As followers of Christ, God begins a process of creating in us something new and different. 2 Corinthians 5:17 speaks to this new purpose - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Old thoughts and attitudes will need to be replaced with new thoughts and attitudes.
Throughout the Bible pride is described as one of the more destructive attitudes and unpleasing to God. Pride is an enemy to God and to the heart and mind of a believer. Oppositely the attitude or quality of humility is treasured and rewarded by God and is required by those who abide in Christ.
Volumes could be written regarding what the Bible says about pride and humility, but our focus is to get a glimpse of these two opposing attitudes so that we can learn to identify and begin to understand their significance to living lives that glorify God..
Ezekiel 28 gives us a picture of someone who is motivated and living by pride: the king or prince of Tyre. The whole passage should be read but we will only take the opportunity to point out some phrases which help define the attitude of pride. Regarding the Leader of Tyre God says,
Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods ... Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god...
The term seat refers to a position of authority or power. For example, the throne of a king is the picture or symbol of this authority. Likewise local judges sat at the city gate to hear and make judgements over disputes. The Judgement Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment include this term which describes God’s ultimate authority or sovereignty. There are all kinds of authorities that are established for the order of society – kings, presidents, teachers, police officers, employers, parents. The list goes on. These positions of authority and responsibility are given or conferred through various proper processes.
However, people often seek to acquire a position of power through their own improper means and the motivating attitude is pride. When phrases like “sit in the seat” are found in scripture they often help to recognize the intent, motives and actions of pride.
This person in Ezekiel was focused on possessing authority and power which reflected an inflated view of himself. This is the essence of pride.
In vs. 6-9 God goes on to say - Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god,… I will bring strangers against you, And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the Pit, And you shall die the death of the slain… Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you.
We see the judgement for this person is death, the realization that his thoughts were empty like a bubble, and their attempt to grab power was futile.
Finally, he lost sight of what he’d been given by God.
In v.12 – 19 God says...
You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God ...
You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God ...
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you."
Then God laments over the sins that were committed and concludes with this condemnation,
“You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.”
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he gave instructions regarding the character of those who would be given the opportunity to serve as overseers of the church. In these instructions he includes a warning about the destructiveness of pride.
He should not be “a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”
Paul's reference to the consequences of Satan's pride is found in Isaiah 14.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! ... For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”
Once again, authority or power is described as a throne and seat. We also see that the blinding self-focused importance of Lucifer motivates him to try and grab God’s power.
So we see that pride starts with an inward focus of self-importance that inflates our perspective of who we are, then motivates us to try and take or grab power that we have not properly been given.
In contrast to these examples of pride, Philippians 2 provides a picture of what it means to exhibit the attitude of humility.
At the beginning of chapter 2, Paul encourages believers to be lovingly unified in purpose and intent. He instructs us to not allow our actions to be motivated by a desire to seek personal promotion and power from an inflated view of self-importance. Instead we should value others as more important than ourselves and seek to look out for other’s interests and cares as well as taking care of our own concerns.
In verse 5, Paul provides an example of how we are instructed to think about others and ourselves. He says…
“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.”
Jesus knew who he was. He was God. Unlike the King of Tyre or Lucifer, he did not try to grab or try to steal power or authority. He was not enamored with himself. Instead Jesus loved his creation and did what was necessary to show his love for the souls of all men and women. He laid aside his divine power. Christ did not give up his divinity but He did limit himself to the form of man and even became a servant to mankind. Then in loving, willing service to his creation he went through a degrading death to take on the weight of the payment of sin for all of humanity.
In Ezekiel and Isaiah, we saw the consequence for pride was destruction, death, disgrace, and removal from eternity. Here we see the reward of Christ’s humility is that He will be exalted above all, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, because he chose to humbly submit himself and obey and glorify God the Father.
Destroy or Build
God has begun a sanctifying work in all believers which starts with rearranging our thinking about God, ourselves, and the world around us.
Pride values the elevation of self with one’s attentions focused inward at the expense of God and others, because the goal is to increase the power and importance of the one that stares back in the mirror. When we live with pride as a motivating pattern of thought we are seeking to set ourselves up as the authority over others, including God. Pride gives the appearance of elevating but ultimately destroys us and hurts those around us as we use them to grasp power. Pride blinds us to what we are becoming and blinds us to God because we will ultimately seek to replace God with ourselves. God is eternal and we are temporary. If we live by pride we will hurt others in the pursuit of power, and the glory and importance sought will fade and blow away as quickly as the flower of the grass in the heat of the sun.
However, if when we attach ourselves to the eternal God through trusting His word, he places a new life in us. This new life is his life and the only life God has to give is eternal life. As believers, God sees us as his royal, holy and special children, who belong to him. And when we see ourselves with His eyes and give our attention to his purposes, we will not turn our sight inward toward self, inflate our importance, or seek to grab authority, power, and influence wherever we can find it.
Instead of tearing people down to build ourselves up, we will love our spouses and children sacrificially, we will love and work to build up the members of our local church body, and we will care for others as we demonstrate to a darkened world the light of glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Pride destroys humility edifies.
As we grow and abide in His word, we will showcase the life of God to a world that has become distanced from the glory of the Creator and the work of our lives will have a quality that is treasured by God and cannot decay.
May we live and love in humble obedience to God’s Word so that all we think, say and do brings glory to God.
Questions for Thought and Discussion
Group Discussion Questions and/or Personal Questions to Ponder
Exercises for groups or personal to practice skills. (as appropriate for lesson)
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