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God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Judging yourself and humbling yourself is the greatest thing you could do in this life!
Everything—and this applies to salvation, too—operates according to laws. Just as there are natural laws, there are also spiritual laws.
The fundamental law governing salvation, from the beginning to the very end—from the time that we are just beginners until we are perfected—is the law of humility. This is written about in one of Peter's letters and in James' letter, word for word the same.
The law of humility
The law reads: “God gives grace to the humble.” Then there is the opposite: “God resists the proud (the high-minded, the puffed-up, those who are wise in their own eyes). When you are not humble, and yet pray for grace, your prayer is confused.
You can't sow potatoes and harvest strawberries, no matter how badly you want to—it's just not possible. Neither is it possible to receive grace when you are not humble.
The strongest words that we have concerning humility are the words of Jesus: “… he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) I usually add, “whether he wants to be or not.” God loves such people. Even if they prayed not to be exalted, they would be exalted anyway. That's how certain this law is.
When you humble yourself, you will be looked down upon by all foolish people, and looked up to by all wise people. In any case, quite apart from what either foolish people or wise people think, you will be exalted. In other words, to be afraid of humbling yourself, to cringe at the idea, to have the attitude that it is the worst thing that you can imagine, is, spiritually speaking, insane—completely senseless.
First-class and second-class humility
To defend and excuse yourself is the greatest folly imaginable; it is to reject salvation. We should always seek the best; we ought to seek what is “first class,” and that is to judge ourselves, humble ourselves, and abase ourselves of our own volition. This is the greatest, most glorious, most rewarding, and most effective thing that we can do in each situation, every moment of our lives.
That is what you ought to be in love with, and use every opportunity for. To humble yourself means that it is voluntary, and isn't done just because other people think that you should do it. This alone is first class. But God is exceedingly gracious and merciful, and therefore it can also go well even when it is second-class.
Second-class in this connection is to be humbled. This is something that God Himself undertakes. It isn't always that a person can be saved by this means, but there is a possibility. However, there is a condition for being saved when you are going second class, and that is that you completely acknowledge and accept the humbling or humiliation, not just with your mouth, but with your heart. Then you will be exalted.
There are, no doubt, many who sin against others in daily life and don't acknowledge anything—they never ask for forgiveness; they don't even apologize. For such people it is a matter of course to defend themselves “tooth and nail.” They grasp at every straw in an attempt to defend themselves—they use everything that they can find. When you do that, you explain away your own salvation; you are working against your own salvation.
Judge yourself—saved through self-acknowledgement
The only way to be saved is through self-acknowledgment. There's absolutely no other way. You have to have self-acknowledgment; you have to humble yourself; you have to abase yourself; you have to judge yourself and not judge anyone else.
We have a deadly serious word about this in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
It's as simple as “one, two, three.” If you judge yourself, you won't be judged. Of course not—there won't be any reason for it then. But if we have neglected it, God is so gracious that He judges us in order to give us another chance. And if we don't accept this judgment, this humiliation, this humbling, then we will be condemned together with the world.
You can't humble yourself too much
But the big question again is whether or not you will accept this judgment. If you don't, you will be condemned along with the world! You can read all you like, but that's what it says. It goes without saying—it's almost a superfluous comment—that there is no such thing as humbling yourself too much; but there is an abundance of not humbling yourself enough. No one has ever humbled himself too much.
When things aren't as they ought to be, the solution is always the same: The problem comes from a crying lack of the fear of God. People don't take God's Word with a deadly serious attitude, but it is deadly serious.
I wish you all the greatest success! Best wishes for an indescribably glorious future, a tremendously thorough salvation! It is only God who can give grace for that. He likes to give grace for that; He really likes to. That's what He wants for each and every one, more than anything.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.