There’s only one safe place in the universe: the place of humility, of lowliness. All who abide elsewhere are abominable to God and subject to punishment. (Pr 16:5) Certainly, there are degrees of pride … and so degrees of being loathsome to God. Where then do we dwell?
Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Ro 12:3), and what exactly does that look like?
Refusing to accept the fact that we might, in fact, be the most evil person who has ever lived — this is pride. It’s rejecting the label: chief of sinners. The apostle Paul himself didn’t do this. (1Ti 1:15)
Being smug, conceited, overly pleased in ourselves; lifted up in our own sight; better than some other, this is the pride of life, and it’s entirely unacceptable. (Php 2:3) If we can look down on another with disdain (1Pe 2:17), with contempt (Ps 123:4), thinking we’d never do what they’ve done, we don’t know ourselves. Blind to our own sin we don’t grieve over it, we grow lukewarm, losing our joy and taking God’s love for granted.
Let’s be plain: if left to ourselves there’s no telling what we might be like. Any good in us is the free gift of God. (1Co 4:7) In our free will, apart from God’s restraining and enabling grace, we’re all totally depraved (Je 17:9); abominable, filthy, drinking iniquity like water (Job 15:6); we’re all as an unclean thing; all of our self exaltation is disgusting to God. (Is 64:6)
When saints see themselves as they are in the presence of the absolute purity and holiness of God, we abhor ourselves (Job 42:6, Is 6:5); we cry out with the Psalmist, “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins! Let them not have dominion over me.” (Ps 19:13)
If we’re not behaving as badly as another, this is the undeserved grace of God (1Co 15:10); we’ve nothing to glory in but Jesus Christ. (1Co 1:29-31) Forgetting this, taking any credit for ourselves, is pride.