Proud in Heart

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How does God feel about you? Have you given much thought to the variety of feelings and thoughts that God has toward you? Have you in any way become complacent in thinking God is merely fond of you, that He likes you just the way you are, and that this captures the essence of His heart toward you?

God loves you. That is a fact. There is no human being that God does not love. Does this imply that God has only pleasant feelings toward you? Does it necessarily mean that He likes you?

Though He love you deeply, is it possible that the living God, the Omnipotent Master of the universe, loathes the very thought of you … such that He cannot even begin to tolerate your presence? Is it possible that when He ponders your nature, the very fabric of your being, that He is filled with a deep disgust? an incredible revulsion? Could a loving God possibly feel this way about you?

Please turn in the Bible to the place where it is written: “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

Before The Lord

You walk upon God’s earth, you breathe His air, you drink His water, you bask in His sunshine … yea, even in His holy Sonshine … as a sinner. Every single human being is a sinner, and breaks the Law of God in one fashion or another every single moment of their lives. God is both grieved and angered when anyone breaks His law. God is not only love, God is light … and in Him is no darkness at all.

Because God is omnipresent, you are continually in His presence … sinning. It is as though you are in His very throne room, disturbing the immaculate holiness and beautiful spotless purity of His nature. Are you an abomination to Him? You certainly may not perceive it; perhaps you could care less if you are. The fact that you grieve Him continually may be of no concern to you whatsoever. That does not change anything.

Even if you fancy yourself good, that God likes you just the way you are, that you are free to come and go in His presence as you please, with no thought of His holiness … that God’s mercy is His greatest quality and that you need never consider His wrath … your fancying matters not: He is who He is. Perhaps there is no fear in you … there is no trembling … there is no shame. That does not change anything at all.

The fact remains that if you are proud in your heart you are indeed an abomination to the Living God. It does not matter what you think or who sides with you in your defense. You will be punished by God Himself … and that most severely … if you do not repent.

We do well to know what this thing is … this pride. If it makes us an abomination to the living God, it can be no true friend. What is pride? How does one know if they are proud in heart? What does pride look like? How does one detect it? How does it manifest itself in one’s heart and life? What should one do when one detects pride in one’s heart? If you do not have an accurate working knowledge of this fundamental principle, you can have absolutely no valid confidence in the nature of God’s disposition toward you. None whatsoever.

Perhaps there are degrees of pride. Perhaps then there are degrees of being an abomination unto GOD. How much of an abomination to the Living God do you wish to be?

You are sane, I trust. You do not wish to be an abomination to the living God. The very thought of it unravels your mind, stuns your heart, and clams up your tongue. Surely, you know some little something of His power, of His rage, of His indignation, of the fierceness of His wrath. You cannot even begin to justify an existence that intrudes upon the omnipresence of a holy God in pride and presumption, grieving and angering Him day by day.

No. You will not walk in pride … you will understand this beast, hunt it down within your heart, stalk it ever so carefully and diligently, and kill it with all speed. You will give pride no place in your heart for any reason at all … ever. If you ever detect the smallest particle of it within, you will expel it with all diligence, as if it were the deadliest plague … of the very devil himself.

It is … you know.

I Know Thy Pride

Satan bare his heart, revealed himself essentially, in one thing: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” (Is 14:13) He made himself the center of his existence, displacing God from His universal throne. Satan exalted himself. He was lifted up in himself. This is the essence of pride.

To exalt one’s self is to lift one’s self up, to put self in the center, to focus on self, to put self in control, to serve self, to admire self, to think highly of self, to worship self. One must be very careful here, “lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1Ti 3:6) This is casting God down from His throne to climb upon it yourself. This motive is what condemned the devil, and is the root of pride. It is not good.

What are the fruits of pride? How do you recognize pride?

Perhaps the best definition of pride is found in an admonition from God, that no man, “think of himself  more highly than he ought to think.” (Ro 12:3) To think more highly of yourself than you ought to is to exalt yourself. This is the essence of pride.

Pride is forgetting who you are, a creature … a sinful creature. You are made, created, fashioned and designed by Another. Pride is forgetting who God is, the Creator, the holy Creator. God made you, created you, fashioned and designed you for Himself. You are not your own. When you think too highly of yourself, you have forgotten who you are and Who God is.

By definition, when one is in pride, one is not thinking right … one is blinded and deceived. For this reason, pride is quite often difficult to detect … it is a self-blinding sin. When we are proud, we lose our ability to discern if we are proud … and our concern to avoid being proud. It is helpful therefore to note some of the manifestations of pride, and of our true goal here: humility.

First, consider that God often links pride with contempt: “Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” (Ps 123:4) Scorning and contempt, that disdainful looking down upon, thinking of others as beneath, below, unworthy … this is a companion of pride. It is no humble soul that holds another in contempt. To hold another in scornful contempt instead of merciful lovingkindness is to forget how deeply you yourself have sinned.

