Sunday, September 20, 2009

The hidden epidemic- PRIDE

Pride is defined as- conceited, arrogant, haughtiness, or to have an excessively high opinion of oneself. Pride is a sin that deceives. It's effects are found everywhere, even in the church, in the pulpit as well as the pews, from the top to the bottom of society. Pride is the reason that many will not respond to Christ. Pride is a sin that deceives people. It is the chief cause of strife. Pride is a sense of superiority over others. As long as you are proud you cannot know God, you will not acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in your life. Pride alienates you from others. You judge others and deem them lower than yourself.

The sin of pride is a preoccupation with self. It is thus very fitting that the middle letter in the word is "i." Pride is all about "me, myself, and I." So even as the word "pride" is centered upon an "i," the sin itself is also centered upon "I." We read of Lucifer's fall, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit." Satan's hostility against God began with "I". And so it is with us. If you are preoccupied with yourself, you are suffering from the sin of pride.

One way to determine whether or not you are preoccupied with yourself is to evaluate your motives. Take the pursuit knowledge for example. If you study hard because that's what the Lord wants you to do and you're being obedient to Him, that's good. That's obedience to God. Or if you study hard because you want to become a teacher so that you can edify others and help them to grow, that's good too. That's love for others. But if you study hard solely to amass knowledge for yourself, just so you can say that you know more than everyone else, that's bad! Your focus is upon yourself and your own glory. That's preoccupation with self. That's pride. And if this is the case for you, not only are you already suffering from pride, you're setting yourself up to be totally consumed by it! The Apostle Paul wasn't joking when he said, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies."And anyone who is ever been there will tell you, knowledge for the wrong reasons (i.e. personal glory) will lead to a proud heart and hostility against God.

So how do we fight against the sin of pride? First we need to recognize that we have a problem. And this might be the hardest part, because as we have seen pride skews our perception of reality. It lies to us. It says to us, "You don't have a problem with pride; you're not being proud, you're just being honest with yourself! You are better than everyone else and you deserve all the glory. You've established yourself by your wisdom and your might. You, you, you…" And it feels good. It's hard to see the truth when your own heart is lying to you - wooing you with approval. It's hard to stop and think for a minute, "No, I'm not worth more than anyone else, God loves us all the same and His opinion is the only one that really matters. And as for my glory, to God be all praise and glory! I didn't establish myself by my wisdom and might, I've just used the gifts which God gave me to do that for which He gave them to me in the first place! I am an unprofitable servant; I've only done that which was my duty to do." Luke 17:10

It's hard to humble yourself like that when you're stuck in pride. And it's hard to see the truth when you're lying to yourself. So you're going to need help. The Lord says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."
Jeremiah 17:9-10. Your heart might be able to trick you, but it can't trick God!

So the very first thing to do is to get on your knees and pray. Say with David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"
Psalm 139:23-24. Ask God for mercy. Cry out with David, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" Psalm 51:1-2. By asking for God's help you're actually humbling yourself before Him and God will honor that. The Scripture says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." This isn't just a warning to the proud; it's a promise to the humble. If you humble yourself before God in prayer, God will pour His grace upon you. And while sin might be able to overcome you, it's no match for God's awesome power. So pray. Pray, pray, pray. That's the first step. By praying you're, not only are you petitioning God to intercede on your behalf, which He'll do by His grace if you're sincere, you're actually combating the sin of pride yourself by humbling yourself before God, humility being the opposite of pride. It's like fighting fire with water.

The next thing to do after God starts to show you areas where you're proud is to fight it mentally. When you experience a sudden pang of pride and you recognize it for what it is, mentally expose it. Admit to yourself that you're being proud and ask the Lord to forgive you. Say, "I'm just being proud; Lord, please forgive me."

The third and final thing to do is to tell your brothers and sisters in Christ that you're struggling with pride and ask them to pray for you. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much
James 5:16

So in summary, the sin of pride manifests itself in selfish motives, an exaggerated ego, a low opinion of others, and disrespect for God. It can lead to other sins against God. For example: robbing God of the glory He is due, and it can and does distort your perception of reality. We fight pride by humbling ourselves before God in prayer, asking Him to reveal the pride hidden in our hearts, acknowledging and repenting of pride when we see it in ourselves, and by being transparent with our Christian family for the sake of accountability and prayer.

In closing here are a few passages of Scripture dealing specifically with pride:

"The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts."
Psalms 10:4

"Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar."
Psalm 138:6

"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate."
Proverbs 8:13

"When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom."
Proverbs 11:2

"By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom."
Proverbs 13:10

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 16:18

"Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished."
Proverbs 16:5

"A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor."
Proverbs 29:23


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