“In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 8:4
Pride has this strange ability of turning even the wisest among us into fools. It blinds us to the truth around us. If you boil down this sin (and every other sin) to its basic element, it’s this:
We think we would make a better god than God.
We think our way is better. We think we would make better choices. In our hearts, we walk up to God on His throne and say “You’re in my seat.” It was the tempting prospect of “becoming like God” that led Adam and Eve into sin and the fall of mankind. It was the plan to “be like God” that led to Satan being cast out of heaven. In fact, I can see this being Satan’s favorite sin for two reasons:
- We so easily fall for it.
- It was his own.
In Isaiah 14:13-15, we see what pride did to the highest of angels. A highly exalted position with God was not enough for Satan. He wanted more. In his pride, Satan declared:
“I will make myself like the Most High.”
“I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly”
“I will ascend to the heavens”
“I will raise my throne above the stars of God”
This pride that rose up in him, despite the honorable position he held, told him that he deserved more, that God didn’t have his best interest in mind, that he would make a better god. This led to him being cast out of heaven, along with all the angels who decided to follow him instead of God. The same pride rises up in man, and the results are the same. In his arrogance, the “wicked man” that David speaks of in Psalm 10 says:
“Nothing will ever shake me.”
“No one will ever do me harm.”
“God will never notice”
“He won’t call me to account”
Now, most of us are not foolish enough to say these things out loud, because that would be crazy. We wouldn’t dare make such bold and arrogant statements…we just live like we believe them. We wouldn’t dare call ourselves God…we just get mad when people don’t do what we want them to do or things don’t happen the way we want them to happen. Whether we want to admit it or not, this temptation is always creeping around in the dark places of our hearts. It’s the sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents, and it has been passed from generation to generation like some wicked inheritance. In Genesis 11, the world comes together to form a city and to build a tower to the sky in order to “make a name for themselves”, but God changes their languages so that they are unable to communicate with each other, causing them to disperse. Stories of the downfall and destruction of pride continue on throughout the Bible and throughout human history.
Proverbs 16:5 says “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” What this means for the “wicked man” is that, eventually, he finds out that the exact opposite of his arrogant statements are true:
I will be shaken.
I will be harmed.
God is always aware.
He will hold me accountable.
So how do we guard our hearts against pride? By doing what Paul does: Boasting in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The more we focus on Christ, the less we focus on ourselves. In “The Glory of Christ”, John Owen says:
“On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy.”
The higher and more exalted we see Christ, we can’t help but be reminded of why Jesus came to earth and why He was crucified…because I am a wicked sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I have nothing in me to be prideful of, nothing to boast about except that I know the Lord and He is King for ever and ever.
“Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24