What is the deadliest of all sins? Is it murder? Adultery? Drunkenness? Promiscuity? Anger? Rage? Spousal abuse?
All are deadly. But would it surprise you to learn that rather than being the most dangerous sin, these are more the symptoms of it?
In this study, we’re going to “dig deeper” into this deceptive, deadly sin. It caused the brightest angel in God’s heaven to lose his station and be cast out. It cost Adam and Eve not only their relationship with God, which was changed forever, but the beautiful garden they lived in. And all creation fell with them, now subject to the curse of sin.
This sin causes men and women to reject God’s offer of forgiveness, His free gift of salvation, and an eternal home in His kingdom. The outgrowth of this sin incites greed. Greed and the quest for power ignite wars. This sin is a causal factor in a world careening out of control.
Its effects are so wide-ranging, we need to know what God says about it so we can be on alert.
1. Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 6:16-19.
These six things doth the Lord hate, yea, seven are an abomination unto Him. A proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
What is the first of the seven abominations listed in this passage?
The most dangerous sin is pride, as we will see in this study. Do you have any difficulty with the problem of pride?
If you answered yes, you need this study.
If you answered no, you probably need it more than those who answered yes!
Before we examine pride—and how it sometimes disguises itself—let’s clear up what the sin of pride is not.
FOUR THINGS THAT ARE NOT “PRIDE”
· A good self-image is not pride. Self-esteem is not pride. As a matter of fact, you should have these. We ought to understand who we are in Christ, and when we do, we see that God gives us a good self-image.
2. a. Turn to 1 Peter 2:9 and fill in some important words.
But ye are a ____________ _________________, a __________ priesthood, a ______ nation, a peculiar* people; that ye should _________ ___________ the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
*Better renderings of this verse make clear what is meant: not a weird, odd people, but “a people for God’s own possession, His special possession, people who belong to God alone.”
Looking at the key words, we see how special we are to God.
b. Turn to Revelation 1:6
And [Jesus] hath made us ________ and ___________ unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of God exalts us without inflating us and humbles without humiliating us.
· Receiving an honor is not pride. Athletes who medal in Olympic games aren’t expressing the pride the Bible condemns when they receive their medal with gratefulness for their achievement. The Bible specifically says we should honor certain people: our parents, spouses, children, our leaders, those in authority, our teachers. When we say, “I'm proud of you," "I'm giving your honor," we are encouragers. Giving someone a pat on the back is what most of us need (our children especially).
c. Turn to Proverbs 15:33.
The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom and before honor is ____________.
This verse tells us how to have honor; thus, we know it's not wrong to be honored. The Bible says, "Give honor to whom honor is due." But before honor is humility.
d. Turn to Romans 13: 7
Render therefore to all their dues: ___________ to whom ____________ is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; __________ to whom ___________.
· Taking pride in your work is not wrongful pride. Turn to Colossians 3:23
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
The Bible commends doing a job well, doing your work with pride. If you’re sweeping a floor, sweep the corners.
· Taking care of yourself and your appearance is not pride.
There’s nothing wrong with dressing nicely. You are not humble because you go around looking like an unmade bed. That's not humility; that's just sloppiness.
We should take “pride” (as the world calls it) in the way we work, dress, and how we do our job.
The Bible doesn’t condemn good, healthy self-respect, but encourages it.
Do you veer over into the unhealthy? Do you slide into pride? Take this little test:
1. _____ Does it irritate you when someone corrects you for a fault?
2. _____ Do you find yourself sometimes accepting praise for things over which you have no control? (natural abilities, gifts God has bestowed). Do you receive that praise for yourself, rather than acknowledge the God who gave it, passing that praise on to Him?
3. _____ When you make a mistake, do you conjure up an alibi? Do you try to justify/make excuses? Or do you confess and say, “I was wrong”?
4. _____ When someone wrongs you, do you say, "Well, I can get along without them. I don’t need them.”
5. _____ Do you find it difficult to seek counsel? To ask someone else for advice? You don't even like to drive into a service station and ask directions. “I just want to figure it out myself.”
6. _____ Is your life marked by a sense of competition? Do you measure success by victory over others? Pride is not only wanting more for yourself; it’s wanting more than someone else.
All these are indications of that spirit of PRIDE.
Every mother's child wrestles with pride. Pride is insipient in all of us. What a deceitful, deceptive sin. People who are the proudest are the last to admit it. Many think they don't need to learn anything about pride. They say with false humility, “If there’s anything I don't need, it’s a sermon on pride." They’re quite proud of their humility. It is a spirit God hates.
Why does God have such great antipathy, such hatred for pride? Because of what pride does. If there had been no pride, there would have been no devil. It was pride that made the devil the devil.
