The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride
A believer cannot read through the Book of Proverbs and not notice two re-occurring topics that Solomon hits again, and again, and again. The first is the abuse of the tongue. Solomon refers to the uncontrolled tongue, the lying tongue, and the gossiping tongue. In our journey through the Proverbs I’ve preached several messages on controlling our speech and vocabulary. The other topic that Solomon hits again, and again, and again, is the issue of pride. There are five primary passages in the Proverbs that refer to this sin that God so thoroughly hates:
- "The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." (Proverbs 8:13, ESV)
- "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2, ESV)
- "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18, ESV)
- "One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor." (Proverbs 29:23, ESV)
- "Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride." (Proverbs 21:24, ESV)
As Baptists, we have developed over the last century our own hierarchy of sins that are to be especially avoided. The four greatest commandments in Baptist life have been, Thou shalt not drink, thou shalt not smoke, thou shalt not chew and thou shalt not date with those who do! If you are really spiritual, you can add the next two commandments to the list: Thou shalt not play cards – except Old Maid – and Thou shalt not go to movies. The problem in church life today, is that we tend to zero in on the sins of the flesh while ignoring the sins of the spirit. Now, if you drink, or if you smoke, or if you chew, or if persistently run around with those who do, I think you ought to stop it, and I think I have Biblical president on my side for saying that. But, and I’ve got to be honest with you this morning, I’d rather be in fellowship with a believer addicted to nicotine, but who has a humble spirit, than to be around a believer who is addicted to arrogant pride, but who abstains from tobacco products.
There are some sins that must especially be exorcized in the believer’s life – sins that the early church considered deadly in that they can kill the Christ-like life within us. Those deadly sins include: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Lust, and Gluttony.
In any listing of the Seven Deadly Sins, you’ll always see Pride listed first. The others will be listed in a variety of orders, but pride will always have the primacy. The late Scottish theologian, William Barclay, said, “Pride is the ground in which all the other sins grow, and the parent from which all other sins come.”
I. PRIDE IS THE GREAT SIN AND THE ROOT OF ALL OF MAN'S PROBLEMS
- ILLUS. C.S. Lewis, a British philosopher, wrote: “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
- it was through pride that the devil became the devil
- it was through pride that man fell from grace and lost paradise
- fundamentally, it is pride that keeps lost folks lost
- pride is a sin that we so easily detect in everyone around us, but to which we’re so easily blinded to in ourselves
- there are few other sins so thoroughly condemned in the Scriptures as is the sin of pride
- it's opposite virtue is humility and there are few in our society who seek to cultivate it in their lives
- now let me hasten to say what pride is not:
- pleasure in being praised is not arrogant pride
- the child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well or making a good play
- the wife or young woman whose beauty is praised by her husband or boyfriend
- the steadfast believer to whom Christ says, ‘well done thy good and faithful servant'
- find pleasure in that praise and take delight in it
- this is not pride
- ILLUS. If you remember one simple rule about receiving praise, you'll be fine. Praise is like chewing gum – enjoy it briefly, but don't swallow it!
- we often tell another ‘I'm proud of you' when they do something noteworthy
- a father may be proud of a son's athletic achievements
- a teacher and mentor is proud of a prize student's accomplishments as an adult
- a soldier may be proud of his regiment
- a student may be proud of his alma mater
- what we really mean when we say this is that we have a warm-hearted admiration for these people or things
- this is not pride
- what is the second greatest commandment?
- Jesus tells us it’s similar to the greatest commandment
- Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
- this is not pride unless it grows into what we call narcissism which is excessive love or immoderate admiration of oneself
- ILLUS. A poet once wrote: "Who comforts me in moments of despair? Who runs fingers lightly through my hair? Who cooks my meals and darns my hose? Squeezes nose drops in my nose? Who always has a word of praise? Sets out my rubbers on rainy days? Who scrubs my back when in a shower? And wakes me at the proper hour? Who helps keep me on the beam? And figures in my every dream? I do! That's who."
A. THE PRIDE WHICH SCRIPTURES SO THOROUGHLY CONDEMNS WE CALL ‘HUBRIS’
- hubris is – to use Solomon’s words – an arrogant pride that leads to presumption and haughtiness and a swagger in one’s walk and talk
- ILLUS. Hubris is what we saw in Kathy Griffen last week. Kathy Griffen is a well-known comedian who makes her living by bashing a degrading other famous people. She won an Emmy last Saturday for her reality show "My Life on the D-List". During her acceptance speech she said: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus... “ She then held up her Emmy, made an off-color remark about Christ, and proclaimed, “This award is my God now."
