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Humility, Worship and Our Adversary the Devil

/ Gift Of New Beginnings

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Today we are God’s servants and living a life that worships God. But while we are living a life of worship we are being stalked by the most deadly and harmful predator in existence. His name is Satan our Adversary. His goal is to devour us, making us stop serving and worshiping God.

 

That is the warning we see in God’s Word. And what does God say is our protection from being devoured? Of all things it is HUMILITY! Open with me again to I Peter 5.

 

1 Peter 5:5-9 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.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

 

The word Peter uses for “humility” is Strong’s # 5012 tapeinophrosune { tap-i-nof-ros-oo’-nay}; n f; 7 x KJV; GK – 5425 {tapeinofrosuvnh} =  having a humble opinion of one’s self,  a deep sense of one’s littleness, modesty, humility, lowliness of mind[1]

 

Resisting the devil starts with humility (a deep sense of my littleness and God’s greatness); when you resist pride you are resisting the devil’s foothold in your life. Isn’t it amazing that the two most pointed passages about believers and pride also include a warning about spiritual warfare? Both James 4 and this passage in Peter, cite the devil and his constant warfare against us in the context of pride.

 

Pride opens the door of our lives to the devouring influence of Satan.

 

Pride makes me always do things my way; and often do them without first consulting with God by prayer. That is the essence of self-driven rather than Spirit-led ministry. Waiting upon the Lord is abandoned and the energy of the flesh takes over; like blood in the water to sharks—so pride in the life of a believer is to the Devil.

 

Are you resisting the devil? Only if you are walking through life clothed in humility.

 

Humility not only closes the door to the prowling devil, it opens the door to worship. Nothing is more powerful about humility than the increased freedom in worship.

 

Remember how Paul described true believers as humble-worshipers? Those two, humility and worship seem to be tied. Look at Philippians 3:3.

 

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

 

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well in John 4, what did He say that God was seeking? Worshipers!

 

And when we get to the end of all things in Revelation, what does the Bible show us doing forever? Worshiping!

 

The conclusion of God’s Word says all of us born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ be doing what one thing forever around God’s Throne? Yes, endlessly offering humbly-adoring, reverently-lifted worship!

 

The atmosphere of Heaven is always servant-hearted, submission-prompted, humility-clothed worship.

 

Let those word pictures settle into your heart for a moment: the atmosphere of Heaven is always servant-hearted, submission-prompted, humility-clothed worship.

 

As a gathered body of believers in Christ’s church, let’s review each of those precious scenes describing our everlasting occupation from the last book of God’s Word. Start with me in Revelation 1:17.

 

When John first sees Jesus as He is forever in Heaven, what is his response?

 

Immediate, collapsed-prostration of himself at Christ’s feet, face down, unmoving as if dead! That is as humble a position as the human body is able to get!

 

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

 

So as soon as John sees the Glorified and Majestic Christ of Heaven, he makes an immediate, collapsed-prostration of himself at Christ’s feet, face down, unmoving as if dead! Again, for emphasis–that is as humble a position as the human body is able to get!

 

Moving past chapters 2-3 and the seven letters to the seven specific, literal churches of Asia Minor in Century One (and by the wonder of the inspired Scriptures, to all of us believers through all the ages since)—and arrive at God’s Throne, the epicenter of the Universe, in Revelation chapter 4.

 

To best review this scene, join me as we stand; and while I read, you listen to the description of the atmosphere of Heaven, the protocol God expects, the reverence John describes, and note that worship clothed in humility is the way worship is offered and received in the place where Jesus is magnified and adored.

 

Read Rev 4:1-11 and pray.

 

Now, with you Bibles open, and maybe a pen or pencil in hand, join me as I trace through the entire book of Revelation the gift God seeks from each of us which I call humility clothed worship.

  • Worship clothed in humility is the description of the atmosphere of Heaven;
  • Worship clothed in humility is the protocol God expects;
  • Worship clothed in humility is the reverence John describes, and
  • Worship clothed in humility is the way worship is offered and received in the place where God is magnified and adored.

 

We already saw the verse in chapter one.

 

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

 

Now note some keys words in the verses we just read in chapter 4.

 

Revelation 4:9-10 “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne…”

 

Humility is so apparent in both their positions (fall down before) and their actions (cast their crowns); because they are aware that God alone is responsible for any rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King[2].

 

So the immediate falling in collapsed-prostration humbly at Christ’s feet, face down, in worship is ongoing.

