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Bible verses about Pride
(From Forerunner Commentary)

God gives Satan an interesting title in Job 41:34: "He is king over all the children of pride." There is no doubt who this is describing! James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5 both quote a version of Proverbs 3:34: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The king of pride is Satan, and his children are those who show his characteristics (John 8:44).

Consider this in the light of Proverbs 13:10: "By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom." Satan means "adversary." He is against others, an opponent, the adversary of God and the very ones he is king over! The leader is the adversary of his own children! Revelation 9:11 adds two additional names: "And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon." Abaddon means Destruction and Apollyon means Destroyer. The king of pride is a destructive and destroying adversary.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Compete is defined in Webster's Dictionary, Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition as "to try to get what others also seek and which all cannot have." Now we understand why the United States is full of violence! The dynamic of American capitalism is competition. We are told, "Be all that you can be!" From earliest childhood we are urged to strive, to compete against others, and these others rarely have any alternative but to compete in return. Guess whose spirit is driving America's way of life?

Competition makes it difficult for people to cooperate because it instills the concept of winning, of getting the prize, the honor, the acclaim, the satisfaction, for the self. Does pride play a part in this? You know it does! It is especially seen in athletics where pride is the driving force that propels the gifted on to victory.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

What is pride, the subtle yet powerful influence that most commentators believe is the father of all other sins? Hebrew, Greek, and English share the sense of the word's basic meaning: to be lifted up; to have an undue sense of one's importance or superiority.

Pride motivates us to exaggerate the value of our thoughts. It causes us to elevate our opinions and raises the importance of the fulfillment of what we perceive as our needs even above God's and, of course, decidedly higher than our fellowman's.

To be even-handed, the Bible shows that there is also a narrow, positive application of the word, and thus, depending on the context, it can be translated as "dignity" or "glory." For instance, Proverbs 16:31 reads, "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." This verse provides us with a slender sliver of insight that there is a natural pride to which God gives His approval. However, He qualifies it with "if it is found in the way of righteousness." Righteousness is the very thing pride sets itself to resist, making achieving a proper sense of pride more difficult. With God's own Word describing man at his best state being "altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5 KJV), it certainly makes one wonder what we really have to be proud of!

In the context of the relationship between God and man, the overwhelming number of usages of the six Hebrew words and four Greek words translated as "pride" or its synonyms are negative and damning. These words are translated into such terms as "arrogance," "lifted up," "presumptuous," "loftiness," "proud," "proudly," "exalted," "overbearing," "condescending," "haughty," "superior," "disdainful," "scornful," "boasting," "self-esteem," and "contemptuous." Not all of these synonyms are in the King James or the New King James versions, but various modern translations use them depending on the context.

Pride carries, not only a lofty self-centeredness, but also a lively competitiveness against others that easily becomes a lustful, destroying enmity. It is highly critical, envious, and impatient, and it can be effortlessly stirred to anger, possessiveness, and suspicion of being taken advantage of. These characteristics are part of Satan's spirit. Each of them is destructive to loving family unity within the church.


Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Genesis 3:5

In the original sin of Adam and Eve, Satan held out to them the promise of attainments beyond what they had experienced to that point in the Garden of Eden. Tempting them, he said, "You will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). This helped motivate them to become greater than what God, their Creator, had assigned to them.

In Genesis 1:31, when God saw everything He had made, He declared it to be "very good." Pride is not "very good." It was not in them as God created them, but it entered into their thinking in Satan's presence. The very first exercise of that pride earned them death and ejection from God's presence and the Garden.

At some time following his creation by God, pride arose in Satan, and he uttered this desire, as written in Isaiah 14:13-14:

For you have said in your heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High."

His devious offer to Adam and Eve in the Garden is an echo of his challenge against God. This exercise of his pride separated him from God.

Pride, Satan's lofty feelings of superiority regarding his beauty, corrupted him. It deceived him into wanting even greater power to complement his splendor. After all, he deserved it, did he not? Notice how great he was in his own eyes!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Exodus 3:10-11

The time had come. Previously, Moses thought he was ready, and he impetuously promoted himself to do the job. He did it without waiting for God.

Look at the difference: Before, Moses promoted himself, but now he says, "God, who am I?" What a change took place in his thinking! He not only hesitated about going, but he almost seems petrified about the prospects of going. This is a true principle of those who have been humbled in their field of expertise.

The young foolishly think, in their vanity, that their strength will allow them to sail through any problem. They are deceived by their own ignorance. Like Moses, they foolishly rush in where angels fear to tread. When they come to understand, usually after years of experience, they realize how very little they know.

This principle is clearly shown in the way a student of science might be humbled. He may have graduated from high school, then from college, and may have even obtained a master's degree and now works on a doctorate. He has learned a great deal. However, after maybe twenty years of experience in the field of chemistry or biology, he realizes there is a great deal more that he does not know, more than his accumulation of schooling and experience. If he is a Christian, he begins to see God's creation and the Creator's mind in a much different light.

That is what has happened to Moses. In those forty years, his impetuous spirit had been dissolved, and he saw the power of Egypt in its true light. He may have feared execution, imprisonment, or embarrassment by the powerful Egyptians.

Does this not encumber and constrain us as well? We worry and fear that we will look foolish before friends and relatives if we obey God—if we keep the Sabbath or tithe. How many of our relatives have castigated us because of tithing? It seems awfully dumb to them, but how do we feel? Do we fear what they think?

Moses more fully recognizes his weaknesses in comparison to Egypt, and he quails at the thought. God has to overcome Moses' resistance. What a change! Moses was going to do it on his own before, but God now has to overcome his resistance. All of the testing God had put Moses through produces right faith and right conviction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us


 

Leviticus 4:2

The word presumption does not quite mean in Hebrew what it does in English. In English, it simply means "to assume," to take a matter upon oneself without considering all the factors and doing it. However, in the Old Testament, it carries the idea of acting arrogantly—of rebellion. In fact, it means to do something with audacity or to be headstrong. It refers to those who overstep their bounds or dare to act in a disobedient manner. A willfulness is implied in the word that is not contained in English, making it much more forceful.

In other words, a person who sins presumptuously is fully aware of what he is doing; he is fully educated and not in ignorance either of what he is doing or the potential cost of doing it, and he deliberately sets his mind to do it. It is an act of rebellion, an audacious setting one's will, despite all he knows, to go ahead and do it anyway.

By these usages, the word "unintentional" in Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15 can include within it someone who is conscious of what he is doing but does not act audaciously. He does not plan it. He is not rebellious—but weak. God will forgive that, but He will not forgive the sin that is presumptuous according to usage of the word in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, the word begins very similar to the English usage of the word. It means "to think" or "suppose." Howevver, according to the context in which it is used in the New Testament, it contains the idea of dealing proudly, defiantly, and recklessly. It means to look down upon. A tremendous amount of pride is implied in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Numbers 14:41-45

There was no mercy from God for this presumptuous sin. These people were warned. They were told explicitly that what they were doing was a sin, what would happen, and that God would not be with them. But they went anyway! They presumed to go up to the mountaintop.

So another thing about presumptuous sin is that it is continuing proudly in the face of advice (and warning) to the contrary. What we see here is that presumptuousness can be rash on the one hand and quite premeditated on the other. But the constant concept behind these things is pride, arrogance, defiance, self-importance, and self-reliance.

It is an ambitious "go get 'em" attitude—one is going to succeed in what you want to do, come hell or high water. No matter what happens, a person will to carry through on his plan—even if God Himself should say, "Don't do it!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:1-2

This would be similar to all the leading men of a worldwide church marching up to the person in charge of that church, and demanding that he kowtow to their terms.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:3

This is an example of a person who is dissatisfied with what he has and stirs up others because of his ingratitude for what God had given him already.

The consequences of Korah's "taking action" are clear: God destroyed all these who rose up against Moses and Aaron—against Him. Does this pattern look familiar? It should. It is the age-old and oft-repeated sin of pride manifesting itself in ingratitude. Satan did the same thing (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). It was not enough for him to be a covering cherub at God's throne. It was not enough to have the lordship over the earth and one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:3). No, he wanted to resemble or compare to the Most High (Isaiah 14:14)! His pride led him to go to war against God, a battle he soundly lost (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-10 prophesies that his pride will drive him to attempt another coup d'état before Christ's return.

This is where ingratitude can ultimately lead a person: into total rebellion against God. It lends to an individual feeling a false sense of worth, that he deserves more. If not checked, it becomes a plague of discontent that soon infects others, as Satan's ingratitude spread to other angels.

If this kind of attitude lands us in trouble, just what should our attitude be? A truly humble and grateful person will never rebel against God because he knows that even the very breath he breathes is a gift and calls for praiseful thanksgiving to the Father. Sharing this thanksgiving with others in the church works like soothing oil that helps to heal the body.

Mark Schindler
Ingratitude


 

Numbers 16:8-10

Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and all the other two hundred and fifty men were not content with what God had given them to do in the church of the wilderness. They did not want to be porters and bearers. They did not want to be the setup crew or the take-down crew. Instead, they wanted to be the mediators between God and men. They wanted the cushy job—the one they saw that had the most going for it, the one that had the most authority. They were not content with where God had placed them in the body at the time.

Seeing this, Moses tells the rest of the Israelites, "Clear out! Get away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. If you don't want to be caught in what they've just done, stay away!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

Israel endured many discomforts during those forty years, and they sinned a great deal too. However, God reminds them that He was with them during both good and bad times. He also makes it very clear that He Himself inflicted a great deal of pain on them, and that He did this for three specific reasons: to humble them, to know what was in their hearts, and to teach them that man does not live by bread alone.

If He did these things to humble them, then the flip side is that He did it to knock the pride from them. Pride motivated many of their sins. As a recurring theme in Scripture, God's work to humble us is something to keep at the forefront of our minds. The author of Hebrews warns us, "Do not despise the chastening of the Lord" (Hebrews 12:5). He is deeply involved in our lives, and because He loves us dearly, He will correct us painfully when necessary (verse 6).

Deuteronomy 8 teaches that God humbles us to drive the pride of self-sufficiency far from us. When things go well, it is easy to forget God and ascribe success to natural abilities, learned skills, or even good luck. But when the body is not fed, it begins to weaken noticeably, and it soon begins to feel pain. The spirit, though, seems to weaken and "die" so slowly that it is almost imperceptible. As we spiritually deteriorate, we may even feel blessed and prospered by God! So He disciplines us with pain to warn us that all is not as well as our vanity is leading us to think.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

Why does God have to warn us, admonish us, of something like this? Because it is so easy for us to lose sight of God in the shuffle of our lives. What results? What does "heart being lifted up" indicate? Pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

1 Samuel 8:7-8

This circumstance highlights Israel's insatiable curiosity for variety that continuously revealed their badly divided mind toward God, leading them astray. They did not want a king in Israel like God wanted. God indeed would give them a king; the book of Deuteronomy lays out rules regarding that (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). God had nothing against the nation having a king, but He wanted that king to be a man who was subject to Him. This was the only real stipulation.

But they did not want a king like God wanted; they wanted a kind of king like other nations had. This is why God says that they had rejected Him. In rejecting the kind of king God wanted them to have, they were also rejecting God. This fits into the pattern they had followed from the beginning of their relationship with God, which is why He mentions what He does in verse 8.

God provided mankind with this natural curiosity. However, by nature, it is undisciplined, so it needs to be wisely managed. It is here that the underlying problem between God and man lies: We have a powerful tendency not to believe Him, and thus we will not willingly listen to His counsel, creating division. This strong need for variety, mixed with prideful stubbornness, keeps telling us that we know better than He does. Therefore, humanly we are often driven to ignore Him and His wise principles.

Despite our age, we are frequently like children—particularly like teenagers. Those in their teen years begin to think that they know more than their parents, and rebellion and hardness of heart begin to come to the fore. They start believing that their parents are awfully dumb, or not really with it, not aware of what is going on. It is almost as if they think parents have no brains.

In I Samuel 8, Israel believes that the solution to their national and personal problems is to have a despotic king like the other nations, a monarch who would rule with iron-fisted control. They apparently never stop to think that the real problem resides in each one of them, because they have divided themselves from Him. As the beginning of the chapter relates, Samuel's sons had separated themselves from Samuel, and the Israelites are just like Samuel's sons, having separated themselves from Samuel and from God.

All of us have divided minds to some degree. Some have quipped that this is why all of us are insane to some measure. By way of contrast, God's mind is totally undivided. This points out why Paul writes in II Timothy 1:7: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." We need to be less like these Israelites and more like God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God


 

2 Samuel 6:20-23

Michal, revealing another aspect of her nature, accuses David of dancing shamefully before the maids of his servants. Jealousy had set so deeply in her heart that it led her to despise her husband. Her embarrassment—which no one else seemed to share—blinded her to the larger occasion of giving God glory. She could see the celebration going on from her window, but in her self-centered jealousy and pride, she refused to rejoice with the rest of Israel.

She could only find fault. Proud Michal felt that her husband should do things the way she thought they should be done—evidently, with stately grandeur rather than wild abandon. Her jealousy caused her to try to make David feel guilty for celebrating as he did. The king does not let her off easily, but lets her have a piece of his mind!

Today, we might call Michal a "party pooper," but in reality, her transgression was far more serious. Because she could not see past her baseless pride and jealousy, she was punished with barrenness. Some commentators suggest that she was not to come before the king the rest of her life!