- this is hubris, a smug, vain, and overbearing ego that leads to a pompous and haughty attitude
- and more people are afflicted with it than are willing to admit
- we loath it when we see it in someone else but, thoroughly doubt that we are ever guilty of it ourselves
- lets be honest with ourselves this morning, what person here today doesn’t covet the front of the line, the back of the church, and the center of attention?
- Isaiah 14:12-14 "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! . . . You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
- pride always seeks to replace God's will with “I will”
- Gen. 3:1, 4 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals . . . He said to the woman . . . God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"
- he offered them the chance to be like God
- at the temptation, a haughty spirit welled up in their hearts, and they acted contrary to the command of God
- the result is that man's nature – your personality and my personality – became infected with sin, who’s chief vice called pride
- ILLUS. C.H. Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of the 19th century, said, “The demon of pride was born with us; and will not die one hour before us. It is so woven into the very warp and woof of our nature, that, till we are laid in our coffins, we shall never hear the last of it.”
- in Proverbs 16:18 we are told "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
- the word pride in that verses literally means swelling excellence
- the Scriptures tells us that pride ...
- ... leads to a contempt and rejection of God's word and God's ministers Jeremiah 43:2
- ... leads to a contentious spirit Proverbs 13:10
- ... leads to self-deception Jeremiah 13:15
- ... leads to a boastful attitude about one's sin, a persecuting spirit toward the weak, and a contempt for God and the things of God Psalm 10:2-4
B. PRIDE IS DECEPTIVE AND THE INSTIGATOR OF MOST OF THE REST OF OUR SIN
- C.S. Lewis called pride a spiritual cancer which eats up love and contentment and even common sense
- how many marriages have failed because one or both parties were too proud to say, “I'm sorry?”
- how many churches have split because someone would not swallow their pride and admit they were wrong?
- how many souls will wind up in hell because they were too proud to admit that they were sinners who needed a Savior?
- the great problem with pride is that it's so deceptive
- ILLUS. When I was a freshman in college, I was a brand new Christian. I was learning and growing and felt a little intimidated by the other believers around me who seemed to know so much more than I did about the Bible. Ignorance often leads to a humble spirit or at least the perception of it. One day a Christian friend took me aside and said, "David, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you. You're one of the most humble people I know." Man did that make me proud! I walked around for a week being ever so proud of my humility.
- destroying Pride in the heart is one of the hardest battles that we all fight
- ILLUS. I like what Benjamin Franklin had to say concerning his own pride when he wrote his autobiography… "There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.
- even when we are trying to be self-effacing, pride lies just beneath the surface
- ILLUS. One of my favorite Peanuts cartoons is the one that shows Linus and Charlie Brown talking together and Linus says: "When I get big I'm going to be a humble little country doctor. I'll live in the city, see, and every morning I'll get up, climb into my sports car and zoom into the country! Then I'll start healing people ... I'll heal everybody for miles around. I'll be a world famous humble little country doctor."
- it's easy to yield to the seduction of self-aggrandizement and then try to mask it with the foot-shuffling, down-ward-glance-‘ah shucks’ response while at the same time our hearts are welling-up with pride
- it's easy to assume that we are indispensable to our employer, or our company, or some volunteer group we belong to
- ILLUS. TV newsman Tom Brokaw tells about an experience that taught him about true humility. He was wandering through Bloomingdale's in New York one day, shortly after he was promoted to co-host on the Today show. That show was a pinnacle of sorts for Brokaw after years of work, first in Omaha, then for NBC in Los Angeles and Washington, and he was feeling good about himself – even a little bit cocky. As he was shopping, he noticed a man watching him closely. The man kept staring at him and finally, when the man approached him, Brokaw was sure he was about to reap the first fruits of being a New York television celebrity. The man pointed his finger and said, "Tom Brokaw, right?" "Right," said Brokaw. "You used to do the morning news on KMTV in Omaha, right?" "That's right," said Brokaw, getting set for the accolades to follow. "I knew it the minute I spotted you," the fellow said. Then he paused and added, "Whatever happened to you?"
