Part 6: What’s so terrible about pride?

So many times when people are under influence of the enemy, there’s usually a major turning point. The neon light goes on and begins to flash the shiny word: pride.

They realize that pride has become the source of the problem, the base from which Satan has been able to launch his attacks. Even though the counseling sessions have not yet dealt directly with the enemy’s influence in the person’s life, the problem of pride becomes obious. That’s how important the issue of pride is.

THE ORIGINAL SIN

Some times we forget that pride was the original sin in God’s universe. Before Adam and Eve sinned in the graden of Eden, the angel Lucifer, who stood in the very presence of God, allowed his heart to swell with pride at his exalted position. His pride led him into foolish rebellion as he tried to seize hold of the very throne of God. Is it any wonder then that the one who became Satan would use pride as one of his most effective weapons? As we begin to see how ride opens us up to influence, we must look at pride’s origin – among the angels in heaven itself!

Pride originated in heaven. We can se that by looking at Ezekiel 28:11-19. Bible scolors debate whether this passage, and in Isaiah 14 as well, refer to Satan or to human rulers. But notice that Ezekiel changes his reference from “prince(28:2) to “king” (28:12), using both different Hebrew words and issuing different indictments (accusations) in the two verses. The prince of verses 2-10 is judged because he, though a mere man, tried to be like God. But the exalted language of verses 11-19 cannot be ascribed to a mere human. Verses 11-15 describe the beauty of Satan before his fall. As the prince of angels, he was covered with a robe of precious stones, and light came from him.

The revelation of Satan’s transgression is found in verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty.” The prophet Isaiah makes the picture even clearer when he declares “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, som of the morning” (14:12). Isaiah then recounts Satan’s five “I will” statements showing this dark angel’s prideful rebellion against God.

A SIN OF THE HEART

When counselling people about pride, it is good to ask the question “Who was Lucifer talking to when he said those things?” The inevitable answer is that he was talking to God.

But read it again. Satan made his pride statements not to God, not even out of loud necessity, but in his heart (verse 13). God judged Satan for the thoughts of his heart, because as a person thinks in his heart, “so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

The Bible says this repeatedly, by the way. If you want to do a fascinating Bible study, get a Bible concordance and look up every reference to what we say in our hearts. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

I am convicted that real and lasting change will never be made in people’s lives until they change the way they think- Remember, the strongholds the enemy builds in our lives are constructed on lies. These lies are repeated so often that we come to believe and act on them. That’s why part of spiritual warfare is tearing down these strongholds.

Satan wanted to be like God in control, but not in character. He wanted to rule. He wanted to run his own life. Satan’s rebellion was a creature-centered movement, just like New Age is today.

THE WORST SIN 

Do you see why pride is so repugnant to God?

Do you see why it’s the worst sin anyone can commit? It’s like waving a fist of rebellion in the face of the Ruler of the universe.

When you attempt to run your own life, when you say “God, You rule heaven, I’ll rule me,” you are most like Satan.

It is vital that we see the sin of pride for what it is and what it does. A quick run-through of Proverbs reveals God’s attitude and response to pride. If we begin at Proverbs 6:16-17, we find this devastating pronouncement: of the seven sins God hates most, pride is at the top.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil,” according to Proverbs 8:13. And in Proverbs 6:17 the very first evil listed is pride: the haughty eyes reflect both arrogance and pride. In fact, this verse can be translated to mean that God hates pride and arrogance as much as an evil lifestyle.

Why is that? What is so terrible about pride? It is setting you and me up as the final authorities in our lives, deciding for ourselves what’s right and wrong for us. That’s taking God’s place in our lives, and He hates it.

Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord“(Proverbs 16:5). Abomination is one of the hardest and strongest words in the Old Testament. An abomination is something detestable and repulsive. One of the most famous Proverbs on pride is in 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

DEALING WITH PRIDE

How does this happen? How can pride enter a person’s life and bring such destruction? And how do we deal with this sin? Thankfully, the dynamics of how this works are explained in the book of James, which is the Proverbs of the New Testament. I guarantee you that if you can get hold of the truth we’re about to consider, it can turn your life around.

For an example of humility, which is the opposite of pride, consider the author of the book of James. As the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, he could have touted his relationship in his letter to Christians. When you and I know somebody important, sometimes we’re tempted to say just that. By the way, did you know I had lunch with the king of Norway one day? I did. I ate lunch in Oslo one day and the king was somewhere in town eating lunch too, I’m sure.

But in the opening words of the book of James, the apostle wrote with humility. He did not start up “James, the half-brother of Jesus. You’d better listen to what I’m saying.” Instead, James identified himself simply as a servant of Christ. He realized his purpose was to serve, not to win praise or attention. So we know that when James gets ready to talk about pride and humility we need to listen, because he obviously possessed humility.

“More grace”

The antidote to pride is recognizing God’s grace. Knowing His gift to us, we realize that in ourselves we have little to offer. Instead, we respond in humility to His graciousness. Interestingly the apostle wrote that God gives “<em>more grace” (4:6). Isn’t that great? Which do you want, grace or “more grace“? The problem, is, if God is going to give more of it, what is grace? I find that many Christians don’t really know what it is.

Many of us accept that definition of grace as the “unmerited favour of God”. But His love and mercy are unmerited too. I think we need a definition of grace that takes us beyond that. We can’t find salvation without grace. We need grace for spiritual warfare. We need grace for spiritual victory. But what is grace?