Ronny H. Graham
The Refuser of Festivities


 

Job 9:32-35

As early as Job 9:32-35, though, Job complains that what he is enduring is completely and totally unfair and that God is wrong in permitting it to occur. The Revised English Bible clearly exposes at least an irritation against God, showing that Job, despite admitting that God is far greater, feels a measure of equality with Him!

God is not as I am, not someone I can challenge, and say, "Let us confront one another in court." If only there were one to arbitrate between us and impose his authority on us both, so that God might take his rod from my back, and terror of him might not come on me suddenly. I should then speak out without fear of him, for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

Despite being aware that a vast difference exists between God and man, Job is nonetheless unaware of how immeasurably different the reality is, shown in his willingness to stand with God before an umpire who would hear both sides of the case! He wants to be heard, not realizing he has no case to argue at all! He truly deserves nothing but death. At this point, Job is not yet overly concerned about God's right to do with him as He sees fit, but rather he is disturbed that God has not intervened and vindicated him before his accusing friends.

Job's complaint also reveals that he thought of sin merely in terms of an unrighteous act. He does not yet grasp that sin is more than a transgression of a code; it is a breaking of our covenant relationship with God that distorts life itself. Sin is the distortion, and whether it is an act visible on the outside or one of heart and motivation, the relationship with God is damaged because all sin is against Him. Jeremiah 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"

To speak or act of sin as though it is of no account to God, as though He is indifferent to it, to disclaim responsibility, strikes at the very core of our relationship with Him. This is what Job was doing in claiming that God did not care about him. The reality is that God was putting Job through this rigorous trial because He did care and did not want to lose the relationship with him.

Job's trial thus becomes a witness to us of the vast difference between God and us. Besides God's being eternal spirit and our being flesh, the greatest difference between Him and us is in our hearts. Jesus points out in Matthew 15:18-20 that sin begins in the heart. It is man's heart that needs changing. For one thing, its pride needs to be wrung from it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 17:1-4

Job has not yielded any ground, and now he asks God to put up bail for him to rescue him from his predicament. In addition, he is now not only accusing God for his plight, but he is also accusing Him of closing the minds of his friends so that they cannot judge fairly.

Something deep and wonderful is beginning to happen to Job. He does not yet "see" his sin, but he is vaguely realizing that he cannot justify himself before God or man by his works. He wants their former relationship restored—he wants to be reconciled to the One against whom he has sinned—so that he, in desperation or defiance, almost even as a challenge, asks the One he sinned against to set him free! This is exactly what God does through Christ. However, in Job's case, his condition continues to worsen before it gets better.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 20:4-7

Zophar connects wickedness with hypocrisy, and then connects both of them with pride. Where does pride appear here? It is in the word excellency—"through their own self-perceived excellency." Many modern translations, seeing what Zophar intended, translate "excellency" as "haughtiness."

The hypocrite is deceived into ignoring realities the meek and humble person might quickly recognize. A deceived person does not know he is deceived, or he would not be deceived. Pride is so powerful that it can deceive quite intelligent people. It is not a matter of intelligence but one of the right kind of knowledge and the willingness to submit to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and Fasting


 

Job 20:5

Carnal joy is temporary because it is based in self-centeredness. By the lifestyles of the average, unconverted person, we can easily see that they live their lives according to the saying, "Ignorance is bliss!" But God tells His people not to rejoice like the world. It is better to have sorrow in humility than joy in pride.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Job 38:1-7

God approaches Job in a way calculated to chop him down to the humanity to which he belonged. How could Job possibly conclude that he was anything close to what God is! Such presumptuousness! Had Job ever created anything remotely like this earth? How could he even begin to think he was somehow God's equal? Job had a highly exaggerated opinion of himself. He had somehow managed to outgrow his humanity or had lost it on this trip to call God into condemnation!

Just as surely as there was an awesome difference between God's creation of the heavens and earth and what Job had accomplished, there was at least that much difference between God and Job spiritually.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Job 41:34

By means of symbolism, Satan's position is defined in terms of attitude. Pride is rightly considered to be "the father of all sin," and the word children is used in the sense "of showing the characteristics of" or "that which is descended from." The Bible uses "sons of Belial" in a similar way. They were not literally children of Satan, but they showed the same characteristics of Satan. Literally, "foolishness" would be a better definition of Belial. We can look at our own children and see that they definitely have our physical characteristics.

So children is used in this sense: Those who are the children of Satan show his characteristics. Jesus uses the same principle back in John 8:44, when He tells the Jews that they are of their father the Devil. Satan was not their literal father, but He alludes to the fact that they displayed the spiritual characteristics of their spiritual father, Satan the Devil. Specifically, He mentions lust: "and the desires of your father you will do."

So, God says here in Job that mankind's dominant sin, idolatry, has its roots in pride. It is usually self-worship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

Job 41:34

This verse portrays God speaking of Leviathan, which clearly represents a being of awesome power and influence over mankind. God's description of Leviathan must not be misunderstood by focusing merely on its monstrous physical appearance, but rather on its reality as a living being, possessing strong leadership qualities and powerful influence.

Leviathan strikes fear into men to bring about submission to him and thus control of them. He is the king of pride, and he rules "the children of pride," who are the overwhelming masses of unconverted people, those not submissive to God. They, like their king and spiritual father, are enemies of God. Whether his mass of followers is aware of it or not, they have been forcibly inducted into his service. He is named in II Corinthians 4:4 as "the god of this age." This is the same being of which Jesus informed the Jews in John 8:44:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

The one who became Satan is a powerful and dominating creation of Almighty God. He was created, not as an enemy of God and His purpose, but as a powerful cherub to serve Him in His purpose by leading other angels in their service to God. Jude 6 discloses that the place of their service was on Planet Earth before mankind was created. But, as Ezekiel 28:14-17 shows, he turned his heart against God to become an enemy, influencing the angels under his charge to rebel with him to fight against God (Revelation 12:9; Isaiah 14:12-14).

God defeated them, and they were cast back to earth. Satan and his minions are still here, continuing their war against God and His creation—man. Ephesians 2:1-3 informs us about how this warfare is being carried out:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Satan's influence is worldwide: "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (I John 5:19). His ultimate object is to destroy God, but along the way he also strives to destroy any aspect of God's creation, most especially man. He is doing this through inducing human beings to sin in order to bring upon them the wages of sin—death.

His basic tool for accomplishing this is by means of his spirit. The driving forces of his prideful, deceitful mind and those of his demon companions are deceit, hatred, anger, competition, and destruction, all encompassed within an overweening pride. People absorb them into their thinking processes, becoming like him in attitude and conduct. These characteristics lodge into human hearts and generate resistance to God, His law, and His purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Psalm 10:2

Verse 2 shows that the proud person takes advantage of those who are weaker. In practical terms, it means that in pursuing personal desires, the proud person has no regard for the needs and comforts of others. He "runs over" people. He has no esteem for their interests and happiness, thinking them unworthy even to consider. Such an attitude will never bring people together.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Psalm 10:4

Sometimes the Bible clearly states what pride produces. At other times, it shows this by associating pride with its fruit. It usually does this immediately within a given verse in which the word "pride" appears by showing pride to be synonymous with its fruit.

This verse seems to catch the essence of all of pride's fruit. It causes a person to resist God rather than seek to be like Him. How can a person be one with God without seeking Him?

An alternate translation of the last clause in verse 4 is, "All his thoughts are, 'There is no God.'" Pride colors all he thinks concerning morals and ethics. His thoughts are on the greatness of man. Because his thoughts are inclined to glorify man, he does not consider that there might be Someone greater to whom he is responsible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Psalm 10:4

Pride resists God rather than seeking Him. How, then, can one be with God without seeking Him? It is an impossibility. This lays bare the central issue here.

An alternative translation of the last phrase is: "All his thoughts are that there is no God." This is interesting within the context because it begs the question: What does a person who is not mindful of God think about? What can he think about? He can only think about himself and those who are close or important to him?say, those who are part of his family. Nevertheless, they are not God. The person can see who they are and what they do. He looks around him and all that has been accomplished. His proud thoughts are of the greatness of man because he perceives that man has accomplished all of this, not God. In the minds of those who believe man is so great, considering all of his vaunted achievements, there is room for none greater, because that person cannot see anything greater.

We can see in this why God has such a strong issue with pride: because pride generates self-sufficiency, and self-sufficient people will not seek what they do not think they need and therefore do not want. They think they are all right the way they are. Pride blinds people to their needs. Of course, this is not realistic.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and Fasting


 

Psalm 10:7

The proud person uses his tongue to put down and to play a game of one-upmanship. In a lot of banter, many remarks are rather on the cutting side. They may be funny, amusing put-downs of somebody's looks, opinions, habits, etc., but they are little bits of pride, maybe a lot of pride, showing through. Such a one is sneering at the other, putting him down. The other side of it is that, as he puts the other down, he elevates himself. The proud uses his tongue to make himself look good or come out on top, even if he has to lie or to distort to do so.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Psalm 10:8-10

By using metaphors, God is exposing the hypocrisy that results from pride—appearing humble while actually seeking as much as he possibly can for any advantage to get the better of another person.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Psalm 51:18-19

Essentially, David is saying that the offering of an animal does not meet the price of forgiveness, but an acceptable sacrifice before God is a broken and contrite heart. An acceptable sacrifice is repentance, as it is giving up human nature, its own will, and obstinacy and pride. They have been suppressed and then replaced by humility. This is personally costly because it motivates one to submit his life to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Be a Priest


 

Psalm 59:12

Proud people also possess an unruly tongue that curses, lies, and offends. This complements Psalm 10:2 in that a proud person may not have the opportunity to "run over" somebody in business, but every proud person can boldly or carelessly run over others with his tongue.

Some people are abrupt, abusive, harsh, and overbearing with their tongue. Even though they may not physically attack other people, they leave them emotionally abused. Some complain ceaselessly, spreading a pall of negativism that makes others want to avoid them. Neither harshness nor negativism promotes oneness. We need to study how God says to use the tongue, but the cause of offenses that separate us is almost invariably inconsiderate, self-centered pride producing its divisive fruit through the tongue.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Psalm 62:11-12

When David says in Psalm 62:11, "God has spoken once, twice . . .," He is using a Hebrew idiom that means, "I have heard this repeatedly." Practically, it means God's will always decides the outcome of whatever is in dispute, whatever hangs in the balance. Who can resist Him?

We need to look more closely at the word "power," or as some translations read, "strength." Power is defined in The Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Word Finder as "having the ability to act, influence" and "a particular faculty of body or mind, capability." This usage opens another exciting avenue, taking the meaning of power from mere brute, overwhelming force into such qualities as the powers of love, intellect, wisdom, understanding, vision, logic, energy, eloquence, wealth, authority, privilege, prerogative, control, mastery, persuasion, forgiveness, and so on into every area of activity.

Is there any kind of need in which God is not superior to any alternate source we could seek out to provide help? In Psalm 62, David suggests that, when we need help in time of trouble, why not just go right to the top? Is not our Father willing to provide these things for us?

Then in verse 12, David adds yet another quality of our powerful God that we need to consider. God not only renders to every one according to his deeds, implying punishment, but He is also merciful - in fact, the very pinnacle of love! Even His sometimes-painful correction is an act of love.

The entire psalm briefly and generally explains why we should trust God: To those who believe, no one is more qualified and trustworthy. Broadly, David is saying that God's power and willingness to act according to His purpose is the very foundation of a believer's practical application of his faith in Him.

There is far more to God being the Source of the powers that we need to serve Him and become prepared for His Kingdom. He has made available many powers, ones that we may take for granted yet have nevertheless been provided for our benefit.

Recall that the Israelites sang in Exodus 15:2, "The Lord is my strength." In a poetic way, they meant that we do not have strength, but God does, and He uses it for our benefit. God has not called the wise of this world (I Corinthians 1:26), but on the other hand, Jesus Christ lives in us, and He is the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24). He is our High Priest, who has the responsibility before God to lead us prepared into the Kingdom.

The concept of strength or power has many facets that we have not yet explored. Deuteronomy 8:11, 14, 16-18 says:

Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today . . . when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; . . . who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end - then you say in your heart, "My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth." And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

That wealth is power is an easily recognized concept. "Wealth" is used in this context to represent all evidences of prosperity and well-being. We tend to think of wealth in terms of material things like the size and location of our home, the cost of our automobile, or the fashionableness of our clothing. However, there is more to prosperity than material goods.

The concept developed in this passage also includes qualities like good health, sound-mindedness, and the level and breadth of our education - elements common to prosperous cultures. It includes things such as understanding and having the opportunity to perceive what is happening in this world from a godly point of view. All of these and many more are powers available to us. In other words, "wealth" is not limited to material things. It includes our health, the disposition in which we live our lives, the liberties we enjoy, and the opportunities available to have those things whether or not we have actually taken advantage of them.

For example, Solomon said, "Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). The tremendous volume of information available in books is beyond our comprehension. Of course, not all the power contained in this information is good, but God has made it available.

In addition, God can prosper us by giving us favor in the eyes of others. He opens doors to bring us goodwill because power belongs to Him, and He uses it as it pleases Him. No potential help is beyond His power!

