How Can I Gain Humility?
By Fred Pruitt
Humility, like a lot of other things, is not what we have been led to believe that it is. Humans think it means a self-effacing attitude and demeanor, not taking credit for things, allowing others to go ahead of us, etc. A humble person doesn’t brag, or try to “be first” over others, stuff like that.
Pretty much anybody can emulate that kind of behavior if he wants to enough and has a good reason for doing so.
Since that is the case, then, that is not humility.
This is humility – “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (Jn 5:19).
This also: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18).
Paul points to it – “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Gal 6:3).
Paul’s discovery of it: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Rom 7:18)
Paul’s further discovery of it: “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Phil 3:9) and, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil 3:8 )
The whole enchilada is contained in the first quote from Jesus above – “The Son can do nothing of Himself.”
This central core truth has been missed by the vast majority of those who name the name of Christ all throughout history, just as it is missed by the overwhelming majority in our day. It has not been the fulness of time for this Word, until now. God has “winked” at our ignorant unbelief and allowed us to think we had a “relationship” with Him, with He apart from us, separate from us, over there, up there, etc. Now is the Day for the Church to throw out its dung of “own righteousness.” First of all, it is non-existent. Second, it becomes idolatry if allowed to persist in its false consciousness of self. We are righteous only with the righteousness of God. Except for that, we have none at all!
The Church today lives by the exact opposite of Jesus’ Word above. Every bit of the “self-improvement” message of the contemporary Christian church is an attempt to establish our own righteousness. Every bit of it! How can we even begin to think we can develop and operate qualities that are of Divine origin? It is unthinkable that a created creature, even one so wonderful as the race of men, could make himself “like God.” Yet that is the message we are given from pulpit after pulpit, from book after book. “Do this to be closer to God.” “Order your life so that God will be pleased with you.”
We cannot “order” our own lives. Only He can, and it is self-idolatry to believe we can. Still, we try, and God knows that we do, which is the reason for the law. The law is God saying, “Ok, you think you can do it? Alright, get busy, let’s see how it works out for you!” (By that process, we end up in the hell of Romans 7, because that is where we are supposed to end up by our self-efforts! Only by that failure in ourselves, are we conditioned by the Spirit to move into a permanent Romans 8 life, where “the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” (Ps 127:1-2).
We give ourselves away by our own words, when we say things like, “I should be a better _______” (fill in the blank). Or, “We really should not be doing this; we should be doing that.” How do those words give us away? It is because by those words and countless others like them, we are confessing ourselves to be separate from God, apart from Him, “trying” to get near Him, trying to gain His approval and favor, which is impossible to do in our humanity. Even if we add the words, “with God’s help” to the confession, the meaning is still the same. We think God is going to give us some of His stuff, and then it is our job at that point to apply it correctly, to “live it out.”
Of course, since that is the major way most people “approach” God, given the fact that in that approach we DO fail to live up to God’s standards (as we perceive them), somebody had to come up with a doctrine befitting our experience (rather than a doctrine that is truth regardless of our experience). That doctrine is that we have a permanent (while in this life) “sin nature,” which means that we have a natural “proclivity” to sin. Never mind that Paul goes to great lengths to underline the fact that we are dead to sin and dead to the law, even going so far as to say in Colossians that the very law which condemned us was NAILED to the Cross with Christ (Col 2:14).
We completely ignore Paul’s words and meanings by saying things like, “I sin every day,” and, “I know I can’t be perfect, but God expects us to try.” In other words, I know I am not righteous enough, holy enough, loving enough, but since I am stuck in this lifelong sin-nature, [that somehow escaped the death of the Cross], I will always be this way. I will never measure up – and that is establishing one’s “own righteousness.” Even if we tack on some version of “the grace message,” which for many would be saying, “I do these things that do not measure up to God’s standards, but it doesn’t matter because God overlooks them because of grace.” That is STILL saying there is an “own righteousness” which in our case should be better, but thankfully, God overlooks it. It is still separation!
Paul said he counted “his own righteousness” as crap, dung, doo-doo, poo, shite – fill in your own gross word! That’s what a little teeny bit of our “own” righteousness smells like. Can you imagine an auditorium with 10,000 people in it, every one of them seeking a little bitty bit of “their own” righteousness? No sewer could ever smell so rancid.
