"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil."— Prov. 3:7.
NOTHING is more dangerous to the child of God than self-conceit; it hinders reformation of heart, as well as true usefulness to others, and especially usefulness in God's service; for the Word declares, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (James 4:6.) The Scriptures everywhere make prominent the fact that those who would be in harmony with God must be humble. The Lord bestows blessings upon the humble, the meek, the teachable. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek." (Matt. 5:5.) The Apostle exhorts, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."—I Pet. 5:6.
The Word of God points to the fact that Jesus was meek and lowly. (Matt. 11:29, 30.) This humility of mind and heart was, in many respects, the secret of His success. If He had not been humble, He would not have attained to the glorious station to which He was exalted.
There is a marked contrast between Jesus and Satan. The one thought to exalt himself, and the Other to humble Himself. (Isa. 14:13, 14; Phil. 2:8.) Satan said, "I will elevate myself above the other angels; I will be like the Most High, and exert such a power as He does. I could show the angels very great wisdom if I were in control of affairs." Inspired by this wrong spirit, Satan became ambitious to make an exhibition of what he could do.
The Scriptures give us to understand that Satan's inordinate desire to gain distinction was the secret of his fall. Ambition is good, but only when it is based upon humility. Any spirit that does not respect God's Wisdom is indeed foolish.
Satan's spirit was one of ambition and pride. Already highly favored of God as one of the highest rank of angels, he was not content with his great honors and blessings, but was desirous of attaining still greater influence and power than God had been pleased to grant him. This unlawful aspiration to obtain control led him not only to rebel against the Divine Government, but also to become the "murderer" (John 8:44) of our first parents, that he might gain control over them—the object of his ambition.
How short-sighted was the Adversary, that he should think to out-general Jehovah, and to exalt himself and erect a rival Kingdom! Soon Satan's folly will be manifested. When the Lord's due time shall come, the One who humbled Himself in obedience to the Father's will shall be exalted to kingly power and authority, to the position at the Father's right hand in the Kingdom of the Universe; but the one who attempted the usurpation shall be bound and utterly destroyed.
HUMILITY PRECEDES EXALTATION
Our Lord Jesus took a different course from that of Satan. Instead of trying to exercise power He had supreme reverence for Jehovah. He said, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God." (Psa. 40:8.) Following this course of humility in the presence of the great Eternal One, Jesus was led of the Father as He would not have been if He had had a self-sufficient spirit. Under the Father's guidance He was humiliated. He "learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8.); and after His death and resurrection He received the reward of the Divine nature. He became Heir of all the gracious promises of God's Word, "Heir of all things."—Hebrews 1:2.
These two great examples afford us an impressive lesson. They show us that if we copy the ambitious and self-wise attitude of Satan, it will estrange us from God. We should realize the Wisdom of God and submit ourselves fully to His will. If we walk obediently in the footsteps of the Master, we shall attain glory and honor with our Lord.
The Wisdom of God is foolishness with men. The people of this world are leaning to their own understanding. People sometimes boast along this very line, saying, "I have some ideas of my own." We all find that what we know is but very little and generally very incorrect. Experience is an excellent teacher.
The lessons that we have learned in the School of Christ are to a great extent those of humility, a great deal of which is required of pupils in that School. The path of life is so narrow that those who love the broad garish way would not think of walking in the narrow one. The Lord is allowing those who are self-conceited to turn aside. Even though they started out to walk in His way, they are permitted to go after their own foolish misunderstandings. If they continue in this course it will lead to their destruction.
WISDOM OF THIS WORLD FOOLISHNESS WITH GOD
As for the world, whether they live in Christian or in heathen lands, all shall come to a knowledge of the Truth. (I Tim. 2:3, 4.) This knowledge will not be theoretical, for mankind will be brought to it through practical experience. In fact the whole world is getting a great lesson now. When the New Dispensation is ushered in and the Truth is made plain, mankind will perceive how very foolish they have been. They will see the unwisdom of the greater part of their course. "For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish."—Isa. 29:14.
It will be a hard experience for mankind to realize what clumsy efforts they have made along different lines. If scientists and philosophers, when asked as to God, had said, "We do not know," they could have been respected for their honesty. But they have boasted about geology, evolution, etc., and have pretended to know all the secrets of the Universe. What shame will be theirs when confronted with the facts! It will be a severe chastisement for them to perceive how foolish they have been and to know that others are aware of their folly.
The truly noble soul feels humbled upon the borders of the vast unknown, thankfully accepts the Divine Revelation as to his nature, origin, destiny, etc., and patiently awaits the Lord's good time for a fuller understanding of all the mysteries of His wondrous grace.
We may well fancy that some of the great theologians who have taught with such positiveness what they do not know and what is contrary to the Bible, will feel very strange when they learn the Truth. Already this is true to some extent. They are ashamed of the teachings of Calvin and of many of the theories of the past. Yet they still hold on to the creeds of nominal Christianity, but cover these up; accordingly, with such an attitude of heart, they make very little progress.