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#7 – Dealing with Pride

#7 – Dealing with Pride


OK. Top 10 Sins and Struggles. This is
lesson number 4, and tonight we’re going to continue with the countdown of
sins and struggles that you listed on your surveys. In case you’re new to the
class, maybe you if you’re watching this on video, you haven’t seen the previous
classes, about a month ago we handed out a survey in this congregation and we
asked members to list which sins and personal struggles were most prevalent
in their lives. This was an anonymous survey, we didn’t ask people
to put their names on it, we received a tremendous response and
this series of classes is based on what the church, the information that the
church gave back to us, what you said was the most troublesome areas in your
spiritual life. So tonight we’re going to deal with the problem
that was in seventh place. We’re doing it as a top 10 countdown; so the 10th was laziness, anger 9, cursing
and gossiping we did last time 8, and coming in at number 7 is the sin of
pride. So that’s what we’re going to talk about tonight.
So in the Bible there are several root words in both the Hebrew language and the
Greek language that are translated as pride or proud in the English
language. These Hebrew or Greek words in various forms also combine to give us
other words which are similar to pride. For example, the word haughty or vain
or boastful, arrogant, disdainful, insolent, high-minded, and so on and so forth. There are a lot of words that are associated with the idea of pride. Many
words used to describe the different shades, different manifestations of pride,
but whatever the words, they always go back to the source attitude
which is pride. Now the Hebrew and Greek words translated into English as the
words pride or haughtiness are quite descriptive of
this particular sin, like it gives you a visual description of it. For example, in the Old
Testament the Hebrew words for pride meant among other things to mount up or
to rise or to swell or to be high up, to ascend, to aspire to majesty,
to presume, to be insolent, arrogant, to appear above and so on and so forth. In
the New Testament, the Greek words used to describe pride meant also to inflate
or to boast or to brag, one that I thought was interesting was to consume
without fire, in other words, all smoke, no fire. They had this concept of
what pride was, to consume something without fire, and so all of these words
were used to describe the sin of pride. Now the words give us a picture and
an idea of what pride is, but not necessarily how pride is a sin. It tells
us what people who are proud act like, what you’re looking for, but why is it
a sin? Well, basically the sin of pride occurs when we in some way
leave or refuse to occupy our proper place in God’s design. So pride is
usually exhibited in three main ways. Number one, when we improperly estimate
our worth. Paul says in Romans chapter 12 verse 3, “For through the grace given to
me I say to every one among you not to think more highly of himself than he
ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted
to each a measure of faith.” So we often hear, we often read rather, or hear about
people who have low self-esteem and the many problems that this
personality condition produces. People with low self esteem,
it creates a lot of problems in their lives. Well pride is just, it’s the
opposite problem. A proud person has too high an esteem of himself or herself.