Many in the faith have it completely backwards, thinking we must order our lives a certain way, so that God would give us His approval and because of His approval He would give us more blessings. However, it is exactly the other way round! We are blessed by God IN US because HE IS the blessing, and His/our Life flows out of that holy place within us, where He dwells! I have been to multitudes of church services where the congregation pleads with the Lord, to “come down and bless us, fill us with your Spirit, make me this, make me that.” Do we not realize our “word of faith” we spoke in the beginning, saying in some way, “Jesus is Lord,” instigated by the Spirit, broke open the dam and the Spirit of the Living God moved into complete possession of our whole being, body, soul and spirit? Do we not realize that in so doing, (coming to dwell in our inner spirits) that He kicked out the usurper, the unholy one who invaded the inner spirits of Adam and Eve and all their descendants since? We were wrath’s children, hoodwinked since birth that we are just ourselves alone
How can I develop love, how can I become more righteous, how can I be more holy, or how can I get humility are all stinky questions coming from stinky places. Imagine the pride of a self that thinks it can develop humility! Now, before someone is offended, (maybe too late), I am speaking of this because I have found this creature in me – or I used to have him in me! We have been hoodwinked with this idea we can have or develop those Divine qualities. We have been fooled into thinking those are holy desires, when they are actually the opposite of holy. They are unholy!
Wait a minute, someone exclaims, are you saying it is wrong to desire God and righteousness, holiness, etc.?
No, I am not speaking of right and wrong, but of which spirit. When the Spirit draws us to God before we know Him, there is no one way He does it. Some are convicted of their sins. Some just feel empty and are looking for something, they don’t know what. They are “mixed” desires, in a way; they are “for self” because at that point, that is who we are, selves-for-ourselves. But God continually uses the natural and what appears to be merely “human motivations” to bring us to Himself. He intentionally stirs up those things in us, true holy desires that He knows we will misinterpret to be our own desires, something for ourselves, but which nevertheless keep us on His path. Something is lacking in us and we know it, and somehow God gets through to us with His Son, and it is a miracle for each person who comes to believe, and I do not use the word “miracle” lightly.
Then when the Spirit of God moves into us, He begins to draw us in a new way, in the “renewing of our minds,” which includes all those New Testament admonitions that many of us stumble with for a while. When we are unbelievers we have no idea of the law and grace issue. The world is under law in a sense because that is what the “knowledge of good and evil” is all about, what is right to do and what is wrong to do. And since no one even follows their own inner laws which they paradoxically lay on everyone else, we have a fake law-abiding world full of raging hypocrite judgers.
Hardly a soul is born-again into the church of Christ who does not bring this “I must do the right/I must not do the wrong” own-righteousness attitude toward life in general, and the spiritual life in particular, into the church with them. And since the church has primarily been polluted with this foul snake’s leaven at least since the fathers fell asleep, hardly anybody notices when the younglings bring the consciousness of the snake from the world in with them into the church.
That is why we cannot live life on that basis. We cannot emulate the “deeds” of Jesus. That’s why it is such a joke to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Even if we could answer the question, we still could not do it – unless we lived the “way” Jesus did. Let me repeat again, the “key” to Jesus’ daily Life – “The Son can do nothing of Himself. But what He sees the Father do, the Son does the same.”
That is where that positive, rather than negative, faith comes in that I mentioned above. “But what the Son sees the Father do the Son does likewise,” is a fair paraphrase, and that is where you say, “Ok, Lord, you have promised that You would live in me and be the God in my inner self, manifesting yourself in me, through me, and even as me to others. I know I am not YOU, and they know I am not YOU, but I believe that nevertheless, YOU CHOOSE to live in me (John 15:16), and therefore, it is YOUR LIFE in me. My contribution to that Life is ZERO – You are the ALL, and I believe you live that ALL quality of Life in, through and as my human life in the world.
“The song says, ‘I surrender all,’ but now I realize I do not even have anything to surrender! I am empty of everything! I am empty of goodness, I am empty of righteousness, I am empty of holiness, I am empty of wisdom, of virtue, and most importantly, I am empty of Love! Lord, thank you, for I would have it no other way, because since I have NONE OF those things, since You ARE Love, then in my emptiness you can be the fullness of YOURSELF IN ME! So that what Paul wrote is true, ‘Christ our righteousness, Christ the power of God, Christ the Wisdom of God.’ So that what you also wrote Paul is true: ‘That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him ARE YOU ALL in Christ Jesus, who of God is made UNTO US wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord..’” (1 Cor 1:29-31).
But we do not stop there, either! “I believe You, take You at Your Word, that Heb 11:6 is true, and so is John 7:38 – ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,’ and that every bit of it is enacted in only one way and one way only – ‘Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”’(John 6:29)
In a nutshell, “humility” with God simply means being empty, or in a sense, “not there.” “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” We ARE there, we ARE alive, but like the elders around the Throne in Revelation, we cast the crowns of our own human kingship to Him Who Sits on the Throne – i.e., we cease “running our own lives” and believe that HE is doing the running of them. What more could dead men do? When we rise from our “death” in Him, we do not rise as just ourselves, but as He in ourselves, being all the things HE requires in us – Love, Joy, Peace, etc.
And we just believe. That’s all. Take our faith focus off ourselves and put it where it needs to be, on Him and His performance of HIS promises IN US! “Today is the Day to believe,” it says in Hebrews. Why could they not enter the land the first time? Because they looked at the obstacles – the great walled cities, the “giants,” etc., and did not consider the Promises of God, but only their own strengths or lacks thereof in the face of obstacles. And they were right, in themselves they WERE lacking.
