Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From Pride to Humility - Pride Defined

This outline is adapted from a booklet by Stuart Scott entitled From Pride to Humility: A Biblical Perspective. As we begin this short series "From Pride to Humility" the following commentary by Albert Barnes is worth reading:

“The proud are those who have an inordinate self-esteem; who have a high and unreasonable conceit of their own excellence or importance. This may extend to anything; to beauty, or strength, or attainments, or family, or country, or equipage, or rank, or even religion. A man may be proud of anything that belongs to him, or which can in any way be construed as a part of himself, or as pertaining to him. This does not, of course, apply to a correct estimate of ourselves, or to the mere knowledge that we may excel others. One may know that he has more strength, or higher attainments in learning or in the mechanic arts, or greater wealth than others, and yet have properly no pride in the case. He has only a correct estimate of himself, and he attaches no undue importance to himself on account of it. His heart is not lifted up; he claims no undue deference to himself; he concedes to all others what is their due; and he is humble before God, feeling that all that he has, and is, is nothing in his sight. He is willing to occupy his appropriate place in the sight of God and men, and to be esteemed just as he is. Pride goes beyond this, and gives to a man a degree of self-estimation which is not warranted by anything that he possesses. God looks at things as they are; and hence he abhors and humbles this arrogant claim. This resistance of pride he shows not only in the explicit declarations of his word, but in the arrangements of his providence and grace:

(1) In his providence, in the reverses and disappointments which occur; in the necessity of abandoning the splendid mansion which we had built, or in disappointing us in some favorite plan by which our pride was to be nurtured and gratified.

(2) in sickness, taking away the beauty and strength on which we had so much valued ourselves, and bring us to the sad condition of a sick bed.

(3) in the grave, bringing us down to corruption and worms. Why should one be proud who will soon become so offensive to his best friends that they will gladly hide him in the grave?

(4) in the plan of salvation he opposes our pride. Not a feature of that plan is fitted to foster pride, but all is adapted to make us humble.

   (a) The necessity for the plan - that we are guilty and helpless sinners;

   (b) the selection of a Saviour - one who was so poor, and who was so much despised by the world, and who was put to death on a cross;

   (c) our entire dependence on him for salvation, with the assurance that we have no merit of our own, and that salvation is all of grace;

   (d) the fact that we are brought to embrace it only by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and that if we were left to ourselves we should never have one right thought or holy desire - all this is fitted to humble us, and to bring us low before God. God has done nothing to foster the self-estimation of the human heart; but how much has he done to “stain the pride of all glory?”

-Albert Barnes 

Who are the proud? 
We are. Every person on the planet. Our hearts are bent towards self-exaltation (Colossians 2:18-19). The passion of our flesh is to puff itself up, to sit itself on the throne of our hearts—the place that rightfully belongs to our Maker, the God of heaven.

As believers, that have had to humble ourselves in order to be saved by God, God desires us to live and walk in humility. In order to do this, we must turn from pride and embrace humility. Let’s define what we mean by pride.

I. Pride: The Enemy of Humility

Pride cannot coexist with humility. They are opposed to one another. This is demonstrated in God’s reaction to pride and humility. Psalms 18:27; Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6 - God resists (battle-array against them) the proud (Isaiah 23:9 – The Lord of hosts has purposed it, to bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth. Isaiah 28:1-2), but gives grace (not just grace…more grace) to the humble. Why? Because the humble see their need of it, pray for it, and are thankful for it.

You might notice that this parallels the battle between the Spirit and the flesh. Indeed, to walk in the Spirit is to walk in humility, and to walk in the flesh is to walk in pride. Galatians 4:16-26. Notice how many of the works of the flesh have to do with pride. And note how many of the fruit of the Spirit have to do with humility.

God detests pride - Proverbs 16:5 “abomination” – a disgusting thing in a ritual sense (idolatry), and in an ethical sense (wickedness)

“…let him know that though he admires himself, and others caress him, yet he is an abomination to the Lord. The great God despises him; the holy God detest him.” –Matthew Henry

The question for us is not, Do I have it? but Where is it? and How much do I have?
Amy Carmichael – “Those who think too much of themselves, don’t think enough.”

Charles Swindoll – “The world’s smallest package is a man wrapped up in himself.”

God – “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)

There are different kinds of pride. 
Pride of:
  1. Position – “Look at who I am” “Don’t you know who I am?” 
  2. Ability – “Look at what I can do” 
  3. Achievement – “Look at what I’ve done” 
  4. Wealth – “Look at the money I’ve earned/created” 
  5. Possessions – “Look at all my stuff” 
  6. Knowledge – “Listen to what I know” 
  7. Learning – “Look at my nametag” 
  8. Spiritual attainment – “Do you hear my prayers?” “I’ve read the Bible through 96 times” 
  9. Self-righteousness – “I’m glad I’m not a sinner like him” 
  10. Being esteemed or liked – “Look at all my friends” 
  11. Spiritual experiences – “I’ve had a vision…what have you had?” 
Puritan Thomas Watson says this about pride – “It is a spiritual drunkenness; it flies up like wine into the brain and intoxicates it. It is idolatry; a proud man is a self-worshiper.”

II. Biblical Terms for Pride

6 Hebrew Words all meaning: Lifting up; Highness; Magnification; Presumptuousness; Rebelliousness of self

2 Greek categories

First meaning: Straining/stretching one’s neck; To magnify; To be haughty
Second meaning: Blindness; Enveloped with smoke

Biblical synonyms “translations of these words”:
  1. Vainglory 
  2. Conceit 
  3. Boasting 
  4. Arrogance 
  5. Loftiness 
  6. Presumption
  7. Haughtiness 
  8. Being puffed up 
  9. High-mindedness 
  10. Scoffing 
  11. Self-seeking 
III. Biblical Examples - Nowhere does the Bible tell us to think higher of ourselves, or to consider ourselves more. 
  1. Satan’s deception of Eve – Genesis 3:1-5 
  2. Satan – Ezekiel 28; Isaiah 14:12-15 
  3. Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4:29-30, 37 
  4. King Saul – 1 Samuel 18:7-9 
  5. King Herod – Acts 12:20-23 
God warns us against pride over and over. Proverbs 16:18; Philippians 2:3-4. I believe it is talked about so much because it is a problem that each of us must address daily.

IV. Pride Defined
  1. The mindset of self (the master’s mindset): a focus on self and the service of self, a pursuit of self-recognition and self-exaltation, and a desire to control and use all things for self. 
  2. The Anthropocentric (Man-centered) Mindset – High and Blinded. All things should be: From me; Through me; To me; For me. I should be the: Source of good; Accomplisher of anything worthwhile; Benefactor of all things.
Thomas Watson – “Pride seeks to ungod God.”

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