The origins of sin and consequences of sinfulness, are well documented in Ezekiel 28:12-19. Unless conversion addresses pride, it serves to deceive, regardless of the resultant good-feelings. Whichever way one looks at it, the blinding and callousness that Jesus talked about (Matthew 13:15) come from pride. Humanity violently clashes with God’s intention to redeem them from the clutches of Satan, the symbol of pride.
All humans, one way or the other, are entangled in prideful symptoms, whether they realize it or not. Others spend most of their time searching scriptures, assuming that acquiring scriptural understanding delivers them from sinfulness. Unfortunately, the more they acquire knowledge, the more they get entrenched in sinfulness. This is as Jesus stated:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:39-45) (ESV).
Apparently, Jesus was dealing with pride. Those people viewed themselves as different from those without scriptures at their disposal. However, blaming the Pharisees reveals symptoms of pride, as well. The Pharisees were obsessed with law-keeping, desiring to please God. Through law-keeping, God knew how conceit would be crafted in the lives of the Jews, eventually using them in teaching this important aspect that enslaves humanity—pride.
The plan of salvation cannot be understood by means of studying scriptures, with intention to obtain God’s approval. Jesus cannot be of value to anyone, unless appreciated in the humility that He exhibited on behalf of humanity. Jesus died in place of the worst sinner, Barabbas. A Christian, when failing to appreciate that degree of humility, is falsely attesting to believe in Jesus’ name.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19) (ESV).
The haughty eyes reflect arrogance and disdainfulness towards other people. The lying tongue is caused by desire to cover-up one’s own mistakes, so as to receive approval from other people, in order not to perforate one’s bubble of pride.
The hands that shed innocent blood can be associated with political or religious intolerance. A heart that devises wicked plans denotes schemes that seek to prejudice other people for personal benefits, all pointing at self elevation, which is pride. Rushing into doing what is evil arises from condemnation of those considered unacceptable, as commonly practiced in political or religious intolerance.
Sowing discord arises from despising authority, whether justified or unjustified. Only a person with symptoms of pride finds it necessary to fight, defending his/her position. This is just as one with qualities of humility would rather accept being unjustly treated than maintaining the position of proving to be right.
Not so long ago, I received a powerful saying: “It is better to lose an argument and win a friend, than winning an argument and lose a friend”. I suppose this could have been the reason why Jesus accepted being condemned on the cross, yet without sin. Considering that, even Pilate was on His side, in justifying His innocence; Jesus could have been spared from the cross. But that would have caused the condemnation of humanity, instead.
I write this article with trepidation, as I realize that, being a human being, there is no way I can be spared from the sin of pride. All human beings cannot escape from the grip of self-importance that firmly qualifies humanity in sinfulness. Even the apostle Paul found himself having to agonizingly lament:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:15-25) (ESV).
This lamentation was given by a former Pharisee who understood the minutest details of law-keeping. Paul had discovered that even His conversion to Christianity could not make him any better in the eyes of God. This is confirmation that, even those, supposing they are more informed than the least knowledgeable, remain on equal terms with patent sinners. None is better than the other. How humble can we be, to be accepted by Christ?
The unbelievable truth is that, even repeating the words of the Tax collector, who Jesus commended in Luke 18:13-14, may still not justify one’s innocence. When Jesus gave that parable He was not giving law; so that in repeating the words of that Tax collector one gets justified before God. How humble can we be, to be accepted by God?
The undiluted truth is that as long as we are of Adamic genealogy we are in the same category with Barabbas whose life had to be spared instead of Jesus’, with righteousness that could not be compared with anyone who ever lived (Matthew 27:17). In other words, carefully studying scriptures, assuming being better than Barabbas, is living in fool’s paradise. “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) (ESV).
But, another unpalatable reality about the sin of pride is that it is complicated by accolades from praise-singers, in consideration of commendable achievements. We are more vulnerable at the point of having achieved something praiseworthy, than dismally failing. Those who, out of jealousy, try to demean and invalidate you for the best things you do for God, are actually your best spiritual friends, rather than the praise-singers.
It is not by observance of any law that one overcomes the problem of pride. This is why the apostle Paul could just lament in desperation. Committing oneself to hardworking for Christ can actually leave a person in the worst state of pride, leading to disqualification (Matthew 7:21-23). Yet, taking a back seat, and trying to avoid doing anything for Christ, still leaves the person in similar prideful state.
The good news comes from what follows Paul’s lamentation, as shown in the last verse of that passage: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25) (ESV).
I suppose serving the law of sin implies unmitigated servitude. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27) (ESV).
David’s troubles started after having achieved the greatest feat of slaying the greatest enemy of Israel, Goliath (1 Samuel 18:7). The innocent women, celebrating David’s achievement, could not anticipate the problems they were creating for David. Nevertheless, it is only the naïve who is quick to condemn the behavior of Saul, against the juvenile David.
Pride is the most difficult sin to handle, yet it is the only sin that needs to be addressed, to attain salvation. We have people we despise and we have people we adulate for whatever reason. Like the women who were the root cause of David’s troubles, we are under the schemes of the devil, when categorizing people according to our standards.
Only Jesus deserves adulation. The rest should be viewed in the same light, as all are in need of redemption from the sin of pride. If there is anything that is praiseworthy, as produced by yours truly; please do me a favor: Direct that glory to God, than to me. I would prefer that you despise me and say all kinds of evil against me, falsely on my account (Matthew 5:11).
You are all my brothers and sisters who I so much love and desire that we be partakers in God’s Kingdom. The only way we can defeat the devil is by gently encouraging and praying for one another, than to discourage one another, through the undeserved adulation and admiration. It is dangerous to even imagine that there are people viewed as greater than other people in this world. [See here]
The works of Jesus have got nothing to do with human effort. God can use anyone, as He pleases, but that does not make the person used any better, in any way. The categorization of people has been the weapon of Satan, since the first century. It is meant to ensure that the sin of pride remains with humanity. Satan will never stop to use pride as a weapon, in fighting against genuine Christians.
There is more on this subject than we can imagine. But one thing is certain: All sins can be very easy to address and overcome, except the sin of pride, without which, all sins have got no pedestal. The saving power of Jesus is assured, only when committed in humble circumstances.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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