Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
Not only does pride go before a fall in this day and age, but Pride went before The Fall at the beginning of the ages. After the six days of creation, God pronounced everything He had made “very good” (see Genesis 1:31). Sometime after that shining moment, God found pride in the beautiful angel Lucifer (now called Satan). His terrible story is recorded in Ezekiel 28:12-17. (Ezekiel starts off talking about the king of Tyre, but when he says “You were in Eden, the garden of God…” it becomes obvious he’s talking about Lucifer as well.)
Lucifer was the “anointed cherub who covers”, which was apparently the top spot for any created being to hold in God’s heavenly kingdom. He was perfect in all his ways, until he became enamored of his own admirable qualities and his lofty job title.
Lucifer’s sin was pride. His heart was “lifted up” because of his beauty, and he started spouting “I will” pronouncements in his heart. In Isaiah 14:13, we read that he said “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,…I will be like the Most High.” He then attempted (and failed) to take over, and about a third of the angels joined him. Thus, we now have “the devil and his angels” (see Matthew 25:41), all eventually headed for a place prepared especially for them.
Pride entered the story of human beings when Satan (dressed like a snake) spoke to Eve, and convinced her to disobey the only rule God had made for her and Adam to follow: Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She succumbed when Satan told her that eating the fruit would make her “be like God, knowing good and evil.” So what is that but pride, when a creature wants to be equal to its Creator, and decides to go ahead and go for that, even when it requires direct disobedience to that same Creator.
I may shake my head and tell myself I would never have been so foolish. But most sin in the world today, and most sin still stinking up the corners of my own soul, is nothing but raw, filthy, ancient, hellish pride. Pride says ‘I want it, I deserve it, so I’ll take it.’ Almost any sin you can think of can be boiled down to this root.
Eradicating pride is a lifelong project, doomed to failure without the mighty power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and a dogged determination on my part never to give a millimeter to my natural desire to “think [of myself] more highly than [I] ought to think” (Romans 12:3). I need to view myself in proper perspective. Perfect, All-Powerful Creator = God. Wretched self-consumed sinner, blessed beyond any deserving by His grace, mercy and sweet love = me = not-God.
Our culture tells me that pride is sometimes justified, and even laudable. I need my basic self-esteem, right? I should be proud of my kids, my country, my ball team, right? Well, no. Every good gift is from the Father, and there is no room for pride. I am grateful for my kids; for their health and the abilities God’s given them. I am thankful to live in the USA, where freedom still rings, if not so bravely as it once did. Even my own accomplishments are only possible because God provides the health, intelligence, and circumstances to allow me to do them.
By the way, I don’t really care about ball teams. I do enjoy rooting against the team my husband’s rooting for, though. I’ll have to think about whether that’s a pride issue…