Continued from Love does not Boast, Part 1

Picture:  This vicious wolf is one example of a beast, or dangerous animal.  Later on in this blog post, it’ll make sense why I used this picture to symbolize man in all his glory, pride and boastfulness apart from God.

INTRODUCTION

Oftentimes, to understand how bad a particular sin is, we need to look back to its roots, just like what we did with envy.

No doubt, boasting started with the devil, who was so caught up with his own beauty and wisdom, he declared boastful words in his own heart:

I will ascend to the heavens;

I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.

–Isaiah 14:13-14

WHAT DOES BOASTFULNESS LOOK LIKE FULLY GROWN?

But, we can also look to a sin’s full manifestation in the future to see clearly the true nature of its evil and ugliness.

This Biblical principle can be seen in the parable of the wheat and tares.  [Read Matthew 13:24-30]

Parable of the Wheat and Tears Summary

An enemy sows tares into a field of wheat.  Tares are weeds that look like wheat. The servants ask the owner if they should gather up the tares.  The owner says “no,” lest they also pull up some of the wheat. He tells them to wait until the harvest, when the full maturity of the wheat and tares will show clearly which is which.

Likewise, boasting in its maturity will be seen for what it is.  Boastfulness, at the end of the age, will be concentrated in the person of the antichrist and in a collective society, heavily influenced by the devil and the evil in men’s hearts.  Yes, the full blossom of man’s rebellion against God will contain a lot of boasting.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, BOASTFUL, proud… –2 Timothy 3:1-2  (Caps mine)

TO BE SAFE, GO LOW

Keeping this in mind, in order to be countercultural by expressing Kingdom culture, we must make it a priority to cultivate humility.  To kill boastful words before they start, we must diligently watch over our own hearts from which those words arise. Proud hearts give rise to an inflated view of self and boastful words, whereas humble hearts “do not think of themselves more highly than they ought” and express a vibrant dependency upon God.  (Romans 12:3)

WHEN BEING PRAISED LEADS TO OUR OWN BOASTING

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold [to separate the impurities of the metal], And each is tested by the praise given to him [and his response to it, whether humble or proud].   –Proverbs 27:21 (Amplified Bible)

Just to make it very clear, I’m not against affirming or complimenting people.  The Bible tells us to give honor where it’s due and to encourage others as much as we can, even on a daily basis.   (Romans 13:7; Proverbs 31:28; Proverbs 31:31; Hebrews 3:13) I personally love to give words of affirmation.

But, sometimes, when we’re praised excessively for who we are, what we look like, what we’ve accomplished, how well we operate in our gifts, etc., it can lead to our own boasting.

Here’s an example of how easily things can get out of hand.  In Daniel 2, Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue, which represents successive kingdoms gaining power on the world stage.   Daniel starts with Nebuchadnezzar’s own kingdom of Babylon, saying “You are this head of gold.”

Daniel starts off by speaking some pretty high praise.

Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. –Daniel 2:37a

But, then, he quickly follows that up with how he became king:

The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory…  –Daniel 2:37b

Somehow, the king kind of overlooked the second part of how God put him into power in the first place.

The next thing you know, King Nebuchadnezzar builds a golden statue of himself ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and demands everyone to bow down to it under penalty of death.  (Daniel 3:7)

King Nebuchadnezzar went beyond having a big head; he also had a big body!  

This scene would be laughable if it wasn’t sadly true.  Likewise, “our wonderful attributes” can be blown out of proportion in our minds, too, when (excessive) praise comes knocking on our door.   We must be careful!

WHEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S BOAST LED TO AN ANIMAL KINGDOM

For those of you who don’t think boasting is a serious sin, we go further into the king’s story.

Surprisingly, God doesn’t deal directly with Nebuchadnezzar when he makes the gold statue.  He only acts directly against the king after he makes a great boast about his kingdom.

What is God saying about boasting?  How seriously does He take it? 

