HUMILITY, Ch. 8: Humility And Sin
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.
4. Murray states that, in the Christian, "the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit is the health and light and life of the soul." He likens that to how good health rids one of disease, and light pushes darkness out of dark places. As we understand the daily helplessness and danger from our flesh, we become dependent on God's grace alone, leading to humility through that grace, and to joy and peace.
5. The author then summarized these ideas about God's grace, which: 1) humbled Paul; 2) allows sinners to "labor more abundantly" for Christ; 3) keeps one conscious of one's sin potential; 4) deals with and takes away one's sin; 5) reminds one of the need for humility because of sin and grace; and 6) makes one know self as a sinner, and makes the sinner's place of humility a place one never leaves.
6. The strong self-condemnations and self-denunciations of those aware of their sins continues one's occupation with self, causing one to miss humility with Jesus' features of compassion, kindness, meekness and patience. Knowing God's grace completely frees one from sin and self. Then one can be made humble. Murray again makes the point: "There will be no room for self in the soul that waits for, trusts, worships and is filled with the presence of God the Creator as the all of man in his nothingness, and God the Redeemer as the all of the sinner in his sinfulness." Only then will God alone be exalted, as the Bible commands.
7. Andrew Murray finishes this amazing chapter with this short paragraph: "It is the sinner dwelling in the full light of God's holy, redeeming love - in the experience of that full indwelling of divine love, which comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit - who cannot be anything but humble. Not to be occupied with your sin, but to be occupied with God, brings deliverance from self."
Brief Comment: What a fascinating chapter! Pastor Murray deals with all three aspects of why Christians should be humble before God (remember way back in the opening Preface Murray wrote for this book). In addition to the indwelling Spirit of the humble Jesus, we receive unbelievable grace from God in the forgiveness - the wiping totally clean - of our sins through Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross, a truly humbling phenomenon. And the second reason for why we should have humility, our repeated sinful failures, is eliminated by Murray in his definition of grace. Wow, how freeing is that?
It struck me as an avid baseball fan and former player that there is a powerful analogy here (non-sports fans forgive me). With God as our scorekeeper, grace means that the only records He makes are of our base hits and errorless play. Strikeouts, otherwise futile at bats, and flubs and errors in the field are simply not recorded; they don't count with God, because of our grace from Him through Jesus Christ. We all bat and field 1.000; that's how Paul could be so positive about his work for the Lord in spite of his trials and tribulations, and his flesh. Unlike most of us, Paul understood the perfect scorecard of grace. Again, how freeing is that?
3/11/2014 03:17:51 am
One additional brief comment: There is concern today among Christians, especially "evangelicals," about the idea of "easy grace" or "hyper-grace." How would that idea fit in with Andrew Murray? I would guess that he might say that "hyper-grace" is grace received without humility in the receiver. The focus is still on "Me" is such individuals - "My" salvation, "My" life, "My" things, etc. There is no appreciation of the magnitude of God's redeeming love and grace, with its desire for GOD to be all. Using our baseball analogy, that might be like a player saying, "Why should I practice or work hard, if all my mistakes are taken away, to be of no record? I can just go up there and swing away, or just do as little as possible in the field, and let things fall as they may. Hey, what's the difference?" When we realize just what true grace is, we have to be humble and on our faces before God, trying our best to let Him be all in Christ.
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Andrew Murray was a South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor. Murray considered missions to be "the chief end of the church."
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.”