One of the greatest enemies of the kingdom of God is pride.

By Elder Clem E. Cook

It was the chief cause of the fall of his natural kingdom [Israel], and continues to be the number one enemy of his spiritual kingdom here on earth.

Thus the prophet Isaiah taught that the Lord of host has proposed to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth. And when Hannah [Samuel's mother] prayed, in prophesy, she said, "There is more holy beside thee: neither is there any rock [god] like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed."

My children, when we speak through pride against another it is surely weighed. For it is written, an hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour. And Jesus has told us it is not that which goeth into the mouth that defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Therefore we should heed the warnings of Solomon; the wise preacher. Reading from the Proverbs, we find these words. To fear the Lord is to hate evil: pride and arrogancy, and the evil ways and the forward [crooked] mouth do I hate. [The word "evil" herein is described as that which is destructive.] When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly [humble] is wisdom. Only by pride cometh contention [dispute]: but with the well advised is wisdom. In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride but the lips of the wise shall preserve them. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before the fall. A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in Spirit.

Therefore, John in his first epistle general, has written, All that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; which is not of our Father, but is of the world.

There are ten Hebrew/ Chal≠dee words, and three Greek words translated as "pride": and are defined as being arrogant, haughty, presumptuously, boastful: to inflate one's self, to have a high or over winning opinion of one's self; aggressively conceited. Ref. Strong's and Oxford's dictionaries. There is no doubt, in my mind, that pride is my worst enemy to my efforts in the ministry. It came in with me, and remains with me to this present day. Therefore, I have a great fear of it's evil force; which can utterly destroy that work, and make my attempts to teach ineffectively. also destroying those who would follow me in my pride.

Likewise, I have the same fear for my fellow yokemen in the gospel; for I have seen some fall into pride's evil ways. It is continuously cropping up in the hearts of God's servants, causing contentions and divisions in the kingdom of God. It is my belief that pride has been the number one cause that leads ministers into dividing and destroying the congregations of God's kingdom here on earth. I know it has been so since I have been a member of the Old Baptist [P. B. Church]: which has been over 51 years. And from this experience, I am sure it was so long before my time, and will be hereafter.

Thus, it grieves my heart when I see or hear, even a touch of pride in one of our ministers. I pray that such will be removed, and our Lord give an humbling spirit unto all who serve in his kingdom.

We should also be careful to remember the teachings of Paul unto Timothy, in it's fullness, concerning the office of a Bishop, before we call for the ordination and the laying of hands on a minister. And I must admit I have not always done so; much to my regret. Be assured that Satan's number one weapon is the pride found in God's servants!

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Slowly, But Surely

by Don R. Richards

I am guilty of doing the same thing I have watched happen to others. It has happened slowly, but surely.

This month I am replacing the picture of me that is printed at the top of this column. I have used the previous one for a number of years, and it is time for a change. I used the old picture too long.

The old picture was accurate -- when it was made. This new picture is accurate of my present appearance. If you have not seen me lately in person, this change may appear to be a dramatic change in my appearance.

It reality, this change in me has not been as fast as the difference in the two pictures might otherwise appear. The change in my appearance has occurred slowly, but surely. It is time I faced up to it.

Whether I want to admit it, or to believe it or not, I am getting older. And as the above picture accurately portrays, my hair is no longer brown, but is gray.

The greying of my hair has occurred not overnight, but has happened slowly, but has surely occurred over several years. It started when I was in my early 30's with only a few sporadic grey hairs, that I hoped at the time would give me the "mature" look we all vainly desire when we are young. Now I long for the darker locks again.

The hair change for me has occurred so slowly I really have not noticed it on a day-to-day basis. It is only when I compare myself over a lengthy time frame that I recognize the dramatic difference.

Most people can identify with this type of change in appearance. We all admit it, however reluctantly, that this change occurs. It is a very basic change in our nature.

But, do we admit it as easily, or recognize it, when we go through a spiritual change? I am afraid we do not. Do we recognize it when Satan slowly, but surely, eats away at our spiritual being.

Like the greying of our hair, our spirit is attacked by Satan slowly, but very surely. Satan is patient, and continuously active. And like the greying of hair, it is not something that gets our attention on a day-to-day basis. But the deterioration in our spiritual lives can be recognized as very dramatic if we examine ourselves over a long period.

We can have some immediate excuse for missing church this Sunday. And we may get too busy to read/study our Bibles on a regular basis. It is "no big deal" because it is only a small change, one we do not even recognize day-to-day. We know we do not intend to "let it get out of control".

Whether we miss church or not a time or two, or fail to study our bibles for a short period, we each "know" we can control it. Slowly, but surely, we find ourselves losing a little bit of our spiritual identity. Over a period of time without our recognition of it, it grows to be a dramatic change. How many people have you witness this happening?

We all know that too many kids find themselves only "trying" drugs or abusing alcohol "one or two" times. But it is always something they can "control" and not let it get out of hand. But yet, there is not one alcoholic and not one single drug addict, who did not start out playing with something that they thought they could control.

When we start allowing ourselves to be pulled into the things of the world, it happens slowly. But over a period of time it becomes very dramatic. Think of the people to whom you know this applies. You see a slow departure from the Lord, thanks to the handiwork of Satan.

What can happen to us is what was noted as happening to Samson at Judges 16:20 as Delilah cut his hair while he slept: Samson was not immediately aware "that the Lord was departed from him." That same things happen to us when we start to fall spiritually asleep ó the Lord becomes departed from us.

"Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err my beloved brethren." James 1:14-15.

Slowly, but surely, the smallest sin grows, and like my grey hair, it changes us a little at a time each day until it abounds to cover the entirety of our head. It occurs so slowly we may not notice day-to-day, but it becomes dramatic over a period. Satanís slow-but-sure workings condemn us in this world. Itís a doctrine of fear and causes us much suffering in this world.

Thank goodness we have a Lord of grace and mercy. He forgives. As we know that sin abounds, the Lordís grace much more abounds. Romans 5:20.

We should be ever so grateful and thankful for our Lordís eternal plan of grace and mercy, regardless of our worldly works (II Tim. 1:9). We should be so thankful that in spite of our own actions in sin, the Lord has taken our eternal destiny out from under the law of sin and death, and allowed to reap the unearned benefits of his eternal grace. Rom. 8:2; 6:14; Eph. 2:1-10.

I could save myself from much embarrassment and ridicule if I watched and examined my grey, diminishing hair daily, and regularly updated my picture. If I would watch my spirituality daily, carefully examining each small change which, slowly but surely affects me, I could save much much pain in this world.

Examine daily your spiritual life. Ask the Lord daily to give you the strength necessary to keep your faith and spirit strong. It will save you a lot of pain in this world.

Our spiritual growth is something with which we should stay diligent.

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Articles Courtesy of "The Banner of Love"