So many things can be said on the topic of pride. We know there are different types of pride, both good and bad. I am going to touch on the negative side of pride, the kind that is self-destructive and causes total loss.
It cannot be understood any plainer than Proverbs 16:18:
Too much pride will destroy you. CEV
Being too prideful will ultimately cause our downfall or destruction. If we exalt ourselves above everything and everyone, striving for position and honor, we will be humbled by God. If we humble ourselves, God will find a way to exalt us in this life or the one to come in eternity.
So, what is pride?
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired; consciousness of one’s own dignity; confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience; the best state or condition of something; the prime; be especially proud of (a particular quality or skill).
The definition does not portray pride as all bad. As we found out two weeks ago some level of pride can be a good thing, like pride in our work or pride in our accomplishments. Pride does not become a bad thing until it is turned inward and projected outward without any humbleness to temper it. I do believe we should have a level of pride, just not take it to the point of excess.
We all know from Proverbs 6:16-19 that the Lord hates seven things: proud eyes (pride), a dishonest tongue, hands that kill the innocent, hearts that plan evil, feet that sprint to do wrong, a deceitful witness who pours out lies, and a person who causes conflict in a family. Notice that pride is at the top of God’s list of hated sins. Scripture warns us what pride will lead to.
I want to explore one of the most famous, pride-filled entities in existence. Between pride and self-ambition, it was inevitable that Satan would end up in opposition to God. However, I do not believe that Satan’s story started out with him as the villain. I believe that the devil is not as ugly as people want to portray him, otherwise, we would not so easily step into the sin of pride and self-ambition ourselves.
Let’s take Satan’s role in the story of Job for example.
Job’s first test (Job 1:6-12) In this account we see that Satan, after patrolling the earth, reported to the Lord. (Note that Satan was reporting to God with the heavenly court members, so I question his standing at the moment.) God in turns ask Satan if he has seen His servant Job. In the discussion between Satan and God, we see that Satan feels that if Job were to fall upon hard times, he would not be such a good servant. In turn, God gives Satan permission to test Job’s faith and resolve. Satan is allowed to take away all of Job’s possessions, but not to harm him. Yet, even after this kind of loss, Job held firm to his faith and never blamed God.
Job’s second test (Job 2:1-10) Satan, again with the heavenly members, reports to God what he has seen on earth. (Note that again Satan is allowed in God’s presence). God again references Job. Satan then petitions God to allow him to harm Job physically this time. Now I think Satan’s pride is coming into play because he was unable to break the man’s integrity in the first test. God agrees to allow Satan to strike at Job’s health but does not allow Satan to take his life. Again, Job passes the test with flying colors, even while in terrible health and dealing with a wife who tells him to curse God and die! Most of us know how the story ends, but if you have never read Job’s story, I encourage you to check out Job 42 to see how it ends.
Though we see the sin of pride connected to Satan in the New Testament, much is written about it in the Old Testament. Let’s go to Scripture and examine Old Testament passages that speak of the original fallen one.
In Isaiah 14:1-23, we see that Isaiah taunts the King of Babylon. He compares Satan’s pride to the king’s as well as each of their aspirations to be seen as higher than God. In fact, he compares the King of Babylon’s future to Satan’s fall from Heaven.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14:12-14 NLT
In Ezekiel chapter 28, Satan’s pride is referenced again in a message received by Ezekiel from the Lord to the king of Tyre. In his pride, the king of Tyre actually claimed to be a god. He had amassed great riches with his wisdom and these riches made him enormously proud. He regarded himself wiser than Daniel, thinking he knew all things. But God sent not only a stern warning to him, but a funeral song as well (notice the symbolism to Satan):
“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone… I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you… So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you” Ezekiel 28:11-17 NLT
This tells me that Satan lost sight of what he was made for. It also tells us that Satan was originally blameless in all he did until he let sin slip into his heart. God had made him an angelic guardian, but Satan’s pride and self-ambition made him lose sight of that. Satan thought he was at the top of his game when God casted him down to the earth.
You see, pride is like high blood pressure; it is a silent killer in our souls. It is so subtle and seductive that we do not realize it is happening unless we continuously stay in the Word. When Satan succumbed to pride, God’s most hated sin, the corruption systematically infected other angels as well. To stop the spread, God cast all involved from the Heavens.
Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before it is too late. Acknowledge Him before He brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains. For then, when you look for the light, you will find only terrible darkness and gloom. Jeremiah 13:15-16 NLT
We recognize blatant sins like murder and lust, but the sin of pride remains subtle. We must stay in a firm relationship with God and speak with Him daily to prevent the sin of pride from getting its clutches on our souls.
First, I give honor to our Almighty God in Heaven. You have provided us with a weapon to prevent the sin of pride from consuming our hearts. My prayer is for everyone to recognize the subtle sin of pride and seek Your covering over our lives. We too often forget that it is not the obvious things that the enemy places in our path, but the subtle sins that will trip us up and make us stumble and fall. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to examine these emotions. I send up continuous prayers that this is an aid and not a hindrance. Thank you, Lord, for everything You have done thus far in our lives and every blessing You have in store for us. In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen
Written by Melony Henderson
All scriptures are taken from the NLT and CEV.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society