How can I avoid becoming prideful?
I recently wrote an article for Credo Magazine online and talked a little bit about my own experience in coming to understand the doctrine of salvation in Scripture. I talked about what a difficult thing it was for me, after two and a half years of study, to really come to grips with it. For me, it humbled me. It crushed me. It was a crucible period in my life, and it made me dig more into Scripture.
From my vantage point, and from the perspective of friends at that time, I never really went through what many went through—that “cage stage” sort of Calvinism. That was partly because it was so hard for me to grasp and accept these truths. I sort of came kicking and screaming with all of the free will I could muster against these things.
So we have to pray for humility, ultimately. The doctrines of grace humble a man, but they don’t degrade us. They don’t flatten us, as one theologian has said. In one sense, they show us how special we are to God. They show us that we are God’s prized possession (Deut. 7:6), that He chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), that God created the world. He created us, gave us breath, and chose us for Himself because He wanted us, not because He needed us. They show us that He loves us with a special saving love and that we are His children forever. And no one can take that away from us. No one can snatch us away (John 10:28–29). And there is a certain sense of assurance that grows within us.
But we are all prone to be puffed up with pride, so we have to pray against that every day. We have to flee from it because pride is one of the most pernicious sins that so easily creeps up within our souls, and it’s there before we even know it.
So, we have to strive to be truly humble. The only way we can have it is not by parading it, not by acting as if we are humble, not by play-acting, but by being humble. The only way we can be humble is if the Spirit humbles us, and that hurts, it convicts us, it challenges us, it shows us our sin, it shows us our blind spots, it shows us how evil and miserable we are, and it shows us how totally depraved we are.
We have to pray for it. So to our friend on Twitter I would say, “Brother, ask the Lord to keep you humble.” And that’s a scary prayer.
This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Burk Parsons and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.