THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
SPREADING THE SOUL-SAVING MESSAGE OF JESUs
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Kevin Pendergrass.
Welcome to our study of the Book of Philippians. This is the second lesson in our study of this book. Our subject in this lesson will be “biblical humility.” What is humility, from a biblical standpoint? There are many words in the Bible that people twist in order to put their own definitions on those words instead of allowing the Bible to define the words. Humility is included among those words at times. People want to talk about humility and define it, not by using the Bible, but by using their own standard. We must go to the Word of God and let God’s Word define what the word truly means.
The word “humility” as used in the Bible simply means “lowliness of mind; to submit; to subdue.” We will be looking at three different “looks of humility.” The first look of humility is that of inward—the inward look of humility. If we are going to truly be humble, we first must look inwardly. In Philippians 2:3 Paul said, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Nothing should be done for a selfish reason. We must look within ourselves to make sure that we are humble and that we are being honest with ourselves and with the Scriptures. I want to look at some biblical examples in the Old Testament of those people who looked inwardly in order to be sure that they were humble. Then we will look at some examples of those people who did not humble themselves and who never looked within themselves in order to be sure that they were being honest.
Romans 15:4 teaches us that the Old Testament is “for our learning.” We can look at the men and women in the Old Testament as examples so that we can either do what they did (if God was pleased) or not do what they did, and learn from their poor examples. A positive example of a person who humbled himself was Josiah. In 2 Kings 22:16-20 we read of Josiah, a king who humbled himself.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read—because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’”
Notice in the first couple of verses how the Lord said that He was going to bring calamity and destruction on the place because the people had not followed what He had said. The people in that place had not followed God. They had not done what He had told them to do. Because of that, they were going to be destroyed. But in verse 18 we see someone who had humbled himself.
“But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Concerning the words which you have heard—because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.”’ So they brought back word to the king.”
Josiah did not have a hard heart, but instead had a tender heart. Because his heart was tender, and because he humbled himself before the Lord when he heard what God had spoken against the place, God heard him. What we see is that Josiah was someone who looked inwardly. He was humble, and he wanted to do the right thing. Even though those around him were rejecting God’s commands, and even though they were offering sacrifices and following after other gods, Josiah, as king, had a tender heart, looked inwardly, and humbled himself before God.
In Deuteronomy 8:2 we read of physical Israel, and how the people had been led into the wilderness so they could be tested and humbled, so God could see whether or not they would keep His commandments. There are times when things may happen to us, and we have to look inwardly to ask ourselves if we are going to be honest, have a soft heart, and do the will of God. Or, are we going to do what we want to do? Are we going to be selfish, and reject humility so that we can do what we want to do?
Hezekiah was another man who looked inwardly and humbled his heart. In 2 Chronicles 32:26 the Bible says, “Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” What is this implying? It is implying that if Hezekiah had not humbled his heart, the wrath of the Lord would have come upon him. But because he looked inwardly and had a tender heart like Josiah, he did what God had told him to do.
These are some Old Testament examples that we need to follow. We need to be like Josiah and Hezekiah. We need to have the mentality that says, “I want to have a soft heart. I want to look inwardly and be nothing more than what God wants me to be.” We must take an honest look to make sure we are doing the right thing.
Now let’s look at some negative examples of people whom we do not want to be like. Belshazzar is one example from the Old Testament. He was a man who did not humble his heart. In Daniel 5:22 we read, “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.” Sometimes we may have the knowledge, and even understand the right thing. But we decide not to do it anyway. Just because we are ignorant does not mean that we are OK. But there are times when we may not be ignorant. Yet we still go ahead and do what our hearts desire anyway.
