I joked with some people whether being asked to give this talk on pride is an example of typecasting. I am very qualified to speak on pride because I am so proud. I hate my pride, but what I take even more seriously is how God hates it so much more.
Pride is our greatest enemy because it makes God our enemy — an almighty opponent. “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Why? What makes pride so singularly repulsive to God is the way that pride contends for supremacy with God himself. Pride is not one sin among many, but a sin in a class by itself. Other sins lead the sinner further from God, but pride is particularly heinous in that it attempts to elevate the sinner above God.
Pride is not just a sin, but a sinful mother — a sinful orientation that gives birth to more sins. For example, pride can lead to lying. You tell a lie because you are too proud to admit you were wrong or you did something wrong. But the problem is so much bigger. Pride doesn’t just tell lies; it is a lie.
Why? Pride is self-obsession; pride is preoccupation with ourselves. Therefore, it is a lie about reality. It says I am worth thinking about all the time. It is an orientation that wrongly assumes that everything revolves around us.
A Shape-Shifting Sin
Pride deserves to die, but it is hard to spot and even harder to kill. Pride is a slippery sin because it is a shape-shifter. Jonathan Edwards said pride is “the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all sins.” Let me give you an example. Here is a conversation that I might have with myself after a meeting at church:
“That meeting went really well. I think the turning point might have been when I asked that question which no one had thought to ask before. Wait a minute! That was such a prideful thought. It sounds like I am taking credit for the meeting going well. I am such a prideful person. I hate my pride.”
Meanwhile three seconds later, “I fight pride pretty hard. I’m glad that I caught that initial prideful thought. I wonder if other people are as aware of their pride and fight it as hard as I do. Wait a minute! It just happened again. I am taking pride in my awareness of pride. O, deliver me from this body of death, Lord Jesus! Thank you God that you give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Several Shapes of Pride
If pride is preoccupation with ourselves, then we cannot defeat pride by becoming preoccupied with how we are doing against pride. When we do, we play right into the hands of pride because we take a page out of pride’s playbook. Think about yourself more. Obsess more. Become preoccupied with how you are doing — how the fight is going.