Derek finishes this study continuing his message of developing an attitude of submissiveness and serving. It is a decision we must make, not some emotion we wait for. We see Jesus coming to John the Baptist to be baptized, and John looking for one who has a dove lighting on him; a picture of the Holy Spirit coming to rest on one who has the nature of a lamb, purity and meekness.
I want to say that all of us are called to serve whether we’re leaders or non leaders, we’re all called to serve. Galatians 5:13.
“For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
If you ever have problems in dealing with the old nature, let me suggest you try serving. It’s the positive antidote to carnality. Paul said, “You’re free, you’ve been liberated but become servants to one another.”
Then in 1 Peter 5:5–6:
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders...”
Now we understand that in the church, if not in the world today, it’s appropriate for the younger to be respectful and submitted toward the elder. That’s something that has largely died out in society. But, Peter doesn’t stop there. He says:
“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility. For God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
What I want to point out is that there is a sense in which some are submitted to others. I personally believe wives should be submitted to their husband. But, that’s not the whole story. It’s all of you be submitted to one another. The basic submission is each of us to the other.
Just keep your finger in 1 Peter 5, we’ll come back, but just let me point out in Ephesians 5:21:
“Submitting to one another in the fear of God...”
All right. That’s the primary submission. Then it says:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.”
So, the husband that says, “You’re submitted to me” is only telling half the story, because, the primary submission is one to another.
I’ve been married twice. God has given me two extremely intelligent wives. How stupid I would be not to listen to their advice. There’s lots of things that each of my wives saw that I never saw. But I never had the attitude, “Well, I’m the boss, I make the decisions, you just come along with what I say.” I’ve always benefited to them maximum from every good thing that God put in my wife. I don’t really think we’ve ever had any problems about the attitude of submission.
Come back to 1 Peter 5:5.
“Likewise, you young people submit yourselves to your elders...”
That’s all right. Some don’t agree with that today but in the church that’s the way it should be.
“...yes, all of you be submissive to one another...”
There should be no one in the church that doesn’t have a submissive attitude.
“...and be clothed with humility.”
Now, that’s a very vivid metaphor, which doesn’t come out. I think Philips in its translation brings it out because the word that’s translated clothed refers to a particular type of apron, which was worn only by slaves. Peter said each of you put on the apron of slavery to one another. In other words, show that you are slaves to one another.
Then he quotes the Old Testament.
“...God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Then he says:
“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
I want to point out to you two things about humility. First of all, it’s not an emotion, it’s a decision. You don’t have to feel humble, you have to will it. Secondly, God will not do it for us. It’s not scriptural to say, “God, make me humble.” God says you humble yourself. Humility is something that has to come from inside each one of us. Let me give you a little picture here from the words of Jesus. I must come to an end now. Luke 14:7 and following.
“So he told a parable to those who were invited, when he saw how they chose the best places, saying to them, When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, Give place to this man; and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.”
We come to the lesson in the next verse in a moment. You see, there’s a decision. You walk into the banquet and all the tables are empty. Up at the top is the head table on a platform, so what do you do? Well, you’ve got to make a decision. Where am I going to sit? If you’re foolish you’ll march right up to the head table and sit there. After the banquet began to fill up and people are there, the master of ceremonies will come to you and say, “I’m sorry, but you can’t sit here, we’ve got this reserved for somebody more important.” You have to get up, come down from the platform and go and hide yourself in some remote table in a corner. Jesus said don’t do that. It’s stupid. He said when you come in, look around for the lowest table and sit there. Because, when you have to change your place then there’s only one way you can go and that is upward. See? Every one of us from time to time are confronted with situations. We can sit at the top table, we can sit at the lowest table. We make the decisions. Then Jesus summed it up by saying:
“For whoever exalts himself will be abased; and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So, what I said at the beginning is true. You, in a certain sense, determine how high you’ll go up. You determine it by how low you start. I don’t mean to say that we just make an arbitrary decision, but what I’m saying is God cannot raise you to the place he’d like you to be in unless you’re willing to start low down.
Now one other picture which is very vivid to me. That’s in John 1:29–34. These are the words with which John the Baptist introduced Jesus to Israel.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me: for he was before me. I did not know him: but that he should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he remained upon him. I did not know him: but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I’ve seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
It’s a very simple parable enacted. In that story we have two creatures, both of them familiar to us. The lamb and the dove. God said watch where the dove settles and remains because that’s the one I want you to bear testimony to. He said of Jesus, Behold the Lamb of God. The very simple principle is this. The dove who is the Holy Spirit looks for a certain nature upon which to rest. What nature is that? The nature of the lamb, that’s right. He didn’t look for a bull, he didn’t look for a lion, but he looked for a lamb. And that was the nature on which he was satisfied to rest and remain on him.
I want to suggest to you that if we want the Holy Spirit resting upon us we need to cultivate the nature that he looks for. What does the lamb speak of in Biblical terms? You could say much about that but I would say it speaks about purity, about meekness, and about a life laid down in sacrifice for others. I believe that’s what the Holy Spirit is looking for. Where he can find someone who’s cultivating the lamb nature he’ll be satisfied to remain on him. So, I believe there’s nothing we need more urgently at the moment than a fresh vision of the Lamb of God.
I would like to say to you as I close, Behold the Lamb of God. Take a good look at Jesus and ask God to conform you to that nature. And the Holy Spirit will be happy to be with you. God bless you.