Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride is a dangerous, deceitful sin that’s doing more damage in homes, hearts, and lives than we can imagine. And every one of us wrestles with the sin of pride.
More than any other sin, pride holds back revival—in our land, in our homes, and in our churches. More than any other sin, pride is destroying homes, ruining happiness and joy in the home. Pride is undermining the foundation of America, this great nation that we love. Pride is causing Christians—born again people—to live lives of defeat. Pride is filling up the place we call hell. It is a dangerous sin.
But not only dangerous, pride is deceitful. So many of us—Christians!—do not understand that we have pride or what pride is doing to us. There’s a benefit to being a thief, as bad as it is, for at least the thief knows he’s a thief. But the proud person says, “Well, if I had any sin, I’d confess it.” His very pride keeps him from admitting the problem.
Before we “take off” in this study, let’s do a pre-flight check…
_____ Do you get irritated when you get corrected for making mistakes?
_____ Do you like to accept praise for things over which you have no control, like beauty, talent, abilities, or place of your birth?
_____ Do you find it difficult to admit it when you make a mistake? Do you excuse it or justify it?
_____ When someone wrongs or harms you, do you just decide you can get along without that person?
_____ Do you find it difficult to seek the counsel of other people?
_____ Do you sometimes find in your heart an ungrateful spirit that often complains?
_____ Do you have a spirit of competition that measures success by victory over others?
_____ Are you discontent with what you have, and you want more—not necessarily more for yourself, but more than somebody else has?
A Sunday school teacher was giving a lesson about the proud Pharisee who prayed, “Father, I thank you that I’m not as other men are.” She did a good job, but when class was finished she said, “Now, boys and girls, aren’t we glad we’re not like that proud Pharisee?”
We can smile at that—but in our own lives, pride is so very deceptive. It can take many forms.
When we’re talking about pride, we need to understand what pride is not and what it is.
1. Turn to John 13:3-5. Fill in some key words:
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had __________ __________ God and was __________ ____ God, rose from supper and _______ __________ His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel…”
2. There was another—far greater—“laying aside.” Laying aside garments to wash feet pales compared to what the Lord Jesus “laid aside.” Paul describes it in Philippians 2:3-8. Turn there now and compare the passage above with this one. Fill in some key words. Do you see how the two passages are connected?
“ 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God [did not consider His equality with God something to cling to], 7 but _______ ____________ of no reputation, taking the form of a ________________, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He __________ _____________ and became _____________ to the point of _________, even the __________ of the cross.”
When we “Dig Deeper,” we see how these two passages are intertwined.
Think about where Jesus was positionally at the start of these two passages.
We could go on with the analogies—the symbolism of washing the disciples’ feet. You may want to pause here and write your own thoughts about what the Lord Jesus did for you—gave up for you—suffered for you—left behind in glory for you.
As you do, think about this:
3. A KEY POINT HERE (among many) for all of us: Who humbled Jesus? (See vv. 7-8) Did God the Father need to do it? _____________________________________________
Jesus was the epitome of humility. There He was, the Lord of Glory, washing the smelly feet of fishermen, knowing that He came from God and was going to God. Jesus was not a proud man. He said, “I am meek and lowly of heart.” Yet Jesus knew who He was. Thinking lowly of yourself is not humility. Thinking rightly of yourself is not pride.
Remember the poem Invictus, studied in high school? The poet wrote:
I am the captain of my fate.
I am the master of my soul.
We could respond, “Captain, your ship is going to sink, because pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
All these are indications of a disease in the human heart. The Bible calls it pride.
Turn back to the book of Proverbs.
Pride defies God.
Pride is arrogance against almighty God.
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A __________ look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
On radio there used to be a program called “The Hit Parade.” Here is God’s “Hate Parade,” seven things He hates. Look at what’s leading the parade. Pride. The Bible says God hates it.
4. Turn now to Proverbs 16:5:
Everyone _________ in heart is an _________________ to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
5. Turn to 1 Peter 5:5:
Because God hates the sin of pride, when there’s pride in our hearts, we make an adversary out of God!
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the__________, But gives grace to the humble.”
The Bible doesn’t say, “God merely fails to help the one who is proud.” God becomes the adversary of the one who is proud! Why? Because pride defies almighty God. Pride says, “God, I don’t need you. I can do it myself. I will be my own God.”
Pride was the gateway sin through which one-third of the angels fell and all of God’s glorious creation—including man! Creation and mankind fell under the curse of sin through…pride.
A CLOSER LOOK: HOW THE DEVIL BECAME DEVIL
It was pride that made the devil the devil. Satan’s heart was lifted up with pride. Pride made Lucifer, Son of the Morning, into Satan, father of the night. Lifted up with pride he said, “I will be like the Most High. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” He was defying almighty God.
Pride ruined the human race. When Satan came to Eve and said, “Eat of that fruit,” what do you think the temptation was? To taste a piece of fruit? The garden was filled with fruit. No, the temptation was, “You will be like God.” Satan said, “You can exalt yourself above God. You don’t have to bow to God. You can be independent of God.” As we said earlier, pride is an attitude of independence from God.
5. Turn to Isaiah 14:12 and see how Satan became the devil:
12 How you are ___________ from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are _____ ________ to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
16 “Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
17 Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’
6. What was Lucifer’s desire (v. 13-14)? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ When he says, “the mount of the congregation” he’s saying he wants to “be a big shot before everybody else.”
7. In verses 13-14, how many times does Lucifer used the word “I”? ________
8. What (v. 14) did Lucifer want above all? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
9. Where (v. 15) will Lucifer, the son of the morning, light bearer, the grandest, most glorious of all creation, be brought down to? ________________________________
What an incredible illustration of pride run amok to its ultimate conclusion. We should tremble to harbor it.
Verses 16-17 describe Satan’s final condition. People will squint their eyes and stroke their chin, considering his fate. When he is brought down to the lowest hell, when he receives his ignominious, final torment, then all the beings in the created universe will look at him and say, “You mean that’s him? That worm in the ashes? That one so low, that one so stripped, that one so shamed, that one in the lowest hell, you mean that’s the one that caused all of the problems, that’s the one that caused the nations to tremble, that worm is him, in the lowest hell?”
He’s not yet there. He will be there, when he is brought to that place.
10. Where is Satan right now? Some picture him in their minds as seated on a throne in Hell, directing his demons and their activities from there. Is he? Two passages will tell you where he is.
a. Turn to 1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
b. Turn to Job 1:6-7
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Where is Satan right now? _________________________________________________
Someone has wisely said that pride is a disease that makes everybody sick except the person who has it. Of course, in reality he is the sickest of all. What did Jesus, the wisest, most humble individual who ever lived, teach? That the way up is down, and the way down is up. “He that humbles himself, shall be exalted, and he that exalts himself will be abased.”
When you pick up the newspaper or hear the evening news, you can say, “All rebellion, all sin, all sorrow, all suffering—pride did this. Pride did this.” That’s why God hates the sin of pride.
We’ve gotten a good start digging deeper into this devious, deadly, foundational sin. There is more to understand so that we can be on guard against it.
With this foundation in mind of the origin of pride and its effects, ask God to make you aware of the sin of pride in your own life—where and how it manifests itself. Ask that you may be more sensitized to pride when it rises up so that you may recognize it and cut if off quickly before it gets a foothold.
Next time we will study how the sin of pride defiles men and women, divides society, dishonors life, and destroys souls—for eternity. An understanding of pride is foundational to growth in the Christian life. Don’t miss it!