Haughtiness is another friend of pride. That strutting, high minded, lofty disposition that vaunts itself. “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.” (Pr 21:24) Whenever your heart is lifted up with ease and self-absorbed delight, be watchful for haughtiness. When you are looking down upon another, as a soldier in the trenches of spiritual war … you have deeply endangered yourself. This is a very good time to get down, to lay low. “Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pr 16:18) You’re going down either way; you can do it yourself, or wait for God to assist you.

Do you resent reproof and avoid those with wise counsel … counsel that may be difficult to swallow at times? This is a mark of pride. “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.” (Pr 15:12) Are you hurt when someone accuses you of wrong, or do you see this as a priceless treasure, a tool to root out evil and sin from your life … a golden opportunity to grow in your faith, purity, and love? A humble person will hear rebuke and study accusation, taking any precious particle of truth. “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” (Pr 13:1) “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding .” (Pr 23:23) False accusation cannot harm you, if you are seeking the truth, and legitimate accusation is one of your greatest friends. Refusal to honestly consider the reproofs of life is a sure sign of pride. “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.” (Pr 15:31)

Notice how God links pride, haughtiness, arrogance, and the tongue. “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” (1 Sam 2:3) “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Pr 8:13) “I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isa 13:11) “We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.” (Jer 48:29)

The antithesis of pride is, of course, humility. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (Jas 4:6) “Yea, all of you be … clothed with humility: for God resisteth  the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1Pe 5:5) If pride is thinking too highly of yourself and exalting yourself, then humility is thinking soberly about yourself, by faith. (Ro 12:3) As the plague of pride is found in the thoughts of the heart, the cure is also found here … in thinking of yourself as you truly are … and in taking an appropriate place in light of who you are.

There is absolutely nothing about yourself that you should find pleasure in, satisfaction in, or glory in: true believers have no confidence in the flesh. (Php 3:3) You should find absolutely all of your satisfaction and glory in Jesus Christ. (1Co 1:29) What does the Bible say about you? Listen: “It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Ro 3:10-18) Believe it or not, that is what you are. Every mouth will be stopped, even yours. All the world stands guilty before God. (vs 19) If you cannot see depravity in yourself, as you are naturally, then you have deceived yourself and you are blind. As the proud, self-righteous Pharisee … a blind leader … or one of the blind that follow them.

If you can see somewhat of the truth about yourself, and are able to agree with it, are you now humble? Is it possible to know that you are humble and proclaim it? Or if you claim humility are you therefore proud? Is it possible for you to find rest in your disposition before the Lord? and to exhort others to follow your good example? Are we always to be groveling and groaning, loathing ourselves and trembling at the thought of being an abomination to the Lord? Or can we be free of pride, know that we are, and at peace with ourselves and God?

Consider the words of Christ: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30) The perfect Man was humble, meek, lowly. He bids us come after Him in the way of holiness and humility. As Satan is the author of pride, and has deceived us and damaged us in it, so the Son is the author of humility and has come to rescue us from our pride.

Certainly we find our perfect model of humility in Jesus Christ, but how can a sinful man be humble? Can one truly sing with the psalmist, “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.  Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.  Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.” (Ps 131) This is asking whether we have so great a Savior as One that might save us from our pride. With man, this is impossible, but not with God. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro 7:24-25a)

Did Paul ever find this place of humility? Evidently so, for he bids us follow his example: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Php 4:9) What was it about Paul that would have been so striking in this regard if you had personally met him? He was not as our leaders today. “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” (1Co 2:3)

As pride is lifting up one’s self upon the throne of God, humility is staying in a low place before the throne and acknowledging God’s highness. Note the remaining references to “lowly” in His Word: “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” (Ps 138:6) “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.” (Pr 3:34) “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Pr 11:2) “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Pr 16:19) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zec 9:9)

As pride is being high and claiming to be something you are not, humility is staying low and acknowledging what you are. When we realize who we are, it brings sadness, repentance, a distaste for our natural selves. We exchange our fondness for ourselves with revulsion, our glory in ourselves with disappointment, our delight in ourselves with abhorrence. When we are beholding the Living God, and happen then to notice ourselves, we find ourselves as Job did, when he finally obtained his wish to stand before the Living God and speak for himself: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6) Isaiah found the same: “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Is 6:5)

Pride is a matter of the heart and shows itself in not only in our speech, but even in our look, our countenance. God hates a proud look. (Pr 6:16-19) Be careful to maintain humility of mind and let it show upon your face.

There is a natural sadness, a repentant healthy sadness, when we think of ourselves as we truly are. This is contrition. Note the references to contrite in His Word: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Ps 34:18) “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Ps 51:17) “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is  of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Is 57:15) “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Is 66:2)

The man who trembles at the word of Christ, fears Him, fears displeasing Him, who is repentant when he does violate God’s Word … to this man God looks.

