Pride:  The Greatest Sin Problem

If you were to be asked, “What is the greatest ‘sin problem’ we face in the world today?” what would you say? How would you respond? Would you say “The sin of homosexuality?” “Sexual immorality?” Or maybe even “Idolatry,” if you really stopped to think about it? And what if you were asked what the greatest ‘sin problem’ in the church was today? What would you say? “Worldliness?” “Doctrines of men?” “Lack of faithful commitment?”

I would like to suggest to you that the greatest ‘sin problem’ in both the world and the church today is one that far surpasses the pain and problems perpetrated by any one of the above individually. Now granted, one might find that to be an incredulous and ludicrous statement if they stopped to consider the heart-breaking and soul-costing consequences of even any particular one of the above mentioned sins. But here’s the key to understanding said statement: The ‘sin-problem’ of whence I speak is not any one sin in particular, but instead, is the particular problem that lies at the root of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE AND ALL OTHER SINS! This ‘sin-problem’ to which I refer, is the one, overwhelming problem that lies at the heart, soul, and root of all such sin! It is the root system which feeds, supports, and fully nourishes the entire forest of sin, each individual sin simply being but a small leaf on a very large tree – all of which are rooted in the caustic and satanic soil of this sin-causing and soul-condemning condition. It is the one, incredibly-powerful, infectiously primeval, insidious element, without which the whole forest of sin would simply fall flat and die. And simply put, this ‘sin problem’ of such vast destruction, is simply… “pride,” period.

Think about it. Every single sin men commit against God and one another, is, in one way or another, brought about because of an appeal to our pride and the subsequent response of our own selfish, self-centered, self-promoting, self-righteous, self-gratifying at all cost, “me first,” “I deserve to have what I want when I want it, because after all, it’s all about me” attitude. Don’t think so? Then consider this…

What was the reason Satan was shown to have been cast down out of heaven? Because of his pride, pure and simple. Because he believed he should be equal with God, being so puffed up in his own pride and splendor – See prophecies of Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:13-17. (It is also interesting to note and compare, that if Jesus is the perfect personification of the word of God – and He is {Jn. 1:14} – that Satan could certainly be said to be the personification of pride, from both the perspective of these passages and for the purposes of this study!)

When the earth was originally created by God as a perfect and sinless paradise, what was the one angle Satan approached from, to successfully tempt Eve and thus introduce sin, sickness, death, disease and destruction, all into God’s perfect creation? An all-out assault and appeal to her pride; a blatant and blasphemous statement designed to provoke the dark power of her prideful “me-firstness” into action: Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God… (Gen 3:4-5a). Or, in the words of ‘Tool Times’ Tim Taylor,’ a personal appeal to “more power!”

If you really stop to think about it, whether we are talking about the sins of idolatry, adultery, thievery, homosexuality, dishonesty, drunkenness, man-made denominational doctrines, or any other sin you can think of, they all come back to a “self first,” self-satisfaction, self-gratification, self-promotion, self-empowerment, and self-centered appeal, seduction, and temptation to selfishness. And they are countless! From Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-6), to Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1-8), to David and Bathsheba (II Sam. 11:1-17), to James and John (Matt. 20:20-28), to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10), to Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Tim. 1:18-20), to Diotrephes (III Jn. 9-10) and even on into today at this very moment! Every sin, every time, everywhere, wherever they’re being committed, are being committed and causing pain and suffering because someone has listened to Satan – whether they know it, or will admit it or not – and is determined to do what they want, when they want, the way they want – despite the cost, consequences, or the very commandments of God themselves!

Let’s limit the focus of our attention on just the Lord’s church itself for a few minutes, seeing as how that is what we as Christians should be the most concerned with… because even there the satanic sin of personal pride rears it’s ugly, divisive, and destructive head far too often.

A Christian’s feelings get hurt because some other saint says something to them either in jest, fatigue, a moment of weakness, or perhaps even in a much-needed moment of honest assessment. And because they, in their wounded “me-first” pride feel that they deserve so much better, they up and leave the Lord’s church rather than obey the Lord’s teaching that they are to resolve, forgive, forget and move on together (Matt. 5:20-26, 18:15-35; I Cor. 6:1-8; Col. 3:1-14; Hebs 10:19-26).

Other instances of pride-induced sin in the Lord’s church would include when local church leaders decide that for the sake of being more popular and increasing the size of their congregation, that they are going to compromise the clear-cut commandments of the Lord. And tragically, such is being done today on everything from adultery to apostasy. In nothing short of an all-out, pride-promulgated effort to keep people in the pews and their pennies in the plates so that we can boast about how big we are and how much of a budget we maintain, preachers in some places have been regularly and routinely threatened and told not to preach the truth on some of the more challenging topics such as marriage, divorce, and remarriage, and etc.

