Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Pride: A Distorted View of Reality and a Root Cause of Sin

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A Distorted View of Reality and a Root Cause of Sin

MP3 Audio (36.63 MB)


Pride: A Distorted View of Reality and a Root Cause of Sin

MP3 Audio (36.63 MB)

The proud person is intoxicated with... themself… they have a distorted view of who they are… that leads to an unwarranted self confidence and puts us into conflict with reality... Pride puts you in conflict with the living God who is the creator and sustainer of our reality…

Prior to this message I handed out a list of scriptures on the subject of pride roughly following the categories follwed in the message. Here is a link to a PDF of that same list -


Pride: A Distorted View of Reality

A bad tree yields  bad fruit… good fruit comes from a good tree… out of the abundance of the heart so a person speaks… and so they act. Jesus words tell us that sin happens because of bad thinking which leads to bad behavior. The big culprits are lust of the flesh, covetousness, and the pride of life.

Today we are going to look at pride. We'll try to define pride, we’ll explore 5 areas where pride sprouts up, and 5 of the forms it takes... finally considering how a realistic self image can help us combat pride.

Definition: What is Pride?

The OT Hebrew uses a variety of descriptive words to picture pride: high, exalted, elevated, grand... many of these coming from root words with the idea of swell, inflate, or puff up. The NT also uses descriptive phrases like "high minded","emptiness/vanity","puffed up" to depict pride.

The NT writers had to be careful to reject Greek values built into their language.The Greeks valued  pride and self sufficiency… esteeming those who were born of the right stock... and despised those who were humble. Teaching humility was foolishness to the Greeks 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 [18] For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God. [19] For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. [20] Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? [21] For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. [22] For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; [24] But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. [26] For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: [27] But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; [28] And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: [29] That no flesh should glory in his presence. [30] But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: [31] That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.
American King James Version×

Recognizing your dependence on the living God for both your present physical existence and your hope of eternal existence after death is a mindset you need to combat pride.

Pride is a Distorted View of Self

Isaiah 14:12-15 Isaiah 14:12-15 [12] How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken 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 sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the 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 hell, to the sides of the pit.
American King James Version×
 pride is like a drug or strong drink... under its influence we do not have a clear head... we are not thinking soberly... our grip on reality is looser.

The proud person is intoxicated with... themself… they have a distorted view of who they are… that leads to an unwarranted self confidence and puts us into conflict with reality... Pride puts you in conflict with the living God who is the creator and sustainer of our reality…

James 4:6 James 4:6But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
American King James Version×
 God resists the proud but shows favor to the humble.

Proverbs 16:18 Proverbs 16:18Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
American King James Version×
 ultimately pride leads to death because God will not grant spirit born eternal life to the person who has not done battle with  their pride.

To avoid the destruction that accompanies pride we must adopt, and maintain, a realistic view of our own smallness, dependence, and fragility within the grand plan of God. Yet at the same time recognize our tremendous potential within Gods spiritual creation. This balance is the proper basis for a positive self image… rather than the false sense of self worth which is pride.

5 Areas of Pride

Pride can be just a general confidence in self touching every facet of your life... but most often human pride focuses on some specific areas.

  1. Pride of position + status: Jesus railed on the pharisees who loved sit in the chief seats... He scolded the disciples warning them about the desire to lord it over others telling them "that is not the way it is to be with you". Thinking more highly of yourself by comparing our self with others is a false way to measure self worth.

All authority on earth ultimately is ordained and approved by God who gave mankind dominion over the earth for an allotted time. If you have a position over others what matters is what you do with that position. Do you use your position to be  blessing to others, to help them, to serve their needs? This is God's perspective on authority and position...

It is also a a realistic way to look at your position that will help you combat pride of position.

  1. Pride of ability or achievements: some are able achieve amazing things... for some it is because they are gifted from birth... for some it comes from discipline and application... usually its a combination of both. God appreciates achievement... but not pride based on achievement.

We might view our God given gifts as a way we are superior to others... we consider our hard work as reason for taking full credit for achievement... but the greatness we might achieve through hard work could also be a product of time and chance... maybe you were simply at the right place at the right time... born into circumstances that make achievement easier... how many great people lived and died as slaves and never had the opportunities you have to achieve and accomplish? James 4:13-17 James 4:13-17 [13] Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: [14] Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. [15] For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. [16] But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. [17] Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
American King James Version×

The great lottery of life gives more to some than others... what God is concerned with is not the natural born ability... musical prodigy... amazing built in athleticism... being born or aristocratic or wealthy parents... He is interested in what you do with what you have been given.

This is a realistic perspective on ability and achievement that will help you overcome pride.

  1. Pride of possessions: accumulating stuff is among the least of human achievements...because it is so transient. But its also a very tangible measuring stick of success and reward for hard work.

We can avoid becoming proud of out possessions by understanding their true purpose. Everything belongs to God... you and I merely have what we have on loan from Him for a while. Are you generous with what you have... do you use your possessions to help others… are  you a good steward of what God has given you... this is what God is interested in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 1 Timothy 6:17-19 [17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
American King James Version×

That is realistic perspective that will help you overcome the pride of possessions

  1. Pride of knowledge: here is one that has really taken off in our society in recent decades... in every direction I see people who are exalted, or who exalt themselves, because they are "smarter"... especially concerning technology. But, "smarter" is all based on what you perceive to be important.

