The downfall of the devil started when his heart was lifted up against God (Ezekiel 28:1-19). He was given the privilege to be close to God and he abused it, thinking he could set up a rival kingdom to the kingdom of God. That’s what the proud wants to do, to rival God, to not submit to him.
The heart is the seat of purpose, and if you are pursuing a purpose different from God’s that is a sign pride. When King Saul’s heart was lifted up against God and he decided to entertain other ideas different from the commandment of God, he “fell” from the throne (1Samuel 13:1-14; 15). When Adam entertained a different notion to God’s word, he fell from grace (Genesis 3).
To be proud is to disregard God, to think he does not exist. And that is what we unconsciously do when we claim to know how to run our lives apart from God’s dictates. To live without seeking God is pride and the bible says pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). The proud makes decision without asking what God wants, how God wants to direct.
After the victory of the nation of Israel against Jericho, that great city (Joshua 7), which fell when the wall fell down flat, and the whole place was burnt down in fire, the Israelites were full of themselves and did not resort to God before going to battle the next city.
They were amazed that though Ai was smaller than the Jericho they were smitten before them. What showed their heart was lifted up was because judging by human parameters they decided to go after Ai with a reduced number. They thought it was because they were mighty that they defeated the people of Jericho.
Therefore, the challenge is to constantly rely on God, and that challenge is greatest after a victory, that is when the heart is at the greatest risk of being lifted up.
Because Peninnah had children and Hannah did not, her heart was lifted up against her. So success is a risk, the risk of the heart being lifted up. It is when self-will can really kick in to run our life aground.
There was a king in Israel whom God helped in victory after victory against the enemy and he became great having some wealth but at the end he was struck with leprosy (2Chronicles 26). Why? He became proud. His success as a king was not enough for him, he decided he wanted to take on the role of a priest and was struck with leprosy in the process.
In overconfidence he overstepped his bounds, he probably thought his successes meant somehow he is now God, setting his own bounds. He thought he was invincible but he got a rude awaking, that someone else is the Lord of heaven and earth. He was struck with leprosy after he was struck with success syndrome.
We are supposed to guard our heart with all diligence because out of it flows the issue of life (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is our core, and whatever influence our heart will influence our life. So we should be careful about the influences we let into our hearts. What we see, what we hear, what we do all have influences on our heart.
What we see
The writer of the book of Hebrews says we should look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Though we may not see him now with natural eyes, we need to constantly behold him with our inner eyes (Ephesians 1:15-18).
Because who you look at, i.e. associate with, influences your heart, we are advised not to associate with those who are bad (1Corinthians 15:33.)
What we see form a raw material for our imagination. And the bible says concerning the people in the world before the flood destruction of the whole earth, the imagination of their hearts were evil continually (Genesis 6:5). That led to violent deed, drawing the judgment of a holy God. We need positive examples around us, because the examples we see communicate the ethos we unconsciously imbibe.
What we hear
Jesus says we should careful how we hear because with the same measure we hear it shall be measured to us (Mark 4:24). That means we cannot be better than the quality of what we hear and respond to.
Peter told Jesus: “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68).” They did not say: we will stay with you because you have money, but because “you have some words to will shape our lives aright.” When we hear the words of God, we take in his code, the code of doing the right thing according to that word.
If we are not hearing the right words we would not live the right life taking the right action. Paul met certain men who were called disciples (Acts 19:1-7). When he asked them: did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believe? They said they have not heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.
So since they did not hear, they could not take action toward what will benefit them. You cannot believe in Jesus if you have not heard about him. Salvation does not jump on you; you have to embrace the truth of Christ when you hear it, so you can confess with your mouth and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9-13).
What we do
This affects our heart also. Jesus said that it is not what we eat that defiles the heart but what comes from our hearts in bad deeds. So until the act is done the heart is not defiled by it. That is why temptation is not sin, but when temptation is acted out, it becomes sin which defiles (James 1:13-15).
When you do wrong, to restore your heart from the defilement that causes, there is the need for quick repentance and confession to receive cleansing (1John 1:9).
David expressed quick repentance after his sin with Uriah and Bathsheba, and he did not repeat it (2Samuel 12:1-14). But when King Saul did something wrong, he made a sacrifice he should not, he did not repent from that (he was full of excuses), and he later did something similarly wrong. You will go from error to error when you do not properly repent from that prior wrong.
- SERMON: How is God calling you? (prienblog.wordpress.com)
- A Leper, a Gentile, and a Little Old Lady Matthew 8:1-17 (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
- Are you allowing defilement to ride along in your backseat? (examiner.com)
- Jesus Cleanses a Leper // Jesus Heals a Paralytic (travismikhailblog.wordpress.com)
- Leading Women- Trust in God (jovettearcher.wordpress.com)