*"Satan's Device: Satan makes a strategic retreat for a time to draw us out of our position of strength (Josh. 8:15). He permits us a momentary victory to 'swell the heart with pride'. He lulls us into 'a spirit of security' and 'vain presumption'.
Remedy: We can overcome the devil by 'Christian sobriety and watchfulness' (1 Peter 5:8). Christians in this world should not live like rich men in a king's court but like soldiers in the camps of war--'it is a war without a truce.'"
Here is a great sneaking danger. The devil withdraws from his assaults and temptings on us . . . and we come to believe we have overcome. We then drop our guard and assume a spiritual station which doesn't actually exist. We think we are more advanced than we are. And then subtle spiritual pride slips in and takes up residence, but we don't see it. Instead we just feel a sort of hardening confidence and surety that we've got things well under control and are "doing quite well, thank you very much!"
We don't need our elders, we don't need advice from anyone, we become our own authority as humility is run from the camp and self assurance takes control. Not assurance in Christ, but assurance in ourselves . . . perhaps along with another partner on the same track; and what you have is a miniature cult . . . soon being led by subtle doctrines of demons.
It is said pride is the first sin to enter a person's heart . . . and the last to leave. . . .
Many times it is all the devil has to do--that is, to retreat from attacking us and even help things to go "our way." Almost instantly pride enters in the back door as we begin assuming that we ourselves are the ones accomplishing "good" and "noble" and "notable" things; that we deserve a little credit and we start comparing our achievements against others, considering ourselves a "cut above".
The frightening part . . . is that this state of affairs can go on for a long time before we realize that we have actually long ago drifted from the path of righteousness (humility) and we have not been communing with God at all but rather have been taking cues from and pleasing demons!
Many, many "religious" people--especially even pastors and elders--fall into this hidden trap and grow quite prideful in their "spiritual" and worldly success, where it seems like they have overcome the devil and temptations and are finally being blessed; when in fact, they live in a false security and abound with pride cloaked in "uprightness" and "victory".
Which subtle pride God detests! Even a "proud look" the Lord despises (Prov. 6:16-17). Those whose hearts have become prideful--especially masquerading in spiritual trappings--are an abomination to the Lord! (Prov. 16:5)
The proud heart is quick to see the defects in others while ignoring its own. The humble see their own sin first.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or to impress others, but in humility consider others as more important, better than yourselves." (Phil. 2:3)
"The proud man believes he has accomplished what God and others have
accomplished in him. He seeks credit for things which he cannot rightly
take credit. Talent, intellect, abilities, health, and life itself are
gifts from God." (Harold Vaughn)
William Law said--and how true it is--"Pride must die, or nothing of heaven can live in you."
In any time, but especially in these times of rampant lawlessness and hatred of all things pertaining to God, and as one in the soldiers camp of war, the great hedge protecting the believer from the enemy's constant assaults . . . is humility. "Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil s reach than humility
and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness. Humility
clears the eye to look at things as they truly are. . . . Pure Christian humility causes a person to take notice of everything
that is good in others, to make the best of it and to diminish their
failings. (Jonathan Edwards)
We ought be most on guard when it seems as if the devil has flown from our midst, so advanced are we. But there is no truce, no let up in this spiritual war until the King and Judge brings HIS conclusion to all events. Until then, humility must be our constant shield, avoiding like the plague vain presumptions and casual conceit. . . .
"Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and
encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off
one, there is another underneath. Therefore, we have need to have the
greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter
and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help.
He that trusts his own heart is a fool." (J.E.)