You are a filthy pauper!
(Arthur Pink, "Identification of the Godly")
"For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place—but also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit." Isaiah 57:15
A humble spirit or heart, is an infallible sign of regeneration; for the unregenerate are proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous.
Yet the very mention of the word "humility" seems to cut off many Christians. As they examine themselves, they discover so much pride at work within, that they are quite unable to persuade themselves that they have a humble heart. It seems to them—that humility is one thing they most evidently lack. Now it will no doubt be a startling statement—but we unhesitatingly affirm that the great majority of God's people are far more humble than they suppose!
FIRST, that the Christian reader possesses a humble heart, is plain from the fact that he confesses himself to be a Hell-deserving sinner. We do not have in mind what you say of yourself when in the company of your fellows—but rather what you feel and say of yourself when alone with God. Whatever pretenses you are guilty of before men—when in the presence of the Omniscient One—you are real, sincere, and genuine.
Now, dear reader, be honest with yourself: When on your knees before the Throne of Grace, do you freely and frankly acknowledge that if you received your lawful due, you would—even now—be suffering the dreadful fires of Hell? If so, a miracle of grace must have been wrought within you. No unregenerate person will or can honestly make such a confession to God—for he does not feel he has done anything deserving of eternal punishment.
SECOND, if you own that "all your righteous acts are like filthy rags," that is proof you possess a humble heart. Of course, we mean much more than your merely uttering those words as a parrot might, or even singing them during some religious service. We mean that when you are in the presence of the Lord—which is always the surest test—you personally realize that you have not a single meritorious deed of your own to commend you to His favorable regard.
We mean that, when bowed in His presence, in the calmness and quietness of your prayer-closet, you own without any qualification, that your best performances are defiled by sin—and that in yourself, you are a filthy pauper!
If that is indeed your language before God—it most certainly issues from a humble heart. The heart of the natural man thinks and feels the very opposite, and can no more loathe himself—than transform himself into a holy angel.
THIRD, if you receive everything in the Scriptures as a little child—that is another proof that a miracle of grace has been wrought within you and that you now possess a humble heart. By nature, all are "wise and prudent" in their own esteem.
The enmity of the proud carnal mind rises up against the sovereignty of God—making one vessel to honor and another to dishonor; against the spirituality and strictness of the Divine Law—which curses all who deviate the slightest from its holy demands; and against the endless punishment of all dying out of Christ. But the regenerate, though there is much they do not understand, accept without murmur or question—all that is revealed in the Word. If you do, that is proof that your pride has been abased before God.
How thankful we should be that Scripture does not say that God dwells only in those who have complete victory over sin, or those who enjoy unbroken and unclouded communion with Him. Had those been the distinguishing features named—then every one of us might well despair!
But every regenerate person has a humble heart. And if you, my reader, measuring yourself by what has been pointed out above, can discern such fruits and evidences of humility—then so far from its being presumptuous for you to look upon yourself as one saved and indwelt by God—it would be most wicked presumption for you to do otherwise.