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Bible verses about False Humility
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Proverbs 16:19   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In 1621, Robert Burton wrote in his The Anatomy of Melancholy, "They are proud in humility; proud in that they are not proud." How carnal men are to twist virtue into sin! It is enough to make us suspicious when we come across a "humble" person.

We have undoubtedly crossed paths with those who were so proud that they oozed with false humility. Many religious leaders in the world today openly appear this way, as they wax eloquent on their televised evangelical programs. Authors have written dozens of books and Hollywood has produced many movies to expose the hypocrisy of such individuals.

Uncountable numbers of both religious and secular leaders have risen to power on the banner of humility. Feigning an image of heartfelt concern for those who can help place them in the limelight, they glow with an air of counterfeit humility. Eventually, this hypocritical image always becomes apparent, just as our sins expose us in due time (Numbers 32:23). The sin of pride is no different.

Of the many things that people have written on humility, as much as one-third refers to false humility. For instance, the French moralist La Rochefoucald wrote in Maxims in1665: "Humility is often only feigned submission which people use to render others submissive. It is a subterfuge of pride which lowers itself in order to rise."

Martin G. Collins
Before Honor Is Humility: The Story of Andrew


 

Proverbs 22:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To be obsequious is to be perceived as excessively obedient, servile, or even groveling, as illustrated in Proverbs 22:7. The borrower has put himself or has been put into a position of dependence upon the whims or good graces of the lender, so he must bend his will to the one with the power. Liberties that he formerly had are lost. He cannot act as he pleases. He now feels obligated and constrained to a degree that he was not before.

As his outlook on life narrows, the borrower makes sure he treats the lender with deference. He certainly does not want to ruffle the lender's feathers, as he wants to be able to retain what he still has left of his former dignity. Thus, as his circumstance diminishes, the borrower almost automatically becomes beggarly to some degree, perhaps even fawning in his mannerisms. In most cases, there is a loss of enthusiasm and confidence about life. Being humbled changes the way a person approaches life.

Thus, the manner in which the Old Testament illustrates humility provides a mental picture of what the term means to a Christian's approach to life. This is good. However, we must understand that the Old Testament in no way considers humility as weakness or bad. It just does not emphasize or portray it as the New Testament does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

Colossians 2:18-23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The philosophy of Gnosticism taught that everything physical was evil and that people could attain a higher spiritual understanding through effort. It was the type of philosophy that its adherents thought could be used to enhance or improve anyone's religion. In Paul's letter to the Colossians, we read of this same philosophy having an influence on the church there. It was characterized by strict legalism, a "taste not, touch not" attitude, neglect of the body, worship of angels, and a false humility (Colossians 2:18-23).

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Does Paul Condemn Observing God's Holy Days?


 

Colossians 3:12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Unlike pride, humility does not come naturally; it must, in the Bible's terminology, be "put on." It must be added to our character by means of God's Spirit and consistent, conscious decisions to submit to God because we love Him, because we are sincerely seeking to be like Him, and because we greatly desire to glorify Him. In this manner, by God's power and our cooperation, humility is created as part of our character, enabling us to grow stronger toward overcoming pride's evil influences.

Because of exposure to Satan and this world, pride is within us almost from birth. Humility is most definitely not that way but is a created attribute of character. A carnal humility can be created within a child living under the supervision of loving parents who are making the effort to train their children in good character qualities. In like manner, spiritual humility is most definitely a developed characteristic because of contact with God and our willing cooperation. James 4:6-10 asserts:

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Once we understand some of the Bible's instruction regarding spiritual humility, this clear series of commands becomes important. They must be commanded because these actions are not natural to human nature and because the pride dwelling within us is so strong and influential.

Humbling ourselves is commanded just as surely as resisting the Devil, cleansing our hands, purifying our hearts, lamenting, mourning, and weeping. This means that humbling ourselves in submission to God is a choice that can—indeed, must—be exercised. Humility is important enough that God repeats this command briefly in Proverbs 3:34 and in I Peter 5:5-6.

Humility is dealt with somewhat differently in each testament, but at the same time, there is a tight similarity between the two treatments. In the Old Testament, it is shown less as a good quality of an honorable person's character than as a condition or situation an individual finds himself in because of poverty, affliction, or persecution. In this approach, a humble person is one in a humble circumstance.

In other words, the humble person has been brought low in a social sense. This perspective provides an understandable illustration that visibly portrays the more important spiritual attitude of the heart. People in a humble circumstance project degrees of attitude and conduct that may even approach obsequiousness, portrayed to an extreme in the movie Lord of the Rings, when the conniving counselor, Wormtongue, is confronted and embarrassingly corrected by Gandalf.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

 




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