In many cases, these things come to us as byproducts of His fulfillment of promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Are we using them, and if not, why not? God's fulfilling of His promises provides us with potentially valuable experiences, which are lavished on us simply because we live in an Israelitish nation. Each nation of modern Israel has its own peculiar wealth of beauty. Most of us have noticed and compared the barrenness of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq on television with the fruitfulness of our nations. This beauty, along with its productivity and liberties, are included in the concept of "wealth."

He provides these things and uses them to benefit us at all times because it pleases Him to do so. Powers are not always given because we please Him. Deuteronomy 8 is a warning against pride. We must humble ourselves, never forgetting that we are created and that we live by the gifts He provides. Remember, Jesus says, "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). This awesome statement is made by the One described by Paul as "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus means, in reference to God's purpose, that we could do nothing spiritually without what He adds to our labors. Yet, these verses also tell us where to go to receive the help that we perceive we need.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part One)


 

Psalm 73:1-9

The psalmist, Asaph, mentions pride directly, as well as boasting among men and speaking loftily, arrogantly against the very God of heaven, as evidence of the driving force of the wicked person's life. Pride and wickedness fit together like hand and glove—so much so that he describes pride as the wicked person's ornament, as if it were displayed as a necklace.

In short, pride identifies the wicked; evil people are always proud. They scoff at God's Word, speak against Him, and gossip against fellow man. What we see on the outside is evil attitude and conduct, but what is motivating from the inside is pride. The proud person offends against God by self-exaltation, and he offends others by haughty preoccupation with himself, leading him to rudeness, impatience, and gossip. And all the while, he ignores the instruction from God that would correct him.

All of this is based on a vain delusion of grandeur that, if allowed, can lead to what God prophesies in Obadiah 2-4, 18:

"Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD. . . . "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau. For the LORD has spoken."

He pronounces this against the nation of Edom, but it could be pronounced in principle against anyone who comes to believe and act as though he is invulnerable by ignoring the reality of God and the consequences of sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Psalm 75:7-10

The righteous do not exalt themselves. God will promote them; He will exalt them when it is the proper time. In the meantime, it is best for all of us to be content with where He has put us. We do not need to go to the lengths of Korah or Diotrephes to be presumptuous—we can be presumptuous anytime we take something upon ourselves that has not been given to us to do, thinking that we know better. Such a thing is just plain pride.

The cure for presumptuous behavior is realizing what God has given us, where He has placed us, and what is best for us at the time. If we work within the parameters He has set for us, we will grow, and we will perform the task He has asked us to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Psalm 138:6

This verse brings out an interesting contrast between God and man. God's reaction to the proud is exactly the opposite: He disdains, or He scorns, them. Whereas the proud scorns the lowly—the inferior, as he reckons them—God scorns the proud and accepts the lowly. He accepts the one that the proud rejects. God unites with the low person by giving him grace, but the proud puts down, rejects, and disunites the one he scorns.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Proverbs 3:34

The subject here is God, and He scorns the scornful. Scorn, a contempt or disdain, is a fruit that pride produces in a person, and it is usually shown toward someone thought to be an inferior. A human being will tend to avoid the person who he deems unworthy, or he will immediately reject or ridicule the unworthy person's opinions. What is the effect of this? It breaks people into cliques. Scorn divides and separates.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Proverbs 8:13

The four examples of evil in Proverbs 8:13, which always end up doing harm, were manifested in Satan, and all of his children continue to exhibit them (see John 8:38, 41, 44). A progression is shown: Pride and arrogance are conditions of the heart, which is where it all starts. Where there is pride in the heart, it will come out in "the evil way," that is in action.

Evil also emerges in words, though it may not always be obvious. Jesus cautions in Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." When evil resides in the heart, it will be exposed in perverse speech, language contrary to the truth of God and to love. James 3:8 declares that "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." He also says, "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man" (James 3:2). We can only reach that perfection with God's intervention and help, which, thankfully, we have.

The apostle Paul essentially says that the foundation of good works—particularly within the church of God—is humility or lowliness:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

However, if works are done with pride or arrogance, or for the sake of appearance rather than truth and righteousness, they will cause harm. They may also produce some good, but the account of the Two Trees in the Garden of Eden teaches that, in the context of eternity, a mixture of good and evil is really only evil.

David C. Grabbe
Hating Evil, Fearing God


 

Proverbs 11:2

The proud hypocrite deceives himself into ignoring realities in the conduct of his life that the meek and humble person quickly recognizes and takes into account. The proud person's vanity pushes him into conduct that will end in shame. The humble person's attitude, on the other hand, is a vivid contrast, for his wisdom prevents him from pursuing the same conduct. This in turn produces even more wisdom when good fruit is produced because it reinforces his right decision.

This pride seen in Proverbs 11:2 literally means "boiling up," or we might say, "puffed up." It can mean "to overstep the boundaries." The proud person has an inflated opinion of himself and/or his possessions, abilities, powers, and accomplishments. This exists because pride has deceived him about his importance. He is the center of the world! The day is coming soon when everyone's proud ego will be deflated, and man's haughty self-regard will be stripped away.

This is exactly what happened to Satan. He got so full of himself that his pride tricked him into believing he could defeat His Creator in battle and take His place! He ignored the reality that he was the creation of God, and that God was thus superior to His creation in every way. His pride deceived him into underestimating the awesome power of God that he had seen demonstrated in the creation! It made him disregard the limited nature of his own power in comparison, making him think he was stronger than was true. It actually made him think he could be God!

This attitude is also at the foundation of Laodiceanism. Of what does God accuse the Laodiceans? "[Y]ou say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'" (Revelation 3:17). Their pride deceives them into believing they are self-sufficient. They have it all! They do not need anything! We should consider that in all probability the Laodicean does not say any such thing with his tongue. In fact, he is probably able to "talk the talk" very well and hypocritically put on a good show of righteousness. But God looks on the heart, seeing not only his public conduct but also his motivations and private conduct. The Laodicean is of the class that professes to know God but denies Him in works. God's judgment—the correct judgment—is that they are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Proverbs 13:10

When God says, "By pride comes only contention," He means that this kind of pride has not a single good fruit! Not even one! Lucifer's pride brought him into contention with God, two-thirds of the angels, the demons who now submit to him and billions of deceived humans who do not resist him. Surely, the demons are a squabbling bunch held together only by Satan's power and their united hatred of God and His children. This has occurred because they deceived themselves into thinking more of themselves than they ought, which perverted their judgment in other areas of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Proverbs 13:10

Only through pride does contention last. We primarily see the effects of pride because pride is frequently difficult to detect. God has shown in His Word how to detect it: by looking at the fruits. How do we know false prophets? By their fruits, by what they produce.

A quarrel that could be easily settled if both parties were humble continues indefinitely when parties are arrogant. Why? Because pride plows the way for contempt for the others opinion. Pride inflames passion and wounds feelings. Because of competitiveness, also an aspect of pride, a person feels he has to fight back. And so the argument goes back and forth.

If we are ever involved in a quarrel that seemingly will not end, we should be well-advised from God's Word that the problem is pride. It is somewhere in the picture in one or both who are participating in the conflict. The quarrel will never end until one person makes up his mind to stop it by refusing to argue back, suppressing the feeling that he must win.

One of the greatest spiritual advances that I ever made in my life was when it suddenly dawned on me one day that I did not have to win. God is on His throne, and because He loves me and the other person, God will make available to both of us what the right decision is. If we ask patiently, persevering without anger, and if we continue to meditate and search and counsel with Him, the answer will come. So, arguments stop.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Proverbs 16:19

In 1621, Robert Burton wrote in his The Anatomy of Melancholy, "They are proud in humility; proud in that they are not proud." How carnal men are to twist virtue into sin! It is enough to make us suspicious when we come across a "humble" person.

We have undoubtedly crossed paths with those who were so proud that they oozed with false humility. Many religious leaders in the world today openly appear this way, as they wax eloquent on their televised evangelical programs. Authors have written dozens of books and Hollywood has produced many movies to expose the hypocrisy of such individuals.

Uncountable numbers of both religious and secular leaders have risen to power on the banner of humility. Feigning an image of heartfelt concern for those who can help place them in the limelight, they glow with an air of counterfeit humility. Eventually, this hypocritical image always becomes apparent, just as our sins expose us in due time (Numbers 32:23). The sin of pride is no different.

Of the many things that people have written on humility, as much as one-third refers to false humility. For instance, the French moralist La Rochefoucald wrote in Maxims in 1665: "Humility is often only feigned submission which people use to render others submissive. It is a subterfuge of pride which lowers itself in order to rise."

Martin G. Collins
Before Honor Is Humility: The Story of Andrew


 

Proverbs 18:10-12

These verses express a consistent biblical principle regarding pride. Pride springs from an unjustified sense of well-being, wealth, or strength. The righteous are justified in looking to the Lord for safety, but the wealthy and proud man falls to his destruction because, in his perverted judgment, his confidence is in the wrong place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Proverbs 21:4

This confirms that pride gives birth to more tangible sins. As plowing prepares the earth to produce crops, so pride prepares the way to produce other sins. Some Bibles translate plowing as "lamp," indicating lighting or guiding the path into other sins. Haughty look shows comparison is taking place and reveals the very essence of pride: perverted comparison, a wrong judgment regarding the value or importance of self, skill, intelligence, etc.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Proverbs 21:4

The relationship between pride and sin is easily seen, but none seems to exist between either pride or sin and plowing. However, there is a link. Solomon is saying that just as surely as plowing precedes the produce of the earth, so does pride prepare the way for the produce of sin.

In some Bibles "plowing" may be translated "lamp." In this case, pride is depicted as a lamp that guides or lights the way into sin. In his poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri listed pride among the seven great sins. In fact, he lists it first because, he concludes, it is the father of the others. Because of what the Bible reveals of Satan and his rebellion, he is probably correct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Proverbs 25:27

Jesus warns against this in the Sermon on the Mount when He tells us to do our spiritual devotions privately. We are to fast and pray privately. We should not let everyone know what and how much we are studying God's Word. We should not draw attention to our good deeds. However, the pride in a person leads him to ensure he is recognized and honored for what he does.

Notice that this verse does not say that the proud's work was not a good one. It may indeed have been a good work. But for him to make sure that he gets the glory for it has the same effect on him spiritually as eating too much honey has physically: It tastes awfully good going down, but it causes serious consequences later on. That is the lesson of the proverb: Seeking one's own glory will someday result in negative consequences.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Proverbs 26:16

Has the sluggard really accomplished anything that might be a basis for being considered wise? No, but he thinks he knows all the answers, and in his pride lets others know.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Proverbs 26:16

Can a lazy person be proud? We have a saying: "Poor but humble." According to God's Word, all too frequently a reason that a person is poor is because he is proud. The truth is often just the opposite of the saying.

How do many wealthy people become so rich? It is because they are willing to take advice and apply it. They humbly listen to the counsel of those with experience, who are already successful, and in following that advice, they themselves become successful. Their humility leads them to seek counsel and follow the advice.

On the other hand, the poor are frequently poor because they either will not seek the advice, or if they do seek it, they find reasons not to apply it. God is referring to this inaction here. Laziness is a sign of pride.

We would not normally think a person who is out of a job and needs one desperately would do that. However, a lazy person thinks so much of himself that he believes that things should come to him without working. He thus justifies or excuses himself, saying:

  • "The conditions really are not quite right."

  • "If I am going to do that job, I first need a new car."

  • "That job is too far away."

  • "The pay is not enough for all that I would have to do."

  • "If I go there, I will have to move."

He is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who can render a sensible reason. At the root of his "wisdom" is pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Ecclesiastes 4:13-16

The story flow is translated in a choppy manner, but it goes like this: A young man born without wealth, who even spent time in prison, unexpectedly rises to power. As a young king, he listens well and rules well, but in old age, he becomes proud, losing his throne to a younger man. By this time, the kingdom was large and powerful, but Solomon forecasts that the new king's fame will not last long. He, too, can expect to lose his office, and the people who formerly cheered for him will cease appreciating him.

Solomon does not dwell on why the original king became hardened to his counselors' advice. Nevertheless, he closed his ears to their advice, and his rule ended in some degree of disgrace. Solomon gives the impression that he thought the original king foolish because he lost the support of those who originally helped him to power and the nation to prosperity.

The overall subjects of these four verses are a subtle warning about pride, and more obviously, the instability of political power and the fickleness of popularity. He makes the point in the last part of verse 16 that the younger man who replaced the original king will in turn discover history repeating itself, and his career will run much the same course as the man who preceded him. He will find that the time will come when the citizens no longer accept him either, and he will be removed from his leadership position and replaced by another.

Therefore, one must understand that public life contains a significant downside that can render life turbulent. Fame is fleeting, and everybody is expendable. A second, related lesson shows a cause of the instability: The public is fickle. Because of the self-centeredness of human nature, most people operate toward their leaders on the principle that “I believe you were good in the past, but what have you done for me lately?”

One of the items Solomon describes here touches to some degree on the frequent changes of leadership that our election system produces. Each administration begins with the citizens hopeful for its success, but by the time the next election occurs, those hopes are largely forgotten. Each election gives the citizenry an opportunity to express their accusations, creating, at times, significant emotional, social, and economic disturbances in the culture, as people vent their dissatisfaction with the current administration. During the next election, the nation endures the same process, but rarely does anything change for the better in its quality of life. Instead, history overwhelmingly shows that matters of quality of life, which involve morality to a significant degree, grow worse. The public quickly forgets that previous elections changed little or nothing.

