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The Leavening Of Pride And Vanity

Tomorrow evening, at the beginning of Passover we will wash each other's feet, as a demonstration of humility. Tuesday March 26, 2013, is the first day of unleavened bread per Lev. 23:6-8, to be followed by the Wavesheaf Offering on March 31st. How do we plan to benefit from these days of Unleavened Bread?

(1 Cor 5:6-8) Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little leaven works through the whole batch of dough? {7} Get rid of the old leaven that you may be a new batch without leaven--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. {8} Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with bread without leaven, the bread of sincerity and truth.

What is Paul telling us? Isn't he saying that we are to change - into a new batch without leaven? What is leaven in us? Leaven is often compared with sin. But in this verse leaven is specifically compared with puffiness; not the puffiness many of us carry around our waists, but with vanity or pride, where we think we are more than we really are. What should we plan to gain in our attitude, character, and personality from these Days of Unleavened Bread? Or are we simply going to modify our diet for awhile?

Today let's discuss several aspects of vanity and pride.

First let's look at some general dangers of pride and vanity.

(Prov 8:13) To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Pride is one human trait very much hated by God. Countless examples in both the Old and New Testaments confirm this. But, God is instantly forgiving when pride is replaced by humility. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

(1 Cor 4:6,18) Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written," proudly taking the side of one religious leader against another. .......{18} When I didn't come to visit you, some of you have become arrogant.

We must not become so attached to our choices, even one teacher over another, that we become proud of that association to the total exclusion of all others.

Are we proud of our knowledge of God's word and our attempts to follow His teachings? Notice:

(1 Cor 8:1-3) Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. {2} The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. {3} But the man who loves God is known by God.

Vanity is hard for a person to see. I'm sure we all think about that when we listen to someone expound on and on about himself....but we must remember that pride was the original sin in Satan.

(Ezek 28:14-17) You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. {15} You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. {16} Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. {17} Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Is this the fate of the proud today too? Do not use your successes to inflate your ego. This is also described in Timothy's requirements for a bishop or overseer:

(1 Tim 3:6) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.

But notice the attitude of Satan:

(Isa 14:12-14) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! {13} You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. {14} I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
(Prov 16:18) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Gen 3:1-6) Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" {2} The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, {3} but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" {4} "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. {5} "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." {6} When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Here we see Satan's appeal to Eve's vanity and Eve's weakness to it.

There is a direct link between vanity and rebellion. The Old Testament has many examples of people who thought too much of themselves and their opinions:

(Num 12:1-10) Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. {2} "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this. {3} (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) {4} At once the LORD said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, "Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you." So the three of them came out. {5} Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward, {6} he said, "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. {7} But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. {8} With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" {9} The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them. {10} When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam--leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy;

Do any of us have the attitudes of Miriam? Do we respect those selected by God to teach and lead us? Do we respect the instructions of God given by scripture? Or do we insist on our own independent course? How many of us insist on our own way, right or wrong?

(Num 16:2-11) [Now Korah took men]...and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. {3} They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?" {4} When Moses heard this, he fell face down. {5} Then he said to Korah and all his followers: "In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. {6} You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers {7} and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the LORD. The man the LORD chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!" {8} Moses also said to Korah, "Now listen, you Levites! {9} Isn't it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord's tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? {10} He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. {11} It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?"

Again, there is a direct link between vanity and rebellion.

Many people of our day are doing the same thing. They are not just protesting against capital punishment and for abortion, for instance. They are banding together to oppose the laws of God, the laws of nation, and the mores of society. They want to protect the lives of the criminals while taking the lives of innocent babies. Does this remind you of Christ's judgment before Pilate where the people insisted on releasing the murderer Barabbas, while at the same time insisting on the crucifixion of our innocent Savior in his stead. For our rebellion, our beloved country courts the same fate as ancient Israel ...the curses of natural disasters, corruption, economic failure, foreign domination, captivity and death .

Notice how Paul describes Israel's punishment.