Another example is found in Exodus chapters 4 through 11 in a man by the name of Pharaoh. He had Israel in Egyptian bondage. What did God do? He sent ten plagues to soften Pharaoh’s heart. The design of the plagues was to punish Pharaoh, and perhaps bring him to repentance. But instead of softening Pharaoh’s heart, each time another plague came, what happened? The Bible speaks of how Pharaoh’s heart was “hardened.” The Bible even speaks of “God hardening Pharaoh’s heart.” Did God say, “Well, today I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and there is nothing he can do about it”? No. How did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? It wasn’t by choice. God wanted Pharaoh’s heart to be soft. In 2 Peter 3:9 we are taught that God wants everyone to come to repentance and wants all to be saved. But God’s plagues hardened Pharaoh’s heart. What was designed to soften a heart ended up hardening that heart—because of personal choices that Pharaoh made. We sometimes look inwardly and decide that we do not want to do the right thing. Instead of submitting to God, we harden our hearts.
You may have heard this powerful example before. The same heat that will make an egg hard is the same heat that softens butter. The same is true with God’s truth. It is the Word of God that can cut someone’s heart in a positive manner to bring him to repentance. Or, it can cut someone’s heart in a negative manner so that he continues in rebellion.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of this. In Acts 2:37 Peter had just given the first Gospel sermon. The Jews were cut to the heart. They, with lawless hands, had crucified Jesus. But they were cut to the heart and asked, “Men and brethren, what must we do?” That was positive. When the Word of God was spoken, it cut their soft hearts in a positive way that made them want to do the will of God. Peter responded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” They were pricked in a positive manner, and wanted to do the right thing.
I want to look at the same truth as preached by Stephen in Acts 7:54. Keep in mind that the same truth is being preached. In fact, in Acts 7:54 it even says that the people’s hearts were pricked. But here’s the difference. Their hearts were cut in a negative way—not because of Stephen or what he said, but because of the way the people received the truth. They did not look inwardly to humble themselves. What did they end up doing to Stephen? Instead of being like the Jews mentioned in Acts 2 who had their sins washed away, and thus became faithful Christians, the people in Acts 7 ended up killing Stephen because they did not humble their hearts. They did not look inwardly. In 2 Corinthians 2: 15-16 makes this principle clear. Paul said,
“We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
Paul said that when we spread the Gospel, we are an aroma. Some people think we smell great. We are a pleasant aroma because we are leading them to eternal life. But others think we do not smell too pleasant because we are leading them to eternal death. Is it Christians who are leading sinners to eternal death? No, they are trying to bring such people the Gospel. But because they refuse to accept the Gospel, they will be lost. The same truth may send some people forward, while sending others backwards, based upon their hearts and whether or not they are willing to humble themselves and do the right thing. That is why Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” We do not need to get mad or be offended when someone addresses us with the truth. If you are living in sin, and someone cares enough about you to talk to you about that sin, do not get mad. Don’t harden your heart. Don’t get offended. Appreciate what they are doing. Be like the Jews in Acts 2 and say, “You’re right; I want to do the will of God and do what the Bible says by looking inwardly.” We must be honest with ourselves. I’ve talked to several people who were being dishonest with the Scriptures. One woman even told me that she and Jesus “simply disagreed.” Yet she claimed to be a Christian. She was not; in fact, she was far from it. How can someone be humble and honest, and then say that she “disagrees with Jesus” while serving Jesus? That is not being honest. That is not true humility. It is someone who is trying to justify her own actions instead of looking inwardly to do the right thing.
In John 6:66 we see many disciples who got angry at what Jesus said. They then “walked with Him no more.” But in verse 68 Peter asked, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We should not be like those people mentioned in Galatians 4:16 to whom Paul asked the question, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” In Matthew 11:6 Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” We must look inwardly and make sure that we are preparing our hearts to do the right thing. We must have a soft, tender heart, and want nothing but the truth and the whole truth.
The second look that I want us to consider today has to do with looking outward so that we can help other people. In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” If we have humility, not only will we be looking inwardly to make sure that we have soft hearts, but we also will be looking outward to see who needs our help. The world rejects this idea because the world says, “To each his own” or “It’s survival of the fittest” or “Don’t worry about anyone else; just worry about yourself.” But that is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that we are not to look out just for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. We are to help those who are lost in sin, and we also are to help those who have physical needs.
