thorn in the flesh to prevent self-exaltation or anyone else exalting him. God sent him “a messenger from Satan” to keep his feet on the ground (so to speak). He wasn’t going to have Paul spoiled by the very pride that brought Satan’s condemnation.
When God gets ready to use a man or woman He looks for someone who is meek and humble. Moses was the meekest man on earth in his day. The prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 57 and 66 that God dwells with (in) people who are of a broken and contrite spirit. That disposition is the opposite of the Devil. Moreover, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. God will draw near to a person who is truly humble; but He will resist the proud (see 1 Pet. 5:5-6). The word resist in the Greek is antitassō, an old military term meaning to arrange in battle against and it’s in the present tense. Rather than being drawn to God we are set in battle against Him. Pride is the one character trait, sinful characteristic, personality trait, or whatever we wish to call it that we must ever steer clear of.
A proud person is an easy target for Satan. When pride exists in ministry so likely does the demonic. God resists pride so Satan steps in with his box of counterfeits (counterfeit everything). The question becomes, what should be our first reaction when we need God to move on our behalf? You guessed it, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.” Satan will never encourage God’s people to true biblical humility. How can we do it? In some cases with fasting. In other cases confession of sin and our great dependence on God. Peter took it a step further exhorting us to be clothed with humility. Peter may well have been thinking of Jesus who girded himself with a towel and washed the feet of the disciples (including Judas). It should ever be a working virtue employed in ministry (Robertson).