God even warned King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream of what could happen to him if he didn’t die to his pride.  (Daniel 4)

It was only a year later after God’s warning that the king made his great boast as the consequences fell swiftly:

Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”  –Daniel 4:29-32

Needless to say, shortly after the seventh year was over, with the dew still damp in his long, scraggly hair and dirt jammed thick under corkscrew fingernails, the king finally acknowledged the one and only true God.  He is over all and can give kingdoms to whomever He chooses! King When King Nebuchadnezzar finally came to his right mind, he stopped being an “animal”!

Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish.  –Psalm 49:20

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM VERSUS DANIEL’S DREAM:  GLORY OF MAN VERSUS BRUTE BEASTS

Man’s View of Himself

If the book of Daniel, you’ll notice two different perspectives on mankind and their worldwide power and kingdoms.

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about the successive kingdoms of the world in their power represented as different parts of a statue.  (Daniel 2) If you think about it, that statue was an idol in the mind of man in the form of a man.  Man as a god.  Many thoughts come to mind.

  • In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed they could be like god.  The whole human race has been stained with the original fall of mankind.
  • Hitler believed in the Aryan blonde haired, blue-eyed “superman,” which gave fire and inspiration to his racism and hatred of the Jews.
  • Humanism (the inherent goodness and godlike nature of man) engulfs the world with the idea that the human race only gets better, can solve its own problems and eventually create utopia (a perfect world).
  • The antichrist, as the pinnacle of man’s potential, will be worshiped as a god.
  • Nebuchadnezzar, in his fallen mind, naturally viewed power and worldwide kingdoms as an idol in the form of man.

When man is full of his own power, strength, accomplishments and wealth, he can fall prey to seeing himself as his own god.

God gives a stern message to one such person through the prophet Ezekiel.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre that this is what the Lord GOD says:

Your heart is proud,

and you have said,

‘I am a god;

I sit in the seat of gods

in the heart of the sea.’

Yet you are a man and not a god,

though you have regarded your heart

as that of a god.     –Ezekiel 28:1-2

This passage starts with the King of Tyre, but later morphs into a revelation about satan, who fell from grace, due to his own pride and attempt to be like the Most High.

Frightening… boasting reveals the pride in our hearts, even to be like God.  It’s like unto the devil, because it comes from the devil!

God’s view of the “glory of man” apart from God

God, on the other hand, gave Daniel a very different kind of dream about these same worldwide kingdoms.  God revealed them as wild, ferocious animals conquering territory and prey. (Daniel 7)

Tellingly, God also turned Nebuchadnezzar into an animal in order to humble him and teach him his true state as a pompous man, thinking he had made everything happen for himself.   The truth was he didn’t have anything that God didn’t grant him. (Daniel 4)

God confirms this animal predator imagery in Revelation 13, as he describes the devil, the antichrist and the false prophet as ferocious animals.  The apostle John sees the devil as a “dragon.” He calls the antichrist “the beast.” And he describes the false prophet as “another beast,” with two horns like a lamb, speaking like a dragon.

God opened John’s eyes to see the true nature of the height of man apart from God:  a beast.

TO BE “A BEAST” IS NOT A GOOD THING

You may call me a stickler, but I don’t like the way our modern society uses the word “beast.”

If you dominate in a sport or subject, you are called “a beast.”  It’s considered a good thing.

It’s just like how people used “bad” to mean “good” and “sick” to mean amazing or incredible.

In the Bible, these words all describe negative things and the true condition of man before a holy God.  Guess who’s changed their definitions to make them positive in popular culture. If you thought to yourself, the devil.   (Ding, ding, ding!)  You are correct!  We must be careful what we speak.  We must not buy into how the devil defines these words through the corrupt culture at large.

Ultimately, I agree with God’s definitions and word usages.  I say “yes” and “amen” to his testimony!

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Darwin based his evolutionary theory on “survival of the fittest.”  “Only the strong survive.” That person who dominates in a sport is called a “beast.”   As mentioned before, God views these powerful people and kingdoms of the Earth as wild animals.

Darwin’s theory, which has NOT been proven, but, nonetheless, is mistakenly seen as a foregone conclusion, was based on his observations among various birds and animals.