How did that happen?
Learning the History of Satan/Lucifer in the Old Testament
1. First, let’s read Ezekiel 28:11-19.
The devil was the most glorious being God ever created. The Bible says he was full of wisdom and beauty; he “sealed up the sum” (28:12).
God had never made anyone more exquisitely beautiful, more wise, more powerful than Lucifer, son of the morning. His very name means “light bearer.”
a. As you read Ezekiel chapter 28, at first (verses 1-10), who is the prophecy about? The ________ of ________.
As it begins, the prophecy concerns that specific ruler, full of pride, who later met his doom. But by verse 11, as most Bible scholars agree, the focus has changed. We realize Ezekiel can no longer be speaking of the King of Tyre.
b. There were only 4 persons present in the Garden of Eden—God, Adam, Eve, and Satan in the form of the serpent. In verse 13, what lets you know this cannot be the King of Tyre, and God is now speaking of someone else?
c. In verse 14, what about this being confirms that it’s someone other than the King of Tyre?
This description goes far beyond any mortal man.
d. Verse 15 says this being was
15 …___________ in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till ________________ was found in thee.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of the earthly kingdom of Tyre’s loss of wealth, power, prestige, and eventually total destruction was a mirror of the fall of Satan. The king and Lucifer were much alike. The “iniquity found in him” was pride. This is how the devil became the devil.
2. Turn now to Isaiah 14 and begin with verse 12. God asks a rhetorical question:
How art thou ___________ from ___________, O Lucifer?" [That is, what happened to you, Lucifer], son of the morning? How art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations?
a. God answers this rhetorical question in verse 13:
For thou hast said in thine heart, ___ ______ ___________ into heaven, I will ____________ my throne above the stars of God. I will ______ also upon the ___________ of the congregation in the sides of the north. I will ____________ above the heights of the clouds. I will ____ _______ the most High.
He had some list of ambitions, didn’t he? How many “I will’s” do you count in Lucifer’s declaration?
Lucifer declares, "I'm too beautiful, too wise, too cunning, too strong, too mighty to be anything less than God. I'm going to be like God. I'm going to be like the Most High." He exalted himself. Rather than give God the glory for creating him, Satan took credit for himself. He was seeking praise, admiration, adulation, honor, fame.
b. Continue to v. 15.
_____ thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
You may be all these things, a legend in your own mind, Lucifer, son of the morning, yet God has the final word. Satan had said, "I'm going to go as high as I can go." God says, "You are going as low as one can go." Pride brings shame. It was pride that made the devil the devil.
c. If you still have any doubt that Lucifer’s main problem was pride, turn to 1 Timothy 3:6, where the Bible confirms it. Paul is giving advice about the kind of persons the church should appoint as overseers.
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with ________ he fall into the condemnation of the _________.
Why do you think Paul advises, "Don't let him be a novice"?
How easy it would be for the same thing that happened to the devil to happen to the fledgling theolog or new Christian! Pride corrupted the most glorious creature God ever created.
A CLOSER LOOK: DISSECTING THE PRIDE THE BIBLE SO CONDEMNS
It is an attitude of independence from God. It says, "God, I don't need you. I can do it myself,” because we think we know a better way, which is indeed pride.As the poem says, "I am the captain of my fate; I am the master of my soul.” If you believe that, Captain, your ship is about to sink. Many people think they are self-sufficient, no need for God. That spirit of independence apart from God is what the Bible calls pride.It results in a sense of ingratitude toward God. The prideful person doesn’t acknowledge God has given him all he has. Do you have an ungrateful spirit, not accepting graciously what God has given you? Or perhaps grumbling for what God has not given you, as though He owes you something? The Bible calls these attitudes of independence and ungratefulness pride. Pride causes us to measure ourselves by one another and esteem ourselves better than someone else. Nothing does more to hold back revival, to ruin and damn our nation, break up homes, steal power from Christians, and populate hell than the damaging, destroying, deceitful sin of pride.It ruined the human race. In Genesis 3:5, what was the bait on the hook the devil used to seduce Eve? (She wouldn’t have taken the bait just for a piece of fruit.)Because of it, sin entered the world. All creation fell.For every rape, murder, event of pillage, every bit of dishonesty, cruelty, perversion, all suffering, sorrow, sin, you can say this: "Pride did that." No pride, no devil. No devil, no fall. No fall, no sin. All rooted in pride. This is why the Bible says, "These six things doth the Lord hate,” number one being pride, the basic sin that leads to all others sins.
