Exaltation and Abasement

Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Some principles in God's Word apply specifically to a particular time period or administration in The Word. When God states a principle in His Word it is true and remains true and in effect until God changes it. Some principles are timeless and can be found stated and applied throughout God's Word. These can be thought of more as laws than principles. Like the Law of Gravity, they are part of the order and organization of things that God set up in the beginning and they are needed to make all things work according to the Will of God. Believing and Giving and Receiving are such principles.

Exaltation and Abasement as stated above in Matthew 23:12 is a principle found throughout God's Word.

Lucifer - exalted himself and was abased (brought low)

God created Lucifer as an angel of light; perfect and beautiful. Lucifer chose to exalt himself above God and therefore was brought low and will continue to be abased because he exalted himself rather than God.

In the old testament this principle is stated in:

The gospels

In the time of the gospels a great example of an individual who knew, understood, and applied this principle can be seen in the response of Mary when told that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah.

Mary exalted God and not herself. She viewed herself as a servant of God and recognized the greatness of the Word and power of God. She also stated the principle that those who are proud in the imagination of their own hearts are brought down and those who are low or humble and put God first are exalted.

Three times in the gospels Jesus Christ teaches this principle.

The scribes and Pharisees wanted to be recognized by men. They would sit in the most important rooms and in seats "up on stage". They took pleasure in being recognized for their VIP positions as clergy and loved to be greeted in the market place and to be called by a title that exalted them in the eyes of the people. Jesus Christ stated that being a servant to men is what makes one great, not a title or self recognition. The believer who exalts God in his life and serves with humility is the believer that God will exalt.

A parable is a figure of speech (an extended simile) in which one thing is likened to another. A parable focuses on the likeness of one major point, not all the details of the story. The principle of exaltation and abasement is the point of this parable. Humilty will result in exaltation and self exaltation will result in abasement.

Jesus Christ taught this parable to people who trusted themselves rather than God and despised others. Again the one point of this parable is that he that exalts himself shall be abased and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. The details of the prayer of the publican have been pulled from this context and promoted by some as what to say when you pray. However, the point is not what you say but that you exalt God and not yourself: that in humility you serve one another and that you do not exalt yourself over others.

The example of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ always subjected his own will to God's will. He always exalted God and was obedient to the Word of God even when it meant that he had to die on the cross. His humility to the Word resulted in God exalting him. He is seated at God's right hand and has become our Lord and Saviour.

We also must apply the principle of exaltation and abasement.

When we in humility submit ourselves to God's grace we resist the devil. When we exalt ourselves as did the devil in the beginning we will be brought down. The principle has not changed. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.

Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Psalm 118:28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25

January 1997
URL http://www.cortright.org/humble.htm
Michael Cortright