Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Apostle Paul's Warning Against Conciet

A Warning against Conceit.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. (Romans 11:19-21).

Paul anticipates another objection from the mouth of the Gentile believer. “It is true that I cannot be arrogant of any spiritual heritage because I have no spiritual heritage, but I can be arrogant because God broke off His relationship with the Jews so that He might make a new relationship with me!”

Paul points out that this fact does not push us to conceit but to fear. Rather than being arrogant, we should be humble. What happened to Israel can also happen to the Gentiles if we do not continue in faith.

The breaking off of the one branch and the grafting in of the other has nothing to do with the worth of the branch. There is really no difference between an unfruitful “natural” branch and a worthless “wild” branch. It is the case of the “pot calling the kettle black.”

The issue is not the Gentile branch’s works or its worth, as compared to the other Jewish branch. The issue is faith. The Jewish branch was removed because of unbelief. The Gentile branch was grafted in because of faith. The Gentile branch is in error by comparing itself to the Jewish branch when the Gentile branch should be looking to the trunk ‑‑ God.

Here is the principle. Salvation by grace gives no believer any basis for pride. Blessings bring greater responsibility, but they do not indicate superiority. Israel in the past was given great blessings. The church today has been given even greater blessings. These blessings are the result of God’s grace and not an evidence that we are better than others. Our response to these blessings is to be one of humility and thankfulness as we realize that grace is always unmerited and undeserved. Arrogance flies in the face of grace. It is a perversion of grace. Grace is given only to the undeserving, never to the self‑righteous who think they are better.

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