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A Gospel Enigma: Humble yourself like a child, deny yourself, worship in Spirit… Are they closely related?

In Matthew 18:4 Jesus said to become the greatest, humble yourself like a little child. In Matthew 16:24 he said “deny yourself,” and in John 4:24 he said to worship in Spirit.

Now, when people do spiritual practices of various kinds (like meditation and so on) this is exactly what they are doing… they are leaving behind their material life to be “in Spirit.” They are humbling themselves by letting go of the material ego, and they are letting go of their material life by denying those superficial things.

So in fact… aren’t these 3 verses related to one another by describing some kind of spiritual practice?

And of course Jesus described repentance as “sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” If you have ever seen anyone like that, it’s a picture of someone who has denied the material life to live the spiritual life in meditation. So aren’t these references to a spiritual practice?

Source and complete context for this question.. http://gospelenigma.com Chaper 16 in particular

3 Comments

  • These 3 verses vary somewhat in meaning but do not refer
    to any spiritual practice because there is no ritual connected
    to them.
    The second and third verses you quoted are concerned with
    the state of one’s spiritual heart in relation to wealth and vanity;
    these are closely related to Matthew 13 verse 22.
    The first verse you quoted is concerned with one’s spiritual
    heart in relation to humble sincerity; this is required for conversion.and directly related to Matthew 13 verse 15.

  • No, they are references to the work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ Who enables spiritual life and through Whom humility, denial of self and worship is made possible.

    It is the Spirit of God Who gives understanding, the mere carnel or natural mind is unable to properly comprehend.

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    None can even see the kingdom of God until they are given new life by the Spirit of God.

    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    Even on a human level it can be understood that humility is one of the greatest blessings since it empties of selfishness and self centredness – denies self – and enables thing to be seen in their true light without the overwhelming influence of the self interest and pride.

    Life lived according to self is sinful and separate from God, so denial of the carnal or natural self, enables the Spirit of God to manifest a spiritual life.

    It is a spiritual work that can only be accomplished by the work of God and it can therefore be readily understood that it is He only that must be sought for deliverence from sin.

    Christ died to enable that.

    I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    … without me ye can do nothing.

    (Ye) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
    And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

    And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
    He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

    It is not whether you think you are a Christian or that you think you are spiritual but whether there is the work of God in your life or whether you actually have the Spirit of Christ.

    Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
    Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

  • Matthew 18:4 in context does not appear to be referring to a “meditation practice”, but a lifestyle. Have never heard of a ritual or technique in which you set around acting like little children.

    Mat 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
    Mat 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
    Mat 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Mat 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    Same appears to be true of Matthew 16:24, when the whole sentence is read. Again it indicates a lifestyle, not a ritual or practice.
    Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

    Same with the reference in John 4, when read in context, it indicates a lifestyle, not a meditation practice:
    Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
    Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    That is one of the main keys of the Christian faith. It is not a series of rituals, practices, excerises and meditations. But rather a daily walking out of a living relationship with God.

    The three things you mentioned are related in that they all refer to ways in which to walk out that lifestyle. But they are not references to a “spiritual practice”.

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