Solomon may have had Joseph, son of Jacob, and his experiences in Egypt in mind as his illustration. One can draw parallels from elements of Joseph's life in Egypt, during which he spent time in prison (Genesis 41). At Pharaoh's command, he was released from prison and placed in authority over the entire nation (Genesis 41:37-46). He received great acclaim because of his leadership during the difficult circumstances of the famine. However, the final note of his story is what Solomon writes, “Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him.” Moses states in Exodus 1:8, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” We know this affected the plight of the Israelites, or God would not have acknowledged it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Solomon shows patience to be a very valuable attribute that brings us success in endeavors and favor in other's eyes. We should not dismiss patience's value because of this more secular perspective because it has definite, overlapping spiritual value as well.

Solomon's approach is not with God in mind as our example, but that patience is prudent in our dealings with others and events. For instance,

The end of a thing is better than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

It is interesting that Solomon connects impatience to pride. He observes that the impatient haughtily seize on something before its conclusion is worked out, while the patient see a thing to its end and are rewarded. Does this principle not apply to God working with us?

Proverbs 14:29 holds a similar thought: "He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly." Patience grows from a combination of faith, hope, love, and self-control. As these two proverbs and many more reveal, we should cultivate patience because it shows understanding and because it is wise. Wisdom produces success, and being successful in glorifying God is what life is all about.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

Ecclesiastes 7:16-22

Ecclesiastes 7:20 in the New Revised Standard Version says, “Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.” This includes even a super-righteous Christian (verse 16). Could we imagine God, who never sins under any circumstance and has continued so for eternity, being expected by a mere creation to give a blessing for performing what is required of him as a matter of course? Such arrogance! Clearly, near equality with Him would generate pride!

Solomon continues his thought in verse 22, “For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.” He is reminding us of how spiritually weak we are—that we cannot go a day without sinning in some manner! Thinking we can meet the terms we are setting for ourselves reveals substantial pride. Yet, by dedicating ourselves to super-righteousness, we are foolishly demanding blessings.

Solomon is not directly saying so, but such a course of straining for absolute, moral, spiritual, yet unattainable perfection leads to a frustrating dead end. Our resolve will not cause God to be persuaded to comply with our demands because it would not be good for us and our relationship with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eleven): Paradox, Continued


 

Isaiah 1:13-15

The context gives no indication that the Israelites were not observing the Sabbath on the seventh day. Rather, their attitude and way they were observing it contrasted with God's desire. Carnally, man feels free to worship God as he good and well pleases. These attitudes, as well as the practices, break the second commandment.

This passage parallels Amos 5:21-27, which was preached about the same time as Isaiah 1:13-15. Both show crowds in a festive attitude, yet God rejects their "worship" as worthless. Their "holiness" was a sham because it was not backed by righteous conduct in their daily lives. The spirit behind their worship was wrong. Their futile sacrifices indicate their hypocrisies: These people had the morals of alley cats; eyes hot with lust and greed; and fortunes built on crime, envy, murder, and deceit. In reality, they were stingy, hateful gossipers who on the Sabbath appeared before God as if everything was okay.

What kind of a god would accept the conduct that the Israelites exhibited? Certainly not the true God! They were going through the motions of punctilious observance, but their hearts were elsewhere, as their daily conduct showed. God is more concerned about right relationships between people than an overly scrupulous regard for formal worship on the Sabbath. Worship cannot be separated from the character and attitudes displayed in daily life. It is a person's reaction to God all through the week, not just on the Sabbath, that matters. We cannot mock God and somehow believe that we will get away with it.

In Isaiah 2:5-18, God testifies of a culture immersed in all sorts of idolatry. He sees a people enslaved by the superstition of astrology—they do not seek God's judgment, but they will seek and do what the omens read! Their material success has produced a self-confidence that deceives them into believing that God is unnecessary. This chapter reveals what resides at the foundation of much idolatry—pride, as expressed in the phrases, "The lofty looks of man" and the "haughtiness of men." Pride drives mankind to resist God, so they will not submit to the way He wants our response—our worship—done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment


 

Isaiah 2:5-20

Isaiah 2:5-20 mentions a number of idolatries that are just as present in our society today as they were Isaiah's time. Enslaved by the superstition of astrology, they were more concerned about what the omens read than the judgment of God (verse 6). They craved the power of money and the recognition and influence it drew, and took enormous pride in their military, political, and economic sway in the world (verse 7). They worshipped "the work of their own hands" (verse 8).

The underlying motivation for these idolatries is exposed in verses 11: "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down" (see verses 12, 17). Pride brings forth idolatry, and its destruction is idolatry's cure. Pride elevates its owner to find God and His ways as unnecessary, too restrictive, boring, or beneath his intelligence, station, or needs. It leads him to choose his own way, be his own man, and do his own thing according to his judgment. In short, even if a person of pride knows of God's way, he will not submit to worship God in the way He wants.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Isaiah 2:6-18

In the vanity of our pride, we put our trust in material strengths. A sense of strength perverts our judgment, and soon we are in conflict with God and men. Twice in this brief section, God says He will bring low the haughtiness of men. Lucifer's pride hardly endeared him to God—it eventually brought him into open conflict with Him! He was cast down (brought low) to earth, but because his pride is still influencing him, the worst is yet to come. And in the interim, he is infecting us with his most dangerous attribute.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Isaiah 2:6-9

Portrayed here is an entire nation devoted to getting, much like our modern world. The American motto seems to be, "The chief end of man is to glorify prosperity and enjoy it forever." We worship—we serve—what we make. Another facet of this is that potential fruits of material success are self-confidence and pride, which to the successful mind subtly makes God unnecessary. But since all men must have a god, and a righteous God asks awkward questions as to how the success was attained, such people turn to a more amenable god. They worship their own success, secularism, the confidence of men in their own powers. The quest for material wealth thus produces a powerful need to assimilate to the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Isaiah 2:7-11

Everywhere, the Bible shows the same principle: Pride has its roots in a feeling of wealth or accomplishment, which is then used to compare. We can tie this to Satan and what is written about him in Ezekiel 28, how pride arose within him because of his beauty. He had something to brag about that made him feel good. But his vanity, developing into outright pride, began to get to him. He began to feel better than the other angels, and eventually, in his own eyes, he equated himself with God. In time, he thought of himself as greater than God—a very perverted comparison.

It does not have to be intelligence or beauty or power as it was with Satan. It could be things like money, position, social position, natural ability, social status, knowledge, strength, hair, clothing, a house, furniture, automobile—the list is virtually endless. In the New Testament, the Greek is huperephania, which means "to show oneself above." It does not imply one who others look up to, but one who stands on his own self-created pedestal.

Psychologists tell us that pride is actually a mark of inner inferiority and uncertainty, and such people compensate by over-emphasizing and flaunting the qualities that they think they possess that will make others think well of them. This feeling of wealth is highly relative because each person is capable of setting his own standards of comparison, regardless of his real accomplishments.

Proverbs 26:16 speaks of the sluggard who is wiser in his own eyes than all others, who can render more answers than seven wise men can. Although he is virtually devoid of anything that anybody would consider worth bragging about, the sluggard has created his own set of standards. He thinks he already knows the answers. He has a feeling of wealth, of prosperity, of power, or of security in whatever standard he in his own conceptions has set. He is so sure that he knows the answers that he is undeterred by facts and continues then in his ignorance. He is self-sufficient.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

Isaiah 9:8-9

Here, Isaiah uses a figure of speech to make pride and its fruit synonymous. Pride is not literally arrogance but an elevated opinion of oneself. When one is proud, however, arrogance is also present. Therefore, the Bible pulls no punches, telling us that arrogance and pride are synonymous. Where pride is, arrogance will also be found in some degree. Does arrogance promote oneness?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

"Lucifer" means "Light-Bringer" or "Day Star." Ezekiel calls him "the anointed cherub who covers," which means he was one of the chief angels whose wings covered God's throne in heaven. He is specifically shown to be a created being, possibly the most beautiful, wise, and perfect of God's creations.

But this mighty angel grew proud and vain in his beauty. He began to become envious of God's authority over the universe, and over maybe millions of years, he schemed to induce other angels to support him in an attempt to overthrow God. When he finally led one third of the angels (Revelation 12:4) to war against God in heaven, God cast him and his angelic troops back to the earth (Luke 10:18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Satan is the archetype of the self-exalted being, beginning with his attempt to usurp God's throne. Nebuchadnezzar follows his example by his self-praise: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:28-37). The man of sin, the Antichrist, will be the most self-exalted human being on earth, and this same spirit of pride will drive him (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Probably all of us have thought that we know better than those in charge. Watch out! Thinking like this is not wrong in itself, but it is something that lodged itself in Lucifer's mind: "I know better than the one in charge," and in this case, it was God.

We can begin to see how his pride was beginning to exalt itself against God. It was moving to break the relationship between them. It was coming between Lucifer and God so that their relationship could not continue. Lucifer could not continue to serve God.

Most have felt that we have been overlooked, neglected, or abused. Most of us have felt rejected a time or two. Of and by themselves, these feelings are not wrong. But, again, we must beware, because these feelings can begin to generate pride. Such a thing fed Lucifer's feelings about himself. They simmered in him and made him angry, and he desired to assert his will to control the governance of all that was happening. "I will ascend to heaven," he said, and he tried to. We see the pattern here; we can see the process involved from beginning to end.

It ends in warfare against God, which is why a person of pride cannot have a good relationship with Him. A proud person cannot have faith in God, at least not very much. A small amount of faith can be there, but pride will definitely be a hindrance. This is why the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:9-14 follows immediately after of the Parable of the Importunate Widow (Luke 18:1-8), which Jesus ends with, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?"—because humility is essential to faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Isaiah 14:13-14

We can see in Satan how pride will show itself in us. Pride brings us into contention with God. It will exalt us into breaking one or more of His commandments, perhaps as a way of life. It will exalt us to deny what a scripture clearly says to defend a privately held belief (i.e., women speaking in church, hair length).

It will cause us to reject the leadership of the ministry, given to the church as a gift of God (cf. Jeremiah 43:1-2). It will exalt us into striving for positions of leadership in the church (study all of Numbers 16).

Pride will exalt us against brothers in the church fellowship so we do not really love them (i.e., gossiping about them, accusing, cutting them down [even in jest], never fellowshipping with them). It will make us contend with our brothers over scriptures that have little or nothing to do with salvation, but "winning" an argument will become very important to us so we will not lose face.

It is no wonder Proverbs 28:25 says, "He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered." God resists the proud, but gives grace (gifts that prosper one spiritually) to the humble.

The father and king of pride is an adversary. Whenever we witness contention that disrupts unity, where confusion and frustration are being produced, we can be sure that his dominant attitude is infecting the group. We need to examine ourselves to see where we may need to repent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Isaiah 14:13-14

How people feel about ambition is plain in the way they say, "I'm a go-getter" in a tone of pride and self-satisfaction. Many people greatly admire this expression of self-will. However, people often frustrate themselves when they try to accomplish and acquire things through their own will. In seeking security and prestige, self-will frequently develops into conformity to a social status, a peer group, or an organization. In reality, it is slavery to sin.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 4): Self-Will


 

Isaiah 14:13

Biblically, God's throne is in the north—way in the north of heaven. What Lucifer or Hillel had decided to do (he was already in the attitude of Satan) was to exalt himself and his throne by attacking God and supplanting Him.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Isaiah 16:6

Pride and wrath are often present together, a major reason why pride leads to fighting. The degree of wrath is not the issue, only that it is present. In this context, the wrath of Moab is notable because it is excessive and unjustified (see Amos 2:1).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Isaiah 66:1-2

If you want to impress God, it is humility that impresses Him. Pride gets between us and God, and without realizing it, we actually shut Him out of our lives.

The Bible clearly shows that our spiritual well-being is dependent upon acknowledging, with our lives, our reliance upon the revealed will of God—His Word. Pride results from arrogating to oneself something for which one is indebted and would not even have except for God's benevolence. Who gave Lucifer his beauty? his intelligence? his position of power from which he operated? Pride perverted Lucifer's thinking into rejecting his dependence, and he elevated himself above God.

Now what do we have that we did not receive? Did we create ourselves? Did we create the great goal in life to be in the Kingdom of God and to be born into His Family? Did we reveal God to ourselves? Did we die on the stake for the forgiveness of our sins? Did the gift of the Holy Spirit come to us through our own agency? Did we lead ourselves to repentance? Who gave us the power to believe in the true God and in His Son Jesus Christ?

It is interesting to reflect on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Lucifer comes along and says to them, "You will be as God." What entered into Adam and Eve at that moment? The pride of life. The result? They rejected the revelation of God. They rejected His Word and sinned. Pride subtly elevates a man to the same level as God, which results in him rejecting the very gifts God would give him for his salvation.

So, consciously or subconsciously, the proud man—us (hopefully not as much as it used to be)—is saying that he already knows better, or has the power and ability within himself by nature, thereby subtly turning salvation into something God owes him. It becomes earned.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

Jeremiah 7:4-12

We can learn a great deal from the prophets' descriptions of conditions in Israel in the years just before God scattered them. Jeremiah 7 contains an especially vivid description, describing attitudes and conduct just before Babylon's invasion of Judah. Anybody who cares and diligently searches for the causes of our present scattered condition can easily find many of them.

