Spiritual Development

Pride that Replaces God

Author: Will Stanfield 

God’s Opinion on Pride

God’s word says a lot about his intention on the life he wants us to live and experience. God’s word also has a lot to say about pride. Pride is commonly understood to be an inflated sense of one’s own worth or personal status and typically makes one feel a sense of superiority over others.  

The Bible states many times God hates pride because when we become prideful, we functionally become god in that we exalt ourselves. We claim that we know what will best suit us. God made us that we might look to him as our ultimate authority. When we look to ourselves and our own experiences as our ultimate authority, we effectively say that we do not need God. 

Brokenness and God’s Response

Genesis records that mankind was able to be perfectly in the presence of God. Then sin entered the picture.  

God had given mankind access to all things and they could freely enjoy all things God gave them access to, except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which was somewhere in the middle of the garden). God commanded Adam and Eve to not eat of the fruit of this tree, or the consequence would be “you will surely die.” Satan later appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent.  

One could say that the very essence of Satan is pride. Up to this point, Adam and Eve had taken God at his word, trusting him, walking with him, enjoying him. But what was the thing that first caused Eve to question God? Pride. Satan suggested that God certainly didn’t mean what he said when he said, “You cannot eat from this tree,” and Eve began to function as though God’s word could be set aside as authoritative, and pride took over. When sin entered the world and forever affected mankind and how we relate to God, it was pride that questioned two things: 1) Is God really good? 2) Is God’s word really true?  

Brokenness is a result of mankind’s rebellion against God. Brokenness exhibits itself in so many complex ways. The simplest way I can think to sum this up would be that brokenness is any way we experience humanity that is not in line with what God intended for us to experience, not in line with what God created us for. 

God’s people had a pattern of failing to live by God’s commands. This pattern was always supposed to serve as a way of them crying out for God to save them because they could never attain perfect obedience on their own. God came, in human form, as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to do on earth what God’s people could never do. Jesus lived a perfectly humble life, perfectly abiding by all of God’s words, never exhibiting any form of brokenness in his own flesh, and never sinning. Jesus was never proud. Jesus lived 100% the life that God had always intended for humans to live.  

Because of the pride and arrogance of our rebellion to God, the punishment is to be cut off from God—to be fully separated from Him. The result of eating of that tree back in the garden was death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Every single person, by default, is in direct rebellion to God. When brokenness entered the world, we became incapable of abiding with God and our natural inclination in our brokenness is pride and arrogance—that we think we know better than God. 

We needed saving, and Jesus did what we could not. Jesus attained what we were (are) unable to do on our own. In living a perfectly humble life, he perfectly walked in all God’s commands, he never sinned, and he offered himself, in our place, to bear the punishment we deserve because of our prideful and arrogant rebellion to God. Just as God had to shed the blood of innocent animals to cover up Adam and Eve’s shame and nakedness in their direct rebellion against him, so God shed the blood of his own Son to cover our shame and nakedness in our direct rebellion against him, so that we could have life everlasting, life to the full, and complete joy. It is in Christ Jesus alone that we are able to truly experience the love of God. This was the solution to the tragedy that was our separation from God in our brokenness, pride, arrogance, and rebellion. 

We are Proud

From Adam and Eve to today, everyone still battles with the pride and arrogance of these two questions: Is God really good? And is what He said really good and true?” 

Over and over, I have found that the words of Jesus Christ and the words of God in the Bible have given me joy and life. Sin has always let me down; I have never found final fulfillment in any of my sins. The world has so much to tell us Christians about how we should embrace our sin. This seems cheap to me, though. In my past and in my experience, there is so much joy to be experienced in life than the fleeting pleasures we feel in our sin. 

At the root of all my sin is a pride and arrogance that declares to God, “I want to be the ruler of my life. You are not good, and your words are not good or true.” In rejection of pride and in humility, I want to constantly submit to the truths of who God says he is, and who God says I am. You see, in Jesus Christ, God tells me who I am—He gives me an identity. An identity that is fuller and richer than any identity we humans think we can come up with on our own. An identity that is full of joy and wholeness, where all my longings are satisfied, and where I can live a full life.  

I don’t want to be proud. Pride is an abomination before God. Pride is a kill-joy. Pride declares that God is not good and that I know better. I don’t want to be proud of any way in which I put myself at odds with God as a result of my sin. I don’t want to take pride in what God hates. God hates sin and he grieves over the brokenness in my life. He wants so much for me to walk in the ways in which he designed me for. 

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7) God is fundamentally opposed to pride, yet to those who seek humility, he is gracious. 

God’s Love in Our Pride

It is true that God loves us the way we are. For us to experience the full love of God in Jesus Christ, we must be able to admit that we need Jesus—that we need saving. We are wise to lay down our pride, seek humility, and admit that God is good and that His word and his ways are good and true. In Christ, God’s love and acceptance of us takes us out of our ways of pride, arrogance, rebellion, and brokenness, and puts us on the path of His ways.  

It is in Jesus’ humility that we are able to find life, because in humility Jesus laid down his own life for the sake of all the people of the earth to have a restored relationship to God once again. It is in Jesus’ humility that we have hope—hope of joy, hope for final freedom from brokenness. Jesus finished the work we could not do on our own, and one day, those who are in Christ, will experience the final restoration and freedom from our brokenness. 

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