 

Note John says “whenever” the four creatures make an offering of praise and worship to the Lord the response is “falling down”! How often do these four living creatures show up around the Throne offering praise and worship? Back up to the middle of verse 8 (4:8) and see the timing of this offering of worship and the resulting immediate response of the elders:

 

Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

 

So this scene of worship and falling face down in obeisance is played out continuously 24/7 as we would call it in our round-the-clock busy world.

 

The songs, doxologies, worship chants, and ascriptions of praise and worship to the Lord that are offered during this guided tour of Heaven are an education in themselves. Note the elements that are shown to us in the fourteen offerings of worship recorded in Revelation.

 

The Worship Offerings of Revelation

 

Reference

Those Offering Worship

Those Receiving Worship

4:8

4 Living Creatures

  1. God the Father

4:11 (3-fold)

24 Elders

  1. God the Father

5:9-10

24 Elders + 4 Living Creatures

  1. The Lamb (Christ)

5:12 (7-fold)

Many Angels

  1. The Lamb (Christ)

5:13 (4-fold)

Every Creature

  1. God the Father and the Lamb

7:10

Tribulation Martyrs

  1. God the Father and the Lamb

7:12 (7-fold)

Angels, 24 Elders, and 4 Living Creatures

  1. God the Father

11:16-18

24 Elders

  1. God the Father

15:3-4

Tribulation Saints

  1. God the Father and the Lamb

16:5-6

Angel

  1. God the Father

16:7

“The Altar”

  1. God the Father

19:1-3 (4-fold)

A Great Multitude

  1. God the Father

19:4

24 Elders + 4 Living Creatures

  1. God the Father

19:6-8

A Great Multitude

  1. God the Father

 

 

The atmosphere of worship clothed in humility as the way worship is offered and received in the place where Jesus is magnified and adored continues in Revelation 5.

 

Revelation 5:8, 14 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

 

Again this scene of worship and falling face down in obeisance is played out continuously 24/7 as we would call it in our round-the-clock busy world.

 

And in Revelation 7 we find that at the shout of the great multitude of martyrs slain for their faith in Christ during the Tribulation every angel, every saint and even the four living creatures fall before the Lord God Almighty in humble obeisance.

 

Revelation 7:9-12 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Again what is the response to those given an opportunity to worship God? They are falling face down in humble obeisance.

 

In chapter eleven the record continues, and again the same response.

 

Revelation 11:15-16 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,

 

Again what is the response to those given an opportunity to worship God? They are falling face down in humble obeisance.

 

On to Revelation 19, and we see more humble worship.

 

Revelation 19:1-4 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!2 “For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”

 

Again what is the response to those given an opportunity to worship God? They are falling face down in humble obeisance.

 

John gets so overwhelmed at this scene of worship that he starts to fall before an angel.

 

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

 

What is the immediate response when overcome with awe for the Majesty and Glory of God? Humble, submissive, face-down obeisance!

 

Now look at the ending in chapter 22. Once again John gets overwhelmed. He has seen the consummation of God’s plan, the defeat of the Devil, the Lake of Fire, the New Heavens and Earth…and then John turns to fall at the feet of the messenger who had shown him God’s Glories.

 

Revelation 22:8-9 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

 

Seeing God’s glory always makes God’s servants want to get into as humble a position as the human body is able to get!

 

And there it is, we have traced through the entire book of Revelation the gift God seeks from each of us which I call humility clothed worship.

  • Worship clothed in humility is the description of the atmosphere of Heaven;
  • Worship clothed in humility is the protocol God expects;
  • Worship clothed in humility is the reverence John describes, and
  • Worship clothed in humility is the way worship is offered and received in the place where God is magnified and adored.

 

And that is why we must never forget that only those who are humbled, who have no confidence in the flesh, only they can worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus!

 

Humility is the most prominent feature of Heaven from our perspective as believers. Every believer we see in Heaven is constantly doing one thing over and over—falling on their faces before an Awesome God who alone is the One to be worship-worthy, adoration-receiving, and humility-receiving.

 

We have fast forwarded to the way we will be once God finishes what He began, and now we come back into our lives today. What does all that mean about choices we can make for humbling ourselves to worship Him right now?

 

This morning we are being stalked by the most deadly and harmful predator in existence. His name is Satan, he is our Adversary. His goal is to devour believers.

 

Pride opens the door of our lives to the devouring influence of Satan.

 

Remember how Paul described true believers as humble-worshipers? Those two, humility and worship seem to be tied. Look at Philippians 3:3.

 

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

 

Worship flows from a humble heart. Paul said that worship flows from the life emptied of selfishness and pride. When we are liberated from the tyranny of our own self-driven agenda and onto Christ’s we find worship rising from our lives.

