Self and its Pride Oppose the Holy Spirit # 1
All the vices of fallen angels and men have their root in the proud atheism of self, which has replaced God as its only life and power. Men are dead to God because they are living to self. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride, and the devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, not without an influence in them. Without a death to self, there is no escape from satan's power over us. Wherever self-abilities are allowed a share in Christian service or worship, there the satanic spirit of pride has its power in the Church.
On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility. Not a joy or glory or praise of the redeemed but has its birth in humility. It is humility alone that makes the impossible gulf between heaven and hell. No angels are in heaven but because humility is in all their breath; no devils are in hell but because the fire of pride has corrupted their whole life. Humility places man in that posture before God of an open heart, thankfully receiving the inward breathings of divine life and light and love. Pride shuts every man up to himself, bringing a death to all that is of God. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God" (James 4:6).
Herein lies the great struggle for eternal life: pride and humility are the two master powers, the two kingdoms in strife for the eternal possession of man. Every son of Adam is in the service of self, regardless of education or position in life, until a humility that comes solely from heaven has become his redemption through the indwelling Christ. Until then, all will be done by the right hand only that the left hand may know it. Nor can humility be cultivated through a sound head-knowledge of Scripture words and doctrines. The only true humility which the world has ever seen is that of the meek and lowly Lamb of God: and no man can have the least degree of this humility, except from the redeeming life of Christ. He only fights the good fight of faith whose strife is that the self-idolatrous nature which he received from Adam may be brought to death through the power of the Cross, that Christ's own supernatural humility may come to life within him.
The enemies to man's rising out of the fall of Adam are many. But the supreme enemy, called antichrist, is self-exaltation. There has been much speculation to see where and what antichrist is or by what marks he may be recognized. To know with certainty what he is not, one need only read this short description which Christ gives of Himself: "I can do nothing of myself ... I came not to do my own will ... I seek not my own glory ... I am meek and lowly of heart" (John 5:30, 8:50; Matthew 11:28). Now if this be Christ, then self-exaltation, being in the highest and fullest opposition, must be that spirit of antichrist that opposes and withstands the whole nature and Spirit of Christ. And although that particular man who is to be the ultimate embodiment of this spirit may not be yet upon the earth; nevertheless, no man need look any further than his own heart to find the same antichrist which John said was "already in the world" (1 John 4:3) in his own day. What therefore has everyone so much to fear, to renounce and abhor, as every inward breathing of self-exaltation, and every outward work that proceeds from it?
Now at what things shall a man look to see that working of self from which pride gains its power to hinder the birth and life of the humble Jesus in his soul? Shall he call the pomps and vanities of the world the highest works of self-adoration? Shall he look at the thirst for riches and honor to see the pride that has the most of antichrist in it? By no means. These are shameful enough marks of the vain heart of man; yet, comparatively speaking, they are but the skin-deep follies of that pride which the fall of man has begotten and brought forth within him. To discover the deepest root and iron strength of pride and self-exaltation, one must enter into the secret chamber of man's soul, where the Spirit of God, who alone gives humility and meek submission, was denied through Adam's sin, thus bringing that death which came upon all men, for all have sinned. satan's own spirit of self-exaltation became the strong man that kept charge of the house, till a stronger than he should regain possession.
Here in man's innermost being, self had its awful birth, and established its throne, reigning over a kingdom of secret pride, of which all outward pomp and vanities are but its childish, transitory playthings. "It is not those things from without that defile a man" (Mark 7:15), said Christ, "but out of the heart comes all the evil of man's defilement" (Matthew 15:18). The inward strong man of pride, the diabolical self, has his higher works within; he dwells in the strength of the heart, and here every power and faculty of the soul offers continual incense to him. Memory is the faithful repository of all the fine things that self has ever done, and lest any of them should be lost or forgotten, memory is continually setting them before self's eyes. Man's intellect has all the world before it, yet goes after nothing but as self sends it, ever seeking new projects to enlarge its dominion. Imagination, as the last and truest support of self, lays unseen worlds at his feet, and crowns him with secret revenges and fancied honors. This is that satanic, natural self that must be denied and crucified, or there can be no disciple of Christ. There is no plainer interpretation than this that can be put upon the words of Jesus, "Except a man deny self, and take up the cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 9:23, 14:27).
(continued with # 2)