The Perils of Pride
- Friday, April 20, 2007
Yet as I turned the key again, the same violent shriek issued forth.
Only at this point did I finally go back in the house to do what I should have done earlier: I telephoned the repair shop to notify them of my car’s condition — fully ready to pass along to them my firm conviction that the problem was not the window-washer fluid container.
Doesn’t pride have a strange way of ignoring reason altogether? The sad fact is that none of us are immune to the logic-defying, blinding effects of pride. Though it shows up in different forms and to differing degrees, it infects us all. The real issue here is not if pride exists in your heart; it’s where pride exists and how pride is being expressed in your life. Scripture shows us that pride is strongly and dangerously rooted in all our lives, far more than most of us care to admit or even think about.
In his essay, “Pride, Humility & God,” John Stott wrote the following: “At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.”
In the previous column, we saw the promise of humility — the gracious support of God. But we must also be aware of the great perils of pride — not just occasionally or under certain circumstances, but at every stage and in every sphere. Throughout our time on this earth, and in every arena of our lives, you and I share a common greatest enemy: pride.
The First Sin
Pride has quite the history, one that precedes Adam and Eve.
Pride, it seems, was the very first sin. Isaiah 14 records the downfall of a king, but not a mere earthly ruler. This king is the embodiment of God-defying arrogance, but the language used here apparently references the rebellion and fall of Satan himself.
In Isaiah 14:13, the motivation behind Satan’s rebellion is exposed: “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high.’” Led by the prideful Lucifer, powerful angelic creatures possessing beauty and glory far beyond our comprehension arrogantly desired recognition and status equal to God Himself. In response, God swiftly and severely judged them.
Pride not only appears to be the earliest sin, but it is at the core of all sin. “Pride,” John Stott writes again, “is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.”
Indeed, from God’s perspective, pride seems to be the most serious sin. From my study, I’m convinced there’s nothing God hates more than this. God righteously hates all sin, of course, but biblical evidence abounds for the conclusion that there’s no sin more offensive to Him than pride.
When His Word reveals those things “that the LORD hates” and “that are an abomination to him,” it’s the proud man’s “haughty eyes” that head up the list (Proverbs 6:16–17).
When the personified wisdom of God speaks out, these clear words are emphasized: “I hate pride and arrogance” (Proverbs 8:13, NIV).
And consider the divine perspective on pride revealed in Proverbs 16:5: “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”
Stronger language for sin simply cannot be found in Scripture.
Contending with God
Why does God hate pride so passionately?
Here’s why: Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.
Charles Bridges once noted how pride lifts up one’s heart against God and “contends for supremacy” with Him. That’s a keenly insightful and biblical definition of pride’s essence: contending for supremacy with God, and lifting up our hearts against Him.
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