Do you see a parallel here?  The antichrist will be “king of the mountain” someday, because he will be the pinnacle of Darwin’s evolutionary theory.  He will be the smartest, the strongest and the best man has to offer. The beast’s number is the same as man’s number: 666.  The highest man can go. [Yet, there are those who believe God’s number is 777 (perfection.)]

…they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”  –Revelation 13:4

We don’t realize how much Darwin’s theory of evolution has already corrupted our minds and hearts in ways contrary to the Bible, even when we don’t outright believe the theory.  It’s not only turned many people away from believing in God through its deception, but it’s provided a “scientific” basis for ruthless competition, one-upmanship and boasting. The world says there’s a reason to boast, when you’ve done better than the next guy, and most especially when you’ve battled your way to the top of the mountain.

THE LITTLE HORN BLOWS LOUDLY

Daniel describes the antichrist as boastful and proud!

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.  –Daniel 7:8  (bold mine)

One distinguishing characteristic of the antichrist is that he makes great boasts.   Just like other men before him. Just like the devil. [Read Ezekiel 28 about the King of Tyre and the devil]

But, as usual, we need to see people from God’s perspective.  Even though horns were in the Hebrew culture a symbol of power, the antichrist here is described as a little horn.  Undoubtedly, he will cause massive destruction, but to God he’s just a little guy, no matter how he boasts about himself.  Certainly, we don’t want to underestimate him.  But, we also don’t want to overestimate him.

John the Apostle confirms what had already been written and tells us the antichrist will be given a mouth to speak arrogant and blasphemous words.  (Revelation 13:5)

IS YOUR HEART LEAKING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH?

We know from the Bible that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:45)

As you recall, somebody caught me recently being boastful, from the words that came from my own mouth.  I apologized at the time for having come across that way, because I knew it was wrong and bad. Now, after having done this study, I repent in dust and ashes.

God, keep us all from boasting in ourselves!

HOW BOASTING WARS AGAINST LOVE

Boasting wars against love, because when we’re full of ourselves, we can’t give God’s love to one another.

A person who boasts will have their own wisdom, knowledge, strength and solutions to apply to various life situations.  They’ll most likely depend on themselves rather than on God. They may think they’re “loving someone” as they try to “help them,” but is it God working through them or are they merely offering what they can think and do?

Love makes room for another and listens to his or her heart.  If your heart is overflowing with your own boasts, then guess who’s preoccupying most of your heart.  You. For the one who boasts, one is company, two’s a crowd.

When we boast, we’ll care more about looking good for ourselves than doing good.  Our interests will eclipse the interests of others.  Furthermore, in my pride and boastfulness, I probably won’t want to die to myself and my own self-interest in order to give to another.

I mean, why should I die to myself, when I’m my own best gift to myself and to humanity?

Yes, when clearly written out in black and white text, it’s all so repugnant.

GOD RESISTS THE PROUD AND BOASTFUL

Worst yet, in all of our boasting, we take God’s place by seeking to draw men unto ourselves rather than to Jesus.  Even if boasting attracts others to us, God will resist us at every turn and may even thwart the gifts we glory in, despite them having come from God in the first place.

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.  –Isaiah 42:8

We can’t be our highest and best selves, while, at the same time, being boastful.  God won’t allow it! Since God will not share His glory with another, He’ll frustrate our attempts to hog the limelight, so to speak.

The devil’s pride destroyed him and set him on a path of opposition to God.  God doesn’t want the same thing to happen to us. It’s a mercy, if He intervenes.  Just like God did with my finances. When God thwarts our misguided efforts and wrong motives, He’s really protecting us from ourselves.

God will bless us, however, when He knows we’ll give all the glory to Him.  Humility and a strong Godward focus will open the way for God to use us in the most radical ways and to the fullest extent!

That’s what I want for my life!  That’s what I want for your lives!

Next week, we’ll explore practical ways to  deal head-on with the sin of boasting in our lives.  To be continued in Love does not Boast, Part 3.

 

 

–Joyce Lee

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