Jeremiah 9:23, 24
Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory* in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory* in his might, let not the rich man glory* in his riches:
But let him that glorieth* glory* in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
These two verses contain a daunting challenge to all that the world reveres. These truths mock all that human civilizations have glorified throughout history. They spit in the face of that which, for most people, is the most powerful of motivations. For in all that God does, His hand alone is sufficient. He does not require man’s assistance. Therefore, there is nothing left for man to do but to gratefully and humbly receive.
I find it interesting that the very people who deride believers for declaring that, due to Adam’s sin, mankind stands guilty in the eyes of God are eager to accept, and even preach, that we all stand guilty in the eyes of “Mother Nature.” How can they reject one type of guilt and readily adopt another? The answer should be obvious ─ my debt to the planet can be ameliorated by the work of my hands: by changing my habits, by political involvement, by countless other works which all agree will make me “clean.”
My debt to God, however, is beyond my ability to pay. This is why God, in His love, gave His son Jesus Christ. By his sinlessness, his constant obedience, his sufferings, and his death, Jesus Christ paid that debt for me. This is the great stumbling block to so many and the one thing that separates Christianity from all religion.
The religions of the world, for all their variations, have one significant commonality ─ they each offer a way by which men and women, through their own efforts, can make themselves acceptable to their creator. Not so when it comes to Christianity. Even the Old Testament law, given by God, was not sufficient.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
What part do I play in this? What work do I perform? Simply believing, which is not a work at all, but simply an acceptance of what has already been done for me. That leaves me nothing to boast about, and I dearly want to boast! But of all the rights and privileges available to the Christian, all the riches which are now available in Christ, I’m left with nothing of my own to brag about.
As we continue reading with verse 27, “Where is boasting* then? It is excluded.” In this wonderful plan of redemption, all of the glory belongs to God.
I Corinthians 1:29–31
That no flesh should glory* in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth,* let him glory* in the Lord.
When it comes to salvation, our position is stated simply and definitively in the second chapter of Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:8, 9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.*
As Christians, we are surrounded by people who are intent on “blowing their own horns,” some loudly, some softly, some subtly, but all with the final intent of saying, “Look at me.” Certainly, some of the horn-blowers may have accomplished things, but of what value are those things when weighed on an eternal scale? And eternity is the standard by which we now live. To their consternation, we “blow our horns” for Christ; we give glory to God.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice* in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
II Corinthians 4:5–7
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesusʼ sake.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Christian, if the above verses seem challenging or foreign to you, do not despair. You simply do not yet appreciate the fullness of God’s provision, or of our unworthiness to receive it. But this appreciation will grow as you continue faithfully in your walk with Him. And you’ll see that, even in the most victorious of Christian lives, boasting is still excluded!
I Corinthians 4:7 (New International Version, 1984 Edition)
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast* as though you did not?
God’s Word does speak of a “boasting” of a sort which the faithful Christian will experience at Christ’s return, when our works for him are recognized. (See, for example, Philippians 2:15, 16; I Thessalonians 2:19, 20.) But at that time, we will also recognize, more fully than we do at present, that any good work of mine is only due to the fact that God has allowed me to participate in His work, has equipped me for it, and has directed me in it. The true glory is His.
Still looking for something to brag about? Let’s examine the facts. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. No man or woman can, by their own efforts, ever hope to mend the breach between God and man which was caused by Adam’s sin. Thus, salvation can only be due to God’s grace.
As saved ones, we recognize that all we have, all we are, and all we will ever be are due to His grace. Even the Christian service we perform is totally reliant upon Him.
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. And this frees us to joyfully declare with all saints, “But God forbid that I should glory,* save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
* NOTE: The word used in the Septuagint Greek translation of Jeremiah 9:23, 24, and the other words marked with an asterisk (*) in the above New Testament verses, are all forms of the Greek word kauchaomai, meaning “to boast.”