But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction…
(2 Chronicles 26:16 – ESV)
Uzziah was a good king, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (vs.4). He defeated enemies, built up cities, and was respected by other nations. He even developed special weapons and was “marvelously helped”, and “strengthened exceedingly”.
Many people who are helped greatly by the Lord forget one essential element of faith: humility. By humility we do not mean only an acknowledgement that God has done all the work; many accomplish that. What we are talking about is a deeper understanding, realizing that no matter how much we “do” in or for the kingdom of God, we are no more righteous than the next guy who is covered with the blood, no matter how awful he is.
We may see more manifestations of the Spirit in our individual lives because our obedience to God allows us to be in the fellowship of faith, like a child who gets fed by her parents because she is present at dinnertime, not out wandering around. But we will never grow in righteousness; Jesus makes us as righteous as we will ever be. Personal growth in holiness, yes, but that isn’t what allows us to come before God. The only reason we may approach God is because of Christ’s righteousness, not our own, and Uzziah forgot that the priests were to make atonement for the people before them.
Uzziah no doubt went in to serve God, to give God the credit, the glory, and the honor. He of course realized that God was the author of the blessings, but his pride led him to believe that God bestowed the favor due to his being such a great man compared to others. Just as David took a census, and Solomon multiplied horses, Uzziah began to think that this entire blessing was due in part to him, and his personal holiness, and not God’s abundant grace in spite of him. He probably felt that he did not need the priesthood, God’s ordained order, in order to worship the Lord.
The parallels to today are striking. How many believers think that they can get direct words from the Lord about any situation at any time, apart from being in God’s ordained order, the Church? Certainly God speaks to us as individuals today, through His Word, but can we really believe that we alone are the instrument that God will use to solve all the dilemmas of society, or even the dilemmas in our own personal lives, apart from the covenant congregation of other Christians? Is this God’s normal mode of operation?
No, it is not. God set up the Levitical order in the Old Testament, and He has given the New Testament Church as the koinonia, the fellowship of the Spirit. The Church is the vehicle for coming together as one in Christ, the means by which we worship corporately, and the normal venue for teaching from the Bible and learning about God. We hear the echo of God’s voice as we listen to the Word preached and rightly divided. We see the Word in visual representation as we fellowship around the Lord’s Table and participate in baptism. We see here what can happen when we are lifted up, and believe that we have a special access that others do not, especially if we feel we have been used of God in a mighty way.
This doesn’t mean that we are not able to access God directly; we are all priests (1 Peter 2:5-9 / Revelation 1:6). What this means is that we are not some special case, a favorite, or super-spiritual person that has a more prominent place than is recognized. If you are not an elder in your church you are not an elder. If you are not the pastor, you are not the pastor. If you are not a man (uh oh, here we go!), you are not a man. The point is that we are called as parts of a body (1 Corinthians 12:18), we must know our part (vs.27), not to try and do it all (vs.19), and respect the God-given authorities (Hebrews 13:7).
We are not above God’s order, laws and demands. This is one of the reasons that Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:36 is such a vital truth for everyone to digest fully. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? The first part of the verse is saying, did you write the scripture originally? And the second part is saying, did God’s Word come to you directly, and no one else?
We must remember what the serpent said to Eve when we doubt God’s unwavering decrees, laws, and commands. Satan replied, Yea, hath God said?, and sin was ushered into the human race. We must not dilute the Bible; even if is unpleasant to our modern notions of equality, gender or otherwise. God’s Word is binding truth. If God has said it that settles it, whether we believe it or not, whether we think it relevant or not, whether we think we are in a special circumstance or not.
We must never yield to the presumption of faith in thinking that we have achieved a special place before God because of past spiritual victories. We must remember the holiness of God, and the reverence that accompanies this. A relationship with Jesus does not allow for us to be so familiar with God that we, instead of crying “Abba, Father”, say “hey, Daddy-o”.
“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©
Labels: 2 Chronicles, Devotional, discernment, Humility, Idolatry, Presumption