Which one is it? Which one would I say is people who have been believers in Christ for long time are prone to the most? Is it a secret addiction like pornography? Is is a secret sin such as sexual or emotional affairs? Is is gossip and social guerilla warfare? I would say that it is none of the above, but the sin which I am thinking of may be a part of all of them. That sin is pride.
I believe that the tendency to pride is ignored primarily because it is an inward sin of thought and attitude first, a sin of the heart. It requires honest self appraisal rather than someone else pointing it out – and so many in the churches have been taught rightfully not to judge the hearts of others. Many believers who have followed the Lord for a long time gradually distance themselves from the kinds of outward sins that would mean social disapproval in the church. It is this very inward nature of this kind of pride that makes it both so prevalent and so deadly. Unfortunately, pride is at the root of virtually all sin complexes, sinful habits of thinking, speaking and acting, and addictive sins.
Pride, and its ally, stubbornness, are rarely treated as the deadly sins that they are in the preaching and teaching of the modern church, where sin is even explicitly mentioned.
Pride, in the form of stubborn self righteousness, prevents honest dealing with secret, addictive sins and more open relational sins. It’s often a large part of why breaking and broken relationships in the church seem stuck in concrete.
Pride, in the form of selfish ambition, draws believers to seek and trust in a position of leadership as a cover for and an escape from their sins.
Pride, in form of vanity, is the sin behind ‘male ego’, ‘female vanity’ and both male and female selfishness, and thus results in many broken hearts, volatile dating relationships and broken marriages.
Pride, in the form of protecting a false religious reputation, is the reason why there are lost men and women who continue in our churches for many years. They know the right words to say by listening to and repeating what they hear from others but cannot admit that they need genuine conversion. This admission then comes when they really do come to the point of genuine conversion.
It is the root of the folly and ruthlessness of adultescence and middle age.
Here is a brief survey of what the scriptures say about pride.
- It is totally contrary to the character and humility of Christ (Matthew 11:29, Philippians 2:1-11) which is the attitude that God wants from the believer.
- It is contrary to Christlike love (I Corinthians 13:4-5).
- It makes a believer insensitive to the leading of God by the Word through the Spirit (Proverbs 10:17, 12:15, 15:10,32).
- It makes a believer susceptible to exploitation by others through flattery, and self deception and self seduction in the path of sin through self flattery (Psalm 36:3 , Galatians 6:7. Obadiah 3).
- It is the road to humiliations galore, but its opposite, humility, is the road to genuine respect and honor. “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor" (Proverbs 29:23, see also Proverbs 16:18, 18:12, 29:23).
- It makes a believer susceptible to false teaching (I Timothy 6:3-4).
- It is the source of contention among believers (Proverbs 13:10, 28:25).
- It makes a person susceptible to demonic influence through seducing lies (Isaiah 14:12ff, I Timothy 3:6).
With the lack of preaching and teaching on the spiritual, psychological and interpersonal consequences of pride, it is no wonder that strongly narcissistic tendencies have taken hold of more and more in modern US society – including many in the professing church
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.