The mark of a true Christian is the desire to be like Christ which challenges such things as pride, arrogance, worldliness, and materialism- the enemies of Christian character. None of us are perfect nor shall we ever be as long as we are in these bodies but we are to strive nonetheless towards spiritual perfection as Christ is being formed in us.
Once the seeds of iniquity are sown they can grow rapidly which is why they must be dealt with quickly. These are spiritual strong holds that we are powerless against in the flesh. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (2Cor.10:4)
The devil is crafty and when it comes to motivating us he knows which buttons to push. We must learn to recognize these things before they have a chance to develop. They can stunt our spiritual growth and deform our character to the point that we lose any resemblance to Christ that we might have had before these things crept into our lives. In fact, if we’re not diligent, we could end up in worse than before.
Jesus described a situation where a man had been cleansed of an evil spirit and apparently the spirit came back with reinforcements. “And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Matt.12:44-45)
In turning from our sins we are emptying ourselves and being filled with Christ. As we conquer these sins we begin to develop character traits prevalent to the children of God. But all too often we allow the evil to creep back into our lives and just as it was with the man in the parable, we can end up worse than before.
Satan can take advantage of even the slightest opportunity such as pride. Just one small achievement can puff us up, and while we’re basking in our glory, pride can take root. Pride was the cause of Satan’s downfall. He was a magnificent angel until pride formed within him and he tried to put himself on the same level as God.
The apostle Paul was well acquainted with the evils of pride as he had every reason to be puffed up. God gave him much revelation and most of the New Testament was written by him. It was because of this that God sent him a thorn in the flesh. Paul never elaborated on what his thorn in the flesh was but he said its purpose was to humble him. Evidently, it was for Paul’s protection to prevent the seed of pride from forming.
The seeds of pride can be recognized by how much it takes to insult us. When it doesn’t take much to ruffle our feathers we need to step back and examine our heart to see if our eyes are truly on Christ and not on ourselves.
Pride can lead to arrogance which can be lethal. It inflates the ego and once it takes hold it is obvious to everyone except the one who is possessed by it. Anytime we experience the slightest notion of being better than any other person it is a spark of arrogance. If this spark is not extinguished it could burst into flames before we even realize it. Arrogance is an elevated self-confidence which produces a feeling of euphoria. This is evident to anyone who has known someone possessed with arrogance as they tend to be cocky and overly self-assured.
Testing ourselves for arrogance is actually quite easy. Arrogance usually begins with bragging so if we tend to brag a lot about ourselves we should consider it a good indication. Paul said that if we must boast then boast in the Lord. Any talents or abilities we might have come from God so our confidence should be in the Lord and not in ourselves.
Pride and arrogance can lead to worldliness which is friendship with the world. We are supposed to be separate and those who believe they can ride the fence are sadly mistaken. Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters because we will inevitably end up loving one and hating the other. Due to our fallen nature, we will naturally favor the world.
Worldliness is characterized by such things as the love of money, success, fame and power. Christians who exhibit more worldly character traits than Christian have not separated themselves from the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1John 2:15-16)
Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Those who reflect true Christian character will always stand out among those who belong to this world. They don’t participate in off-color humor, use obscene language, engage in rumors, or dress indecently.
However, Christians who suffer from worldliness blend right in with the world and unless they come right out and confess openly to being a Christian, no one would know it. In other words, if it was against the law to be a Christian and they were brought before a judge, there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict them.
We should examine our Christian walk and be easily recognized as Children of the Most High. That’s not to say that we are to speak in the old English language of King James or dress and act like Quakers. Extremes aren’t necessary as each of us knows what’s appropriate and what is not.
Worldliness is much easier to recognize than some of the other methods that Satan uses to damage our character such as greed or materialism. A perfect example of greed is price gouging in the event of a disaster. Those who do such things have already cornered the market yet they want more. Greed is an ugly thing.
However, in the life of a Christian, greed is nowhere near the scale of the world’s greed but many of us do experience a form of it to some extent such as materialism. Keeping up with the Joneses is materialistic greed. When the thought of someone having more or better possessions disturbs us, it should raise a red flag. We are not defined by our “stuff” nor are we to store earthly possessions.
Materialism goes hand in hand with pride, greed and arrogance. The devil needs only one small opening to plant these seeds and the moment we detect the signs we should deal with it before it takes root.
As we begin conforming to the image of Christ and our lives begin to change, the devil will do everything he can to thwart our progress. We cannot underestimate his cunning abilities. He can draw us away by the lusts of our flesh and before we realize what has happened, we’ve lost precious ground.
Our nature is such that these things come natural to us which is the reason why they can overtake us so easily. As we learn and grow in Christ we begin to take on His nature which enables us to recognize them sooner.
This is why we should spend quality time in the Word which has the power to fight these spiritual battles. The Word of God is sword of the Spirit and our primary weapon against the wiles of the devil. Paul said that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This is an ongoing spiritual war but we need to remember that losing a battle doesn’t mean we’ve lost the war. This is where the Word of God is essential.
Biblical ignorance can lead to spiritual tragedy. The Holy Spirit brings the Word to our remembrance which keeps us on the right paths. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.” (Is.30:21)
Many of us truly underestimate the power of the Word of God and the influence it can have in our lives. Jesus used Old Testament Scriptures against Satan in the wilderness and left us His own words in the New Testament.
The Bible has been brutally attacked down through the ages yet it still stands. But we are not surprised because Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt.24:35)
Reading the Bible should be a part of our everyday routine. It doesn’t matter how we study the Word as long as we study it. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
In summary, we should make every effort to recognize the signs of pride, arrogance, worldliness, and materialism before they have a chance to take root. These are the enemies of Christian character and if allowed to grow they can destroy any likeness to Christ that we might have had. More importantly, if any of these things get a strong hold we could find ourselves in an even worse state than before.
The Character of God
Importance of Prayer