Verse 4 reveals a casual, self-righteous, and presumptuous self-confidence that, since they were fellowshipping with the "church," everything would be fine! Nevertheless, the enemy conquered Judah and took the people into captivity, so membership in the church is no guarantee that judgment will not come on us individually or collectively. Jeremiah expresses the Jews' prideful assumption of being above correction, an attitude that has its basis in a confused understanding of God's love and the purity of His holiness.

We must be prepared for God's Kingdom. The attitudes and conduct of these people, expressed here but applied to us now, show that we were not living up to God's expectations. We can learn, though, that fellowshipping with the church without the right attitudes and conduct can easily foster a delusion that all is well, while by God's judgment all clearly is not well! Verses 5-6 illustrate that their judgment of how to apply God's Word in their lives was severely compromised. They definitely did not love their neighbor as themselves; they were unmistakably self-centered. Is there more evidence here that we may have been the same?

Verse 10 expresses the extent this delusion had permeated their lives. By ignoring God's moral and ethical demands, they were in effect telling God that attending services released them from the guilt accrued during the rest of their lives. It was as if God's judgments did not apply to them. They were after all "in the church," right? It reads almost as if they felt they were doing God a favor by showing up! What is more, while there, they heard insipid messages telling them, "Peace, peace. Everything is okay. God's grace covers all."

Though ceremonially going through the motions, they lacked thorough dedication and devotion to God's way in every aspect of life. Beginning in verse 12, God reminds them that they should remember the history of former generations and take warning because they are on track to experience the same calamities. Have we in our time repeated their assumptions that everything is fine when it is not? It seems so, since the Laodicean assumes he is rich and increased with goods and needs nothing. The reality is that he is blind to his true condition and not clothed with God's righteousness.

God has called us into a courtship relationship leading to marriage with Jesus Christ. He makes clear what He expects from us as our part in this relationship. Jesus says to His disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). A love relationship requires each to sacrifice thoughtfully for the other. Keeping of the commandments does not "save" us, but it prepares us to live eternally with Him and shows our attitude of submission to Him.

Jeremiah 7:5-9 plainly portrays precious little concern for fellow man. In fact, most of the sins Jeremiah directly mentions are transgressions of the last five commandments. Only one sin, idolatry, focuses directly on the first four commandments. This suggests that a breakdown in human relationships quickly followed the disintegration of the relationship between God and Israel. Similarly, I John 4:20-21 calls upon those who say they love God and claim to be Christians to love the brethren. John goes so far as to say that, if we do not love the brethren, our claim to love God is a lie! This is another area in which many fell short, and it led to division, which continues to the present.

This indicates that self-absorbed people indulged themselves at others' expense. Self-absorption produces strained marital relationships (and ultimately divorce) and alienated children as they and their parents go in wildly different directions. Within congregations, it yields shallow and casual relationships that show little true concern. Its fruit are intolerance, impatience, strong opinions about trivial things, offense, harsh judging, and division.

It produces busy people who feel as if they are accomplishing a great deal because they seem to get many things done. The church member may even prosper more than at any other time in his life. However, the busy-ness is spent on things of minor spiritual importance. Meanwhile, the relationship with God, while existent, is allowed to be neglected. That is what Laodiceanism is. People bring it in from the world where God is a figurehead but with whom there is no relationship. It is a deceitful fruit of too much time, attention, and energy focused on the wrong things. Laodiceanism is deceitful because the Bible reveals that the person afflicted with it is unaware that he has it. He is blind to it, but God certainly is not because He is being neglected in this relationship. How can He possibly marry someone who will not draw close to Him because of involvement in so many other things?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Seven)


 

Jeremiah 17:9

This verse is among the best known of all verses in the Bible. Though we know the words, could we perhaps not grasp some of the depth of what Jeremiah is trying to convey, particularly its practical, everyday application?

It is interesting that the Hebrew word translated "deceitful" (Strong's #6121) comes from exactly the same root as the name "Jacob" (which gives a bit of insight into the mindset of that famous Bible character in his pre-conversion days - God has a habit of naming things what they are). This word is used only three times in the Old Testament. It indicates "a swelling," "a humping up," and thus a knoll or small hill.

When used in relation to traits of human personality, it describes an inflated, prideful vanity, a characteristic that is distastefully useless, corrupting, and intensely self-serving. According to Strong's, it also indicates something fraudulent or crooked. In other words, it suggests an intentional perversion of truth intended to induce another to surrender or give up something of value. What Jacob twice did to Esau gives a good idea of its practical meaning.

Today, we might say our heart is always attempting to "con" us into something that is not good for us in any way. Its inducements may indeed appear attractive on the surface, but further examination would reveal that its appeals are fraudulent and risky. In fact, its appeals are not only downright dangerous, it is incurably set in this way.

In Jeremiah 17:9, the Hebrew word is translated "deceitful," but in the other two usages, it is translated "corrupted" and "polluted." This word should give us a clear indication of what God thinks of this mind that is generating our slippery, self-serving conduct and attitudes. In His judgment, it is foul in every sense, to be considered as belonging in a moral sewer or septic tank.

The King James translators chose to use "deceitful," and since it is a good synonym, just about every modern translation has followed its lead. Deceit is a cognate of deceive, which means "to mislead," "to cheat," "to give a false appearance or impression," "to lead astray," "to impose a false idea," and finally, "to obscure the truth." "Deceitful" thus indicates the heart to be brim-full of these horrible activities.

The term "desperately" (Strong's #605) also needs definition. It indicates something so weak, feeble, and frail as to be at the point of death. Thus, most modern translations, including the KJV margin, have opted for "incurable." Elsewhere, God calls it "a heart of stone," as if rigor mortis has already set in despite it still being alive. In other words, nothing can be done about it, as it is set in a pattern of influence that cannot be changed for the better. God promises, then, that He will give those He calls a new heart, a heart of flesh, one that will yield to Him and His way of life.

It is good to understand all these descriptors, but they only give us what amounts to book-learning on this vital topic. It is what its problems are in everday, practical situations that makes God so dead set against it that He declares it "incurable." It cannot be fixed to His satisfaction and is therefore unacceptable for His Family Kingdom.

We can understand why from this brief illustration: What are the two great commandments of the law? First: We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). In other words, we are to love Him above all other things. We are to respond to God's wonderful, generous love toward us with a love that employs all of our faculties to match His love toward us.

Jesus says in Luke 14:26, "If any one comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Do we grasp the practical application of this? He means that we are to make whatever sacrifice is necessary, even to giving up our lives, to submit in obedience to any, even the least, of God's commands. If at any time we put ourselves on equal footing to Him, we have actually elevated ourselves over Him and have committed idolatry.

The second great commandment is to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Though not quite as stringent as the first, it still is a very high standard. Jesus says that on these two commandments everything else in our response to God hangs (verse 40). Love and law are inextricably bound together in our relationship with God.

Yet, herein lies the problem. Keeping them is impossible for man as he now is, encumbered with this deceitful heart. Our heart will not permit us to do this because it is so self-centered it absolutely cannot consistently obey either of these commandments. Thus, no character of any value to God's Kingdom can be created in one with a heart as deceitful and out of control as an unconverted person. It is incurably self-centered, self-absorbed, and narcissistic in its concerns about life's activities.

This deceit has many avenues of expression, but none is more effective than to convince us we are far better than we actually are - but far better as compared to what or whom? Our hearts have an incredible ability to hide us from the reality of what we are spiritually and morally. It does this so effectively that it can harden us to the extent that we can be blinded to any and every failing in our character! It lures us into sin, hiding its seriousness from us and making us believe it to be a rather minor affair. It convinces us that "nobody got hurt" or "everybody's doing it."

In Hebrews 3:12-13, Paul issues a warning just as applicable today as it was in the first century: "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.'" Sin promises more than it can deliver. It assures us of pleasures it never imparts. Sometimes it does deliver some pleasure, but it conceals the boomerang effect that will surely come. It also obscures its addictive power, invariably leading us beyond our original limits. When we first sin a specific sin, we are under delusion, and it will lead us step by step until we are enslaved to it.

It can put on plausible appearances, even the mantle of virtue, convincing us we are doing ourselves and others a favor. Sin deludes us with hope of happiness, but what does the gambler feel when he loses his bankroll, or the drunkard after he is burdened with a death caused by his drunk driving, or the fornicator who discovers he has AIDS, or the adulterer who must live with the fact that he has destroyed a marriage and family?

Human nature will generate any number of excuses - self-justifications, really - to avoid any sacrifice, no matter how small, or to admit any guilt that might damage its self-assessment of its value. It sometimes manages to produce narcissism so strong that all activity must have it as the center of the universe, and it will work hard to make sure it controls virtually everything. Pride and self-gratification are its driving impulses.

By insisting on "tolerance" over the last several decades, human nature has deceitfully managed to produce an open-minded acceptance of what was once commonly known to be sinful behavior. It has succeeded by maintaining that no absolutes exist regarding conduct, thus one morality is just as good as another. The nation has been bulldozed into accepting this deceitful concept by cooperative media, good-looking celebrities, savvy politicians, and liberal judges.

Thus, a polite, secular paganism has overtaken our nation, and many have become convinced that the gods and ways of the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, occultists, or whatever religionists are all the same. In one way, they are correct. They all do have the same god, but it is not the God of the true Christian religion and the Bible, One who adamantly insists on purity, chastity, and integrity of life in harmony with His commands.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Two)


 

Ezekiel 28:12-15

Consider what he was. He was the pinnacle of what God can create by fiat. That is what is suggested in the wording of this passage - he was the "seal of perfection," the most perfect creation, full of wisdom and beauty. He was made with precious stones as part of his body. Music - beautiful music - was intrinsic to him. He had an exalted position as the "covering cherub." He walked where God ruled, amidst the fiery stones. He had it all. It should have been enough for him, but he began to think, "I'm still one step down from the top. I really don't have it all. I want to rise to the next level of management. I want to be the CEO of the universe. I think I'll overthrow God."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:14-16

Satan was the first one with the attitude of murder, and he has promoted it ever since. A murderer is a child of Satan with the same arrogant pride. Such a person will not enter God's Kingdom (Galatians 5:21; I John 3:15; Matthew 15:18-19).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

Ezekiel 28:14-17

Here is the original source of the internal, self-centered influence in mankind's hearts; this is where sin began in the distant past. From this being, sin spread to other angels; and from them into mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve; and from them on to all of mankind. Notice how God clearly describes that his sins had their birth in his prideful feelings about himself, and in turn, this corrupted his wisdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Ezekiel 28:16-17

God had made him perfect in wisdom, had He not? But Lucifer, or Hillel, corrupted that wisdom. In biblical terms, wisdom is the actual doing of righteousness. What happened in this situation was that Lucifer's doings, actions, behaviors, became corrupted. He should have known better because God had given him that wisdom. Early on, he had acted in wisdom, but his competitive attitude, his discontent, his pride, caused him to pervert his way of life.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:17

The first recorded sin in all of God's creation involved pride. Not only was what Lucifer thought about himself the overall cause of his downfall, it also corrupted the wisdom that should have kept him from falling. Pride blinded him to its own existence and to the impossibility of what he was trying to do! It set in motion a reaction to God that continues to today.

Beauty should not be confined to how Lucifer judged his outward appearance, because it is later expanded to splendor. God says of him, "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (verse 12). He "had it all"—good looks, brains, skill, and power! And it got to him. His very gifts, his strengths, deceived him into misjudging his value in comparison to others, particularly God Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Ezekiel 28:17

Here we see the very beginning of pride. The marginal reference reads, "your heart was made proud." In Job 41:34, as part of the description of Leviathan, Satan is called "king over all the children of pride." God describes no mere animal but rather uses an animal as a type of the Devil.

Satan's pride led him into war with God (Isaiah 14:12-14). He has passed this proclivity on to his "children," and their pride in turn leads them to divide from each other and enter into wars against each other as their father does. Pride is a vine that produces a multitude of evil fruits—so many that some call it "the father of all sin." As long as the seed of pride is alive, it has a very good chance of springing forth in ugly conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Daniel 5:18-23

We see that pride has the power to create evil ambition in a man, persuading him to rise above what he is to something greater—to become something that he thinks he deserves, even though he should have known better. Belshazzar lost his life and his kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Amos 6:1

In verses 1 and 14, Amos addresses the nation's leadership about the way they were living. Chief means "first." They felt Israel was the chief nation on earth, and no other could withstand it. But God says the leaders of Israel were complacent, "at ease," and the nation was following their examples.

The common Israelite looked to people of wealth, power, and influence for models of their own behavior, and they saw self-indulgence, unfounded pride, moral degeneracy, and self-satisfaction. Another nation, the real "first nation," would show Israel its true state by destroying it. Israel would be attacked from Hamath in the north to the Arabah in the south.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 6:7-8

Here God exposes the root cause of Israel's problems: Pride brought forth their self-pleasing religion, their overconfidence in their strength and their self-indulgent lifestyles. Where were their trust and faith in God? Pride causes people to resist and reject Him.

God saw this unwarranted pride most acutely in Israel's leadership. Most of this chapter is aimed directly at the leaders, upon whose conduct the nation's destiny is largely dependent. God shows in the Bible that the leader of any institution—nation, church, business, family—can make or break it. If a leader because of righteousness comes under the blessing of God, then the people are also blessed. But if the leader is cursed by God because of his wickedness, his people likewise come under the curse.

