166. HUMILITY, INTELLECTUALISM AND THE POWER OF GOD

(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 3)

God values HUMILITY more than he values INTELLECTUALISM. They are not mutually exclusive as a person can be in possession of both. However, the first is a necessity in the lives of God’s children, whereas the latter is not.

In James 4:10, the Word of God tells Christians: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

The danger with intellectualism, human talent and ability is that in most cases (although not all), they tend to lead to pride, self-importance and self-reliance and this stifles the work of the Holy Spirit.

For, God abhors pride. In Matthew 23:11-12, it reads: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

In Matthew 20:26-28, drawing from his own example of perfect humility, Jesus told his disciples:

  • “…whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Someone once said something to the following effect: “Holiness without humility is not true holiness but pride.”

You can have all the education, secular accolades, intelligence and articulate ability in the world but God will NOT use you at all or in mighty ways, if you are proud.

If you search the scriptures over, you will realise that all the men and women who God used mightily were humble. To name a few, Joseph was humble. David was humble. King Hezekiah was humble and when pride started to seep into his heart, God chastened him so that it would be removed (2 Chronicles 32:35-36).

Moses was humble, more so than any other person on the face of the planet at that time and God used him mightily.

Despite the fact that he was not the best of speakers, God chose him and used him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt and to lead them on their way to the Promised Land. Numbers 12:3 states of Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”

Remarkably, Moses was very humble, although he spent the majority of his childhood and some of his adult life in Pharaoh’s Palace, a place of entitlement and privilege and where he would have been exposed to the best of education, as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Notably, although Paul was a great intellectual, after he was converted, God used him mightily, operating through his humility. He was so humble, that he considered himself to be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and all his entitled background to be but dung, for the sake of Christ.

In Acts 22:3, he recounted his history by stating:

  • “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.”

Notably, Paul did not credit his standing in Christ and his ability to present the gospel of God with power, to his education and vast secular learning.

In 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, in humility, he stated:

  • “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

In Philippians 3: 3-14, he made it clear that, although he had a background, so-called achievements and had reached levels of importance and pedigree that were beyond that of the average person and although in the secular world, others may have considered the heights that he had attained to be admirable, he had no confidence in these things but his sole focus was on that which led to eternal life and learning of Him, the giver of it, Jesus Christ.

In listing his so-called achievements and how they faded in importance when compared to the value of what he had found in Christ, he stated:

  • “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.
  • Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
  • But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS FOR THE EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST JESUS MY LORD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the POWER of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
  • Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Despite all of Paul’s education, secular learning and intellect, when he found Christ, his focus changed. He now desired to learn more of Jesus and the POWER of His resurrection.

In verse 10 he stated: “That I may know him, and the POWER of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

The worst thing is to have a Church full of intellectuals but the POWER of the Holy Spirit is lacking among them. In such a situation, what is produced are grandiose speeches from the pulpit but no real conviction in the heart toward repentance, of both believers sitting in the pews who have sinned and need to get things right with God and unbelievers, who need to be saved.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-7, Paul told the Church at Corinth:

  • “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, BUT IN DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER: That your faith should not stand in THE WISDOM OF MEN, but in the POWER of God.
  • Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory”

When it comes to the wisdom of men, otherwise known as the wisdom of this world or intellectualism, the Word of God states:

  • “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
  • For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
  • For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the POWER of God, and the wisdom of God.
  • Because THE FOOLISHNESS OF GOD IS WISER THAN MEN; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that NOT MANY WISE MEN AFTER THE FLESH, NOT MANY MIGHTY, NOT MANY NOBLE ARE CALLED:
  • BUT GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE WISE; AND GOD HATH CHOSEN THE WEAK THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE THINGS WHICH ARE MIGHTY; AND BASE THINGS OF THE WORLD, AND THINGS WHICH ARE DESPISED, HATH GOD CHOSEN, YEA, AND THINGS WHICH ARE NOT, TO BRING TO NOUGHT THINGS THAT ARE: That NO FLESH should glory in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:19-29 KJV)

On the importance of humility (meekness), even among Christians who are intellectuals, James 3:13 states: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with MEEKNESS of wisdom.”

This is what learning of Christ and modelling our lives after his example, produces because Christ, despite being all knowing and all wise and having every reason in the world to be puffed up and prideful (because he is the Son of God and the Creator of this world), demonstrated humility when he was here on earth.

