Pride is a problem even for Christians. Knowing that God resists the proud, how can we remain humble and as a child before God in a world that thrives on self-esteem and pride?
Pride, the Reason for Satan’s Fall
How did Satan fall? It was pride and his fall indirectly caused the fall of man. The first sin ever committed was that of pride and it was committed by Satan. In Isaiah 14:12-14 we see why Satan fell;
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Notice that Satan said in his heart “I will ascend to heaven, above the stars (angels) of God. I will set MY throne on high (where God sits presently); I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the far reaches of the north (where heaven is said to be, Psalm 48:1-2)…I will make myself like the Most High.” Really this means that He wanted to BE the Most High and sit on the throne where God is now. We also see the pride in the many “I will” statements. What is in the middle of all pride? The letter “I” is in the middle of pride just as “i” is in the middle of sin. When it’s all about me or I, then it’s not about God. If we are proud or lifted up, God will resist you as He did Satan because pride robs God of glory. Our pride, just like Satan’s, will come just before a great fall (Prov 16:18). Our fall will be the effect of our pride. Our pride will be the cause of our fall.
Pride, the Reason for Mankind’s Fall
In the Garden, Satan tempted Eve and He used human pride to cause her to sin. We read of this in Genesis 3:6-7;
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
The first thing Eve saw was that the tree was a “delight to the eyes” (desires of the eyes), that it was “good for food” (desires of the flesh), and that “the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (pride of life). It was all about the “I” again. Adam cannot blame Eve. Eve was deceived but Adam had no excuse because Adam was right with her when she ate of the fruit. Immediately after, he also took it and ate of this forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6). Adam was not off somewhere tending the Garden, he was right there with Eve. He should have stepped up and said “No!” It wasn’t the fruit that was bad, it was that they disobeyed God and their decision was based on pride. At that very moment, mankind’s fate was sealed because they chose for themselves to do what was right in their own eyes and since then all of us have all been living with the results of the fall. Since there was no humility, pride resulted in the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. This caused God to separate Himself from mankind until the day that the veil of separation would be rent by Jesus’ own body (Matt 27:51, Heb 6:18-20).
The Proud, the Few, the Fallen
The Marines take pride in their service and rightly so but pride in the wrong sense can destroy. God says that He is opposed or resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). The literal wording in the Greek for “opposed” or some translations say “resists” is “at war.” If we use the actual Greek wording of James 4:6 it reads “God [is at war with] the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The Old Testament is full of stories where God humbled the proud. The pagan nations that sought to destroy Israel were always full of themselves but so was Israel. Their pride always led to their fall. Pride is at the root of all sin and is listed as number one of the seven things that the Lord detests (Prov 6:16-19).
Staying Humble in a Pride-Filled World
It is difficult to remain humble in a world that prides itself on, well, self. Three of our greatest enemies are me, myself, and I. How can we kill the pride in our life? One way is to always seek to glorify God, in particular, Jesus Christ. We even pray in Jesus’ name because the answers to our prayers are intended to glorify Christ. When we accept credit for something and don’t give glory to God, we are literally robbing Him of what is rightly His. Who wants to rob God? Not me! Someone once complimented me on an article I wrote. I asked, “Who gave me the hands to type? Who gave me the breath of life? Who gave me a job to be able to afford the computer I work on? Who gave me….and so on. The point was that I cannot take glory or credit for what God has provided. I want to be like the moon. I want to reflect the glory from the Son. I stated that the moon would be dark, pitch black in fact, if it were not for the sun. The moon is beautiful only because the sun shines on it. Similarly we are to reflect Jesus and tell others that we are not the light or not responsible for the light; but God is.
Be Humble or Be Humbled
Unless we are willing to remain humble, God cannot use us. Unless we glorify Jesus Christ in all we do with our hands, God will not bless the work of our hands. God is a jealous God. Not in the human way we think of jealousy but God will not share the glory that belongs solely to Him. When we rob God of His due glory, God will humble us. Look at Jesus Who is the Creator and the Supreme God above all His creation, yet He willing humbled Himself to the point of death on a Cross. He bent down and washed the dirty feet of the disciples to show that the greatest will be the servant of all. The least will be the greatest in God’s economy. If a person wants to be first, they will surely be last. Jesus saw the pride in the Pharisee who was praying to be seen and said that “I thank you God that I am not like other man – robbers, evil doers, adulterers” but the “tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:11-13). Jesus said that “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 18:14).
In Luke 14:8-11 Jesus says what happens to those who try to exalt themselves;
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
How to Humble Yourselves
How can you remain humble in a fallen world? Take a lesson from children. The disciples never understood about true humility until after Jesus death. They all thought the way the world thought. They sought positions of power. Jesus really got their attention though. When “the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:1-4). What is it about children that makes them so humble and keeps them in a state of humility? They stay humble because they are teachable. They are not in a position of power. They stay in lowly positions. They don’t think too highly of themselves. They are in submission to their parents, teachers and other adults. To stay humble we must consider who we are in comparison to Who God is. The more we see the magnificence of God, just how great He is, the more we will see just how insignificant we are in comparison to Him.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and thundered out the reason we were created. It was “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). Peter warned against pride because that this was something that he battled with when he was being discipled by Jesus. Late in his life Peter wrote “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Pet 5:6). This is because “all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). James said to “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).
I have learned the hard way to not rob God of any glory because He thunders out from heaven, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8) and “My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11b). If you want to read about His glory, read the Book of Isaiah. Also, when you read the history of the nation of Israel you will see time and time again about this nation’s fall when they try to win their own battles or make an alliance with another nation instead of relying on God. Why? Because human effort never, ever glorifies God but robs Him of what He is due. See Who God is, give Him the glory, and remain humble. If you do this, He will exalt you someday. Maybe not in this life, but surely in the life to come.
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