When Judah had a good and righteous king like Josiah (I Chronicles 34-35), the nation prospered, but under evil Manasseh (I Chronicles 33), the nation declined. In this century, England experienced a year of turmoil in 1936 over the determination of Edward VIII to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Yet, his brother, George VI, refusing to leave London during World War II, rallied the nation during its darkest hour. This principle of leadership holds true in any enterprise from large to small.

We can also see this in the second commandment: "You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children" (Exodus 20:5). The fathers—the leaders—and the children both suffer. When the fathers are blessed or cursed by God, so are the children. The difference is only in the measure of responsibility that each bears.

In life, everyone is a leader as well as a follower, depending on the circumstance. Amos shows that a leader should never be complacent and content with the way things are because pride follows—and shortly after it, a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Leaders of nations bear a great responsibility because, if they allow morals to collapse, all their military prowess and vaunted technology will not save them. Above all else, the first consideration of a leader is to be moral.

But the Israelite leaders of Amos' day were people who first considered their own reputation and condition. They compared themselves with others instead of God (II Corinthians 10:12). In ignoring their spiritual health, they could neither lead and guide the nation, nor help and counsel others. Since they had failed so horribly in their duty, God says the leadership would be among the first to be led away as captives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 7:14-17

When Amos answers, "I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit" (Amos 7:14), he contends that God Himself commissioned him to "prophesy to My people Israel" (verse 15). Amos was simply a faithful servant of God, with no formal training for the job God sent him to do. "So," he says, "don't tell me not to prophesy when God tells me to!" The apostles said much the same to the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29).

Then he utters his prophetic denunciation of Amaziah (Amos 7:17). Amaziah's wife and children are included in the curse for two reasons. First, as shown earlier, a leader determines the course of those under him. Any curse that fell on Amaziah would also, to one degree or another, affect his family.

Second, it is a biblical principle that families are often unified in belief. The saying, "Blood is thicker than water," concedes that family ties often prove stronger than the influence of God's Holy Spirit. Frequently, if one leaves the church, others in the family will leave too.

As one member of the family rises or falls, so do the others. Because of his bold denunciation of God's prophet, Amaziah would suffer, and his family would suffer with him. God would see to it that this priest of Bethel would witness in a personal way the coming destruction of the nation as it fell upon his family with a vengeance.

This example, the only narrative section in the entire book, graphically illustrates the fruits of complacency and pride. God sends His prophets to ring as many warning bells as they can to wake His people up to the urgency of the times. The window of opportunity to avert the prophesied disaster is a small one, and God wants His people to use that time to seek Him and change their ways.

The prophet depicts a Laodicean society, like the United States today, from the top echelons to the lowest of beggars (Isaiah 1:5-6). Such a nation prefers form over substance, words over deeds, and tolerance over righteousness.

A sober glance around this nation speaks volumes about the downward spiral already in progress. Crime is rampant on our streets and in our homes. Government scandal and corruption are common news items. Our families are falling apart while we make speeches about "family values."

We also see Laodiceanism creeping into the church as the people begin adopting the lifestyles and attitudes of the world. When they equate material prosperity with spiritual acceptance, they become satisfied with themselves and their spiritual progress (Revelation 3:17). Seeing what Laodiceanism produces, we should never let ourselves become spiritually complacent.

The signs of the times are all around (Luke 12:54-56). It is not good enough just to see them, though. We must act upon this knowledge and truly seek God. Isaiah writes,

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Now is the time!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Obadiah 1:1-4

Edom lived in the area east of the Jordan in the mountainous areas south of the Dead Sea—a dry, barren, rocky place. Here, in this end-time prophecy, Edomites are still living in this inhospitable place.

Verse 1 contains a parenthetical statement that informs us that God has sent a messenger among the nations, urging them to "rise up against her." This is how things really work: God is the prime mover of world affairs. He determines His purpose and starts affairs rolling toward its fulfillment by inspiring an idea. Then the political and diplomatic mechanisms of nations take over to bring it to fruition, guided and pushed all the while by God (see Isaiah 46:9-11; Isaiah 55:11).

In this case, a national leader decides to send an ambassador to other nations to form a military alliance against Edom. The complaint, as explained in subsequent verses, is that Edom must be brought down to size, perhaps because she is not a team player, wanting all the glory and plunder for herself. That God is the ultimate author of this message means that it will happen as advertised.

Obadiah 1:2 adds emphasis to verse 1. The "I" is God Himself; it is His purpose to bring about Edom's national deflation. He wants Edom to recognize this! He thinks that the Edomites need to be brought into account for their actions and severely punished. Those among the nations who are scheming against Edom are merely agents God will use to fulfill His decree.

Verse 3 strikes at the root of Edom's problem: "The pride of your heart." It was easy for the Edomites to believe themselves to be invincible due to the nearly uninhabitable territory they dwelled in. To the west, where Israel lay, the geography made their territory nearly impregnable. Otherwise, they could feel secure because their fortresses were carved out of the rock, so they could either hunker down for long periods or engage in guerilla warfare. An attacking army could in no way pry them out, and they knew it. They felt invulnerable, and this filled them with pride.

"Pride" in verse 3 is the Hebrew word zadon, from the root, ziyd. This root is translated "cooked" in Genesis 25:29, where Jacob cooked a stew that the famished Esau desired. "Cooked" would be better translated "boiled" or "seethed." When heat is applied to water, it boils, and from this process, the Hebrews gained their understanding of pride.

Obadiah, it seems, specifically used this word to draw the reader's attention back to this incident, perhaps suggesting that Esau's selling of the birthright was rooted in his pride. Esau became heated and angry, and it manifested itself as haughtiness, arrogance, pride—the major trait he passed on to his descendants. Just as stew boils up under heat, so Edom puffs herself up thinking that she is self-reliant and invincible. God, however, is out to prove her wrong.

The Edomite challenge at the end of Obadiah 1:3 bears some scrutiny: "Who will bring me down to the ground?" This is remarkably similar to the words of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13-14 and to those of the great harlot in Revelation 18:7. This same pride will lead Edom into trouble. The Bible declares that, in all three of these examples, God will have the last word: He will humble them all. In Obadiah 1:4, He decrees, no matter how high and mighty Edom considers herself to be, "from there I will bring you down."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Obadiah 1:3-4

Pride deceives one into believing and eventually doing wrongly. What does it deceive a person into believing?

In this context God quotes Edom as saying, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Edom dwelt in the mountainous country southeast of Judea, and Petra was their stronghold. They thought their combination of military strength and impregnable position made them impossible to defeat. Yet notice what verse 4 adds: "'Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,' says the LORD."

What had pride done? It had deceived them into believing they were secure, self-sufficient, quick-witted, intelligent, and strong enough to withstand anybody. This clearly illustrates that pride's power lies in its ability to deceive us into believing in our self-sufficiency. Even in our everyday relationships with other people, this is a serious deception, but when the deception involves our relationship with God, the level of seriousness reaches alarming proportions.

The Edomites looked at their stronghold and then at themselves and their enemies. They concluded they were stronger than all—they were impregnable! Their evaluation was in error because they left God out of the picture. Therein lies much of the problem concerning pride. Against whom do we evaluate ourselves? Pride usually chooses to evaluate the self against those considered inferior. It must do this so as not to lose its sense of worth. To preserve itself, it will search until it finds a flaw.

If it chooses to evaluate the self against a superior, its own quality diminishes because the result of the evaluation changes markedly. In such a case, pride will often drive the person to compete against—and attempt to defeat—the superior one to preserve his status (Proverbs 13:10). Pride's power is in deceit, and the ground it plows to produce evil is in faulty evaluation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Obadiah 1:3-4

God eventually removes all the physical accomplishments of the self-exalted person. Anyone who glories in himself will receive his true reward in the form of condemnation, debasement, degradation, and humiliation. Glory is praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent. If we glory in ourselves, it is because no one else is glorifying us for our perceived accomplishments—probably because we have done no real, glorious deeds in the first place.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation


 

Matthew 5:3

"Poor in spirit" does not mean to conduct one's life without vitality, nor does it mean that a person is weak. Would we ever accuse Jesus of being weak? Jesus was the personification of humility. People think of humility as weakness because they are judging carnally by man's spirit, by sight. But the Spirit of God, the faith of God, judges according to things not seen—the Kingdom's standards.

Here is a definition of poor in spirit from a commentary by Emmet Fox on the Sermon on the Mount:

To be poor in spirit means to have emptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will and what is just as important to have renounced all preconceived opinions [prejudices] in the wholehearted search for God. It means to be willing to set aside your present habits of thought, your present views and prejudices, your present way of life, if necessary, to jettison in fact anything and everything that can stand in the way of your finding God.

When Jesus counseled us in Matthew 18:4 that unless we became as little children we would not even be in the Kingdom of Heaven, He was not holding up a child's innocence or purity as a model. He was not counseling us to become childish but to have a child's unconcern for social status, honor, or anything similar. When we are carnal, pride is such a master that we have little choice but to follow it. It is plowing the way before us. One who is truly poor in spirit, however, can ignore pride and follow God's lead.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

Matthew 5:3

When poor is used this way, it means "to be destitute, without resources; weak, powerless; spiritually bankrupt." Being poor in spirit is the platform on which is built all of the other beautiful attitudes that please God and motivate Him to respond with spiritual and sometimes physical blessings. Our being poor in spirit is the recognition of our spiritual need that causes us to cry out to God for what He can and will supply. This same recognition also motivates us to think about God from the proper perspective, causing us to give Him praise and thanksgiving. It forces us to see Him for what He is and what He has and makes us long to be the same, just as the financially poor see and desire to be like the rich.

None of us can honestly say that we have never looked at those who are wealthier than we are and not desired to be like them, to be in their same position, to wear exquisite clothing, to live in large homes, to drive expensive cars, and to be recognized as a powerful influence in the community.

Being poor in spirit forces us to evaluate ourselves honestly against God. He is the exemplar of every good characteristic, the possessor of intelligence, wisdom, and power of such capacity that He can produce us and every other good and beautiful thing needed for a wonderful, abundant life. For us to have this point of view, God must prepare a great deal of groundwork because human nature with its pride is always standing in the way to guard its territory, its place in our thinking and decision-making.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 3)


 

Matthew 5:3

Being poor in spirit is a far cry from being strapped in one's financial circumstances. Poverty of spirit is a change in a person's heart made by the great God Almighty when He awakens the mind to His reality and begins revealing the greatness of His person and purpose. The individual begins to become aware of his own puny character defiled by vanity and to realize that he is in the presence of brilliant intellect, power, and holiness. What happens to Job, for example, in Job 38-42 is not an ordinary change of mind but on the order of a miraculous divine intervention.

Until God intervenes, Job argues vehemently that he is not a sinner; in fact, he contends that he is a man of purity and good works. What he sees revealed about himself in comparison to God causes him great disgust: Now he realizes that he is a loud-mouthed braggart with a sky-high opinion of himself. It causes him such revulsion that he comes to abhor himself as a fool. In his own eyes barely moments before, he thought of himself as a shining jewel representing God before men. Moments later, he is a burned-out, worthless hunk of junk.

As one who thought highly of himself, he had argued with everyone to defend himself. Now, deflated, he admits, "I uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." A powerful change had taken place in his attitude toward God and fellow man. He thought he knew everything worthwhile and shouted it to the high heavens, but the reality is that he knows nothing of what is truly important. He is broken.

Poverty of spirit occurs when a person empties himself of all desire to exercise personal self-will, and just as important, renounces all preconceived opinions in a wholehearted search for God. A person who is poor in spirit is willing to set aside his present habits, views, prejudices, and way of life if necessary—to jettison anything and everything that might stand between himself and God. To the mind of one poor of spirit, God, above all, must be pleased.

To be poor in spirit is not to lack courage but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy. It is the mind of one who confesses his unworthiness before God and realizes that he is utterly dependent on Him in every facet of life. Job had been a wealthy man accustomed to ordering others about. He depended on no one. He now discovers that he is totally dependent on God for every breath of life, and God must be acknowledged, beginning with his personal relationship with Him and then extending out to the ways he perceived and dealt with other men.

For the first time in his life, Job fully understands that without God, he could do nothing of value toward an eternal relationship with Him (John 15:5). Poverty of spirit is foundational to everything that proceeds from a person's relationship with God from that point forward. It is indispensible to continuing and growing the relationship, otherwise the ego becomes a major hindrance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Matthew 18:2-5

The word "converted" means to change or turn. Specifically, it means to change from one way of life or set of beliefs to another. Sometimes it means "regeneration"—beginning to live a new spiritual life (Psalm 51:10-13, 17). Jesus tells the disciples that their attitudes of ambition are wrong, and they must change or have no part in His Kingdom. To do this, they must be like small children, who, for the most part, lack arrogance and pride. Children are characteristically humble and teachable (I Corinthians 14:20).

According to Mark, Jesus teaches them that, "if anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). The most humble Christian will be the most distinguished, and he who is willing to be esteemed last and least will be esteemed first. To regard oneself as God regards us is humility. One who receives and loves someone with an innocent child's humble attitude, who may be weak in the faith, displays true Christian character and loves Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:35-40). "Receive" in verse 5 means to approve, love, or treat with kindness; to aid in time of need.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of the Millstone and the Lost Sheep


 

Matthew 19:16-23

This event took place in the life of a wealthy man, a person we might think had no poverty of spirit due to his wealth. Surely, none of us would fit into that category! But is that so? Could we, too, be rejecting the Kingdom of God because we have great possessions—possessions in terms of preconceived ideas, confidence in our own judgment, and familiar and traditional beliefs? Do we always seek God's counsel first when these come into question?

