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Stinking Pride

Michael Beck Michael Beck

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)

Pride cannot help but evoke comparison. “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are …” (Luke 18:11) The chief sin of the Pharisees was religious pride. They were in love with their own “spirituality.” A spiritual pride of life had taken hold of them, and as much as they professed having a superior quality of relationship with God and His Word, Jesus knew otherwise: “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42); “And ye have not his word abiding in you” (John 5:38)

Pride deceives the heart. “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee …” (Obadiah 1:3) It convinces us we have something we do not have. It causes us to trust in ourselves, and what we have more than another. Because the Pharisees were so enamored by their wisdom and righteousness they naturally despised others who were not where they thought they were. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9)

But the Lord made it clear who He considered to be right – not those who were lifted up and admiring themselves, but those who were lowly and looking to Him. “… For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Those most in danger of falling are those who think they can’t.

Surely, pride goes before a fall. Pride preceded the fall of Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness …” (Ezek. 28:17) Even one as solid as the apostle Paul was in danger of spiritual pride: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Cor. 12:7) Those most in danger of falling are those who think they can’t. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12)

The amazing thing about pride is that those who walk in it rarely see it. They are too captivated by their beauty, or goodness, or “rightness.” The works of the flesh are manifested in their life, but not to their eyes. They may believe they are fully walking in the Spirit. But the tell-tale signs of spiritual pride are evident to others. What are they? “Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies” (Gal. 5:20)

The Pharisees were quick to spot the sins of adultery and drunkenness. Uncleanness of the flesh is always much easier to detect than uncleanness of the spirit. But both defile and cause God to resist us.

Wherever we look down on others for their failures, we are not looking up to God for our success.

Would we draw near to Him, so that He would draw near to us? Then we must come in complete brokenness, with an eye that only desires to behold His beauty, and extol Him. He has shown us what is good and what He requires of us – not only that we do justly, but that we also love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. A humble heart knows how much it owes to the gracious work of God. It is merciful to others, knowing, “but for the grace of God, there go I.” Wherever we look down on others for their failures, we are not looking up to God for our success. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

You may have a great reputation for many things. Like the Pharisees, you may know more of the Word than your rational counterparts. Your zeal for your cause may be so great that you are willing to “compass sea and land to make one proselyte.” (Matt. 23:15) Your fear of God may cause you to vehemently hate evil. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil …” (Prov. 8:13a) But remember, there is something else the Lord hates as well: “… pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Prov. 8:13b)

Hate pride as much, if not more, than you do any other sin. It is more deadly.

Beware of this insidious, subtle working of religious pride, which causes you to secretly glory over what you know or do better than others. Pride stinks to the highest heaven. The pride that begets strife and contempt of others is an affront to God’s nostrils. “Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” (Isa. 65:5) Pride is like a fly in the ointment that causes all your other good to reek. (Eccles. 10:1)

Don’t allow your good to be evil spoken of. Hate pride as much, if not more, than you do any other sin. It is more deadly.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.