(1 Cor 10:5) Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
(verses 11-12) These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. {12} So, if you think you are standing firmly and securely, be careful that you don't fall!

These are the risks and dangers of pride and vanity.

What must we do to be unleavened from our puffed up, vain nature?

First, recognize the tendency toward vanity, self, ego, pride, self importance.....

(Psa 19:12) - David recognized this by saying:
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

One way to avoid vanity is to not allow ourselves to become too comfortable in our situation....Notice how Saul's attitude changed in 1 Sam 9 and 1 Sam 15:

(1 Sam 9:15-17) Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: {16} "About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me." {17} When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, "This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people."

and continuing in verse 21:

Saul answered, "But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?"

Notice Saul's sincere humility...No sign of vanity here. But as we continue into chapter 15, notice the change:

(1 Sam 15:17) Samuel said, "When you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.

continuing in verse 22-23 after Saul had disobeyed the LORD:

But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. {23} For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

skip to verse 26-28

But Samuel said to him, "I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!" {27} As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. {28} Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors--to one better than you.

Saul had started humble but became presumptuous. Are we guilty of being presumptuous? Do we insist on having our own way, right or wrong? Is it "our way or the highway?"

Read all of chapters 9 and 15 to see the whole situation. We must not allow ourselves to lose our kingdom too.

Let's look at some other scriptures which demonstrate the dangers of vanity.

(Num 20:8-12 NKJV) "Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals." {9} So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. {10} And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?" {11} Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. {12} Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

Unfortunately, Moses claimed part of the credit for God's miracle of getting water out of a rock instead of giving God all the credit. Do we also have a spirit of over-confidence in self, self-importance, and presumptuousness?

(Deu 1:42-45 NKJV) "And the LORD said to me, 'Tell them, "Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies."' {43} "So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain. {44} "And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. {45} "Then you returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.

These were the results of having a vain confidence in going it alone.

(Deu 18:22 NKJV) "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

This scripture is a warning to avoid vain prophets. Here are four more worthwhile instructions toward avoiding the negative results of vanity:

(Psa 19:13 NKJV) Keep back your servant [i.e. David] also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. [Presumptuousness is a great transgression.]
(Prov 27:1 NKJV) Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

It is better to say, "Tomorrow I will do such and such, God willing." Many dedicated followers of Judaism and Christianity make a habit of adding the words "God willing."

(James 4:13-14 NKJV) Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; {14} whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. [Shades of betting on the stock market?]
(Luke 12:17-21 NKJV) "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' {18} "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. {19} 'And I will say to my soul [body], "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' {20} "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' {21} "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Finally, don't meddle with things too profound (high) for you. Don't get the idea that you know more about something than you really do; that experts in the field and others don't know as much about the matter as you. Humility includes giving others due respect and consideration for their opinions. Patiently wait for the other person's opinion to be borne out. Let's look at some more scriptures which encourage us to be humble.

(Psa 138:6 NKJV) Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.
(Luke 1:48 NKJV) [Mary speaking] For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
(James 2:1-5 NKJV) My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. {2} For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, {3} and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," {4} have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? {5} Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

One method of seeing yourself, no matter how successful you have been, is to consider your state as you entered life and whenever you were not blessed with economical security.

(Psa 131:1-2)......My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. {2} But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
(Prov 29:23) A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
(Psa 51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

In conclusion:

Brethren, with our observance of the Passover, we have physically demonstrated an act of humility by foot-washing, reconfirmed our need for Christ's sacrifice, and rededicated ourselves to living a Godly life. We have physically put leaven out of our food and homes, like the Israelites physically sacrificed bulls for a sin offering. But are we putting sin out of our lives as well? Are we dedicated to putting the leaven of vanity, pride, self-will and self importance out of our lives not just this coming week but throughout the rest of our lives? Brethren, we must live a truly humble life to be accepted by God.

(Mat 18:3-4 NKJV) and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. {4} "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
23 March 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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