Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of broadcast studies about faith.
[These notes are from a radio broadcast study taught more than 40 years ago.]
On yesterday’s broadcast I shared with you the third reason why Christians don’t walk and live by faith. The reason is pride and an independent spirit.
How many times do we have a problem and do everything in our power to solve it in our own wisdom and power and when we fail miserably we run to God and cry out for His help. It’s like the parents who spend 15 years trying to raise their children their way and when they can’t do anything about their child’s rebellious attitude they run to a pastor or Christian counselor for help. Why didn’t the parents ask for help years earlier when they were struggling with the early signs of rebellion in their child? Often the answer is pride.
We often don’t want to humble ourselves to God or anyone else and admit we need help. We often struggle saying those simple words – “I was wrong. I need help.” Many of us think incorrectly that if we admit we’re wrong about something and ask for help we’re a failure as a parent, as a person. That’s not true, but pride often stands in our way.
I’ve attended enough crusades to know that this principle of admitting our failures works and is powerful. I know from my own personal relationships with family and friends that this principle is powerful. It’s a very humbling thing to clear our conscience with another person … to say, “I’ve wronged you. Will you forgive me?” That’s humbling! But it’s also where revival can begin in a relationship, in a family, in a church.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Pride does go before destruction! One of the major reasons why families and churches are failing today is because dads and pastors and deacons and church members are proud. That pride is destroying relationships, families and churches across our country. It will be humility that brings power and peace to us.
Pride is indicative of an independent spirit. So many Christians want to be eternally safe, but that’s as far as they want the relationship to go with God. “Save me, but nothing more!” “Give to me, but don’t take anything from me!” That’s often our response to our loving and gracious God.
Listen, Christian. We owe God everything. If it hadn’t been for God’s grace, we would have never heard about salvation We would have never been able to place our faith and trust in His salvation. In fact, if it hadn’t been for God’s grace there would never have been a Savior. Not only that, but the Bible teaches that we have been bought with a price and are not our own. We don’t belong to ourself .. we belong to God. We are His property now. We should gladly and willingly be dependent on Him, but we are so often totally independent of Him. It really doesn’t matter what God thinks .. it’s what we think.
I heard a recent illustration that might help us see what I’m saying. In a recent crusade a young man walked up to one our counselors and asked if he would pray with him. After praying about a specific problem, the young man began to weep and ask for something that was totally unscriptural. The counselor spent a half-hour showing the young man from the Bible, verse after verse, that his desire was not what God wanted for him. After all of that time, the young man looked at the counselor and said, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I still want to do it!”
That is the attitude of so many Christians: “I know what God’s Word says, but I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do.” However, contrary to this line of thinking, let me share with you what God says about having a dependent spirit.
“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.” Psalm 127:1
That’s a good principle for pastors. Only God can build His Church.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
God calls pastors to equip Christians for the work (service) God has called them to do for Him. If pastors try to do that in their own power, they labor in vain. The pastor and staff and congregation are trying to build the church with their ideas, their methods, their programs, their gimmicks, their fleshly know-how .. but it’s all in vain.
In John 3, there had arose a question between the disciples of John the Baptist and the Jews about the subject of purification –
” And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” John 3:26-27
Jesus taught His disciples saying –
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
Without Christ we can do nothing! How silly of us to think that anything would ever be accomplished for eternity without Jesus, and yet many of us live that way. We act without Christ .. we react without Christ .. we go to church without Christ .. we raise our children without Christ .. we pastor churches without Christ .. we pray without Christ .. we try to win souls without Christ .. we try to build marriages and families without Christ. Jesus said that “without me ye can do nothing.”
The Apostle Paul put it very well in 2 Corinthians 3 when he wrote –
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6
We are helpless without God in everything we do.
King David presented this principle of total dependence on Christ when he said –
“The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.” Psalm 116:6
Why doesn’t God help many of us? Because we have not been brought low.
So often we don’t receive help from the Lord until we’ve been humbled. Why? In 1 Peter 5:5, the Apostle wrote –
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
How about that? God resists the proud! He gives grace to the humble! Could this be why so many of us are experiencing the trials and sorrows and heartaches of our present circumstances? Could it be that God is resisting us because of our pride? Could it be that He is withholding grace until we humble ourselves before Him?
God has promised much to the humble Christian .. to the child with a dependent spirit –
“Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” Psalm 138:6
Isaiah 66:2 reads –
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Luke 14:11 reads –
“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
I’m sure that everyone of us wants to please God and be exalted in His sight as obedient children. The secret is humility! There is no other way. Only through humility in life and purpose can we know the blessings of God.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been proud in my life and attitude toward others?
- Have I tried to exalt myself in the family of God?
- Is my pride really a coverup for my failures as a person .. as a Christian?
If you answer “yes” to those questions, let me suggest we bow before the Lord right now and ask God to forgive us for the sin of pride and an independent spirit. Let’s seek His face this day for the power to turn from the wickedness of pride to the righteousness of a humble spirit and contrite heart.
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your ministry.]