1 Peter 5:6-7

1 Peter 5:6‑7  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Humility is a precious quality in the saints; and like other virtues it is apt to be debased by the enemy, and mistaken by themselves according to their own thoughts. It is of moment that we should discover its real nature as made sure and clear by Christ. For He is the true light who makes all persons and all things manifest; without Him its Christian character is not realized. How often it is understood to consist in our being brought to see and detest our own evil! But this is far from the standard of Christianity. For we are thus occupied with ourselves, however right it be to bewail our manifold failures and grievous shortcomings. Certainly it is far better than to be deceived into the notion that we have attained a high stage of holiness, and to thank God that we are not as other men. In its grossest form the error is fed by recourse to a director of conscience, into whose ear we can pour our confessions and seek profit from his ghostly counsels, even if we go not on to the extreme of looking for authoritative relief by his absolution in the Lord's name from time to time. Again, while souls cling to the invention of the weekly class and its leader to hear and advise on the rehearsed experience of good or bad, others who belong to an opposite pole strive to gather a scanty comfort from dwelling on their felt unworthiness, and to find lowliness in all manners and measures of self-condemnation.
Now the work of Christ, on which the awakened soul is brought to rest, is not only perfect in itself, but it perfects him; as Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) explicitly declares with many other scriptures of differing form but similar import. By one offering Christ has perfected continuously—not merely forever, but without an interruption—those who are sanctified, or set apart from the world to God by the faith of Christ. This was hard for an Israelite to accept, accustomed as he had been to fall back on his sin or trespass offering, and the priest's action in sprinkling the blood, offering the fat, and eating his part of the victim, while burning the rest with fire unsparingly. It was so significant a type, identifying himself by his hand laid on the head of the offering, with Jehovah's authority to the priest to atone for him and assure of forgiveness, that one can understand the need of the utmost certainty in order to relinquish the shadow for the substance. But herein are the expressed will of God the Father, the accomplished work of the Son, and also the applied witness of the Holy Ghost in Jer. 31:33, 3433But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:33‑34)—a predicted remission of sins now so complete, that there is no more offering for sin.
The efficacious bearing of Christ's sacrifice is as immense to faith, as the glory of His person and the depth of His suffering for sin. It is this which lays the ground for Christian humility; because it gives a purged conscience before God. Till then it was no more than an exercised conscience, and thereby a humbling process in the measure of our spiritual feeling. But in the work of Christ it is God who condemned sin in the flesh, not morally alone as in all that He was and did, but as a sacrifice for sin, that it might be utterly effaced in His sight, as indeed we become His righteousness in Christ. Hence the worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins. They are entitled and meant to see themselves so clear in His light as to have done with themselves, and free with a pure conscience and a peaceful heart to enjoy the fullness of Christ. What a deliverance to have done with self! It was humbling to feel and have to own how vile we learned ourselves to be. Is it not a truer deeper humility to know in His light that our careless perhaps and certainly unworthy failure, cost Him to be as it were consumed to ashes in God's unsparing judgment of our iniquity laid upon Him? and that we are, that I am, not worth thinking or talking about? How easy this ought to make it for each to esteem the other as better than himself! Such is the basis of Christian lowliness of mind. It is through divinely given faith: “Humble yourselves (or be humbled) therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, having cast all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you” (vers. 6, 7).
It was that mighty hand of God which made the sinless Jesus sin for us, when He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. So Israel will yet confess, the generation to come when this unbelieving and adulterous generation shall pass; and Christ's words are more widely and manifestly verified than ever. We who now believe, whether Jew or Gentile, while He is unseen, delight to see the truth as before God; and blessed, as Himself said, are they that saw not and believed. We rest on the depth of that atoning work when darkness shrouded the cross, and His voice attested that God hid His face and forsook Him, the rejected Messiah, the Son of man giving His life a ransom instead of many, yea for all, that we who believe might be healed by His stripes, and made meet to share the portion of the saints in the light.
Under that mighty hand which has thus wrought and given us everlasting redemption are we called to be humbled. We fail alas in the abiding sense of this marvelous light into which God called us. But therein it is our privilege to walk, as 1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) tells us; and it is our fault only if we do not walk consciously there. Thereby is that humility secured to which we are here exhorted. Would there be defect if our souls were ever realizing that most solemn yet most gracious presence? Yet it is into this grace that faith in our Lord Jesus has brought us, and gives us to stand (Rom. 5:22By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)).
Nor is less than this the proper and constant standing of the Christian. It is our shame to forget or slight such favor. And those who deny the new privilege (out of a Puritan jealousy on behalf of the O. T. saints) are indifferent servants for the honor of Christ or the Christian faith. It may sound lowly for the believer to cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of this body of death?” But this ignores that it was a passing state, and that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death. Thus my confession now on failure becomes a deeper self-loathing. O blessed man that grace has made me, what shame to Him as well as to me that I should now defile my feet! that I, perfectly atoned for, should have sinned against grace as well as holiness, and need to be sprinkled with the water of separation to restore my communion! What agonies my sinful folly cost the Savior
In God's blessed presence let us be ever humbled, and all the more because it is always open to us through the rent veil. We contributed nothing to Christ's cross but our sins: the grace therein was God's sovereign grace. The effect of Christ's work is that divine righteousness which we became in Him; and we boast (for it is more than “rejoice”) in the glory of God. And indeed He will exalt us in due time. For it will be the day when Christ shall be manifested, and we also shall with Him be manifested, in glory. While He our life is hidden, it is inconsistent and incongruous that we should now look for any glory in this world, least of all from that world whose princes crucified the Lord of glory. As loyal to the crucified One we wait for the appearing of His glory, in order to share it with Him. For did He not tell us, that the glory which the Father had given Him He has given to His own that they may be one as the Father and the Son are one, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know (not believe, as now) that the Father sent the Son, and loved the saints even as He loved the Son? Then the world shall behold Him and them in the same heavenly glory. Never will there be our perfection in unity till then, and only of that future day does the Lord say it. Truly God will exalt us in due time. Our call is to suffer meanwhile with Christ, and also for His name, that we may be also glorified together.
But of another privilege the apostle here reminds us in connection with being humbled now and waiting for His glory in the day of Christ. He says, “having cast all your care on him, because he careth for you.” He assumes this relegation, in faith, of our every anxiety on our God and Father, who loves to bear burdens too great for His weak ones, for whom He has joys and service which demand freedom of spirit for their right aim and end. How enfeebling is the unbelief that fancies it our duty to be weighed down outwardly and inwardly Why, Christian, have you not rolled upon Him the weight that oppresses you? Is not His word to us plain and certain? Does He not care for you—He that gave His Son for your sins, He that numbers all the hairs of your head?