READ: Proverbs 16, Luke 4, 1 John 5
TEMPTED TO PRIDE
Pride lurks in every human heart, waiting for the most damaging time to emerge. Proverbs warns us that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18), and the destruction is not of the bearer alone. Pride destroys the innocent as often as it does the bearer. We are told in Luke 4:13 when Jesus was tempted by the devil, that “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (emphasis added). Not only did Jesus endure every form of temptation, it seems He had to overcome multiple repetitions of these temptations. The opportune time for the devil is usually the most vulnerable time for his victims. The devil will tempt us to pride over and over again, and if we succumb to the repeated temptation, we will not only destroy ourselves, but we will also destroy those around us. The goal of the devil in his temptation of God’s children is seldom limited to the destruction of one individual. The devil is driven to communal mass slaughter.
The Pride of Thinking Ourselves Good. The Son of God has come and has given us understanding (1 John 5:20). Elemental Christianity teaches us that we are not good, have never been good, and will never be good in our own strength. Pride repeatedly whispers otherwise and flatters us incessantly telling us we are intrinsically good, that we deserve exemptions, that we have innate goodness. Pride makes us feel good about ourselves; pride makes us self-reliant. Humility makes us feel good about God; humility makes us God dependent.
The Pride of Thinking Ourselves Better. If the devil cannot tempt us into thinking we are good, he circles around again and this time concedes: “True, you are not good, but at least you are better than those around you.” To this attractive delusion we remind ourselves that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (v. 19). We are not under the authority of the devil, but our minds and wills are fallen and we are depraved. The biblical definition of sin does not allow for “better sin.” My sin cannot be better than my neighbors. All sin condemns. Any sin condemns. If you are a sinner (and you are), there can be no “better than.”
The Pride of Thinking Ourselves Immune. Once more the subtle serpent attempts to throw a coil around our spirit. “True,” he says, “you are not good, and you are not better than your brother, but at least you are not vulnerable to certain sins; at least you will never do what others have done.” This lie can be the most damaging of all, for the reality is that we can commit any sin that exists. The capacity for evil in our heart knows no bounds and a sure way to slip is to believe the lie that we are incapable of slipping. False confidence leads to moral laxity. Every wall must be shored up and defended. Nothing is as dangerous to us as an undefended strength.