Now I would like to look at the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. This is a passage that contains some points that we might have missed previously, but that I want to make sure we understand. “Then Jesus answered and said, ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” A man was attacked by thieves who not only stole what he had, but also beat him up, stripped him, and left him for dead. But verse 31 tells us, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” The priest sees what has happened, but instead of being humble, he goes on his way. Someone might say, “Wait a minute; he’s a priest! I thought he was supposed to be helping other people.” Instead, he went on about his own business. He may have had the attitude, “Someone else will come by. I’m sure someone else will help this man. He doesn’t need me. I’ve got plans. I’m too busy right now. I have places to go and people to see.” So the priest did not humble himself.
Then we read in verse 32, “Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.” The Levite looked. He saw the man. But he kept right on going on his journey. He did not humble himself by stopping to help the man.
Then we read in verse 33, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.” This is someone who was looking outwardly. He wanted to help someone else. He saw the man, and had compassion. Verses 34-37 say, “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
This—looking out for others—was true humility. Here, then, is the point I do not want us to miss. Was it the priest or the Levite who had stripped the man, beaten him, and left him for dead? No, they did not do anything to the man. But it wasn’t’ what they did; it was what they didn’t do that made the difference. We might say, “I’m a good person. I know that person might have needed help, but I’m not the one who put him in that situation. It’s not my fault he’s that way.” Many times it’s not what we do, but what we decide not to do. We have to be like the good Samaritan who was willing to help others and who was looking outwardly. We must humble ourselves so that we can help those who are in need. In Galatians 6:10 Paul said, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Not only are we to do good to those who are Christians, but we also are to do good to all people. We are just to help those who need help from a physical standpoint. But more important, we are to help those who are spiritually in need. Matthew 12:33 teaches us that we can know if someone is lost. We can know a tree by its fruits. How can we know today what a certain type of tree is? By the fruit it bears. If I’m walking down the road with a friend of mine and we see an apple tree, I’m not going to say, “I’m going to go over there and pick off an orange. Do you want one?” Why? Because it is not that type of tree. Look at the fruit it bears. I can say that it’s an apple tree because it is bearing apples. That is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 12:33. Just as we can know that, we can know the type of “tree” a person is by how the person is living his life—based on the fruit the person produces. In Matthew 15:18-20 the Bible says,
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
What defiles a person? It is the words he speaks and the actions he takes. John 7:24 says that we are to “judge righteous judgment.” It is interesting that many times people will accuse Christians of being arrogant when they correct a person’s sin. But when we look at the Scriptures, we see exactly the opposite. If we are humble, we will do everything we can to help those who are in sin. In Hebrews 3:13 we read that we are to “exhort one another daily.” This carries with it the idea of urgency. We must help those who are in sin get out of sin. The word “exhort” does not mean that we simply give someone a thumbs up or a handshake or a pat on the back. It means that we hold one another accountable (Lk. 3: 1ff.). We will do what we can to help and rebuke those who are in sin so that we can bring them back to Christ. That is true humility. In 2 Timothy 4:2 we are told that we are to “rebuke.” That is part of the Christian’s obligation. In Proverbs 27:5 we read that “open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.” You may know someone who is in sin, and you may say, “Well, I just love that person so much that I do not want to say anything because it will ruffle his feathers or make him mad.” If you say that, you are not being truly humble. You are not looking out for other people’s souls. You are looking out only for your own interests. The Bible says that inwardly you may love that person, but open rebuke is much better than love carefully concealed. The person might get mad at first, but if he has a soft heart, if he is honest, if he looks within himself, and if he looks within himself, he will appreciate what you have done. I always tell people that, growing up, I had the meanest parents. I thought that my mother and dad were so mean to me. And then I say, “I thank God for them every day!” When I did something wrong, they would spank me. As I got older, I had to go into “time outs.” They would ground me. I thought that everyone else had good parents. But as I grew up, I realized that I had the best parents. They were people who loved me and cared for me enough to discipline me. They were looking out for my interests. The same is true spiritually speaking. We need to be appreciative of those who rebuke and correct us. We need to thank God for such people. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” There was no time when I was being spanked that I enjoyed it. I didn’t say, “This is fun; let’s go another round.” But after I was trained by it, it was something that I saw as wonderful, and as something that I appreciated. People who need spiritual discipline will appreciate it, too, if they humble themselves and their hearts. So the second look of humility is outward. We are to help people not just physically, but also spiritually.