Pride of knowledge is part of the great sin of Adam & Eve... wasn't the fruit of the tree "desirable for gaining wisdom"?

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 [1] Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies. [2] And if any man think that he knows any thing, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. [3] But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
American King James Version×
 pride of knowledge can affect bible knowledge... is it more important to know all the ins and outs of doctrine, or prophecy... or to know and appreciate all there is to know about love?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 [1] Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [2] And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [3] And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.
American King James Version×
knowledge of technology, or of money management, or medicine, or law are good. They serve a great purpose. But to avoid pride lets place these in perspective... concentrate on the knowledge that lasts. 

1 Corinthians 3:18 1 Corinthians 3:18Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
American King James Version×
Paul is addressing the wisdom of humility… which is considered foolish by most.

This is a realistic perspective on knowledge that helps to fight against the sin of pride.

  1. Pride of spiritual attainment: everyone knows its wrong to judge ourselves praise worthy... so this one goes underground and hides... often it is seen in the guise of false humility... or, comparing out selves to others... it could even be as insidious as thinking "look how much more humble I am that she is".

Maybe you are actually more righteous than the person sitting next to you… but measuring your worth by comparing yourself with others is meaningless. The only valid measuring stick is God’s complete and total holiness before which we can only be humble Job 40:2-4 Job 40:2-4 [2] Shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproves God, let him answer it. [3] Then Job answered the LORD, and said, [4] Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand on my mouth.
American King James Version×

Forms of Pride

Pride can be visible and easy to detect... it can also be more subtle and require insight, self examination, and honesty to recognize. Here are some forms of pride of special concern for Christians [from highly visible to less visible]:

Boasting: this is one that is so obvious that most mature Christians don't do it.

Seeking praise: you might solicit feedback on your efforts in a desire to improve... or you might be fishing for compliments. Another way of seeking praise is comparing ourselves with others we consider inferior... thinking this will make us appear superior... better that we compare our self to Jesus who set a standard that all human being fall short of.

Accepting honor: graciously accepting a deserved compliment may not be pride... but we can easily let it go to our head. Rejecting a compliment outright can easily be perceived as a rejection of the person... a good tactic is to accept the gesture but adopt an approach that says "I can do these things through Christ who strengthens me".

Invisible pride: one clever disguise pride assumes is the put down... couldn't a put down really be seen as an attempt to elevate yourself by dragging others down?

Being argumentative, or thin skinned or easily offended often are rooted in pride: "why wasn't I invited","no one sent me flowers when I was sick","I’m not in charge but that's not the right way to do things",or, ”how dare you treat me that way”.

Pride masquerading as humility: a person who is timid, who projects a poor self-image, who puts down self... surely these are the humble ones?

But timidity or fear may well stem from not wanting anyone to see our weaknesses [protecting our ego at all costs]... we fear being seen as less than perfect... self put downs might be a way to soften the blow by beating others to the punch.

Do we hold back on zealous and enthusiastic engagement with what the Church is doing through pride? Through not wanting to look foolish in the eyes of others.

Whether BOLD of TIMID… You cannot have real humility when you are pre-occupied with yourself.

Proper Self Image

A biblical perspective on self image that has gone out of fashion is the "I am nothing"..."I am but a worm"..."the true disciple must hate himself or he cannot follow Christ" approach.

Another biblical perspective on self image is the "I am a princess... the daughter of the great king","I can do all things if I have faith and believe". Many big name preachers have made a lot of money with this teaching... buts its not much comfort when you are sitting next to a loved one in the hospital whose life is hanging on by a thread.

There is a biblical basis for both of these perspectives... and we can reconcile them.

Who Am I?

Jacob said, "I am unworthy of all the good things you have done for me and the faithfulness you have shown me"...Moses asked "who am I that I should go before Pharaoh and bring Israel out of Egypt"?... David asked "who am I LORD and what is my family that you should make this covenant with me? ... Isaiah said "I am a man of unclean lips... unworthy to speak as a prophet of God".... Paul said "I am the least of the apostles, and the greatest of sinners".

Yet these men were all great achievers... they held a lowly image of themselves in relation to the greatness and holiness of God. But they also realized they were  part of something grand, magnificent... universe shaking! They had purpose and worked hard to accomplish much.

We too should base our confidence, self esteem, sense of worth and value on our place in God’s great plan to bring many children into glorious eternal joy in His universal family! That is something to be excited about.

You can have great confidence and self esteem and positive self image knowing you are important enough to God that He gave His only begotten son for you... and that the living God who is sovereign over all things wants to dwell in you.  

Pride is a distortion of our natural, normal, healthy desire for a positive self image… the antidote to pride is humility before God and a true sense of self esteem based on the work of spiritual creation He is performing in you Romans 12:3-12 Romans 12:3-12 [3] For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. [4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: [5] So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. [6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; [7] Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching; [8] Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness. [9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; [11] Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; [12] Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
American King James Version×

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