The Slide to Pride
You rebuke the proud—the cursed, who stray from Your commandments.
If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.
TAKING IT IN
In C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Screwtape Letters” senior demon, Screwtape writes to his nephew and protégé Wormwood, who has just graduated from demon training college. His letters are written to reveal the tricks of the devil’s trade, the way Satan’s demons set out to tempt, deceive, and manipulate man.
It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is not better than cards if cards do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
This week’s verse reveals our enemy to revival – PRIDE. It is a sin we can easily “slide” into. The word “slide” gives great meaning to the way this sin gradually manifests itself into our lives. Consider these definitions.
- Move downward
- To return to a less favorable or less worthy condition
- To go unattended or unacted upon
- To lose a secure footing or positioning
- To shift out of place
- To allow to follow a natural course, especially one leading to deterioration
We can easily slide into pride without notice. The enemy will always whisper “you are better than that” keeping revival out of our reach.
The “proud” entertain wrong thinking; they cherish a high or lofty opinion of themselves; they base their value on position, rank, attainments, or possessions. The proud are disposed to hold an attitude of superiority with contempt for others; they are haughty and arrogant.
But we see the attitude of pride goes a step further. Those who are proud, stray from the Word of God. This word implies that they begin to wander off the path, making poor decisions and wrong judgments – they can be so caught up in their arrogance that they dare to presume their ways are wiser than the Lord’s.
MAKING IT MEANINGFUL
We all have a problem with pride. If somehow you think you don’t, that is proof positive that pride has the upper hand in your thinking.
Speaking on pride, Joseph Hall, a Bishop from the 1600’s wrote:
“Honourable and beloved, this vice is a close one; it will cleave fast to you; yea, so close that ye can hardly discern it from a piece of yourselves: this is it that aggravates the danger of it.”
Pride lives very close to us every moment of every day. If you don’t agree, consider the busy morning where we fly out the door and forget to pray. Our pride says we don’t need to acknowledge God or consult Him on our day, we can manage the day on our own.
It is pride that keeps us from facing our sins and weaknesses and dealing with them according to His Word. Something in us just wants to believe that we are better than we think we are. As we grow spiritually the temptation to fall into pride widens as we can begin to think we have nothing more to gain from time spent in the Word.
Picture King Hezekiah. We read in 2 Chronicles 31:20-21
Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.
Later in 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 we read:
But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
If Hezekiah in his love for God succumbed to pride, so can we.
WORKING IT INTO MY HEART
God rebukes the proud. When something is rebuked, it is forced back as when Jesus rebuked the winds and waves (Mark 4:39). The Lord finds proud people repulsive. He pushes them away from Himself. The book of James teaches us that God opposes the proud but has grace for the humble and we can’t afford to live a moment without the grace of God!
As our very real enemy to revival, pride will keep us from all that God has for us, mainly His full presence and power in our lives and ministry.
Because pride can be very subtle in its manifestations, often we don’t recognize the telltale signs of pride. Consider the following characteristics of hidden pride and see if God reveals any indications of pride in your life. Be brave. Ask those who know you well if they see any of these characteristics in your life.
- The need to be right
- Argumentative, being stubborn
- More invested in being heard than hearing, needing others to take your advice
- Irritability and impatience
- Lack of submissive attitude
- Not easily corrected
- Comparisons and competition
- Receiving correction but not changing
As we seek God to revive our hearts we want to avoid the slide into pride!
If you need to repent of pride today, take a moment right now and receive His promise in James 4:10:
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.