Friday, August 23, 2002
A cocky young Christian who had the effrontery to believe that he had caught me in an error attempted to chastise me last week. I made the statement, “I am proud to be a Pharisee” in the course of one of my sermons on denominational purity. He accused me of committing the sin of pride in making such an allegedly boastful statement. The fallacy of such an accusation can be illustrated by another of my famous quotes: A man once asked me, “Brother Gamaliel, if you weren’t a Pharisee, what would you be?” and I replied, “I’d be ashamed.”
That’s right. I’d be ashamed to be any other denomination than a Pharisee. The apostle Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel, nor should we be ashamed that our denomination is the sole guardian of the pure, undiluted, uncontaminated gospel of Christ. So if the apostle Paul was not ashamed then he must have been proud to be the one entrusted by God with the gospel to the Gentiles and so should we. We have every right to be proud of a number of things:
- Our denominational affiliation
- Our personal holiness
- Our Godly character
- Our stand against sin
- Our spiritual attainment and accomplishments
- Our higher plateau of spiritual maturity
- Our thorough, complete and nearly infallible knowledge of Biblical truth
- Our ability to rightly divide the Word of Truth
- Our divine responsibility to confront, convince, condemn and constructively criticize others
Pride of self would clearly be a sin but taking justifiable pride in God is surely beyond blame. Certainly there can be no sin in taking pride in one’s own relationship to God. When we were sinners we had nothing to take pride in and nothing in which to boast. But now that we are in Christ, we have very right to brag about what God is able to do now that he has saved us. Of course not of the glory for our godly accomplishments goes to us for that would be a sin. But I can proudly stand up and brag on all the things I am doing now that I am one of God's childen.
Best of all, I can be proud that I am not like other men are - blasphemers, unregenerate, ungrateful and generally despicable in the sight of God. Remember, the opposite of pride is not humility as some suppose. The opposite of pride is shame and we, as Pharisees have nothing to be ashamed about.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who . . . made himself nothing . . . he humbled himself . . .
Philippians 2: 5-8 (NIV)
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