How about intellectual pride born of academic distinction in school? Knowledge puffs up (I Corinthians 8:1). How about habits of life that we have no desire to give up and never consider that they may not glorify God? What about the fear of public ridicule because we are too interested in worldly honor and distinction? Are any of these less important barriers to full access to God than the rich young man's trust in his wealth?

The rich young man is a tragic figure not because he was rich. Wealth is neither good nor evil of itself. However, his barrier was that he was enslaved to his wealth. He was not free to give himself to God unreservedly. He had an unrealistic appraisal of himself and his money; both were too important to his sense of well-being. He could have been a multibillionaire in silver and gold, as long as his heart was not set on them. In this attitude, he would have been just as free as the poorest beggar to enter God's Kingdom. Yet, when the opportunity arose, he could not bring himself to submit to God in the flesh.

Godly humility is based on a true appraisal of ourselves in relation to God, and this must be combined with willing submission to Him, the self being a secondary consideration. Before he abhorred himself, Job was not this way, arguing with God and His laws.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Matthew 20:24

Matthew 20:20-26 records the occasion when the mother of James and John asked Jesus for special consideration for her sons. When the other disciples heard of the mother of James and John asking Jesus for special consideration for her sons, they were indignant, angry. Why? From Jesus' reply we can infer that their vanity was pricked—they had been "beaten to the punch"! They had been thinking of the same request because in their vanity they thought they deserved special consideration too.

Their proud minds had pictured themselves as worthy of being served, and they were offended because they thought that chance might be slipping away. Jesus reminded them that, even to be in the Kingdom, one has to have a humble attitude of a servant.

Unlike love, pride is "touchy and fretful." When pride feels threatened, it broods against what it perceives to be hurting it or lessening its chances of "being on top," "coming out ahead" of another, "looking good," or "getting even." And so it competes against others. It looks for ways to elevate itself or put another down. It counts all the offenses, real or imagined, and puts them into a mental account book to justify its position until it finds an opportune moment to break out in "vindication" of itself.

Love does not do any of those things. I Corinthians 13:5 says it as simply as it can possibly be put. Love does not insist on its own way—it will not even become provoked in the first place. And it makes no accounting of the evil done against it! We all have a long way to go in this regard!

When love dominates a person's life, becoming offended either through hurt feelings or a strong temptation to sin is remote. When pride dominates, hurt feelings or strong temptations to sin seem to lie behind every bush.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Matthew 21:37-40

The vinedressers wanted what the son would receive as heir, but they did not want to follow his example. Mark adds that he was an only son, greatly beloved, amplifying how truly valuable he was. God had one only-begotten and well-beloved Son to send, whom the world should reverence—honor and esteem—just as the Father (John 5:23). The vinedressers thought that, by killing the only son, they could easily steal the landowner's possessions already entrusted to them.

Jesus foretells His own death at the hands of the Jews just as they had persecuted and slain the prophets for centuries. He then asks the leaders about the proper way to deal with those who killed the servants. He wants them to condemn themselves by their own mouths and realize the justice of their coming punishment. They had the freewill to reverse their direction, but pride caused them to hate Christ all the more.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers


 

Matthew 23:12

Our nature seeks to exalt itself above others, to esteem itself "holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5). We see this in those who esteem themselves as Philadelphian, while deeming all those around and not part of their group as "beneath" them and Laodicean. God will abase those who seek to exalt themselves (Daniel 4:37), for He does not pay attention to the spiritually proud but to the contrite and humble (Isaiah 66:2).

Staff
Overcoming (Part 1): Self-Deception


 

Mark 8:34-38

Why does Christ have to say things like this? Because human nature is driven by the impulse that the only way to the things a person deeply desires is through self-centered, assertive, competitive concentration on getting what it wants. We all have this drive; however, individuals differ in the strength of human nature in them and the methods they employ to achieve their goals. Jesus says the self must be denied because human nature is driven by pride and covetousness.

Of course, the Bible is not urging us to court martyrdom. It is speaking of a general approach to life, of crucifying the self-centered impulses of human nature. This means subordinating a clamoring ego with its preoccupation with "I," "me," and "mine"; its concern for self-assertion; and its insistence on comfort and prestige. It is denying the self for the sake of embracing Christ's cause. To be ashamed to live this way of life is equivalent to being ashamed of Christ Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

Luke 14:26-27

Before baptizing anybody, the ministry almost invariably urges the person to "count the cost" of giving his life to Christ. While counseling the candidate, the minister expounds Luke 14:26-27.

The cross we bear may be any potentially long-lasting trial that persistently affects our liberty to submit to God. However, very often at the base of this chronic resistance to submission is our desperately wicked heart with its deeply engrained baggage of proud, self-centered, anti-God habits of thinking and conduct. Despite our being baptized and having God's Spirit, pride remains a fellow traveler, stirring resistance to the knowledge of God. Satan's pride separated him from the Creator, and if permitted, it has the power to separate us from Him as well.

Without really stopping to evaluate why, we are proud about what God describes as nothingness, vanity, a vapor. Pride resists the sovereign Almighty God and greatly hinders us from fulfilling our responsibility to submit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Luke 15:11-16

The younger son shows a lack of respect for authority and deference to his elders. His central problem is pride, just as it was the root of Satan's failure (Isaiah 14:13). He finds out that shame and destruction follow pride (Proverbs 11:2; 16:18). In his disrespect for authority, he thinks primarily of himself, totally disregarding how it affects others. His request for his inheritance is not to benefit others but to pursue pleasure—especially entertainment (Proverbs 21:17). As a result, his unwise actions bring him to the point of despair and a re-evaluation of his life.

By demanding his share of his inheritance before his parents' deaths, he shows that he looks upon God's gifts as debts rightfully owed to him. Impatiently, he demands his share immediately. People today constantly, selfishly, and arrogantly press their rights rather than fulfill responsibilities. Many will not wait until marriage for sex but seek it now. They do not want to work for wealth but gamble to get it immediately. Sadly, they will also wait a long time before taking care of their spiritual needs—and then only when brought to despair (II Corinthians 6:2; Ecclesiastes 7:8).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Luke 15 (Part Three)


 

Luke 18:9-14

Notice Jesus' teaching in verse 9: "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." This specific problem is religious egotism; the Pharisee despised others. Despised means "to count as nothing" or "to be contemptuous of." Can one have a good relationship with someone he despises? Pride finds fertile ground in our process of evaluation and begins to produce corrupt fruit.

This parable reveals the Pharisee to possess a misguided confidence that caused him to magnify himself by comparing himself against someone he felt to be inferior. It fed his own opinion of himself, causing separation from his fellow man. While that was happening, it also brought him into war with God! The Pharisee became separated from God because, as the parable says, he was not justified.

We need to take warning because, if we begin to feel contaminated in the presence of a brother—if we begin to withdraw from him or are constantly finding fault with him and being offended by almost everything he does—we may well be in very great trouble! The sin of pride may be producing its evil fruit, and the division is strong evidence of it.

This parable features a self-applauding lawkeeper and an abased publican. One is not simply good and the other evil; both are equally sinners but in different areas. Both had sinned, but the outward form of their sins differed. Paul taught Timothy that some men's sins precede them and others follow later (I Timothy 5:24). The publican's sins were obvious, the Pharisee's generally better hidden.

The Pharisee's pride deluded him into thinking he had a righteousness he did not really possess. His prayer is full of self-congratulation, and like a circle, it keeps him firmly at its center (notice all the I's in Luke 18:11-12). He makes no lowly expression of obligation to God; he voices no thanksgiving for what God had given him; he gives no praise to God's glory. He asks for nothing, confesses nothing, and receives nothing! But very pronouncedly, he compares himself with others. He is filled with conceit and is totally unaware of it because his pride has deceived him into concentrating his judgment on the publicans—sinners who were contaminating his world!

The humble publican did not delude himself into thinking he was righteous. What made the difference? It was a true evaluation and recognition of the self in relation to God, not other men. The basis of their evaluations—pride or humility—made a startling difference in their conclusions, revealing each man's attitudes about himself and his motivations.

The one finds himself only good, the other only lacking. One flatters himself, full of self-commendation. The other seeks mercy, full of self-condemnation. Their approach and attitude toward God and self are poles apart! One stands apart because he is not the kind of man to mingle with inferiors. The other stands apart because he considers himself unworthy to associate himself with others. One haughtily lifts his eyes to heaven; the other will not even look up! How different their spirits! Anyone who, like the Pharisee, thinks he can supply anything of great worth to the salvation process is deluding himself!

Against whom do we evaluate ourselves? Pride usually chooses to evaluate the self against those considered inferior. It must do this so as not to lose its sense of worth. To preserve itself, it will search until it finds a flaw.

If it chooses to evaluate the self against a superior, its own quality diminishes because the result of the evaluation changes markedly. In such a case, pride will often drive the person to compete against—and attempt to defeat—the superior one to preserve his status (Proverbs 13:10). Pride's power is in deceit, and the ground it plows to produce evil is in faulty evaluation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Luke 18:9-12

The Pharisee's prayer manifests his mindset (II Peter 2:3). People like him trust in their own works to gain salvation and eternal life, not trusting in Jesus Christ for them. They do not really think they need His sacrifice or help because they think they are good enough in themselves. So, they toot their own horns, making sure God knows how righteous they are. While kneeling before Him, they tell Him all the good things they are always doing, and believe that He is impressed. They act as if God owes them salvation because of their good works.

This attitude shows how little they understand of the true holiness of God and the lowliness of our spiritual state. While on earth, Jesus worked more easily with tax collectors and sinners than with the Pharisees, though the latter were more dedicated to adhering strictly to the letter of the law. The Pharisees, knowing they were more righteous, made sure others knew it. In their self-delusion and self-righteousness, they could learn little from Christ.

The Pharisee, considering others as nothing, treats them accordingly. It is typical of human nature to elevate itself while putting down others, and some believe that this is the only way to elevate themselves above their peers. Isaiah writes about such people: ". . . who say, 'Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!' These are smoke in [God's] nostrils, a fire that burns all the day" (Isaiah 65:5).

The Pharisee compares his own flaws, not with God's infinite perfections, but with the imagined greater flaws of others. His pride has made him bankrupt of genuine compassion and concern (James 2:13). He presumptuously errs in his prayer in that it is neither his duty nor his right as a sinner to point out another's sins. In trusting in Christ for righteousness, our inadequacies and guilt are revealed, and we become willing to admit that others may be much better than we are.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector


 

John 3:25-30

For a person to be humble, he has to understand and fully accept the realization that came from John's innermost being. If he does not, pride will arise and muzzle humility by means of a character weakness. Here, John's disciples feel a measure of jealousy because more people were being attracted to Jesus, and the number of John's disciples was dwindling. John's reply to them is one of wisdom. He understands that God assigns a place in the outworking of His purpose to everyone He calls. John knows and accepts that he had no right to lay claim to an honor that had not been given to him from heaven. Instead of envying Jesus' success, John rejoices that both men's purposes were being fulfilled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

John 3:26-27

John had come to grips with this concept. He understood that his role in the vast scope of God's purpose was limited by the overruling wisdom of the Creator as He carried out His purpose. This is a reason why salvation is spoken of as "free"—because God is not bound to show mercy to anybody since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All too often, we forget that the invisible God is working things out according to His purpose, not ours. God is free to do as He pleases. He owes no one anything.

I Corinthians 4:6-7 adds:

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Do we have grounds for being puffed up or jealous? John the Baptist did not think so, and what he declared is truth. I Corinthians 12 makes clear that God places people in the church as it pleases Him, and He gives gifts to them so they can be responsible for a function. The gifts do not make them "better," just prepared by the Creator to serve in a specialized way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Two)


 

John 13:12-16

Because of their incessant bickering about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom (Luke 22:24-27), Jesus gave the disciples an object lesson designed to show them what their real position was under Him. He tells them, "He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves" (verse 26). He shows them that they must be willing to do whatever task—even the most menial—that is necessary for the good of their brothers. This should have put them in the proper attitude for the Passover's greater purpose, Christ's sacrifice for our forgiveness and redemption.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Footwashing


 

John 13:12-15

The footwashing a commanded ceremony for Christians. It is an object lesson whose meaning we are to inculcate into our lives and practice at every opportunity! As Christ served us, so should we serve others. The apostle John writes in I John 2:6, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Footwashing


 

Romans 1:22-23

These verses show that pride motivates us to do things that make no sense in the light of God's truth. It motivates us to exalt ourselves above others, to compete against others, and to reject truth to continue the exaltation and promotion of the self. We will take this to such an extent that we will gamble—even with our own and other's lives—to bring that result about.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Romans 3:18

The fear needed is not a servile, cringing, and enslaving terror, but a mixture of love, admiration, and respect for what He is. He is a Father who pities His children; a Ruler who looks on the one who is poor and of a contrite heart; a Physician who heals the body, cleanses the spirit, mercifully forgives, and gives sound counsel so that His children can work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

When the fear of God enters a man's evil heart, godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom can begin to grow. Why? Because in making better choices, the person begins to break his enslavement to his own evil heart, from which comes all the defiling corruption that leads to death, as Jesus shows in Matthew 15:18-20:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

By nature, man is focused on his sense of self-importance, so pride dominates his attitudes and therefore his choices. The corrective is something that will humble, and it begins with him being able to compare himself appropriately with the greatness of God. Man will live either to serve himself or to seek to serve and please God. It will be one or the other because no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

When Moses goes before Pharaoh in Exodus 5:2, he says, "Let my people go." What is Pharaoh's defiant response? "Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go." That was his problem, and it remains a major hurdle for us too. We must come to know the Lord. From this, a simple truth arises: Not knowing God promotes irreverence of God, as Pharaoh clearly shows. Thus, not knowing God promotes disobedience. Knowing God, on the other hand, promotes the fear of God and humility before Him and thus obedience.

