As we get into the last three chapters of this book, Andrew Murray takes a closer look at the key to humility - dying to self so that God might be all in oneself. The Scriptural basis for this chapter is Paul's description of Jesus in Philip. 2:8: "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death." Death to self is an extremely difficult accomplishment, but one that Pastor Murray enlightens us about. Here are some of this chapter's helpful points:
1. The author begins by stating that humility is the path to death, and that the perfect outcome of humility is death to self. Jesus chose the path of "humility unto death" as the only way that He proved that He fully surrendered His human nature to God. That example shows us that our humility is the only way of proving our surrender of all to God. It is the only way we are freed from fallen man's nature; humility is the foundation of our new nature in Christ.
2. Murray makes the interesting point that only in His death did Jesus allow His Spirit to come and dwell in men. His death brought into us all the power of His life in that way. Only humility accepts death, and only death perfects humility. Their nature is one in the Spirit.
3. The point is again made that humility means the death of self, to be nothing before God. The example of Jesus' reluctance to take "the cup," but then His humbly surrendering all of His own (as man) will to God's will unto death, is our example of giving up our own will and dying to self. Jesus needed humility to die to the tempting of worldly sin; He never would have died for us without that humility.
This chapter begins with Andrew Murray citing a question Jesus asked those with Him, in John 5:44: "How can you believe, which rather honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?" The author uses this Scripture as a springboard to examine the relationship between humility and faith. Here are some of his points:
1. Pastor Murray uses the analogy of the store window pane, through which outside viewers cannot reach or hold anything inside the store, to liken that to the "pane" of pride, which keeps Christians from grasping the "inside" prizes of peace, rest, love, joy and "abiding communion and fruitfulness." Murray then argues that pride makes faith impossible, because pride and faith oppose each other, while faith and humility are of the same root. He states, ". . . we can never have more of true faith than we have of true humility." One may have Christian conviction and knowledge while still being motivated by pride, but be without humility, making "living faith impossible."
2. The definition of faith is then given: "the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work." Faith brings humility with its dependence fully on God, and claims only what is given in grace. Pride means one is self-seeking, self-willing, and self-exalting, and means that self is placed such that God cannot be all.
3. Faith makes one focus on divine things, seeking only the glory that comes from God, while pride seeks one's glory in this life. That makes true faith impossible. Pastor Murray points out that salvation comes through Christ on the cross, and with fellowship with Him in His life's and cross-borne humility. Our faith is weak when pride blocks this association and makes us unable to even properly pray for and desire humility, when humility is the most needed aspect of salvation. And Murray reminds us that humility and faith go together in the Gospels, and cites the examples of the humble centurion (Matt 8:8-10) and the humble mother from Sidon (Matt 15:27-28), both of whom were praised by Jesus for their faith after they each made statements of humility.
The focus of this chapter is shown by Andrew Murray's choice of opening Scripture; he cites Paul's self-identification in 1 Timothy 1:15: "Sinners, of whom I am chief." Pastor Murray then approaches the topic of humility as it relates to man's sinfulness. Some of the points of this chapter include:
1. Many of us have been taught that humility is associated with penitence for sin; that means that we become spiritually preoccupied with our sins. That is another way of focus on self. In Jesus we see humility without any reference to sin. Such humility is the essence of holiness through the loss of self, so that God might be all in one.
2. But man remains sinful, so that God's grace brings a new, deeper level to man's humility. Paul understood that; he continued to list himself as a sinner because he could not forget his heinous sins against Christians before his conversion. Several of his writings about that are cited by Murray, including 1 Timothy 1:15 above. Paul knew he had been saved by the grace of God, who did not remember his sins. Then rejoicing in that salvation brought more awareness of His grace, leading to even more joy. Paul was a saved sinner; he could not forget his sins, or the loving grace which took them away. Much more than confessing his sins, Paul had the humility of one ransomed from sin by the blood of the Lamb. Murray makes this powerful and amazing statement: "Never for a moment in this life can God's child live in the full light of His love without understanding that the sin out of which he has been saved is his one and only right and title to all that grace has promised to do."
3. The sinner learns that by this grace humility acquires a new meaning: it becomes him in the adoration which naturally follows the loving redemption from God. The focus is no longer on sin, as Paul demonstrated, but on duty, in humility, "in the power of the Holy Spirit." Pastor Murray concludes that humility does not come from daily sinning, but from a deeper awareness of the grace in which we may abide before God: as sinners saved by that grace. But Paul also knew of the ongoing sin potential of the flesh and "a continuous victory given by the Spirit as He mortifies the deeds of the body," without destroying or sanctifying the flesh.
Andrew Murray begins this chapter with a different type of Scriptural quotation. The verse he uses is an Old Testament verse from Isaiah, where God criticizes the profane and idolatrous leaders of Israel by saying of them (Isa 65:5), "Which say, 'Stand by yourself, come not near me; for I am holier than you.' " Murray then connects the display in believers of God's holiness to humility. Here are some of the author's points in Chapter 7:
1. Seeking "holiness" is very prominent among Christians today. The test of holiness in us is whether or not it produces true humility, which then allows God's holiness to be displayed. As Murray has said repeatedly before, the mark of man's "holiness" will be one's humility as shown before God and fellow men. "Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness."
2. The mark then of false holiness is a lack of humility, or the manifestation of pride. Pride can even be present in one in "the very temple of God." Murray cites the example of Luke 18's Pharisee, who thanks God that he is not like the publican there with him. Pastor Murray then observes that it is not the Pharisees around us that we need to identify, but the Pharisee inside us. We must always be on our guard against pride, which may present with the self-complacency of thanking God and congratulating self. Pride has many manifestations, even in praising God and being penitent.
3. While we openly reject that Pharisee and see the errors of his attitude, we may subconsciously carry much of the same self-complacency and attitude of Christian superiority as we compare ourselves to others. Jesus' humility is little remembered or valued. The work of ministries and missions is often blocked or set back by the "touchiness and . . . impatience, . . . self-defense and self-assertion, . . . sharp judgments and unkind words" of their workers. There tends to be no esteeming of others as better than oneself. Little humility is seen in such "saints." (Murray quotes an excerpt from Hannah Whitall Smith from Everyday Religion about the tyranny of "Me" in the workings of the church - the seeking of the best place, the offense if that is not realized, and the quarrelsome nature of "Me" shows how little Jesus' teaching about taking the lowest place is sought or understood.)
The Beauty of Holiness
“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”