“Be humbled under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).
This is generally translated as “humble yourselves” but that is a translation error; the verb “humbled” is an imperative verb, meaning that it is a divine command, not an option, and it is in the aorist passive; that is, it is something that is done to me rather than something that I do. How can you humble yourself? It isn’t possible. We must be made humble. The Spirit of God will make us humble by showing us what we really are in the eyes of God. After all, as the Psalmist said “what is man”? (Psalm 8:4 & Hebrews 2:6).
A misunderstanding of this, and related verses, has led many to great frustration, for the truth is we cannot make ourselves humble; the most we can do is to seek, and allow, our humbling by God. The self-nature can never be humbled; it must be crucified; death to self is the only way that I can be humbled under the mighty hand of God. As long as he lives, the self will resist being dealt with by God, as he must be dealt with if I am to be saved.
We can allow ourselves to be humbled by having a right understanding of the utter futility of anything that man can do. The principle is that if we can do it, it is not worth doing; all must be the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit in a soul that is utterly yielded up to His rule and Lordship in every detail. The mistake we make is that we think that we can do what only God can do. We must embrace humiliation by God by seeing ourselves as we are.
Pride is the very essence of the self-nature; it is the very worst thing. Satan’s fall began in pride and was concluded in covetousness. Unless the self-nature is vanquished by the Spirit of God we are doomed to join Satan in eternal damnation.
Jesus showed us the way to overcome the self-nature and He told us how we might also do it;
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
The word “deny” is a translation of the Greek aparneomai and means to reject, disown or repudiate; it is used to deny a relationship with a person and is the word used to describe Peter’s denial of his relationship with Christ in Matthew 26:34. In the sense that we are speaking of it here, it is to deny, reject and repudiate the self-nature.
Taking up your cross is not what we think it is; the cross of Christ was that He rejected the self-nature every hour of every day, doing always those things that were pleasing to the Father (John 8:29). That was His burden in this life and it is ours.