Most people are aware of the 10 Commandments and the obvious sins, but fewer people acknowledge a more subtle sin, one that is devastating in its stealth and destruction. The sin of pride. People don’t like talking about sin, but it is important to understand why pride is sinful in the eyes of God.
If we are oblivious to pride in our lives then we are probably ignorant of the damage it is causing in our relationship with God. It may seem harmless but read on to find out how it impacts you and me and those around us.
Pride is the elevation of self.
(n) A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether cherished in mind or displayed in bearing and conduct.
(n) A becoming or dignified sense of what is due oneself or one’s position or character.
(v) To indulge or plume in a feeling of pride.
The Sin of Pride According to the Bible
Here are a few scriptures that address pride, revealing to us, the way God sees it.
- A desire to be God (Isaiah 14:13-15)
- Moral self-righteousness (Luke 18:11)
- Confidence in one’s own accomplishments (Daniel 4:28-37)
- Ambition for prominence (Mark 10:35-45)
- Lack of teachability and obedience (Hebrews 13:17)
Each one of these verses could be unpacked to expand our understanding, but the essence is that pride happens when we rely too much on our own ability instead of trusting God and giving Him the glory.
The elevation of self is a concept that is promoted in a worldly view and exploded with the growth of social media. It is in direct contradiction to the Biblical teaching of humility and selflessness.
What do Adam and Eve Teach us about the Sin of Pride?
Sin causes us to fall short of the glory of God. We can learn much about the consequences of our own behavior by studying the behavior of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:1-19 we read of the interaction between Adam and Eve, the serpent (worldly temptations), and later God’s reaction to their actions. Here is what we can learn from the passage.
The serpent sows doubt in Eve’s mind
He questions Eve’s understanding of God’s instructions by sowing doubt in her mind.
We can avoid being misled by knowing God’s word and standing firm on its truth. Be unwavering in your belief, no matter how hard people try to convince you otherwise. If in doubt, seek wise counsel before giving in to pressure.
The serpent manipulated scripture
Even though the serpent used God’s words, he twisted them to give new meaning which was in conflict with what God meant. Be clear on the meaning of scripture and don’t be swayed by another person’s interpretation. If you feel unsettled about something, listen to your intuition, because it is often a warning.
The serpent made his suggestion look attractive
Satan misled Eve by saying we could be more like God, which sounds good and noble. We often justify our actions by only considering part of the facts. It doesn’t matter which way we look at it, if we are doing wrong, we are defying God’s authority. We are to obey God even when an alternate plan seems like a better one.
Adam and Eve gave in to temptation
It doesn’t matter how appealing something may look or who else is doing it, sin is sin. Learn to be strong and stand up to those around you who do not have your best interests at heart.
Adam and Eve tried to hide their shame
As soon as their eyes were opened, Adam and Eve realized what they had done. Taking matters into their own hands they tried to cover up and hide their shame with fig leaves. They even thought they could hide from God which is impossible. God sees every detail of our lives.
Just as Adam and Eve hid from God because they knew they had done wrong, we ‘avoid’ God in a similar way when we sin.
They tried to blame somebody else
Both Adam and Eve tried to pin the blame on somebody else and refused to take responsibility for their own actions. You can’t fool God and we will be held accountable for our own actions.
As we know, God punished Adama and Eve as well as the serpent. There is no escape from the consequences of our own actions.
The Sin of Pride in Disguise
When life happens and we find ourselves in a pretty dire mess, our immediate response is to take action to sort it out ourselves. People commend us on how well we cope and we pride ourselves on our strength and independence. While there is nothing wrong with having appropriate confidence in your ability, it is an inflated self-esteem and lack of trust in God that is the problem, for it is the world that teaches us to be self-sufficient and independent, not God.
Example from Everyday Life
At a point in my life when things were messy and out of control, I sat down and made a list of all the things I could do to improve my situation. They were small actions that were easy to implement, but ticking that list made me feel in control and accomplished.
There is nothing wrong with adjusting bad habits by targeting the low-hanging fruit and easy pickings, but it is unlikely to change your life on any great scale. By making a few changes to our daily activities means we don’t address the deeper route problems. They remain firmly tucked away in our self-conscious minds, and this is where God operates.
A sure sign that we are doing things in our own strength and ability, is when we try to change things on the outside, hoping to bring peace within. God works from the inside out. He changes our hearts and minds first and brings about the peace we desire, which in turn results in an outward manifestation.
God Opposes the Proud …
The Bible tells us this clearly in James 4:6. If you try to take matters into your own hands, God opposes your works. How often do you feel strongly that you are doing God’s will, but you are being met with resistance each step of the way? Consider if you are not taking matters into your own hands.
“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” ~ Prov 16:5
Pretty clear message. We can argue about certain sins in the Bible and twist God’s word to suit our own selfish desires, but you can’t argue about God’s message regarding pride.
God hates pride because all sin is rooted in pride. We sin to satisfy the desires of our flesh.
