He cried out in anguish fearing he would drop dead any moment. As he stood in front of such beauty, such perfection and power, there was no pretense left in him. Whereas in the past he might have defended himself and argued for the goodness of his character, especially compared to those around him, now any such notions seemed foolish and misguided.
Isaiah saw God sitting on his throne with the angels flying above praising him. When God spoke, the very foundation began to tremble with violent shaking and smoked billowed into the room. Isaiah had nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide. He was an unclean man beholding God’s power and holiness.
The more we see and behold the glory of God, the less confidence we will have in ourselves and our righteousness. As we stand in awe of almighty God, our pride is smothered by his glory.
Humility doesn’t mean putting ourselves down so we don’t appear prideful. Instead, it’s a true understanding of who we are in light of the holiness of God. To try to appear humble is merely a show but true humility is a condition of our heart. While some may appear more humble than others, the truth is we all battle pride at some level. It’s a battle we’ll fight the rest of our lives.
So, how do we truly become more humble?
By beholding God on a regular basis. As we interact with him through his word, prayer, the gathering of the saints, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines, we will be overcome by his majesty and holiness. The more we truly see God, the more we can honesty evaluate ourselves. As we compare ourselves to his perfect righteousness, we will see how sinful and depraved we truly are.
Like Isaiah, as we encounter God all pretense gets destroyed and we are left saying, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips and I have seen the King!”
Then, instead of a seraphim touching our mouth with a coal like Isaiah, the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. We’ll remember the blood of Jesus that covers us and hear some of the most beautiful words from our Lord: “Behold, your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
As we reflect on the cross, it gives us hope but it also stirs humility in us. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated:
There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross… Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner…that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust… Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.
John Stott noted something similar:
Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
Let us gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and stand in awe of him. Be amazed by the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus to atone for our sin. As we do so, may our pride melt before the brightness of his glory. Feast on his holiness and beauty and let it drive you to true humility.
“Driven by Awe” is a series that examines the practical implications of believers who regularly feast upon the glory of God and continually stand amazed by him. To see more in the series, click here.