But today, because of the lessons we learned from them, we know we do not have to be that. We know to realize that in ourselves we are nothing and have no abilities, but that the One in us will always rise to the occasion. Let’s end this with this little review of Joseph and Pharaoh.
“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Gen 41:15,16).
Just briefly, Joseph has learned quite a bit through his trials.
First, when asked by Pharaoh to interpret his dream, Joseph showed he knew he did not have the answer in himself, in his humanity. But he didn’t stop there, because He said that God WILL give Pharaoh an answer, by which Joseph was acknowledging two more things: one, that God can give the answer, and two, that God dwelled in Him and not only could do it, but WOULD do it, and it was implicit in his statement to Pharaoh that the message would come from Joseph’s mouth, which happened just after this verse. (See Genesis chapters 37-50 for the complete story of Joseph.)
Joseph really did not get into hot water, that is, with his life probably on the line, until he said, “God will give the answer!” He is saying this to Pharaoh, who need only snap his fingers and Joseph could be killed instantly. But that was the point where he put his money where his mouth was. His word was the leap of faith that brought it out into manifestation. Did Joseph anticipate this, pre-plan what to say to Pharaoh? No, and that is just the point. Jesus said we would be brought before governors and kings – that could be anybody anywhere – and we need not anticipate what we will say, because it will come in the moment by the Spirit of our Father. It is that way for all our moments in the Lord, but we may be especially certain of His Life in us in those especially trying circumstances.
But it is not the young Joseph at this point, the teenager sold out by his brothers. This is a much-seasoned Joseph, who comes out of Pharaoh’s dungeons, and in him we see the mark of the life of the Spirit. He is a God-taught man, so obvious that even the pagan Pharaoh could see it! Joseph was not just some very upright honest man in himself, who had God’s favor because of it. It was not Joseph, but Christ. At some point Joseph had the revelation from the Spirit, that he lived his life by the Spirit of God rather than by his own mental machinations. It was most likely sealed in his consciousness when the last vestige of his hope for deliverance by the hand of man failed him, when Pharaoh’s butler failed to mention Joseph to Pharaoh after he was freed and restored. No doubt Joseph felt betrayed and let down, for his hopes had been raised and then dashed to pieces.
Nevertheless, around two years later, the God-appointed Day arrived for Joseph, who woke up one morning a prisoner in the depths of Pharaoh’s horrible dungeon, and went to sleep that night in luxurious surroundings after having been appointed Regent of Egypt, having all the power in the land in his hand, subject only to Pharaoh. The “word” that brought it all out to be, was his original word to Pharaoh – “It is not in me. God will give Pharaoh an answer!” That was the crowning moment for Joseph. He is basically confessing Galatians 2:20, and quite a few others, that essentially say, “Not I but Christ.”
Here is humility in a nutshell. (And the same thing applies to any of the other “Divine attributes” as well.)
We do not have any of the Divine stuff. (Love, joy, peace, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, power, etc.)
God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) IS all the stuff and does not “give” bits of it to us. (Love, joy, peace, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, etc.)
God lives in us.
God gives the Divine stuff out – in, through, and as our lives. It looks like it is coming from us, but WE know it is from God! But we do not stop there, as if we by our “nothingness” have no part in the Divine union. No, actually, once the Spirit establishes it in us that we are “nothing” before the Lord, we become in our resurrection the Divine Something, because we eternally know, it is He, not we, therefore we come into the Life Christ Jesus declared for Himself:
“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (John 5:26,27).
We gave up being a “human something” and became “human nothings.” But then, a miracle occurs. We become Divine/human “somethings,” even as Jesus says. The “Life in Himself” that Jesus described, is simply that it is an irrevocable fact that we are He living in our forms, and we operate out of that Divine Something in the authority of the Spirit!
The promise is if you die (lose your life), you live (find your life). It is the “live” part that is ours. We went away, and now we are back. We have the final part, which is God manifest in His Sons and Daughters! Nobody sees the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But they see us, and when they see us, they see US, AND, they see Father Son Holy Spirit.
We are the “life I now live in the flesh” part of Galatians 2:20. At that point, Who is the “I” that speaks? There is only one “I.” The union has produced a unity, which is simply, us – you and I! The new birth has come of age when you know, “Christ formed in you.”
The humility is in the inner life, where it is continually “no longer I, but Christ.” Outwardly, there is no standard for how it can look, but it will be God’s perfection just as it is “our” perfection. I’m sure in using the word, “perfection,” that old bugaboo comes back in many minds with the temptation to go back into the old way of thinking, that “nobody is perfect except Jesus.” The New Testament does not say that – that is another untruth of man (and the snake, who told it to the man). Paul said in Col 1:28, that he labored to present every man perfect before God. He talked about those who were “already perfect” in Philippians 3, and he was not being facetious. The “perfection” is God’s perfection, not man’s! We go by His!