This is the essence of Christ’s, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Mt 5:3) When you look at yourself, and note your own moral status, you find poverty, and therefore sadness.

Repent

The proper response when you detect pride in yourself is, of course, to repent, get down from your loftiness, acknowledge the loftiness of God, and humble yourself: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”  (Ja 4:7-10) Submit, resist, draw nigh to God, cleanse your ways, purify your feelings and thoughts, be afflicted, mourn, weep, be heavy … in summary: humble yourself. Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord until He lifts you up. Let’s look at each of these commands in particular.

Submit

Submit yourself to God. Stop resisting Him, turning from Him, denying Him, defying Him. Stop lifting yourself up in His presence. Acknowledge Who this God is. He is high, He is Holy, He is altogether perfect and lovely. He loves righteousness, and hates wickedness. He loves the righteous and He hates the wicked. (Ps 5:5) He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger … yet no respecter of persons and will not at all acquit the wicked. He extends His merciful lovingkindness to those He elects to obedience, and He will repay them that hate Him to their face and trample them underfoot. He is the Lamb and He is the Lion. He is the greatest Servant of all time, Who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

Resist

Resist the devil instead of God. When you resist God you submit to the devil. As you submit to God you resist the devil … there is no neutral place between light and dark, between God and Satan. When you exalt yourself, you partake of the devil’s lie and of the devil’s work. Depart from his frowardness, from his self-exaltation, from his self-worship. Cast it away. Cast yourself down. Abase yourself. He will flee from you; the devil will not stay low with you.

Draw Nigh

Get close to God. Pride alienates you from God and pushes Him away. Humility submits to Him and draws close to Him. A sinner draws nigh to a holy God, a God Who hates sin and avenges Himself of it, and bears His indignation safely … in only one way: atonement. One comes surrendered, yielded, seeking to propitiate the offenses made to God, and finding a full propitiation in Jesus Christ. If you would sit on His throne you thrust Him out, but when you take your place before Him in Christ He wants you close … He does not thrust you away, but He wants you at his feet, by His side, in His arms. Draw near to Him.

Cleanse your hands

In cleanliness draw near to God. Do not presume to enjoy His presence when you are walking in presumption and blatant wickedness. Though forgiven and washed in the blood of Jesus, do not continue in sin that grace may abound … God forbid it. (Ro 6:1-2)  Acknowledge His hatred for your sin and His love of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Put far from you the evil of your ways, turn from the things you are doing that are displeasing to Him and stop doing them. Stop speaking foul things, taking what is not rightfully yours, striking and wounding and defrauding your fellowservants in self-centeredness. Whenever you note sin, acknowledge it and turn from it immediately: the throne of God is a place of extreme purity: even the heavens are not pure in His sight. (Job 15:15-16)

Purify Your Heart

Cease from your love of the world and what is in it. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world passes away, and its lust. Let it pass from you now. Turn from the double-mindedness that seeks both fellowship with God and the carnal comforts and pleasures of this life; that seeks the praise of men more than the approval of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind. Be friends with God’s friends, and enemies with God’s enemies. Let nothing compete with your affection for Him, or steal your joy in Him.

Be Afflicted And Mourn and Weep

Find it within to feel terrible about yourself. You are terrible, in and of yourself. There is nothing good about you at all. God does not like you, and no one else that has seen the holiness of God does either. You are not good, you are bad. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. “Blessed are they that mourn …” (Mt 5:4a)

He Shall Lift You Up

“… for they shall be comforted.” (Mt 5:4b) When you are poor in spirit, you will find yourself mourning. God will see you when you get down, when you weep for your sinfulness and your wickedness. He will see your tears. He is pleased in this, and is moved. He finds delight in the truth, in you finding the truth about yourself and about Himself, and He will lift you up in it. He will lift you up by loving you just exactly as you are … He did not say He likes you, He said He loves you. In Jesus Christ, when you repent of your sin, take your place in meekness and lowliness, acknowledge God’s exaltedness in your life, and draw nigh to God through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ … you will find righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost — you will find the kingdom of God. (Ro 14:17)

In Christ you find pardon, acceptance, and reception. You do not find your sin condoned, you do not find God delighting in your carnality … you find yourself hidden in Jesus Christ, dead to yourself and alive unto Him, and an heir in Him to all His righteousness … and God delighting in His Son in you. “Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.” (1Co 1:31, 2Co 10:17)

Pride is fathered in Satan, convicted by love, and condemned by holiness. It is the lifting up of one’s self, thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think. It is an abomination to the Lord. Pride and arrogancy and the evil way and the froward mouth are all hated by God. The fear of the Lord is to hate it. God will destroy it. Let it rest in you … no more.

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