The last look of humility is the look that looks upward to God to submit to His will. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul said,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
What did Jesus do? He came to this Earth and humbled Himself. He was obedient, not just to the point of doing or teaching the will of God, but even to the point of death. We have to understand the importance of looking upward and doing the will of God. Matthew 7:21 teaches that only those who do the will of God will go to Heaven. Only those who submit and follow His commands will be saved.
Let’s make an application for those of us today. What are some ways in which we need to submit to God? Colossians 3:17 tells us that everything we do “in word or deed,” we must do “in the name of Jesus Christ.” That includes the way that we worship (Jn. 4:23-24). We must worship God in spirit and in truth—in a way that is pleasing to Him. That means that we will not have “praise teams” because Ephesians 5:19 says that we are to sing to one another. We are not to have choir performances or mechanical instruments of music. That is not submitting to God. A person may have the correct intent, and may be sincere. But we must submit to God’s will, not just be sincere. Jesus said in Matthew 7:22ff. that there will be many at Judgment who ask, “But Lord, didn’t we do this” or “Didn’t we do that in Your name?” Just because a person “thinks” he is right does not mean that he is. Proverbs 16:25 teaches that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but the way thereof is death.” Just because a person thinks he is submitting to God does not mean that he is. We must study the Scriptures in order to be sure that we are following them correctly. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” We cannot say, “Well, I know what the Bible says, and I know that’s what God wants me to do, but I’ve always done it this way.” The Bible says that we are not to think like that. We are to say, “If this is what God wants me to do, I must submit to Him, be truly humble, and do it.” In 2 Chronicles 7:14 the Bible says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” When it comes to submitting to God, we must turn from our wicked ways. We cannot continue in sinful lifestyle. We must humble ourselves and be obedient. In James 4:7-10 the Bible says,
“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
In verse 7 it says, “Submit to God.” If we submit to God, what will we do? Verse 10 says that we will humble ourselves before God. Have you humbled yourself before the Lord? Have you done the will of God? Have you looked inwardly and said, “I want to do the right thing. I do not know if I have yet, but I want to do the right thing. I want to have my heart pricked. I have a soft heart, and I want to do the will of God”? Have you looked outwardly and said, “I want to help those who are lost. I want to help those who need my help”? Have you looked to God and obeyed His plan of salvation? Jesus said in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” If you have not yet obeyed the truth, we pray today that you will humble yourselves and obey the Gospel of Christ.
Narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
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1. According to the material contained in this lesson, what is biblical humility?
2. What king is discussed in 2 Kings 22:16-20 as having humbled himself before God?
3. What king is discussed in 2 Chronicles 32:26 as having humbled himself before God?
4. What king is discussed in Daniel 5:22 as refusing to humble himself before God?
5. What king is discussed in Exodus 4-11 as refusing to humble himself before God?
6. Which people are discussed in Acts 2:37 who finally humbled themselves before God?
7. Which people are discussed in Acts 7 who, even though their hearts were pricked, refused to humble themselves before God?
8. What did Paul say in Philippians 2:3-4?
9. What parable did Jesus relate in Luke 10:30-37 that dealt with humility?
12. In the parable in Luke 10:30-37, who finally did exhibit humility?
13. What command did Paul give Christians in Galatians 6:10?
14. According to Hebrews 3:13, what are Christians supposed to do?
15. What does 2 Timothy 4:2 tell us may sometimes be necessary?
16. What does Proverbs 27:5 say?
17. What important message is contained in Hebrews 12:11?
19. What is the second “look of humility” discussed in this lesson?
20. What is the third “look of humility” discussed in this lesson?
21. What important concept is contained in Colossians 3:17?
22. What does Proverbs 3:5 admonish us to do, and not to do?
23. What important spiritual principle is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14?
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