FIVE THINGS PRIDE DOES
1. Pride provokes deity. Pride angers God.
Back to Proverbs 6:16—
These six things doth the Lord ________: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look…
Some people can strut sitting down. God hates a proud look. When there is pride in your heart, you provoke God to anger. Not only will God not help you, God literally becomes your adversary.
a. Turn for a moment toward the end of the New Testament, to 1 Peter 5:5.
How does God react to the proud?
God stands to bring the whole universe against the proud man. He has God for an adversary.
A Lesson from Biblical History
Who better than King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to demonstrate a man who had God as an adversary. Daniel chapter 4 is a riveting one. Take moment to read it. Chapter 3 was gripping enough when Daniel’s 3 friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were thrown into the “fiery furnace,” then miraculously spared. In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a disturbing dream, and Daniel is called in to interpret it. Daniel then warns him (it is a fascinating account) in Daniel 4:27—
“27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and __________ ________ thy sins by righteousness, and thine ______________ by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.”
b. What is Daniel advising the king to do?
c. King Nebuchadnezzar must have disregarded Daniel’s advice, for look at the next verse:
28 _____ _______ came upon King Nebuchadnezzar
…because exactly a year later (v. 29), King Nebuchadnezzar was strutting around his royal palace, saying…
30 …“Is not this great Babylon, that ___ have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of ___ power, and for the honor of ___ ______?”
d. Who does this sound like to you?
Nebuchadnezzar should have known better, for back at the time of the fiery furnace, he had said,
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”
Would that he had stayed focused right there!
What do you think could have happened to Nebuchadnezzar between his praise for the one true God in Daniel 3:28 to his peacock-proud proclamation of 4:30?
e. Instantly, there is a response from Heaven:
31 While the word [of verse 30] was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; ____ _______
___ ______________ _______ _______.”
The rest of the chapter is equally intense—read it if you have time—as God brings him to a place where, by the end of chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar is declaring:
37 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, __________ and __________ and __________ the King ___ _________, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in ___________ He is able to abase.”
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had to learn the hard way. It reminds me of the words of Jesus who said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. “Rich” can mean wealth, power, pride, or all three. We don’t want to learn the hard way. We need to humble ourselves on our ownbefore the mighty hand of God, so He does not have to do the humbling to us or for us.
2. Pride proves depravity. Here are three related verses
a. Turn to Proverbs 16:5
Every one that is _________in heart is an _________________ to the Lord.
b. Turn to Mark 7:21
21 For from_____________, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from _____________, and defile the man.
Pride in your heart is there because it was born in your heart. We are all born as children of Adam and Eve with a predisposition to sin. We are all born egotists (another word for pride). By nature, we are selfish, ego-centric. We all come into this world wanting to be our own little god, sitting upon the throne of our own little lives, worshiping at the shrine of our own ego. It’s not something we learn; it’s something we inherit. You don't have to teach a child to be selfish. You have to teach a child not to be selfish.
c. Turn to Proverbs 21:4
A high look, and a proud heart, and the _____________ of the wicked is sin.
That's an amazing verse. What do a (1) high look, (2) a proud heart and (3) the plowing of the wicked have to do with one another?
God is referencing a farmer who does not acknowledge God because he thinks he’s self-sufficient, independent from God. He’s not committing a crime—just plowing a field. So why does the Bible says “the plowing of the wicked is sin”? Because the farmer has a proud heart. He doesn’t acknowledge the soil, the rain, the sun come from God, and God causes that seed to grow. Because he refuses to recognize he’s utterly dependent on God, he contaminates everything he touches. Even when he plows his field, as a proud man, he sins.
d. Turn to I Samuel 16:7
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the ___________.
For many, their greatest need is to see their need! They don't realize that when God looks at them, He doesn’t evaluate as humans do. He’s the only one who can see into our hearts; only He can see our motives. Some think because they don’t curse, steal or commit murder, they’re all right with God. But they have a sin worse than that—pride in the heart.
3. Pride promotes dissention.
If we are not right with God through our pride, we cannot be right with one another. Pride is at the root of arguing and dissension, of every fuss.
a. Turn to Proverbs 13:10.
Only by ________ cometh ________________.
There has never been a war, an argument, or a squabble that somehow pride was not a major factor. In every church split, in every divorce, pride was the major factor.
You may say, "Well, no, my spouse and I had genuine problems that weren't caused by pride." I'm not saying you didn't have problems, I'm saying it was pride that kept you from solving those problems.
b. Turn to Matthew 12:25
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to __________________; and every city or house divided against itself _________ _____ _________”
The reason spouses have arguments is that we do not attack the problem; we attack one another. You've got two kingdoms under one roof, ego against ego. It doesn't mean you can’t have differences, but for those differences to be worked out, pride has to be dealt with. Don't attack the other person; attack the problem.
