Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Danger of Pride

Jesus warned His disciples in Mark 7:18-23  So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Jesus said that what comes out of us is what defiles us.  Some of the sins He mentions are things that none of us (hopefully) are guilty of: adultery, murder, theft, blasphemy.

Unfortunately, I think Christians make the mistake of tuning out some of the other sins that Jesus lumps together along with these deeds that we consider “really bad”.  Even the very best of us are very capable of sins of the mind such as evil thoughts, covetousness, deceit, lewdness, foolishness and perhaps most of all: Pride.

Proverbs 16:4-6  The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.  Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.  In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.

Notice the attitude God has toward pride, He calls it an abomination, which is strong language reserved for few other sins.  Pride is something that we need to take seriously.

Pride is associated with arrogance, conceit, smugness, self-importance, egotism, vanity, immodesty, and a sense of superiority.

Proverbs 21:24  A proud and haughty man— “Scoffer” is his name;  He acts with arrogant pride.

Why is Pride Sinful in Nature?

The children of Israel, time and time again throughout the Old Testament, drifted away from God and pride was a great contributing factor.

Nehemiah 9:16  But they and our fathers acted proudly, Hardened their necks, And did not heed Your commandments.

Are we guilty of the same?  Do we, out of pride, ignore the commandments of God?  Do we purport to know better than God and spread falsities?

Pride Leads to Other Sins

Proverbs 13:9-11 By pride comes nothing but strife…

Psalm 10:1-3 Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?  Why do You hide in times of trouble? The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;  Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.  For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;  He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:4-5  Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.  “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home.  Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.

Pride Taints Righteousness

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Pride can lead to error and greed.

1 Timothy 6:3-5  If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,  he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Pride can lead to ignoring sin, which can defile a church.

1 Corinthians 5:1-3  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!  And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you...

Those that are young in the faith are not permitted to become elders because the position could lead to pride and grave consequences.

1 Timothy 3:6 …Lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 

As a preacher, one of my greatest fears is the temptation of pride.  One of my favorite things to do is to debate and I like being right.  I have to be careful in how I approach matters at times to keep these traits from getting out of hand…

However, Christians in general can fall into this trap easily.  Pride can lead to a critical and judgmental attitude which is detrimental to spreading the Gospel.  Our pride can further develop into self-righteousness.  We must not forgot from whom our blessings come from!

Pride Leads to Destruction

We know that sin is progressive in nature and that if we are not quick to repent and make corrections, we can find ourselves drowning in the consequences.  The ultimate consequence of pride is destruction.

Proverbs 16:17-19  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Pride Provokes God’s Wrath

We see time and time again throughout the Scriptures that God has no tolerance for arrogance.

Ezekiel 16:48-50  “As I live,” says the Lord God, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done.  Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Isaiah prophesized the fall of the proud country of Moab.

Isaiah 25:10-12  For on this mountain the hand of the Lord will rest, And Moab shall be trampled down under Him, As straw is trampled down for the refuse heap.  And He will spread out His hands in their midst As a swimmer reaches out to swim, And He will bring down their pride Together with the trickery of their hands.  The fortress of the high fort of your walls He will bring down, lay low, And bring to the ground, down to the dust.

Likewise, Obadiah prophesized that Edom would fall due to sinful pride.

Obadiah 1:1-4  The vision of Obadiah - Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the Lord, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”):  “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord.

It would appear that we basically have two options when it comes to pride:  To humble ourselves or God Himself will humble us by putting us in our place!

Humility:  The Cure for Pride

Proverbs 11:2  When pride comes, then comes shame;  But with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 29:23  A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor

The first part of this verse tells us what we already know:  Pride makes us sink into the depths of sin.  But the second part tells us that there is hope through humility.

As Christians we must remember that our salvation is not based on actions, but the grace of God through His Son.  Likewise, our talents and material blessings come from the Father.  Really, we have nothing to boast about when we look at it this way!

 1 Samuel 2:2-4  No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. “Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.  “The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength…”

King Ahaz was one of many kings of Judah who led the people in the worship of Baal.  However, his son Hezikiah led the kingdom away from idol worship which saved the kingdom from destruction for a time
2 Chronicles 32:26  Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. 

Likewise, whether it be as a nation, a church, or individuals, we must repent of any pridefulness we find ourselves guilty of.  Let us instead commit ourselves to pursuing a spirit of humility.

James 4:6-10  But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Let our prayer be:  Psalm 36:11  Let not the foot of pride come against me,  And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.

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