Replacing carnal pride with the humility of Jesus Christ is an absolute prerequisite to qualifying for eternal life.
Blood began oozing from His forehead and temples. It began as small, almost imperceptible droplets, forming a crimson edge along His hairline. Then bright red drops began to run down around His eyes and nose. He didn't blink them away or wipe His face. He was too intense. No other humans heard Him speak. A few men, just beyond earshot, had come part way with Him, but they were sleeping — exhausted. Now His shoulders heaved as He poured out His heart to God. His head bowed, His arms and hands extended in a position of appeal, His dynamic inspiration was apparent to anyone who would have seen! Then, suddenly, He arose and walked back to the three men He'd left a short distance behind. Though He had asked them to watch against any interruption, He found them fast asleep. He admonished Peter over this failure and again exhorted the three to watch and pray. For the second time, He returned to supplicate God. And for the second time He returned only to find His three disciples sleeping. Finally, for the third time He went to pray as before. When He returned to His followers, He found them sleeping again. He directed them to rise and follow Him, for Jesus Christ knew that the hour of His betrayal was at hand (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46). We know Jesus never sinned — never broke His Father's holy laws (Hebrews 4:15). We know He never harmed another person during His physical life on earth. We know He performed many miracles to improve others health and welfare, and set a perfect example of how life should be lived. So why was Jesus going through this great mental anguish, even to the point of sweating great drops of blood in heart-wrenching supplication to a spiritual Father He couldn't physically see, and for an ignorant and wholly ungrateful human race who could not have cared less?
Why blood, sweat and tears?
Simply put, it takes deep humility to be God and then to sacrifice yourself so billions of others can become Gods! Sound easy? Far from it. Developing godly humility is one of the most difficult actions anyone could perform. Why? Because humans are not born with humility. We are born into a ready-made world pervaded with pride, and are highly susceptible to the world's natural influence. It takes the personal sacrifices of prayer and fasting to receive godly humility — the very humility of Jesus Christ, which God will put in us through His Holy Spirit. And we must have this humility in order to qualify for God's Kingdom! Jesus knew this. He made the first man of the dust of the ground and the first woman from the man (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:21-22, Hebrews 1:2, John 1:3, 10). He was fully aware of Satan's domineering influence on weak, fragile, gullible human flesh and mind (II Corinthians 4:3-4, Ephesians 2:2-3, Revelation 12:9). Therefore Jesus of all people would surely know how easily humans could be influenced, especially understanding the devil's insidious power and Satan's avowed purpose to exterminate all human life from existence (Isaiah 14:12-17). Here's the point: Since Jesus made human flesh, with its weaknesses — since Jesus was God in the flesh experiencing what He created (Hebrews 2:16-18) — and since Jesus knew what it was like to be very God with all its inherent powers and inability to sin (I John 3:9) — He humbled Himself to the very point of His death on the stake. The point is that spiritual strength to overcome and endure to the end comes only through much prayer and fasting. Jesus did this. Without sufficient humility, Jesus could not have endured the extreme mental and emotional pressure and the excruciating physical pain that was shortly to follow. Only with this type of humility could He at once perfectly obey God our Father, relying on God's strength, and perfectly resist the pulls of the flesh, influenced by Satan the devil. In short, that kind of deep, godly humility provided a Savior for you and me. Without it, we are as walking dead, destined for everlasting death, wiped from God's memory. Read about this humility for yourself: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). He did it for us. He desires that we become very God. (If you have not read Herbert W. Armstrong's book The Incredible Human Potential, write to our office nearest you for a free copy.) Jesus' purpose is to bring many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:9-10). It should now be more understandable why Jesus prayed so earnestly, even to the point of sweating blood and shedding tears. As he drew near to God, so should we (James 4:8). If He couldn't succeed without this type of closeness to God, neither can we. Our salvation rested in Jesus' obedience to God, and that obedience was based on His humility. It is impossible to obey God without depth of humility. Which brings us to the opposite of humility — pride. How well do you understand pride? What's the difference between pride and proper satisfaction in knowing you or others have performed well?
Proud or pleased?
There is a difference between being pleased with your performance and being carnally proud. God said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). The apostle John wrote, "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22). Paul wrote to the Hebrews, "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). So we see that God permits us to be pleased with our accomplishments or the accomplishments of others as long as our attitude is based on God's two great commandments: love toward God and love toward people. We can be pleased with others performance for good. People are not rebuffed when you speak highly of someone else's good actions. But what about your own accomplishments? The Scripture says, "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips" (Proverbs 27:2). Paul wrote, "But 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.' For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends" (II Corinthians 10:17-18). So we may be pleased with our own performance only if we are obeying Jesus Christ's example and teaching (II Corinthians 10:12, James 1:25). Even then, as we exercise godly humility, we must give the real credit for our every success to our merciful, compassionate, all-loving God (James 1:17, Philippians 2:13, 4:13). Even Jesus said of Himself: "I am the vine, you are the branches... for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Be very careful, therefore, how pleased you are with your own performance, and be always aware of where your good works come from. Pride is quite another story. God hates pride, and for good reasons. In a word, pride destroys (Proverbs 16:18). And pride is personified in the being of Satan, who is king over all the children of pride (Job 41:34). Pride severs our relationship with our humble God (Psalm 10:3). It causes us to depend on our own human power (Psalm 49:11). Pride restricts our service to others, just as a chain around our arms would restrict our helping hand (Psalm 73:6). It corrupts our communications (verse 8). It causes us to demean and spiritually assassinate our fellowman (Psalm 119:21, 69-70, 78). Pride keeps God at a great distance from us (Psalm 138:6). Pride, in short, is an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:16-17). God hates pride and arrogance (Proverbs 8:l3). One who refuses correction is proud (Proverbs 10:17). Pride brings on shame (Proverbs 11:2). Contention is based on pride (Proverbs 13:10). If you're proud, God's Word says you hate yourself (Proverbs 15:32). A proud heart is sin (Proverbs 21:4). God will eventually humble all the proud humans on this earth, as well as Satan and the demons (Isaiah 2:11, 14:15). Pride has no place and will never have a place in the everlasting Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:23-27, 22:14-15). These are the kinds of pride God hates, and why. Pride can hurt you now in your efforts to serve God and, if not repented of, can cause you to be burned up in the final judgment in the lake of fire (Hebrews 6:4-8, Revelation 20:14-15, II Peter 3:7). Can you really take that chance?
Take on Jesus' mind
You need to replace your human pride, which is fueled by Satan, with Jesus' humility. There is no other alternative — no other choice. And you haven't much time to do it. If you decide to wait, you are already shackled by your pride and don't know it. The good news is that you don't have to remain bound and spiritually inhibited by carnal pride. That same Jesus, who did not take Himself for granted as you and I do and who literally sweat blood in agonizing supplication to God in pure humility, did so for your eternal salvation. Do you plan to remain just as you are, thinking God will receive you while you are buried in your pride? That is impossible! He will not. He cannot. To do so would put Him in the business of perpetuating destroyers like Satan the devil. If you don't turn from your prideful way God will mercifully put you out of your misery — forever. He doesn't want you to suffer, and carnal pride produces suffering. Satan and the demons will suffer forever because of their pride (Jude 13). There is a better way. It's called humility. It is the opposite of pride. The humble person depends on someone much greater than himself to overcome Satan, this sick world and his own greedy, lustful, selfish thoughts. How do you gain humility? First, on your knees in private prayer. Properly praying to God demands humility. Then, you must study the Scriptures on humility as you would dig for gold — with dedication and fervency. Also, you must give yourself in humble service to others and stop thinking of yourself as better than anyone else. There's still another spiritual, humility-producing tool that too few people know of, or, if they know of it, they fail to use it.
The tool of fasting
Fasting helps us to gain a godly perspective as to our relationship with God. When we go without food and water for a period of time, we begin realizing how weak and fragile we are and how quickly we would die were it not for our great God. Fasting also helps us to concentrate more on our fellowman's needs and less on our own. If you have not done so, carefully study all of Isaiah 58. Here God shows how we are cursing ourselves because of our foolish pride, and how we can overcome pride with humility through prayer and fasting. Note how Isaiah also shows, in a single verse, the greatness of God and to whom this great God looks: "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones'" (Isaiah 57:15). God helps those who are humble. You can replace your pride with Jesus Christ's humility.
Had Jesus not humbled Himself in heart-wrenching prayer before his scourging and crucifixion, He likely would not have succeeded in His earthly mission. Had Jesus not fasted 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan, and fasted at many other times throughout His physical life, He could not have become our Savior (Matthew 4:2, 17:14-21).
You need to replace your human pride, fueled by Satan, with Jesus' humility. And you haven't much time to do it. If you decide to wait, you are already shackled by your pride and don't know it.
Prayer and fasting go together like love and marriage, like bread and water, like air and breathing, like obedience and salvation. For the great crises in life, and for life in general, prayer and fasting are inseparable. The Day of Atonement, the fifth of God's annual festivals, is now nearly upon us. The Day of Atonement, which this year falls on October 6, pictures our great King of kings incarcerating Satan and the demons for 1,000 years. For the first time in history, humanity will be free of this king of pride — free to obey and worship the King of humility. Humanity will finally be at one with God on this earth. And so Jesus' words ring loud and clear for this great coming event: "However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). We are commanded to fast on the Day of Atonement for this very purpose, as well as for personal preparation to serve both God and man in the greatest work on the face of this earth (Leviticus 23:26-32, Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, Ezekiel 3:17-21). Will you do it? Jesus did. And no servant is greater than his master. Since Jesus Christ, our Master, prayed and fasted for us, to provide the way for humanity to be reconciled to God, we must follow His example and do the same for others (Matthew 6:16-18, Romans 12:1). If you have not been aware of or understood how to keep God's true annual festivals, read our free booklet Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which? Hebrews 12:4 tells us, "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." Jesus did — for you! Therefore: "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven... for our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:25, 29). Jesus Christ Himself set the example for you with His own innocent blood, His profound, heartfelt prayers and His selfless fasting. For your sake, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).