A Lesson in Humility

A Lesson in Humility

1 Peter 5:6
by Bob Burridge ©2023

Our fallen human nature naturally tends to promote ourselves first.
Humility doesn’t come easily. It’s easy to put our own comfort and peace above the needs of others. The things that God calls us to be and to do are easily turned around to please ourselves. The Sabbath Day is often made into a day when we get caught up on our work or to pay others to work for us. Our tithes and offerings are easily set aside to pay for things that satisfy our own interests. God’s glory is too often directed toward us, the creatures, rather than our Creator. Fallen souls want to do what they want, even if God says otherwise.

Humility is a difficult quality to develop in our lives. It puts God first and honors him with what’s his, it obeys all he says, and gives him all the glory in all things.

The verse we’re looking at in this study comes from what the Apostle Peter says in his first Epistle 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”

The context of this verse is extremely important:
Chapter 5 begins with a command from God to the Elders of the church. The Elders are not just the older people in the church. They’re the Church officers, the Presbyters. The original Greek word here is “presbuteroi” (πρεσβύτεροι). The word was defined by Scripture long before Christ came. They are the men called and ordained to teach and lead God’s People. They were appointed by the Apostles as each congregation was formed.

Biblically the church is to be run by Local Elders. That’s what we call the Presbyterian form of church government. It’s run by “Presbyters”, “Elders”. It’s the form followed by all the Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Even the “Reformed Baptists” are organized under the rule of Local Elders. They should be looked to with respect to their office.

In verses 1-4 of 1 Peter 5 it tells what Peter commands the Elders to be and to do:
1. So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
2. shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
3. not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
4. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

The Elders are to be shepherds of the congregation. Their job is to tenderly care for their spiritual needs.
They’re to be overseers of the congregation. The word for “oversight” in verse 2 is derived from the original Greek word “episkopoi” (ἐπισκοποι). It means those who watch over something. This word was once translated as “Bishops”
It’s where the Episcopal form of Church government comes from. That’s the form followed by the Anglicans (Episcopalians) and Methodists. But the word here clearly isn’t a separate office, it’s the job of all the Elders. Their work isn’t to be done by force, or by greed for office, but as examples.

Their crown of glory will come at the time of Christ’s final appearing as the Chief Shepherd of the church. They will receive God’s reward of glory for their faithful work.

The final word to them is that they should be submissive to God as examples. It’s only as they are humble before God and follow Christ as their Shepherd that they can effectively shepherd God’s flock.

Next Peter turns to those who are to be led by the Elders in verses 5-9
5. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
7. casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
8. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

The Greek word for “younger ” here is “ne-O-teroi” (νεώτεροι). It comes from the Greek root “neov” which fundamentally means “new”, the “newer ones”. They are the members of the congregation under the leadership of the Elders.

They’re to submit to the leadership and example of the Elders, as long as those Elders are obediently carrying out their responsibilities before God.

This verse also calls you to be submissive one to another. He’s talking about living humbly. We’re not to be always promoting our own glory, accomplishments, or skills. We’re not to always be trying to have our own way. We’re not to be sulking or complaining when things go our own way. Instead we’re to wear humility as if it was our clothing.

Then Peter reminds his readers of God’s attitude toward the proud and to the humble. He refers to Proverbs 3:34, “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.”

Peter doesn’t quote it directly from the original Hebrew text. There is says that toward the “scorner he is scornful”. Here Peter says he “opposes the proud”.

Peter’s quoting from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament in use then. That Greek Septuagint of Proverbs has the same word that Peter uses, “antitasso” (ἀντιτάσσω). It means to oppose or to resist. James 4:6 quotes the same verse in the same way Peter does here.

The meaning of the quote is clear: God looks with anger upon those who are unsubmissive. His gift of grace is extended to those who are humble, submissive to God’s ways and authority. That includes those God calls to represent his authority on earth.

Then we come to the verse we’re focusing on:
6. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

In all things, we’re to submit ourselves to God’s rulership. Particularly as we’re led in the church by God’s Elders God’s set over the congregation. The point is that we should follow God’s ways. The Elders are there to show us those ways.

God’s promise is that he will exalt the humble. His reward doesn’t come by our aggressive behavior to seize blessings for ourselves. It’s a gift that God attaches to the obedience he puts in our hearts. Since it’s a work of grace, we need to humbly pray and rest in God to enable us to humility. No one can find true peace, happiness, security and satisfaction in life unless it comes from God as he blesses our obedience in Christ.

As verse 7 says, it’s done by “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Rather than arrogantly looking to ourselves, or to things merely made by God, we’re to put all our hope and concerns upon him who is our Loving Lord and Good Shepherd. We should humble ourselves, lay aside our own glory for Christ’s and for the needs of others.

We can and should do this because, he cares for us who are his, and he died to make us acceptable to God, and able to obey him.

As we strive to be humble, we have a spiritual enemy very active against us.
8. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

There’s a real spiritual battle going on. We better keep alert to the temptations and be mindful of our not yet fully sanctified human nature. Satan has not given up on you. He doesn’t accept God’s sovereignty and work of grace.

Like a hungry lion he’s seeking to devour you. He prowls around looking for opportunities to tempt us. Job 1:7, ” The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ ”

The word “adversary” is a legal term used at that time for someone who accuses someone and takes him to court.

Peter challenges us to “resist him”. Be careful not to give in as those challenges and temptations come along. We need to stand firmly in our faith, in our trust in God’s power to help us resist temptations.

To stand firm we need to know the ground we’re standing on. Knowing God’s revealed word is vital. We need to keep studying our Bibles, and reviewing what we’ve read before since we so easily forget. We also need to do our best to train up our children, and new believers. We should also look for ways to encourage others in our family of believers. Invite them to Bible studies. Encourage them to be there for worship and Sunday School. We should also help get God’s word out world-wide through missionary outreaches. That’s what Peter is saying in verse 9, “… knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

Satan is doomed, though he won’t admit it. He keeps on looking for ways to turn us away from humbly submitting to God and to respect the leadership of those he puts here to oversee us in our homes, church, community, and workplace.

Peter ends this section by turning attention to God, the one who makes us able to obey.
10. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

While we’re here in this earthly life we’re going to face times of challenge. But after that time of testing is compete, God won’t fail us. By his grace he has already clothed us with a righteousness of Christ, which we don’t deserve.

Humbly we need to rest in that gospel promise and the ultimate dominion of our Sovereign Creator. He is there to restore us, to confirm us as his beloved children, to give us strength through the battles, and to ultimately eetablish us as victors in these battles we fight here.

We have ahead of us eternal glory in Christ and Satan can’t win when we battle as God teaches us. Ephesians 6:10-18 spells out how we prepare for that daily and on-going battle.
10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
11. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
13. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
14. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15. and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
16. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
17. and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
18. praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

There is no other proper response to God’s enabling us, than to worship and praise him.
11. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

God is the creator of everything other than himself. There are no limits to his power. He has rightful dominion over everything.
Colossians 1:16 “for in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
James 1:17 “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

All those who have God recognized dominion over others here in this life should remember this. They should remember that all human authority is there to see that all is done to honor God, the ultimate master. They should exercise their earthly authority within the boundaries God sets for us in his word.

The humble bow before God and consider him worthy of all their devotion and service. They steal nothing from him. They give him all the glory for every victory, comfort, and ability to obey. All he calls them to do they do humbly with thankful hearts. We dare not put our own desires or interests before what honors the Lord.

Humility is a daily, hourly battle. We have a spiritual enemy trying to turn us to self-centeredness. 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”

(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)

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