Pride: Sin’s Sinister Seed (Part V- Its Various Evidences)

Christian Living

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

I hope that at this point we have understood what pride is, where it leads, and the seriousness of the call to be fighting against it.  If we have, then surly we see that it is crucial that we be doing the work of self-examination, that we be discerning pride in our lives, that we be discovering previously unseen pockets of it and getting after it with Spirit empowered tenacity.

During this process we must remember that the battle against sin does not save us.  We are saved on the merits and by the works of Christ alone.  However, while the battle against sin does not save us, it is one of the Biblical traits that characterize a saved person.  We do this by the grace of God, in the shadow of the cross of Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a battle which Christians must be engaged in and one which we must be gaining ground.

What I want to do is give you some self-diagnosis tools to aid you in this battle.  To kill pride, we have to first find it in ourselves.

Whenever I’m starting to feel sick, and it’s clearly not just a common cold, I usually go to WebMD and use their self-diagnosis tool.

They have this picture of the body and you click on the part that hurts or isn’t working right, and then you click boxes and eventually it tells you what might be wrong with you.

I want to give you eight evidences of pride for use in spiritual self-diagnosis.  These are things we can all take and check our own hearts and your own conduct with, so that by God’s grace and for his glory we might be fruitful in this fight against remaining sin.

1. Hypocrisy

Our hypocrisy manifests itself when the standards we apply to others do not apply personally.  Pride is quick to excuse itself, and so hypocritical disjunction between the ways we measure others and our own disciplines is a sire evidence of pride.  Most dangerous of all is when we harbor secret sins which we would be quick to condemn in others.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.  Matthew 23: 27 

2.  Hyper-Sensitivity

Do you get the sense that people feel like talking to you is akin to trying to disarm a live bomb?  What is your reaction to criticism?  Are you appalled that anyone would dare to question you?

Pride is evidenced when we are unwilling to hear our own faults, while humility acknowledges its imperfections and is therefore willing to be corrected.  Our hyper-sensitivity betrays our prideful belief in our own impeccability.

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Proverbs 9:7-8

3. Self-Justification

In addition to being hyper-sensitive, pride is always quick to make excuses for itself.

Take stock of your own conversations and ask yourself- are you a master of justifying your own actions, decisions, and intentions?

For me, this shows up in my marriage.  After a disagreement, I can meticulously self-justify: Yes I should not have done that… BUT let me self-justify it away and explain how it’s your fault.

We’re so quick to affirm an orthodox understanding of sin in mankind, but we’re so reluctant to admit to our own.  If we really believe that all have sinned and fallen short and that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked and that out of the heart flows all manner of evil then shouldn’t we be quick to own our own sin and to repent and seek forgiveness?

But our pride is evidenced in our constant self-justification

4. Elitism

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 10:10-14

Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.

Have you got it all figured out?  Is your only interaction with others to teach them, never to learn from them?  Elitism can show up in any area of our lives, but far too often it is our interactions with and conversations about other Christians than reveal this evidence of pride.

Is there anything more distasteful than an elitist Christian?  Perhaps the only thing more distasteful and devastating than an elitist Christian is an elitist church.  Yet could there be more of an oxymoron that either of those?  An elitist Christian?  An elitist church?  The root of each is pride, and elitism is a clear evidence of its un-dealt with presence.

5. A Lack of Real Relationship and Accountability with Others

Pride also bears itself out in a sort of radical independence, in a “lone ranger” approach to the Christian life.

Stop and ask yourself this: who do you have that is really able to speak into your life?  Is there no one?  If there is, are you honest with them?  Do these other evidences we’ve been seeing rear their heads in that process?

There is nothing independent about the Christian life.  I would remind you that there are over forty verses in the New Testament speaking directly to either how we are to relate or not relate to one another.  Christianity is a contact sport.  Lack of real transparent relationships can be an evidence of pride.

6. A Critical Spirit

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

How very antithetical to Christian love it is to have a censorious, critical spirit.  I’m not talking about laying aside discernment or wisdom or discretion, but has your pride manifested itself in your constant criticism of your wife, your kids, your company, your boss, your school, the government, your church, your pastors, other Christians and their churches and their pastors?

We love to think we are being wise and mature and discerning when we’re really just letting our pride run unchecked and puffing up our own heads.

7. No Discernment of Personal Pride

If we are at this point and you’ve not seen yourself in any of these points, I fear you may be in the worst position of all.  An earlier post in this series included this quote from Jonathon Edwards

The humble man sees his arrogance.  He sees it clearly, and as a result he aggressively pursues a life of humility, but he doesn’t think of himself as humble.  The proud man is completely unaware of his pride.  Of all men he is convinced that he is humble.[1]

The discernment of personal pride is difficult because of the particular nature of this sin, because this is the sin which excuses itself like no other.

And we shouldn’t expect that our pride will always manifest itself like Nebuchadnezzar’s did –in grand statements of our own glory- but remember that he just had greater opportunity.  Yes, his sin found greater expression, but do we dare believe that ours would do any different in the same scenario, or that our more subtle pride is any less poisonous?  Anthrax is bad for you, whether in a teacup or a bucket.

Consider the standard by which you measure your own sin.  It must not be your relation to other men.  You must weigh yourself against the perfections of almighty God.  You must see that your pride is no less poisonous than the pride of Eden, Cain, Babel, Nebuchadnezzar, or the Pharisees.  It may be less open, it may be less public, but it is the same species and it springs from the same poison seed.

If you have not discerned any pride in your own soul, pray the Lord would open your eyes.  Because that is in and of itself an evidence that it has become so pervasive you can’t even see it anymore.

8. The Chief Evidence of Pride: Prayerlessness

There is no greater evidence of pride, and no more dangerous path for a Christian to be on, than to be living a life of prayerlessness.  A wise man once told me that prayer is to the Christian life what sleep is to the body.  You cannot go without it long and continue to function normally.

Yet in our pride, we cut ourselves off from the only means of grace to which we literally can avail ourselves at any waking moment, the one which we have greater access to than any other.  Our empty prayer closet, the silence of our hearts, and the dead formalism we muster up on Sunday is the chief evidence of pride in the Christian life.  It is saying to God, I do not need you.

It is pride’s chief evidence.

In a recent assignment for a Reformed Baptist Seminary course, I interviewed three men currently serving in Pastoral ministry.  Every one of them pointed out the dangers of pride for men in ministry, especially young men.  In fact, it was in one of those interviews that an experienced pastor told me that the chief evidence of pride is always prayerlessness.

I’m not going to turn this blog into a confessional, but I do want you the reader to know that this is a universal struggle from which the author of this post is not at all exempt.  We all fight this.  In fact, nothing would concern me more that a Christian who could look at these eight evidences of pride and come away thinking they are unscathed.

Personal examination can be a brutal process.  It leaves us feeling a bit bloodied and beaten down by the weight and the ugliness of our sin.  It leaves us in desperate need of hope.  That hope is found in the next post, which will conclude this series on pride.

[1] Edwards, The Religious Affections, p. 261.

(By: Nicolas Alford)

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