This heightened self-esteem is exhibited in a variety of ways. For example, arrogance. Arrogance is thinking
one’s rights are primary over others, the complete disregard for
other people’s feelings or rights and so on, that’s arrogance. ‘My way or the
highway.’ We’re gonna do it my way. You need to get out of my way. That’s
arrogance. Thinking that my right to do what I’m doing
supersedes everybody else’s rights. Boasting, setting forth one’s own talents
or possessions or actions as superior because they’re our actions. My way is
better. Why? Well, because it’s my way. That’s why it’s better because it’s my
way. My things are better. Why? Because, because they’re my things,
and so on and so forth. Self-righteousness. Assuming that our
conduct and our ideas and our lifestyle are better because they stem from
ourselves, self-righteousness. Haughtiness, to assume that we are essentially more
valuable because of the position we hold in society. We’re royal, movie stars,
rich people, there’s nothing wrong with being rich, but sometimes rich
people think they’re better essentially simply because they’re rich. So there are
other negative expressions of pride, condescending, self-centeredness,
but you get the idea, we don’t have to beat this to death, I think we
understand what it means. So pride expresses itself, first of all,
as an improper estimate of our true worth as human beings
by ourselves. Another expression of pride is when we measure our worth by the
things that we possess. John the Apostle, calls this the boastful pride of life. He
says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the
lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is
from the world.” Whether it’s a house or a car or an education, whether it’s your
name or the group you belong to, we feel superior because of what we possess. Another word for this type of pride is
status or class. Much of the advertising on television or magazines
or whatever, online, they appeal to this desire within people, they go
right for this thing. The approach is very simple. The approach says in a
variety of ways, ‘If you own this fill-in-the-blank; car, TV, jeans, makeup,
whatever, if you own this, you will be special, you will be unique, you will be
better, smarter, superior, because you have this thing than those who don’t
have this thing.’ This is why some people will pay an extra 30-40% for a product
that has a particular emblem on it. We know, we know that, right? T-shirts without the logo, without the little alligator or whatever the logo is,
t-shirts without the logo are half as expensive as the very same t-shirt that
has that little logo on it. This is pride by identification. Vicarious pride. Pride
by exclusivity. We have a circle, we’re in this circle, you can’t come in
this circle because this circle is special and we identify ourselves in
this circle because of our name, because of what we own, whatever. So we
assume a special status by associating with whatever name drop, product, or
owning something that makes us better somehow than those who do not possess
these things. A third expression of pride is self-sufficiency. This type of pride
exists in the one who feels or believes that they are sufficient unto themselves;
I don’t need anybody, I don’t need you and I don’t need them, I don’t need
anybody. This is the person who believes that they, and they alone, control their
own lives and that whatever they have or whatever they’ve achieved is a result of
their own efforts. I mean that’s true to a certain extent, right? Again, I’m not
criticizing successful people who have worked very hard to arrive at where they
have arrived, I’m not saying that at all, but to think that your success
and what you have is only because of what you have done, no, that’s
pride. These people take great pride in their accomplishments and they agonize
over their defeats. You see if you’re 100 percent responsible for everything you
have and your success, if that’s how you think, well then you’re also a hundred
percent responsible for your failings. That’s a hard way to live, because when
you’re up on the top it’s great, but when you go down in the valley it’s pretty
tough. These are the ones that Paul refers to in Romans chapter one verse 22
when he says, “Professing to be wise.” This type of pride begins with self as
the center of the universe and measures all else in the context of how it will
positively or negatively affect self and one’s sufficiency. Now there may be other types
of proud behavior, but they can easily be fitted into one of these categories.
Exaggerated self-worth, elevated status derived from things, or the desire to be
totally self-sufficient. So now that we’ve described prideful behavior, and
again I don’t think I’ve revealed anything that we don’t already know, but
we’ve kind of categorized it a little bit, put some words to it, let’s
see why these attitudes are considered sinful. We know that the word sin means
missing the mark, so let’s discuss how these types of behavior miss the mark
established by God. Here’s the thing, God is the one who established what the
target is, not man. That’s why the word, the original word, in the original
language, that is translated into English, “sin”, the original word
means there’s a target and whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve
said or done, your attitude, your actions whatever have missed the mark. Why is it
sin? Well, because God is the one that establishes the mark. OK? So let’s look
at exaggerated self-worth. When we exaggerate our true value we basically
are guilty of lying about ourselves. That’s the sin. Pride in this sense is a
delusion about self and who we really are. This false sense of self begins in our hearts. Jesus says in Mark 7:21, “From
within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts,
murders, adulteries,” what else? “pride,” I think I’ve got it on the next slide here,
no, but if you go on He mentions the word pride, comes from the heart.
Isaiah the prophet explains that the root of pride is the
desire to leave our place beneath the sovereignty of God and rise
to a new and a higher place, even putting ourselves above God in some instances.
In Isaiah 14 he writes, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning,
sun of the dawn! You’ve been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the
nations! ‘But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my
throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly in the
recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I
will make myself like the Most High.” ‘Nevertheless you will be thrust down to
Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. ‘Those who see you will gaze at you, They will
ponder over you, saying, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook
kingdoms,”” interesting passage. Isaiah here is talking about a king, OK, but in a
prophetic sense, in a spiritual sense, he’s also talking about Satan and he’s
saying the sin… You know, you wonder what was the sin that the angel made? The
sin was he tried to elevate himself. The beautiful, the morning star, that
particular angel thought that he could rise above the place where God had
placed them and as a result God cast him down, but the idea that this
this passage is getting across is that pride is a lifting up of ourselves, a
lifting up of ourselves out of the position that God has put us in as
human beings. So Paul, he says that this sin is so pervasive that it
infiltrates everyone’s heart to some degree or another. In 2nd Corinthians
chapter 12 verse 7 he says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the
revelations,” he’s talking about revelations that God has given him as
an apostle, so he says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the
revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself,” boy, talk about a
guy who’s self-aware, he says, ‘I’ve seen, I’ve seen God has shown me things that
no human being has ever seen and in order to protect me against lifting
myself up because of this he says, “there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a
messenger of Satan to torment me — to keep me from exalting myself!” Imagine. So it is
this essential evil thought that somehow we are better than what God sees us as
or for those who don’t believe in God better because of the value that we
place on ourselves. It is this thought within our hearts that drives the
arrogance and the boasting and the self-righteousness and the haughtiness
and all the rest. So that’s why it’s a sin, this desire to lift ourselves
up above where God has placed us and left to go all the way, we would lift ourselves up even beyond God. Alright, let’s look at
another, why pride is a sin. When it comes to pride based on the value of
our possession the sin is idolatry. So when we draw our value and personal
worth from the things that we own or associate with we are giving to these
things the credit for who we are. This is a form of worship. If a person does this
he is investing his hope for self-worth and value in something else other than
God, so that when we do this, you’re wondering what’s the sin here,
well the sin is idolatry. I mean it’s not idolatry like the Canaanites
had idolatry or that the Egyptians had, they actually
were on their knees in front of stone statues or the stars in the sky,
there’s that kind of idolatry, worshiping something other than God as
God, but in this case we worship the thing that gives us value, that’s the
thing that we worship. So the worship of an idol is not only confined to bowing
down to a statue or image, it includes making God’s out of the things we
acquire or pursue by thinking that they can make us better or happy. We
begin with the primary idea, only God can make us happy. He’s the one that holds
the key to our happiness. So when we transfer the power to make us
happy to a thing, well then that’s a… we’ve given the power that God has
to this thing. In the end a drug addiction, alcohol, at the
beginning when that begins, they say where’s the sin? Well, yes, you’re
harming your body, but the essential spiritual sin is idolatry, you’re giving
to that substance the power to make you happy. So the psalmist says in Psalm 52:7,
“Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, But trusted in the abundance
of his riches And was strong in his evil desire.” Trusted in the abundance of his
riches, whatever that is; physical strength, monetary
strength, intellectual power, political power, doesn’t matter what it
is. How many people are happy when they’re on top and sad were
on the bottom, because the thing that gives them joy is winning at whatever,
winning the argument, getting their way, that’s what makes them happy. See what
I’m saying? So we can derive satisfaction from our accomplishments, of
course, and our possessions, this is normal, but when things become the reason why we
think we are better than others, then our pride has given these things an
evil life of their own. Alright, pride in self sufficiency, why is this a
sin? So self sufficiency is the type of pride that is most condemned in the
Bible, because the sin inherent in this type of pride is that of denying God and
His power over you. Previously I said God’s power in making you happy, in
satisfying you and giving you what you really need in life, here the sin is
denying the power that God has over you. Exaggerating our worth or elevating our
own worth through things are sins which are committed with the knowledge of God.
So self-sufficiency however says that I don’t need God or there is no God or
there’s only me and as far as my world is concerned I am God.
When somebody says, ‘Nobody’s going to tell me what to do,’
well they’ve just basically said oh yeah I mean if I were God I’d just be looking around for somebody to say that, ‘Make my day. Go ahead.
Please, please say it. I’ve got some thunderbolts I want to send
your way.’ So this dangerous sin is condemned vigorously throughout the
scriptures. For example, in Job 37:24 he says, “Therefore men fear Him; He
does not regard any who are wise of heart.” It’s not that here, he’s
not saying God doesn’t like people who are wise, of course not, here “wise of
heart” means he doesn’t regard those who think they’re too smart or
smarter than He is or so smart that they don’t need Him or so smart that
they don’t think He exists. Psalm 10 verse 4, “The wicked, in the
haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his
thoughts are, ‘There is no God.'” That’s self-sufficiency. Next passage,
Proverbs 6:16, “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes seven which are
an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed
innocent blood.” Haughty eyes. Proverbs 30:12, “There is a kind who is pure in his
own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” First Corinthians 10:12,
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Again
the unwritten thing, the unsaid idea, is therefore let him who thinks he
stands, in brackets, [alone, by himself, by his own power], let that person be very
careful lest he fall. And then one other, First John 1:8, “If we say that we have no
sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” To deny that there is
God, there is a God, or that we need God or that we are under God’s power is to
sin. To say we don’t have sin, the truth is not in us. To think that our position
or talent or wealth or health our very existence is somehow achieved apart from God, this is sinful disrespect and
ingratitude. To think that our goodness is self sufficient to stand before God
is both spiritual ignorance and boldness. You hear people sometimes that don’t
know a lot about the Bible, they’re not a lot of training in
spiritual things make these bold declarations, ‘Boy, when I see God I’m
going to tell Him,’ and boy you’re saying, ‘Don’t say that.’ To think
that we don’t need God every moment for everything is the height of spiritual
blindness from which few ever recover. That’s why this particular sin
is so dangerous. You’re not hurting God’s feelings. It’s like you’re on
self-destruct mode and you don’t even know it. OK, so so far we’ve
described the sin of pride and its various expressions, we’ve also examined
how exactly are these forms of pride how are they sinful, why are
they contrary to God’s will and therefore wrong. So let’s finish our
lesson tonight on pride with some teaching about how to deal with this
very common sin in our lives and I mean it’s almost you know we make this little
caveat, ‘Well, everybody has this…’ Well, sometimes that’s true and
sometimes that’s not true, but pride, boy it’s very hard to live your life
without ever falling into one of these categories for a time, OK? So let’s talk about pride as an exaggerated sense of worth. A lot of times
when we do things or say things to raise ourselves up it comes from an
incorrect view of our true worth. Solomon says that it is foolish to brag
to others, because they often see the discrepancy between what you are and
what you say you are. Proverbs 25:27 he says, “It is not good to eat much honey,
Nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory.” It is better he says to let another praise you, for this will be a more
legitimate assessment of your worth. Proverbs 27:2, “Let another praise you,
and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” And you know what? When
somebody praises you, just say, ‘Thank you.’ Some people go. ‘Oh, no, no, really oh,
that’s not really true.’ My mother taught me if someone
says I don’t know whatever, ‘I like your tie,’ just say, ‘Thank you.’
Just say ‘thank you.’ It’s OK, take a compliment. In another proverb the Solomon says that pride brings dishonor and not honor to a
person. He says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is
wisdom.” In Romans 12:3, Paul tells Christians not to think of themselves
more highly than they ought to, we read that before. In other words, we should
have an estimate of ourselves, but it should be in line with reality. We should
think no more or no less than what we really are. The problem a
lot of times is that people either underestimate themselves, ‘No, I’m not
really that good,’ they set the bar extra low for
themselves or they think it’s being humble if they improperly evaluate
themselves and always lowball themselves. Why? The Bible says try to have a
realistic evaluation of yourself If you have a beautiful voice and
you sing beautifully, it’s OK to say that one of my talents is that I love to
sing and I’ve been told that I have a good voice, that’s OK. In other words, we should have an
estimate that equals reality. We should think no more, but no less than what we
really are. In 2nd Corinthians 10:18, Paul truly gets this issue of self-worth into
perspective when he says the following, “For it is not he who commends himself
that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.” And in the church, let others
praise you. I had a young guy write to me recently, just today as a
matter of fact, on the Bibletalk website and he asked me the question was, ‘How do
I know what my gifts are? How can I tell what I’m good at or what my ministry
should be in the church?’ I haven’t written him yet, because I just saw that
before we left to come to church, but I was thinking about my answer and one of
my answers, one of the points I was going to make to this young guy is, what are
other people in the church saying to you about you? Are they saying that they
enjoy when you lead a prayer and they think that you’re very thoughtful so on
and so forth? Do you happen to teach a class and you get a lot of great
feedback? What are other people in the church telling you? What are your
elders (because I’m sure he’s not an elder, he’s a very 20 years old),
what are your elders (if you have any in your church), what are they saying about you?
Let the church tell you what your strengths are. That’s one
way that God speaks to you through His people. In other words,
if the Lord approves of you, you are as worthy and valuable as anyone can ever
become. As a matter of fact for the Christian, the only legitimate boasting
is to boast about what Christ has accomplished in you as Paul says, “And He
has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in
weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses, so that the
power of Christ may dwell in me.” The best things about my life, me, Michael, are the
things that God has done in my life and that’s not just, ‘Whoa, I need to
add that because it fits with my lesson,’ that’s the truth, that’s my witness. If I
had to make a list of the good things in my life, I mean the
good things in my life were either given to me, right?
My wife was given to me as a gift. My education was enabled by others. My
opportunity to serve was given to me by the church. Whatever skill I may have as
a teacher was given to me by the Lord and so whatever things that I could look
at and say, ‘These are good,’ they’re all things that have been given to me. How
can I boast about that? The only boast that I could technically make is isn’t
it amazing what God can do with a person like me? Because I remember me before I
became a Christian and I remember me as a young Christian. Isn’t it amazing what
God can do with very little, very, very little. So if boasting and bragging is the form of pride that you may struggle with,
remember that others are never impressed by it and that the only legitimate boast
is how much Christ has done to and through you. Alright, let’s talk about
the pride of life or the pride of possessions. In our nation this is the
form of pride that affects the most of us. We live in a very wealthy nation. We
live in a very materialistic society where the pressure to judge and
value other people by what they wear, what they drive, where they live,
this is a very, very powerful thing. We can’t leave this society and go
live in a cave or in a monastery; Jesus said that we lived in the world but we
must not be of the world, so how do we do this? How do we not assume our value
based on the things that we own? Well, first of all we do it by
keeping our priorities in order. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew
6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
things will be added to you. There’s two things there. Aside from
seeking first God’s will for my life, not… people are always saying, ‘I just
want to know what Your will is for my life,’ and they’re my life from
here to 29 years from now, but that’s incorrect. It’s Lord, what is Your will from my life today? Because I don’t have
tomorrow, just today. What do you want me to do today? How shall I act today? That’s
the priority, the other thing that’s interesting is that He says this is your
priority, this is your work, this is where you invest your emotional and spiritual
energy into figuring out, ‘Lord, what will you have me do today?’ And when
you do that, He provides the things you need. Sure, we work, we get a job,
we save our money, of course, yeah, we understand that, but He provides in
the sense He provides through the opportunities, He provides in His own way.
But there’s an interesting thing here, it says, He’s going to provide the
things that you need, well and He also provides how much of it you have. He provides how much of it that you have.
So we need to keep our priority in order. First, the spiritual; God’s will, God’s
Word, God’s purpose, this is your first priority, and then He’s going to provide
in His own way the things that you need. Don’t work for things. Don’t pray for
things. Don’t be anxious for things. Work for Him. Pray for the knowledge of His
will. Be anxious to do what is right. He’s going to provide the things. And I know
that’s not easy sometimes when the bills are coming in and
the payroll is less than the bills, but on the day that the payroll is less
than the bills that’s the problem for that day and the prayer is, ‘Lord, today
this is the problem that I have. What will you have me do?
How can I resolve this? Help me in this.’ OK, we’ve got to move a little bit.
Let’s talk about pride as far as self-sufficiency. How
do we overcome this most dangerous form of pride? Well, if you’ve recognized that
you fall in this area, the fact that you actually see it, boy, that’s a sign
of hope. Like all sins, acknowledging is the first and greatest
step. So I believe that there are two ways that God deals with those who are
self-sufficient, that’s their pride, ‘Nobody’s gonna tell me what to do, I’m
the boss, my way,’ you know, that type of thing. First, he warns them, he warns them. Psalm 49 verse 10, he says, “For he sees
that even the wise,” meaning the self-sufficient, “for he sees that even
the wise man die; The stupid and the senseless alike perish And leave their
wealth to others.” And then in Matthew 23:12, he says, “And whoever exalts himself
shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” So the first
thing that God does is He warns us about this stuff. Through His word,
through His people, God warns us of the danger of this as well as every other
sin. So some people hear the warning, they repent, others ignore it to their own
destruction and then secondly He disciplines people who have this problem.
Sometimes God breaks a person down through trials and sorrows so that
person will learn to lean on God. I can tell you in my own life, trying to do it
my way, I can remember one point; no job, no money, no car, no home, I was living
with the family, I was working for a roofing company, a private roofer, this is
after years and years of abuse, years and years of living drugs and
alcohol and craziness and all that kind of stuff that got me to the point where
I lost everything, nothing left, nothing; no family, no money, no car, no job, nothing
and I was living with this family and the dad gave me a job working on his
crew and my job was to run the truck from all the junk around the house, you
know all those shingles and all the trash and I’d pick all that stuff up in
the truck and I drive it out to the dump and then I would dump the stuff and I
would come back and that was my job and I remember the day, I remember the
day when finally in my head it clicked ‘OK, you’re God and I’m nothing,’ because
I was at the dump standing in the truck having just dumped stuff and I was
looking out at other people who were dumping stuff and I saw a couple
throwing stuff away and I saw them throw a jacket away and I looked at the jacket,
and don’t forget now I mean at one point in the 1970s I was
making $100,000 a year for the company that I worked for, this is
in the 70s, and now I’m standing in this truck and I’m looking at a jacket that
this person has thrown in the dump with all the birds foraging for the
trash and I’m thinking, ‘I think I’m going to go for that jacket,’ and I looked over and
there was another guy looking at the jacket and we were about to race in the
dump to see who would be first to get the jacket and it was at that point in
my life when I finally said, ‘OK, there’s no lower than this. I can’t get
lower than this. You’re the boss. You’re the boss. I’m not the boss. You’ve made me
into nothing, less than nothing,’ and it was after that, after that experience,
that I came back to Montreal, started reading the Bible, eventually was
converted. In the end what God wants is for us to completely rely on His word,
His provision, His timing, His mercy, His Son, His church, in order to become whole
and pleasing in His sight. And so we lose our self-sufficient streak of pride when
we are often in His word, often in prayer, patient for His will to be done, kind and
generous towards others before self, following His Son, serving His church. A
lot of things there, a lot of ideas. When this is our lifestyle, we have
learned to die to self and to live for Christ and pride, believe me, pride will
never ever again be the issue in our lives. Just think back to your own lives,
the lowest point, just think back to your lowest point and ask yourself did
my pride help me or hurt me at that point? OK, so much for number
seven. We’ll move on in our countdown next week. Thank you for
your kind attention.

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