II. A PROUD MAN CANNOT KNOW GOD
- Jesus was very clear about this
- he told his disciples and the crowds that only the ‘poor of spirit' will make up the kingdom of God
- pride, on the other had, makes us arrogant and in that arrogance the lost person seeks independence from God
- pride says "I am the master of my own fate."
- pride says "I can run my own life."
- pride says "I can call my own shots."
- pride says "I can go it alone."
- but living independent of God is self-delusion
- you cannot got it alone
- you do need help from other people
- you cannot always rely on yourself
- you can call you own shots, but sooner or later you’ll most likely shoot yourself in the foot
- God warned the people of Israel of this very pitfall
- Deuteronomy 8:11-14 "Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God . . ."
- there’s nothing like a little prosperity to make a person proud
A. PRIDE CONVINCES US THAT WE DESERVE ALL THAT WE HAVE AND EVEN HEAVEN ITSELF – GOD WOULD NOT DARE KEEP US OUT
- let me read my secondary text to you again "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts." Luke 1:50-51
- the lost man is dependent on God for every breath they take and indebted to God for everything they have
- if this is so than living independent of God is self-delusion
- when you seek to live a life independent of God you are actually pretending to be God
- hubris is the pride of not letting God be God and is the sin that will send all lost people into eternity without God
- ILLUS. Augustine wrote in his work, The City of God that everyone in the world belongs to one of two cities: the City of God, which consists of “all who love God to the despising of self,” or the City of the World, populated by those who “love self to the despising of God.”
- there are two kinds of people who will stand before the Lord in the end
- those who say to God, Thy will be done
- and those to whom God will say, Thy will be done
- pride says to God My will be done
- pride is not just an unattractive character flaw practiced only by the Ted Turners and Bill Gates of our society
- pride is heinous sin that is at the heart of the spiritual cancer that affects mankind
- ILLUS. When Muhammad Ali was in his prime he was a proud and haughty man. One time, as he was about to take off on an airplane flight, the stewardess reminded him to fasten his seat belt. He came back brashly, "Superman don't need no seat belt." The stewardess quickly came back, "Superman don't need no airplane, either." Ali fastened his belt.
- the proud man says, “I don’t need God.”
- but you do!
III. HOW DO WE AVOID THE TRAP OF PRIDE?
- "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, ESV)
A. CONFESS AND REPENT
- this ought to be the most obvious lesson from the parable
- the publican got it right, and so can anyone else who is willing
B. DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
- obviously the Pharisee did
- according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:3, we are not to think too highly of ourselves
C. COMPARE YOURSELF UPWARDS, AND NOT DOWNWARDS
- the Pharisee compared himself by looking downwards and considering the publican to be lower
- again, the Apostle Paul says we are to "consider others better than ourselves" (Phil. 2:3)
- ILLUS. Some years ago, I had a church member tell me, "You preach as good as Rev. Charles Stanley." I considered it an extremely nice compliment, but I was quickly reminded of the words of Adlai Stevenson that "flattery is all right—as long as you don't inhale."
D. REMEMBER THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
- in the Gospels we’re told that Jesus "took the form of a servant," even washing the disciples' feet
- and servants are not above their Master
E. ASK FOR CLEANSING, BOTH FOR AREAS YOU KNOW ABOUT AND FOR THAT GREAT UNKNOWN AREA THAT WE ALL HAVE
- this is especially true when it comes to pride
- King David wrote, "Cleanse me from my secret faults" (Psa. 19:12)
- remember that spiritual pride is one of the most unseen dangers of our Christian walk
- like an iceberg, the most dangerous part of it lies beneath the surface
- we do not have it within ourselves to be able to cure ourselves, even if we could see the entire problem
- the remedy must lie with our trust in the God who "looks at the heart"
- your prayer needs to be: “Lord make me humble, and when I am humble, don’t let me know it!”
Have you dealt a death-blow to pride by repenting of your sin and receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?
As a believer, are you cultivating humility in your life or has your pride led you to believe that you are indispensable to your company, or your family, or your church?
When a company takes over another company, there is often a sign placed outside the premises announcing, Under New Management.
No sign so accurately summarizes what takes place in Christian conversion. When Christ takes over a life, that life is literally under new management. Is God managing your pride?