The Bible tells us that he made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:3-11). In Matthew 11:29, he stated: “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN OF ME; FOR I AM MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Indeed, I am convinced that the more a Christian learns of Christ and sincerely desires to be more like him and is growing spiritually in biblical knowledge and grace, even if he is an intellectual and full of secular education, this knowledge of the Saviour, if properly received (and not rebelliously fought against in his heart), will humble him.

For, it will allow him to have a proper and sober perspective on life and of himself, including the fact that all his intellectual ability, education and earthly accomplishments give him zero bonus points with the Lord. He will not just speak about humility but live it. For, he will realise, that despite all his secular learnings and accomplishments and abilities, there is so much to now learn and to keep learning of Christ, the one whose perfect life continuously reminds him of his own imperfections, inadequacies and insignificance, as a mere mortal, sinful man.

I firmly believe that a person that is truly growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and in his relationship with him (not religion) and who is receptive to his Word and is seeking, through introspection, to apply it to his or her life (moreso than applying it to the lives of others), will not be growing in pride or holding on to it for dear life. He will not be proud in his tone, proud in his posture, proud in his demeanour and proud in his actions.

He will not put any confidence in his secular learning, human talent or oratory ability or think that he needs earthly learning and secular training to properly expound the scriptures. If he is truly regenerate, in that the Spirit of the living God indwells him, he will place no confidence whatsoever in his flesh and this world’s wisdom (which, if a person does, will be bordering on humanism), to deliver God’s’ Word but instead, convinced of his own inadequacies but honoured to be used by God, submit to the Holy Spirit, humbly rely solely on Him to teach him, to help him to teach others, to tell him what to say and how to say it and when to say it and to reap the results which only the Holy Spirit can do.

1 John 2:27 states:

  • “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and YE NEED NOT THAT ANY MANY TEACH YOU: but as THE SAME ANOINTING TEACHETH YOU OF ALL THINGS, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I would just like to reiterate, that, while God can certainly use intellectualism (which is not intrinsically bad in itself) to achieve his purposes and he has done so in the past, he does not need to, as some falsely perpetuate. He can take any man and any woman, irrespective of his or her background and his or her lack of education and use him or her mightily, provided that that person submits to him in humility and obedience, to be used by him as he wills.

His strength is made perfect in weakness and when he uses the underdog to achieve his purposes, all the glory redounds to Him and he is all about His glory.

What this means is that, while it is nice to have an education, it is not a necessity when it comes to operating in God’s Kingdom agenda, as some people falsely state. It means that the people who serve as Leaders, Pastors, Elders, Deacons and the like, do not need to be well qualified with earthly education in order to serve in these positions. They simply need to be saved by the grace of God, submitted to his leading, obedient and spiritually mature.

It also means that the congregation and the world in general do not need to hear a sermon rife with intellectualism. They need to hear a spirit-filled message delivered with POWER from on high, from a humble, obedient, submissive, loving, spirit-filled and spirit-controlled person, who, although not perfect and although he will make mistakes from time to time, generally walks the walk and talks the talk with integrity and in sincerity, before God.

Such a person does not think of himself more highly than he ought and while he addresses sin, he does not actively spend more time looking for and being critical of the faults in others, than he does in himself. He is introspective, always examining his heart to see where it does not line up with God’s Word and humbly, honestly, repenting of same. He is like David. He confesses to God where he has gone wrong, not in general terms but specifically because he has a repentant heart.

Such a person may use what is referred to colloquially in my country as ‘green verbs’, meaning that his English, oratory ability and diction may not be the best but the message will achieve its purpose in terms of bringing conviction to the hearts of men because it will be sent forth with the POWER of God.

While obtaining an education is good therefore, the focus should not be on encouraging believers to go and pursue it secularly in order to be effective in God’s Kingdom but on spending time in God’s Word, learning of and meditating on Jesus, growing in his knowledge and grace, applying and obeying what we read to our lives, modelling it after His perfect example and truly submitting to His will, not in word only (as so many in the Church today are prone to do) but in action. THIS is where the true power comes. THIS is where God’s servants become effective.

(Written on 15th December, 2020)

Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be insightful, beneficial or interesting, you may also be interested in reading the following:

  • Note 19 ‘God’s Miracles – Higher Than Technology & Science
  • Note 27 – ‘You Cannot Command Your Morning Or Day
  • Note 28 –  ‘Our Words Have Power – A Lie From The Pit Of Hell
  • Note 117- ‘How Important Is Earthly Education And The Ability To Speak Well, To God’s Agenda?

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