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THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN HOLINESS AND PRIDE

A SERMON DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

6 JULY 1997

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

2 Samuel 5:1-10
1 Chronicles 22:8
John 8:42
Acts 13:22
1 Corinthians 2:9
                    13:1-3

There is a struggle that many well-meaning people have, particularly when they come into a position of authority.

And this same struggle, this same problem, applies to true believers as well.

Itís the struggle between a person's desire to be holy before the Lord, and their pride.

King David was a typical example of a person struggling with this problem.

Let's take a look at one of the events in David's life in which this struggle is evident (2 Samuel 5:1-10).

1. Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.

2. "Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel."'

3. So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.

Not only was David king of Judah, but now he is also king of all of Israel.

4. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

5. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.

This last verse jumps into the future, for David had not yet gone up to Jerusalem, for the city was still in the hands of the Jebusites.

6. Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away"; thinking, "David cannot enter here."

The Jebusites were very prideful of their position of control over Jerusalem, and their ability to have defended their piece of land from the Israelites when they conquered the land of Canaan.

Israel had never been able to remove the Jebusites from the land, as the Lord had commanded them. They continued to live among them.

And in their pride they taunt David, by saying, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away."

They felt so secure, so untouchable, that they said that they really didn't need any soldiers to defend their city, for even the lame and blind could keep David and his army out.

7. Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David.

8. And David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel." Therefore they say, "The blind or the lame shall not come into the house."

David knew that the Lord would give Jerusalem into his hands, but he let his pride get the best of him.

He allowed the taunt of the Jebusites to get to him.

Remember, it wasn't the lame and blind who said they could keep David out, it was the prideful leadership.

But David allowed himself, in his pride, to get angry not only with those who taunted him, but also with the lame and blind, even to the point of hating them.

Furthermore, David knew that the lame and blind could not defend themselves; thus, he was advocating murder.

9. So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward.

10. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.

There is no doubt that the Lord was with David, for David was a man after the Lord's heart, as we are told in Acts 13:22.

22. "And after He had removed him [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.'

And even though David did all that the Lord wanted him to do, he also did several things that God didn't want him to do, such as his killing of Uriah, the non-combatant Jebusites, and the counting of the people.

In this light, listen to what the Lord told David in 1 Chronicles 22:8:

8. "But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood, and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me.

I don't believe it was so much the blood David spilled in war, that kept him from building the Temple, as it was the blood he spilled in his pride and vengeance.

It's not the fact that David also killed the lame and the blind along with the soldiers and other people of Jerusalem, it's that David took pleasure in killing them.

He satisfied his vengeance by having them killed.

Killing of any kind should bring a revulsion to us; we should never rejoice over it, even when killing an animal for food, or in times of war.

David's pride got in the way of his holiness.

And we allow the same thing to happen to us.

We who believe have a tendency to become self-righteous, and when we do, we no longer have a teachable spirit.

This doesn't mean that we lose our faith, but that we limit it.

And at the same time, we limit our expression of love and compassion.

And it is here that our pride does the most damage, as it did to the Israelites (John 8:42).

42. Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.

Their pride of "ownership" of the faith kept them from unconditional love, and thus they failed to recognize their Savior.

They were still trying to be holy, they still believed in God, but in their pride they actually rejected God's Gift, and the salvation that came through Him.

Because of their pride, they lost their spiritual insight.

That's what happened to the Corinthians, as Paul told them in his first epistle (2:9):

9. but just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him."

This is the problem in our own community.

Most people will tell you that they believe in God, and even in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but in their pride, in their refusal to fully submit their will to God, they limit their perception to the physical world; they blind themselves to the spiritual realm.

And about the self-righteous in the church he says (13:1-3), using himself as an example,

1. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

This is why you have heard me say many times, "If we do make mistakes, let it be on the side of love, for in this way we do little or no damage."

And we cannot fully love, if we do not first die to our pride.

And we cannot fully be the Lord's, unless we fully love.

If I leave you with but one legacy, let it be that of unconditional love and compassion.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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