The Sin Underneath All Others
Read Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Think back to the last time you fell into sin. What thoughts or motivations were underneath that sinful behavior?
The first sin we read about in Scripture occurs in Genesis chapter 3. Satan, disguised as a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God. His strategy? Get them to doubt God as the only worthy authority in their lives and believe instead that they could be their own authority. In Genesis 3:4-5, the serpent said to Eve, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan’s implication was that they couldn’t trust God because He was holding out on them. But if they ate the fruit, they could know good and evil for themselves and be their own gods. They could rule their own life. Genesis 3:6 says that once Eve saw that “the tree was to be desired to make one wise” she ate and gave some to Adam too. The underpinning of that first fateful human sin was pride.
But the problem of pride goes back even further—it goes back to Satan himself. Many scholars interpret the prophet Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 14:12-14 as more than just a prophecy about the coming downfall of the arrogant king of Babylon. They believe it is also a reference to Satan’s fall from heaven: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”
Ezekiel’s judgment against the ruler of Tyre used similar language. Many commentators interpret Ezekiel 28:11-19 as also describing Satan’s fall. “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground…” (Ezekiel 28:16-17).
The gist of it is that Satan’s sin was pride. He wasn’t content to serve God. He wanted to be God. He didn’t want to do God’s will, he wanted to execute his own will. He said in his heart that he could make himself like the Most High. It’s as if he forgot that everything he had—his beauty, his power, his position, even his own existence—was a gift from God. And that pride went before his fall. The worst fall of all. God cast him out of heaven.
The truth is, in our sinful, fallen natures, we are more prideful than we care to admit. Satan was able to convince Adam and Eve to give into pride and now all of mankind is susceptible to the same. In fact, pride is usually the underlying motivation for all other sins.
Have you ever disobeyed God because you thought your way was better? Pride. Ever worship an idol that you created rather than the God who created you? Pride. Ever covet what others have thinking you deserve to have that, too? Pride. Ever think about or actually commit adultery because you deserve to be happy and have all your desires met? Pride. Ever lie about your guilt or involvement in a situation to preserve your reputation and image? Pride. Ever think you don’t really need God because you’ve built a comfortable life for yourself? Pride.
I could go on and on. But the point should be clear—the Bible describes pride as a sin (Proverbs 8:13). Furthermore, we see that God executes judgment on prideful attitudes and behavior time and time again in the Bible. People who exalt themselves can count on being humbled by God (Proverbs 16:5).
But as for believers in Christ, we are called to be humble so that He will lift us up (James 4:6,10). We are called to put on and clothe ourselves with humility (Colossians 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:5). We are told to consider others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). But most of all, we are supposed to rightly understand who we are in light of who God is. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Friends, He alone is God. Everything we have is from Him. Yes, even our existence. If not for His grace, we would still stand condemned. We have no cause to be prideful and every reason to humble ourselves before Him.
Lord, please forgive me for my prideful attitude. When I sin, it is because I give into the lie that I know better than You and that I can be my own god. But in my heart, I know that is just foolish pride. You are God and I am just the work of Your hands. I humble myself before You today because I know that pride goes before a fall. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford