Perils of Pride #1: Why Write About Pride?

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Why write about pride? My decision to write about pride flows from the series which I just completed on holiness. You can read the entire nine-part series here on the “Berean Wife” blog. When I first waded into the idea of holiness, I had what might be called a small “Isaiah 6” experience. When I found myself face-to-face with what God expects when He says we should be holy, I found that my life was nothing but the impurity of dust and ashes. During my journey through the study of holiness, the light of God’s word continued to point out the impurities in my life. And nothing stood out more than the impurity of pride. I never realized just how deep-seated pride was in my life until I started listing all the ways that I considered myself to be a better person than others around me. But more about that in a minute.

The verses just quoted, 1 John 2:15-17, tell us much about how to face the truth of our personal sin, or as George Whitefield might say, our “actual sin.” There can be no denying that we have a multitude of sin in our lives. I am guilty of having the cravings of sinful man. I acknowledge that I have perverted most everything that God has intended for good. I struggle with gluttony and I struggle with laziness. I have committed sexual sins that have had the gravest of consequences. I am even more guilty of lusting with my eyes. I have been consumed with looking at things that I had no business looking at. I have been filled with envy when I see what other people have that I do not have. But all these sins pale in comparison with the last category of sin given to us by John. The KJV calls it the “pride of life”. The NIV says “and the boasting of what he has and does”. There is a riddle that goes something like this “Question: What is the only thing that vanishes the second it is claimed? Answer: Humility.” In the past I might have thought I was a humble person, but when I came face-to-face with my impurity, I came face-to-face with my pride.

Let me be specific. What I say may seem like bragging. In the past it would have been. Now I see that all these things are sin. Please accept what I say as a confession, and not as boasting. First, I am guilty of being proud that I am more committed to church than other people around me. I looked down upon those people who missed a Sunday morning worship service or did not come to church on Wednesday night. Why could not everyone commit to church three times a week like me? Second, I am guilty of being proud that I was entrusted with positions of authority in the church. I used my authority as a source of pride, not an opportunity for service. Third, I am guilty of being proud that I do not do certain things that the world does. We have a saying here in the Deep South: “I don’t drink or smoke or chew, or run around with women who do.” If you are not from the South you might not understand what this means. I am proud that I don’t go see movies with any sex or cussing and I don’t drink beer. That sets me apart from a vast majority of people in the church. Now I see that this is nothing but self-righteousness and a cover-up for sins I do commit on a regular basis. Fourth, I am guilty of being proud that I think I know more about the Bible than other people. That is, until I went to a different church last weekend, and found a group of Christians who made me realize I know nothing. I thought I read a lot of books. That’s a joke. I thought people were privileged to be in my Sunday School class to hear my latest insights. Now I am beginning to realize that I know nothing and do not have a clue how to share the Bible with others.

Now, let’s look at 1 John 2:15 again. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (NIV) What does my pride tell me about myself? My sin of pride is the sin of loving the world, and my sin of pride separates me from the love of God. How is it that pride is the same as loving the world? As I meditate on this question, I find two answers. First, the sin of pride is the same as loving the world because we only have a choice between two masters. We can chose to love God and serve him, or we can chose to love the things of this world and serve them. Pride in our lives means that we have chosen the later. Second, the sin of pride is the same as loving the world because my pride causes me to seek the adulation of the world. Pride cannot seek the approval of God, nor can it be approved by God. James 4:6 tells us “But he gives us more grace.” That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV) So my pride must turn somewhere else for its approval, and the only other place to turn is to the world. I am thereby separated from the love of God because I have turned away from Him to seek my approval from another place.

So, just how stupid is the sin of pride. 1 John 2:17 provides an answer to this question. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV) Have you ever built a sand castle? I’m talking about a really nice sand castle with towers and moats and bridges and flags? Something you could really be proud of. Something that people who walked by stopped to look at. What did it look like the next day when you went back to the beach? It didn’t look like anything, it was gone. The tide and the waves swept that sand castle into nothingness. The same is true of everything that causes us to have pride. It will all be swept clean away in an instant of time. But what is it that will endure forever? The one who does the will of God. I am reminded here of Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Notice that all the things that these people said that they did for God were a source of pride because they were not done under the authority of the will of God. Our only answer before God for our righteousness is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, not what we did here on earth. Pride is vanquished when we put our righteousness under the light of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (NIV)

By Berean Husband


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