It is also nothing more, less, or different than simple pride-induced sin, when men – because they would rather please women and their current culture instead of being pleasing to and obeying God – decide to install and defend female leadership in the Lord’s worship assemblies (I Cor. 14:33-37; I Tim. 2:11-15).

The same can also be said for the pride-induced sin of introducing instrumental music into the Lord’s worship assemblies when He has clearly and repeatedly told us – in fact, eight times in the New Testament (Matt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26; Acts 16:25; Ro. 15:9; I Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Hebs. 2:12; Jms. 5:13) – that we are only to sing! It is only in an attempt to attract and/or appease a certain and self-desire-demanding segment of our society that either plays, prefers, or believes they have a right to whatever they want in worship, that instruments were ever introduced into the church to begin with, or that they’re ever there now found there still. Let’s face it; they certainly aren’t there because God said He preferred them anywhere in His New Testament church worship assemblies, that’s for sure! If He had, then those who in their own pride-driven push to promote this unauthorized practice would have produced said verses centuries ago!

But perhaps the saddest facet of this self-preference, self-promoting, and self-empowerment sin-pride problem in the church isn’t the one to do with doctrine at all – even as destructive, divisive, and devastating as that one is (Rom. 16:16-18; I Cor. 1:10-13, 11:17-19; Gal. 1:6-10; II Jn. 6-11). Instead, it’s the problems caused by pride-propelled, power-hungry, “put you down to put me first” personalities. That was the problem addressed in the oft-quoted passage of Proverbs 6:12-19 (which see). In fact, if you were to remove any and all teaching about the pitfalls of pride from the pages of Proverbs, you would probably push the book out into the “proverbial” periphery of biblical books.

This type of personal, phenomenal, “me-first” pride was the chief problem amongst the apostles. In John, chapter six, when the teaching got tough and many disciples therefore walked away, the apostles did not; nor were they said to be “indignant” over this, one of His more difficult of doctrines (See Jn. 6:60-69). However, they were reported to be “indignant” (NASV), or “greatly displeased” (NKJV), twice during Jesus’ earthly ministry – and both times it was one hundred percent over either pride-induced, “I should be first,” or “my-way-to-do-this-is-the-only-way-to-do-this-and-not-yours” power-play type sins amongst themselves (See: Matt. 20:20-28, 26:6-9; Mk. 10:35-41,14:3-5).

This same type of personal, “me-first” pride was the source of almost every single problem the first-century congregation of the church of Christ that worked and worshipped in Corinth suffered as well (please read that epistle again with this in mind and see for yourself).

The problem with the congregation to which the Apostle John wrote was the presence of a church leader named Diotrephes who was so pumped up on His own personal, pride-propelled, and satanically-similar self-assumed power, that he refused to likewise listen – even to the divinely-inspired, apostle-delivered word of God himself (III Jn. 9-10).

Folks, this is why there is absolutely, positively, no place whatsoever in God’s N.T. church, for any leader – ANY leader; be he an elder, deacon, preacher, teacher, or simply a senior or prominent man and member of the congregation – with a superiority complex; for one who has not completely crucified the old man of sin and his demonic, domineering, dominating, and destructive and division causing self-absorption, promotion, and aggression! God made sure he made that absolutely clear in His list of qualifications for elders (I Tim. 3:6). The elder and aged apostle Peter made the same divinely-inspired plea to his pastoral peers in I Peter 5:1-3. And the “leading ladies” are no less responsible to rid themselves of their pride-driven sense of self-importance and self-righteousness that elevates them above others as far as they’re concerned either (I Tim. 3:11; Tit. 2:3-5).

When one assembles and explores the entire expanse of scriptural passages containing the words “pride,” “haughty,” “humble,” “envy,” “strife,” “factions,” “divisions,” and any and all other words related to this prideful-and-self-propelled root of all sin, it is easy to understand why those who think they, their ideas, their perspectives, and their viewpoints and opinions are worth far more and are therefore more worthy to be implemented than anyone else’s, are ultimately the cause of more divisions and dissentions amongst God’s congregations than just about any other individuals – including the promulgators and promoters of false and soul-damning denominational doctrines (I Tim. 4:1-5).

The epistle of James, the “Proverbs of the New Testament,” perhaps captures, capsulizes, and conveys this concept best when it states: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18).

The reason that this is so important in the church, is because we have the answer. We have the cure for the biggest ‘sin-problem’ the world has ever known. God has given us the antidote for this universal, self-centered, self-serving, and self-promoting pride/sin problem. And He even provided us the perfect example in the process:  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:1-8).

Let us, as self-professed followers of Christ, make it our aim, goal, and desire, to faithfully follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior when it comes to our own self-sacrifice for the good and promotion of others. That’s what Jesus did in His love for us (Phil. 2:1-8). That’s what husbands do who truly love their wives (Eph. 5:25). That’s what wives do who truly love their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24). And that’s what Christians do who truly love their Lord and one another (Eph. 5:15-21; Mk. 10:35-45).

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