Gary L. Grizzell
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psa. 10:4).
What Does The New Testament Say About Pride?
There is a kind of pride in our everyday usage that is good as when we refer to having a proper self-respect, self-value or self-image. However, our concern in this article is about the other kind of pride, a nonproductive pride, of which the Bible speaks repeatedly.
Jesus listed pride along with terrible sins like wickedness, theft and murders. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Pride here refers to “haughtiness, arrogance” (Strong’s).
One of the reasons a novice—one newly planted—is not to be appointed an elder in the church is his susceptibility to being lifted up with pride. Pride is described as the reason for Satan’s fall. So, lest the novice fall like the Devil, he is not to be placed into the eldership. “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6).
The “pride of life” is of the world and not from God.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17, emph. GLG).
Christians are told not to love the world with its 1) lust of the flesh, 2) lust of the eyes, and 3) pride of life. These are not of the Father. Obedient children wish to have what is from their good Father. That which is of the Father is the word of God (instruction), forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. This pride of life causes individuals to remain in control of their lives, instead of turning their wills over to God’s will. But, “If any man will do his will” the blessing will follow (John 7:17).
Examples Of Individuals Who Allowed Themselves
To Be Destroyed Because of This Wrong Kind Of Pride
Adam and Eve. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6). Eve, the first sinner, saw the unauthorized tree was “to be desired to make one wise” and wanted to be like God, but not in a good way, knowing good and evil. In essence, Satan said that God is holding out on you, and you will be gods in competition with Him if you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve imagined herself as God’s equal!! For her desire to usurp deity, one of her punishments was submission to the man—“he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16; see 1 Tim. 2:11-14). Adam ate of the unauthorized fruit because he desired to do his own will, having listened to the bad counsel of his wife (Gen. 3:6). Back of it all was the pride of life! Today, men sin because they wish to do their own wills rather than God’s will. Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Mat. 10:39)
Men in Noah’s Day.
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Men in Noah’s day chose to do their own will instead of God’s will and thus suffered the consequences of their own doing. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:12-13).
This grieved God greatly. When men today choose to have the pride of life, rejecting God’s revealed will, the New Testament of Christ, God is grieved. (Mark 3:5; 2 Pet. 3:15, 2 John 9-11).
Those who built the Tower of Babel. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). Out of the pride of man, the pride of life, men chose a project which would keep themselves together. However, God wanted men to scatter and replenish the earth. After the flood the Bible says, “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. 9:1). Today, the pride of life keeps little men in high places in the church from supporting faithful preachers from going into other places on the earth in preaching the gospel to the lost.
Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate (Esther 5:9-13).
Haman was truly the man who was hanged on his own gallows. He was the son of the prime minister of Ahasuerus, the Persian king (Esther 3:1). He also was the enemy of Mordecai and the Jews, God’s people He was happy for awhile. He ate with the king and queen alone. He was scheduled to eat privately with them again. He was promoted above the princes and servants. But (vs. 13) he said he could not be happy as long as that man, Mordecai, was allowed to maintain his integrity by not bowing to him. It was the king’s commandment for people to bow to Haman.
And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence” (Esther 3:2). However, Haman’s pride got the best of him when “…Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified” (Esther 7:9-10).
Of the seven things the Lord hates, the list begins with “a proud look” (Prov. 6:16).
Today, in the church when a Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence, arises, one is reminded of the sin of pride as seen in Haman and of God’s disapproval of suchlike characters.
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (3 John 9-10).
Inspired of the Holy Spirit, the apostle John promised that “if I come, I will remember his deeds…” Does not God weep in secret places when His people refuse to heed the teaching of the New Testament? “But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive” (Jer. 13:17).
Pharoah. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him” (Exo. 10:1). Note that the passage tells us that God hardened Pharoah’s heart (God did the hardening). Another passage states the same basic fact of God doing the hardening of the heart of prideful Pharoah: “And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land” (Exo. 11:10). It is not a contradiction that the Bible says Pharoah hardened his own heart (Pharoah did the hardening). Note the following passages:
But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said (Exo. 8:15).
And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go” (Exo. 8:32).
And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants ” (Exo. 9:34).
The end result of the pride of life seen in Pharoah is found here: “For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea ” (Exo. 15:19).
There is a Biblical principle of proper interpretation of the text which notes that God is said to do that which He allows. God allowed wicked Pharoah to harden his own heart due to his being lifted up with pride. Therefore, it is said both ways. In the Christian Age today it is possible to reject the Gospel of Christ and thus harden one’s own heart. Let us be careful to receive the Word with all readiness of mind as seen in the first century Bereans:
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:10-11).
The New Covenant warns us:
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8).
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (Heb. 3:15).
Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Heb. 4:7).
King Nebuchanezzar. Thinking too highly of himself and taking credit which is due only to God, the king was to be taught a lesson.
At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee” (Dan. 9:29-31).
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation (Dan. 4:33-34).
The king learned his lesson and after being in his right mind stated words which should be heeded today by those who are lifted up with pride: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Dan. 4:37). Today, we are to recognize and respect that Jesus is the authority in matters pertaining to salvation, Christianity and religion. Our Lord stated, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat. 28:18). “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). There are not two heads to the body, but one, Who is Christ. The pride of Nebuchadnezzar, of which he repented, may be reflected upon by those who would exalt any so-called earthly head to the church today. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
A different king, King Hezekiah, serves as a good example of how God honors one who repents of his pride. “Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah” (2 Chron. 32:26).
The Solution For Pride Is Found In Appreciating Passages Bearing On The Subject
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). Truly, as someone once said, The ground is level at the foot of the cross. You are not on a higher level than I and I am not on a higher level than you, regarding human worth in the sight of God.
We are all from Adam, the first man (Gen. 1:26-27). That image was marred by sin in Adam’s life in the beginning and today men are sinners because all have personally sinned (Rom. 3:23). As someone once said, “We are not all guilty of the same sins but all are guilty.”
Jesus, The Son of God, is the greatest example of humility. With the cross in clear view the Bible says, “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mat. 26:39).
Those who choose to go to heaven to be with God, the Creator, will obey the Gospel of Christ and thereby be new creatures in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
In overcoming the pride of life (which is but a stubborn will that would not submit to the Will of God in the New Testament), we are followers of the second Adam—Christ— Who will one day give us a heavenly body. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45).
Having taken heed to the preaching of the Gospel, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). We are thankful for God’s spiritual blessings and say with Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; read the rest of Ephesians chapter one to find these spiritual blessings listed by the Holy Spirit).
As a new Christian one has new priorities and a new direction:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).