If you are a follower of Christ, God is working in your life right now, according to Philippians 1:6. Remember, as Christians you and I are people in progress. God is actively working in two ways, according to Philippians 2:13. Heis working with us “both (1) to will and (2) to do of His good pleasure“. This means God is giving me both the desire and the power to please Him. That’s what grace is.

So when God promises to give us more grace (James 4:6), He is offering more desire and more power than what we need. Then do we need to fear the enemy and his assaults?

Not at all. As we’ll see later, when we’re in God’s will He builds a hedge of protection around us. The only way the enemy can get at us with his temptations is with God’s permission. And God gives us “more grace” to respond to those temptations victoriously.

The reason for defeat

If all this power is available for us to live victorious Christian lives, you may ask, “Why are there so many losers on the winning team? Why is the church full of so many defeated Christians? Why are so many youth groups plagued by the same sins that mark unbelieving young people?” Many rightly ask those questions, and they may even wonder, though they wouldn’t ask it out loud, Has God failed us?

What’s the problem? Pride. When we let pride come into our lives, God withholds spiritual power. And as we read in Proverbs, after pride comes a fall. The enemy brings in a destructive temptation which is too strong for us to handle, and without God’s power we fall.

Look at the second half of James 4:6. “Wherefore he saith ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble’.” This is the reverse of Romans 8:31, which says “If God be for us, who can be against us?

That’s a great verse, but think about what the opposite of it must mean. If God is resisting you, does it make any difference who is for you? When I see the word resist, I picture a big arm coming out of heaven, keeping me from fellowship. And sin does that.

When Satan succombed to pride, God shoved him out of heaven. When I allow pride in my life, God soves me away, as it were. He says “I’ll take My power off of your life.” What will happen then? I’ll fall.

That’s why as long as we allow pride in our lives, it’s all over spiritually for us. It’s just a matter of time until we fall. Pride precedes a fall. But God gives grace to the humble person, the one who says “Lord, without your empowering, I can’t do it. If you don’t give me your strength for today, I’m not going to make it. Lord, I need you.”

Submitting to God

A key part in dealing with pride is found in this divine order: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is not hard to understand this command with a promise. The key is in the first three letters of the word submit: “Sub” means to rank under.

We submit to God, and from the place of submission to Him we are ready to resist. Submission is the first thing we have to do to be successful in spiritual warfare. That usually means a battle with pride right off, because it’s not natural for human beings to relinquish control of their lives to anyone else. It can only be done supernaturally.

Resisting Satan

Notice that we are not read to resist Satan’s approach until we submit to God. People say all the time “Oh, I’ve tried to resist Satan, but it doesn’t work.” That’s just the problem. We cannot “work” it ourselves. We have to work it on God’s terms. If we’re prideful, guess what? The devil isn’t going anywhere.

We have to understand that we don’t have a better idea. We’ve got to get our lives under what God says. Then we’ll have the benefit of what He promises.

A good question to ask yourselves is, Am I willing to submit to God in every area of my life, to rank myself under His authority? If not, you’ll experience constant defeat in your attempts to resist Satan. It’s vital that you see this. It could turn the whole battle for you. We all need to make a list of ant area where we have trouble submitting to God, and then release these areas to Him.

Following God’s plan

I’m not suggesting that resisting Satan or submitting to God is always easy. I admit it – sometimes, it’s hard for me to say no to myself and my will and yes to God. Why is it so difficult? Because my ways are not God’s ways (see Isaiah 55:8).

Sometimes I say to myself, and sometimes to God, “I know your ways are not like mine. I wish they were.” You see, I know that God’s ways are different from my ways – and obviously a whole lot better and wiser. But t is still a struggle for me to get under God’s authority. Sometimes, God wants me to do things that I don’t think I want to do.

We should humble ourselves and thank God for the experiences He sends our way. Many times I have gotten together with other pastors, missionaries, or other co-workers and prayed “Lord, we don’t know what to do. We want to help this person, but we don’t know how to do it. Show us what to do.”

Who’s in charge?

So we come back again to the one great battle we all have to fight: who is going to be the final authority in my life? Am I going to hold on to the throne of my heart in stubborn pride, or am I going to let the Lord Jesus be Lord of my life?

You know, it’s amazing how closely authority and power are linked in Scripture. You’re either under God’s authority, living in submission to Him, or you’re resisting Him. If you are resisting God in any area of your life, you will not have the strength you need to resist the enemy.

MY WAY OR GOD’S WAY

If pride is such a lethal problem for us, maybe we should ask how we can get rid of it. I think you know the answer to that. We cannot. We can never simply rid ourselves of pride once and for all – we never will as long as we are in this body. Pride is allowing self to sit on the throne of my life instead of Christ. It’s building life around my will instead of God’s will. But we can deal with pride, as Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23. The answer is that you and I must deny self. Whenever someone says to me “I’m just trying to find myself,” my reply is, “When you find it, crucify it!”

Jesus said we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. I see the cross here in a very general way of God’s will and purpose for my life. It’s a decision we need to make every day of our lives. As the apostle Paul did, we must act in light of the truth that when we are crucified with Christ, it is Christ who lives in us and empowers us, and we live “by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20).

We should all write Luke 9:23 on a card and put it on our batroom mirror or somewhere we can see it every day and be reminded of the decision we have to make. It makes for a healthy, balanced life, one in which Christ is in control and we submit to His leadership. There is no room for Satan in such a life.

Jesus goes on to say in Luke 9:24, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it“. There are only two ways: your way, or God’s way. You’ve got to decide which it will be. I pray that you will learn to deal with pride and let go.

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