 

Much worship and ministry these days is so self-generated, self-focused, and self-exalting. From musicians to performers there seems to be a drive to be recognized, seen, honored and sought after. But isn’t all that what the Lord also desires? Isn’t pride competing with God for the glory?

 

So Paul is here giving us a …

 

Lesson in Godly Humility

 

  • Humility begins with proper self–awareness.

 

Humility is “the virtue by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness” so said Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote that grand hymn “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee”.

 

Humility begins with an honest, unadorned, unretouched view of oneself as we saw last week in the 101 ways we are proud.  The first thing the honest person sees in himself is sin, and therefore one of the surest marks of true humility is daily confession of sin.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

 

“We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves,” Paul says; “but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12).

 

It is not only unspiritual but unwise to judge ourselves by comparison with others. We often exaggerate our own good qualities and minimize the good qualities of others. Humility takes off our rose–colored glasses and allows us to see ourselves as we really are.

 

  • Second, humility CONTINUES WITH Christ–awareness.

 

Humility opens our eyes to see Christ clearly; but pride fogs and obscures the Glory of Christ. Pride compares self with others and feels better; humility compares self to Christ as like Job, Isaiah, Peter, and John falls at Christ’s feet as unclean and melting away before His Glory and Majesty.

 

Humility sees Jesus as the only standard by which righteousness and anything that pleases God can be judged. Humility sees God’s goal for us is “to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), and then confesses that only Jesus Christ walked in perfection. Only of Jesus has God ever said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well–pleased” (Matt. 3:17), and so only in Jesus can we be pleasing to God.

 

Our business success, fame, education, wealth, personality, good works, or anything else we are or have in ourselves only hinders our access with God. Whenever we rely on and glory in these things, they block our communion with God. Each of us must come to the Lord with nothing to commend us and everything to condemn us.

 

Approaching God with the attitude of the humbled tax–collector, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner,” brings God’s immediate and loving response. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13–14).

 

  • Third, humility ENDS IN God–awareness.

 

Our ultimate and eternal goal is to “worship God in the Spirit” (Phil. 3:3) as Paul says. This involves “rejoicing in Christ Jesus” and His Cross. But the starting place is ever and always “having no confidence in the flesh”. We neither please God by our own works, nor serve Him by them. Only humble and Spirit-energized ministry and Spirit-energized worship is accepted.

 

So the more we see the Lord as Isaiah saw Him, “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” the more we want to join in the cries of the seraphim, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory,” and then, we will become aware with Isaiah of our utter unworthiness. Then our humble worship begins as his began with the confession, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:1, 3, 5). [3]

 

So how do we start? We begin the earnest pursuit of humility, energized by the Spirit, and always remembering the Cross of Jesus. Here are a few areas we can begin:

 

Growing True Humility: 

 

  • WE MUST FOCUS OUR LIVE AWAY FROM SELF:

 

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (KJV) 

 

The first step we must take to experience godly humility is to turn our eyes off ourselves and to look to God. We can do this each time we stop our self-driven lives and pause to study His Word. We can do this as we jump off the treadmill and learn to humbly seek His face in prayer. We humble ourselves when we sincerely desire to be near Him and please Him, all of these choices move us toward humility, the admission that we are poor in spirit.

 

As we grow in God’s Word and stay in the shadow of the Cross, the Spirit opens through the Scriptures a vision of the infinitely Holy God in all His sinless purity and perfection—then we can see ourselves as sinners by contrast. To seek humility, we do not look at ourselves to find the faults, but at God Almighty to behold His perfection.

 

  • We must DENY OUR OWN UNGODLY, WORLDLY LUST FOR PRIDE:  

 

Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (KJV)  

 

We must starve the flesh by removing the things on which it feeds. The essence of the fleshly nature is pride, and to starve the flesh is to remove and avoid those things that promote pride.

 

Rather than looking for praise, compliments, and popularity, we should we be wary of them. Yet because our human sinfulness has a way of turning even the best intentions to its advantage, we need to be careful not to make an issue of avoiding praise and recognition.

 

The evil is not in being given praise but in seeking it and glorying in it. When, without having sought it, we are praised or honored, to ungraciously reject the recognition may be an act of pride rather than of humility.

 

  • We must REQUEST CHRIST TO CLOTHE US OVER AND OVER WITH HIS HUMILITY: The third principle in coming to humility is asking God for it.

 

1 Peter 5:5-6     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. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (KJV)

 

With David we should pray,

 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

 

Humility, like every other good gift, comes only from God. Also as with every other good thing, He is more willing to give it than we are to ask for it, and He stands ready to give it long before we ask for it[4].


[1] Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[2] John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

[3] Adapted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians 4, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983

[4] These three points were adapted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians 4, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983

 
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