The devil had rather start a church fuss than sell a bottle of whiskey or open a porno shop any day. If church members stayed humble before the Lord, seeking God's face, willing to submit under His Lordship, you may have problems, but not contention.
4. Pride promotes dishonor.
The proud person wants the acclaim of others. But the one who wants it so much is the one who ultimately loses it.
a. Turn to Proverbs 11:2
When pride cometh, then cometh __________.
b. Turn to Proverbs 18:12.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is ________.
God just keeps saying it, doesn't He?
c. Turn to Proverbs 19:23, the same thing.
A man's pride shall bring him ___, but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Over and over the Bible tells us that pride promotes dishonor. Why do people live in such a prideful way is? They want honor. That's the very thing they don't get.
Have you ever been around a conceited person, someone who reeks with conceit? Someone has said,
“Conceit is a disease that makes everybody sick except the one who has it.”
But actually, he's the sickest of all. And this proud person, by his prideful ways, loses the very thing he wants. Most people in America are egomaniacs strutting their way into hell, thinking they are too good to be damned. You can strut now if you want. Pride will bring you low. It always has. It always will.
5. Pride precedes destruction.
a. Pride produces personal ruin.
The Lord will _____________ the house of the proud.
Pride goeth before ________________, and a haughty spirit before a _______.
Before _______________ the heart of man is _____________.
Repeatedly God tells us pride precedes destruction. It’s not just that you will be humiliated. Ultimately you will be destroyed. Why? Because God hates pride, resists the proud, and sets Himself in battle array against the proud.
b. Pride produces national ruin. Our nation will come to naught unless we repent. It’s the repentance of humiliation that God is looking for.
If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
c. Pride produces domestic ruin. Homes become battlegrounds because of pride.
d. Pride produces financial ruin. Many are in financial bondage because of pride, buying things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people they don't like.
e. Pride produces emotional ruin. It will make you a slave to the opinions of others. That form of slavery will never be satisfied. It will ruin you emotionally.
Worst of all,
f. Pride brings eternal ruin. The prideful soul will be destroyed in hell.
Turn to Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the publican.
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 “I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
A CLOSER LOOK AT TWO MEN
The self-righteous Pharisee’s religion was only a cosmetic, covering a hard, hateful, prideful heart. The publican, knowing he was a deep sinner, beat himself upon the chest.Notice that the Lord Jesus says the Pharisee “prayed thus with himself.” In other versions we get added insight, for in no case does the Lord Jesus say the Pharisee was reaching Heaven. The verse can be accurately stated: he prayed
It was all about himself as he uses prayer to pat himself on the back.
In contrast, the publican cries out in desperation, “God have mercy upon me [in the Greek] THE sinner.” In other words, the publican is saying, “I’m THEsinner! Among all sinners, I’m the worst.” Jesus said, "I tell you, two men went home from church that day. One went home dignified, the other went home justified.
The Opposite of Pride
The Way Down Is the Way Up
For our final verses in this study of pride, turn to one of the most moving passages in all Scripture, Philippians 2:5-11.
Jesus said both in Luke 14:11 and 18:14, “Whosoever will exalt himself will be abased, but whosoever will abase himself, the same will be exalted.” On one hand, Satan said, “I will ascend.” On the other, there was one whose name was Jesus who said, “I will descend.”
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[the way down]
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
[the way up]
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Lord Jesus, adored in Heaven as the Second Person of the Trinity, surrounded by the exaltation of which He was worthy, dwelling in dazzling light, receiving antiphonal praises of “Holy! Holy! Holy!” from the seraphim around the Throne, stepped out of glory and descended to a smelly stable. In His ensuing years He would be mocked, ridiculed, scorned, misquoted, disavowed, abandoned, spit upon, scourged and crucified.
He descended in 5 ways:
The Father’s response was to elevate Him 5 ways:
At the name of Jesus
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess Him
King of Glory now.
Tis the Father’s pleasure
We should call him “Lord,”
Who from the beginning
Was the Mighty Word.
In your hearts enthrone him;
There let him subdue
All that is not holy,
All that is not true:
Crown him as your captain
In temptation's hour;
Let his will enfold you
In its light and power.
Brothers, this same Jesus
Shall return again
With the Father’s blessing
O’er the Earth to reign.
For all wreaths of empire
Meet upon His brow
And our hearts confess Him
King of glory now.
It is pride, not unbelief, that keeps many from coming to the Gospel. Would you say to the Lord, “In my hand no price I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling. I lay my spiritual and intellectual pride in the dust and yield myself unto You."
You will decide which path you will choose: the way up or the way down. For more on this important choice, visit www.lwf.org/discoverjesus.
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