Although we can only really scratch the surface, I want to look at a few Scriptural episodes which are particularly representative of what the Bible has to say about pride.
To see the Biblical dimensions of pride we must of course begin at the beginning itself, in the Garden of Eden. How did the Serpent entice Adam and Eve to rebel against God? By an appeal to pride.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
(Genesis 3:1-6 ESV)
Satan, that master of temptation, knew to target his appeal to man’s pride. He knew exactly how to bait the hook. It is here that the language of pride as “sin’s sinister seed” is most appropriate. Pride was the root of the first sin, that desire to push ourselves up while pushing all others below us.
Let’s jump forward quite a bit. Daniel 4 is a fascinating record of an interaction between Daniel himself and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was at this point probably the most powerful man in all the world. He had a dream, which was interpreted to him as a warning about his own unchecked pride bringing him to ruin. Yet in verse 30 the King is walking in his palace, and he says
…and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
(Daniel 4:30-33 ESV)
There is just one more text I want to look at, and that is Mark 7:20-23.
What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men proceed…
Let me just stop there. In these verses Christ teaches something which turns the way most people think about the world and themselves completely on its head. We like to think of ourselves as victims of circumstance. We like to place the blame for our shortcomings and our sins on our environment and on the various stimuli which come from outside ourselves.
And it is certainly true that many people struggle with horrendous circumstances, and that the world is full of provocation and temptation.
But Christ is saying something here that rips down our house of pride. He is saying the issue is you. There are many things you can put into your body which are bad for you. Too much of the wrong sort of food. Too much alcohol. Harmful drugs. But the putting of these things into yourself is a symptom, not a root causes of your issue. The issue is your own heart. The issue is the sinful desire for these things which came from you and which reaches out and grabs them and brings them in to satisfy itself. The issue is the heart.
And in this verse Christ lists several sins which flow from the heart.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.
Christ calls pride an evil thing and he lists it side by side with murder and blasphemy. And the soil in which this sinister, poison seed is cultivated, is the soil of our own hearts.
That is just a sliver of what the Bible has to say about pride. Truly, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
(By: Nicolas Alford)