… But Gives Grace to the Humble
God knows what we have done, but he doesn’t desert us. He pursues us just as He pursued Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It doesn’t matter what sin we have committed, God waits for us to confess and repent so that He may forgive us and restore our relationship with Him. Think of David, of Paul, and of Rahab the prostitute.
We are quick to blame God for our mistakes and make excuses for our behavior because we are too ashamed to admit our faults and failure. We see admitting defeat as a failure, whereas God sees it as humility, surrender, and courage. When we utter a cry of anguish as we realize how desperately we need Him, that is when He loves us the most. God is faithful to give us a chance to repent and turn towards Him and the Son who He sent to carry our sins.
The Sin of Pride Causes Rebellion
Left unchecked, pride becomes rebellion. God gave Adam and Eve a chance to repent and be forgiven, but they continued to do things their way. Even when we face resistance, and know that we should surrender our situation to God, we hold on. The tighter we hold on, the worse the situation becomes.
Where initially one area was affected, more are impacted. One sin leads to another. We try to maintain control … fearful that if we let go we will end up in a worse place. Yet everything we do takes us away from the peace we crave, not towards it. This happens because our eyes are mesmerized by our earthly situations instead of fastening them on Jesus. God is shut out and leaving Him no room to move in our lives. We are not being heroes, we are restricting and rebelling against God.
Until you have experienced God’s love and forgiveness firsthand, we tend to try and sort out our mess ourselves and think God would want no part of it. The result is that we dig ourselves into an even deeper mess and then ask why God allowed it to happen. The harder we try, the worse it becomes, leading to exhaustion and stress. Health, family, home, and work all suffer as a result.
We can’t fathom God’s ways but I do know that He allows things to happen so that we can learn to turn to Him first and not depend on ourselves. He knows the best way out and may want to teach us something in that situation, but He can’t if we are stubbornly taking matters into our own hands.
What are our Fig Leaves?
As Eve did, we refuse to acknowledge our own faults, we blame, point fingers, and layer on our own ‘fig leaves’ to hide our shame. We fear punishment but actually, we are more likely to face the wrath of God if we don’t confess and repent of our wrongdoing.
Examples of the ‘Fig Leaves’ we hide behind:
- Pride (self preservation)
- Blaming somebody else
- Over-dependence on our own achievement
- Forced effort
- Perfectionism (Not the same as excellence)
Our ‘fig leaves’ hide God from us (He still sees us) and distract us from the things that build our relationship with Him: Quiet Times, prayer, fasting, and fellowship, leading us deeper into sin. Then we feel that God has abandoned us.
Overcoming Pride and Restoring Our Relationship with God
God doesn’t abandon us when we sin. In Genesis, we read that God went looking for Adam and Eve, despite knowing what they had done. He wanted them to confess and repent so that the relationship they had could be restored.
It is our own pride that comes between us and God, thinking that we don’t need Him and can do it all on our own. God’s love for us is endless and He desires for us to be in relationship with Him, fully surrendered to Him alone. He will storm our barriers, our brokenness, and feeble attempts to live without Him; and He will pluck us from raging waters, lead us out of the desert, and set our feet upon paths of righteousness, if only we will not stand in the way.
Overcoming pride requires us to live in surrendered obedience to God
Listen to God’s word, humble yourselves and pray and you will see how God answers prayer. If we don’t stand before Him in humility, God may humble you through unpleasant circumstances in order to draw you closer to Him again.
“Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” ~ Galatians 5:16
Position Yourself Before God
How do we do this? We need to be intentional. God has given us free will to choose how we live our lives. Freedom in Christ does not mean to live as we wish and then expect God to go along with it.
- Acknowledge and repent of all the sins that you can think of and ask God to reveal anything that you may not remember
- Ask God to reveal the cause of the sin which may be rooted in your past
- Ask for forgiveness
- Humble yourself through prayer and fasting
- Pray for guidance and for God’s will to be revealed
- Read the word of God around the areas you are praying into
- Set aside time to sit in quiet meditation listening for God’s guidance
- Compliment your prayer time with worship music
- Journal your thoughts as they come to you
- Ask other members of your congregation to pray with you
- Avoid the influences of society, social media, casual friends, and even family if they are not spirit led
- Cover all decisions in prayer first
Humility is the opposite of pride but it does not mean putting ourselves down. It is an accurate self-appraisal and willingness to lift others up before ourselves. Contrary to what the world believes, admitting our weakness is a sign of strength. It takes courage.
Humility is admitting we need help despite wanting to prove ourselves capable. When we keep quiet about our difficulties, we deprive others of the opportunity to show kindness and compassion and lose an opportunity to glorify God in the process.
Philippians 2:1-11 describes clearly what it means to humble ourselves as Christians.
1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
We need God to sustain us in all aspects of our lives but for Him to work, we have to overcome pride and humble ourselves. It is the only way.
I came across an excellent article from Biblword in my research and decided to share the link here as it provides some excellent insight with numerous scriptural references to pride.