Knowing God in His sovereignty works to remove every ground for man to rely on himself and boast. Salvation is of the Lord; it is by His grace through faith. Man wants to think that he is contributing greatly to his redemption and salvation, but John tells us we are born, not of the will of the flesh, but of God (John 1:13). If we understand God's sovereignty, it leads us to praise Him for the glory of what He is: He is our salvation! In addition, we desire salvation for the very purpose of humbling ourselves before Him that we might glorify Him. This means that we can wisely turn only one way: We must choose to submit to His will.

The exercise, the actual use, of humility in daily life is a choice. Each time we submit to God's instruction, we are humbling ourselves before Him. Once we know what God's will is, we must still deal with choosing to use humility by submitting to it. Is that not what God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, that we must choose life rather than death? "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." Fully accepting God's sovereignty provides us the proper comparisons so that we can wisely make right choices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty, Part Three: The Fruits


 

Romans 5:8-10

Two points are noteworthy about Paul's comments. In verse 10, Paul states, "We shall be saved by His life." As wonderful a gift as God's merciful forgiveness is, merely being forgiven through Christ's blood is not sufficient for salvation. Justification must be seen for what it truly is: It is essential, but it is only the beginning of the salvation process. Throughout the process, we are saved by the continuous flow of grace upon grace from our High Priest.

The other important point is that perhaps nothing regarding God's spiritual creation demonstrates God's gracious and generous freeness—His total lack of obligation toward us—as does His justifying of sinners rather than morally meritorious saints.

The Christian doctrine of God justifying by faith rather than by works truly set the religious Jews of the apostle's day on an angry edge. To them, it made no logical sense. They perceived it as simply another invitation to sin because it seems so easy, or perhaps they also saw it as God ignoring their sincere efforts to please Him.

This charge is true—if one perceives justification carnally, isolating it so that it appears to occur completely apart from God's entire purpose for salvation rather than seeing it for what it truly is. Justification by grace through faith is a necessary part of the whole of being created in Christ's image.

Why is it necessary that our justification be by grace through faith? It must be this way because, if we earn justification through our works, it opens the door for human pride, not just to enter our relationship with God, but perhaps even to drive the relationship. If one is justified by works, a person could then honestly claim that God chose him, and his works, because he was good.

This is not good because pride is such a strong influence against God. Remember, Satan's pride rising in him initiated this entire earthly mess. Consider carefully what his pride did to his relationship with God. Justification given because of works alters the positions within the relationship, making God obligated to us as if we had earned a relationship with Him. Pride attempts to put a person on an equal footing with God or even in charge of the relationship, and this ultimately results in us creating ourselves.

It is dangerous to unleash pride in thinking more of ourselves than what is truly good for our character development. We are not the creator but the creation, subject to the designs and purposes of the Master Creator. For our good, then, justification must be received as a freely given, unearned gift.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Grace (Part Two)


 

Romans 8:7

The carnal mind is hostile to God and subsequently to one's neighbor. Because Satan's spirit is hostile to law, all who bear his image are hostile to law, breaking laws, taking advantage of each other. They are self-centered just like Satan, interested only in the protection and the increase of themselves.

Here is the basic drive of that spirit, its heart and core: overweening pride. Remember, Satan is "the king of pride." Overweening pride reveals itself in hostility, animosity, hatred, malice, deceit, anger, cunning, competition, resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and intellectual vanity. Every one of these attributes divides people against each other.

Consider how that spirit divided the Jews from Jesus. That spirit eventually led them to divide to the ultimate: They murdered Him. They took His life, defending themselves from the truth that He was preaching to them. The animosity, the hostility to God has never been shown more clearly in the Jews' relationship with Jesus Christ. What God tells us is we have the same spirit as those people. We have been marked.

This is only a partial list of this mark, a partial list of the spirit that emanates from Satan. All we have to do to add to the list is to think of those attitudes that drove Satan to persuade one-third of the angels, organize them, and then lead them into war against God, and we will discover the elements of that spirit emanating from the Beast and marking men.

Have we ever felt any of these attitudes toward some of our brethren in the church? Perhaps so strong that we do not want to be around them, so we do what we can to divide from them because they actually become repulsive to us? We become convinced that they are evil, unconverted, that we cannot control them so that they will do or be what we want them to do or be. When this happens, the mark—the spirit of this world—worldliness—might just be gaining the upper hand in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Romans 8:7

The carnal mind is the nature in which a person's conduct is based until God acts to convert or transform him; it is man's deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Once an individual is called, and the Father and Son have revealed Themselves and some of Their purpose to him, this verse succinctly describes the major impediment to our submitting to Them. This resisting influence from within each of us is the major barrier to perfect deference and compliance to Them.

Of course, Satan and the world also influence us, but the major impediment to our responsibly submitting is what is already part of our characters even as we are being converted. We quickly revert to carnality when confronted with something that we do not want to do.

What element in our carnality drives our resistance? Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 1:2, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Vanity implies something that is useless and impermanent, like vapor rising from a pot of boiling water, and therefore something of little or no value toward accomplishing God's purpose for mankind. The "all" in Solomon's statement includes us.

Notice this evidence regarding mankind's unconverted state from Psalm 39:5-6, where David writes:

Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.

In Psalm 62:9, he adds, "Surely men of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are a lie; if they are weighed in the balances, they are altogether lighter than vapor."

These are blunt statements, showing that unless something is done to change the value of what we are in reality, what good reason does God have to work with us?

But there is more from God's Word that paints the picture of our unconverted value and the strength of our natural resistance to Him even more acutely. The aforementioned Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" "Above all things" implies all things considered evil. This by itself is a vivid comparison—and God does not lie—but He goes beyond that by adding that man's heart is not merely wicked but desperately wicked. This means our heart is without care for danger and recklessly, badly, extremely, furiously, impetuously wicked.

Jesus adds force to this word-picture by confirming in Matthew 15:17-20 that the heart is the place from which our evil resistance to God is generated. However, an irony comes into play because the heart is the same place that generates to us in our thoughts the belief that we are really something good! This is quite an effective combination in producing sin. It occurs because our hearts produce self-esteem with the result that our ideas and actions—our very lives—are focused on self-satisfaction. To meet that need, we will sin as a way of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Romans 12:3

This is not meant either as a put down in any way, or that one is better than another. But not everyone is the same. God gives gifts to each to fulfill his position in the body. Another may not be as well-equipped to do a particular job because He has given other gifts for him to fulfill his function. He gives these diverse gifts so we can cooperate for the well-being of the body, not compete to its destruction. If offense and division among brethren are occurring regularly, we can be certain that the king of pride is stirring up pride in them to compete for something all cannot have.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Romans 14:19

This seems so obvious that it need not be said, but God includes it in His Word because Christians within the church do not hold in check some of the very things that cause so much disunity in this world. The apostle entreats us to lay aside the causes of contention so we can live in harmony.

Sometimes we do not understand how competitive human nature is. It is proud. It feels it has to win, be vindicated, and if possible, elevated over others. These attitudes do not make peace. Rather than pursuing the things that cause contention, Paul says, pursue the things that cause peace. It is a Christian's responsibility, part of his vocation. Emphasizing the positive is an incomplete, but nonetheless fairly accurate, description of what can be done.

Solomon writes in Proverbs 13:10, "By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom." Contention divides. Much of the strife and disunity in the church is promoted by those who seem bent on "majoring in the minors." This is the overall subject of Romans 14. Church members were becoming "bent out of shape" over things that irritated them but had little or nothing to do with salvation. They blew these irritants out of proportion to their real importance, creating disruption in the congregation.

Essentially, Paul tells these people to change their focus, to turn the direction of their thinking, because we agree on far more that is of real, major importance to salvation than what we disagree on. If we will cooperate on these major things rather than on private ends and prejudices, peace and unity will tend to emerge rather than strife and disunity. Paul further admonishes the irritated members to have faith in God's power to change the other: "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4).

Why can we not cultivate a spirit of peace by striving for holiness? Holiness is a major issue leading to preparation for God's Kingdom and salvation. Peace is one of its fruits. Why can we not show love for the brethren and strive to do good for them "as we have opportunity, . . . especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10)? Why can we not spend more serious time studying God's Word, getting to know Him? These admirable pursuits are humbling and serving. They produce peace and put other, less important matters into a proper perspective and priority. If pursued sincerely, they keep the "minors" right where they belong because they tend to erode one's pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers


 

1 Corinthians 1:19-21

God has purposely chosen this means to put proud and stiff-necked man totally in debt to Him for the most important achievement in all of life. Men have accomplished much and will continue to do many great things. However, verses 19-21 expose why the wise of this world will not submit to God. The reason becomes clear in the phrase, "the foolishness of preaching" (verse 21, King James Version [KJV]). This translation is somewhat misleading in the King James; it should read "the foolishness of the message preached," as in the New King James Version (NKJV). Paul is not saying that the wise of this world reject the act of preaching but that they consider the content of the message preached to be foolish. In other words, the wise will not believe the gospel, most specifically that God in the flesh has died for the sins of the world.

It cannot be overestimated how important humility expressed by faith before God is to the overall spiritual purpose of God for each individual! Each person must know as fully as possible that Christ died for him, that his own works do not provide forgiveness, and that he has not created himself in Christ Jesus. Nobody evolves into a godly person on the strength of his own will. It is God who works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). No new creation creates itself. So, by and large, God calls the undignified, base, weak, and foolish of this world, people whom the unbelieving wise consider to be insignificant and of no account. He does this so that no human will glory in His presence. On this, a German commentator, Johann Albrecht Bengel, clarifies, "We have permission to glory, not before God, but in God."

The term "in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 1:30) indicates that we are in an intimate relationship with Him. Paul then details—through the terms "wisdom," "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption"—that God, using our believing, humble, submissive cooperation, will be responsible for all things accomplished in and through us. Some modern commentators believe that, because "wise" and "wisdom" appear so many times earlier in this chapter, the terms "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption" should be in parentheses because Paul intends them to define what he means by true wisdom in this context.

God, then, is pleased to save those who believe and to do a mighty work in them. This set Abel apart from, as far as we know, every other person living on earth at that time. What he did by faith pictures what everyone who receives salvation must also do to begin his walk toward the Kingdom of God. Everyone must be called of God; believe enough of His Word to know that he is a sinner who needs the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins; repent, that is, undergo a change of mind toward God; and be justified, made legally righteous by having Jesus Christ's righteousness imputed to him. This enables a relationship with God to begin, and sanctification unto glorification can proceed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

1 Corinthians 1:26

Grace eliminates for us the possibility of any boasting or any self-glory. Regardless of our material accomplishments—no matter how many doctorate degrees we may have, how much money we may have accumulated, or how many good deeds we may have done—no one can boast before God because, as verse 30 says, we are "of Him." Here is the key to understanding this. In spiritual terms, all that we have accomplished has been done only because of what He gave.

If we want to go back that far, it all began when He gave us life. In terms of spiritual life, we have to go back only as far as His calling. We would not have accomplished anything that we have accomplished spiritually—for instance, kept the Sabbath and the holy days—except that God called us and made us understand His truth. He led us to repentance. He impressed the importance of doing what He revealed on our minds so that we would do them, and so forth. The unilateral acts of God begin to pile up—grace upon grace. God is with us in this entire process.

What we have spiritually is only possible because we are "of Him," that is, because of what we have been given. This particular phrase—we are "of Him"—is describing a personal attachment. It is as if we are part of a living body, which we are, since the church is a living, spiritual organism. The picture that is in the apostle Paul's mind is that we are directly connected to Him, even as the toe is attached to the foot, which is in turn connected to the ankle and then to the leg. All of this is connected, and it receives its strength, life, existence, growth, repair, etc. because it is part of the body. So are we connected to God and receive all these things.

What does the toe have to boast for playing its role in the body? Even so, nobody can boast before God because of grace. We have what we have spiritually only because He has given it.

Further, if our spiritual lives and growth are going to continue, we can do this only within this same environment. If the toe is cut from the body, it begins to die immediately. A degeneration begins to occur immediately. We can apply the same analogy to our spiritual life.

So, there is no bragging, no boasting, before God for anything that we have spiritually. We have it because of our personal attachment to the living Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? Because it puts the relationship with God and fellow man into its proper perspective. Many theologians insist that what they derive from the Bible and from their own experiences in life, is that carnally, the underlying drive or motivation in all relationships is self-assertion, that is, the desire for recognition, pride. We want to be known for what we have done. "I have accomplished this." "I built that." "This is my place." "This is my spouse." The self basks in the glow of the fact that he exists and has and does things. It is a drive to be recognized, noticed, praised, rewarded, and even submitted to, because of who one is and what he feels he has done.

This has horrible ramifications for the relationship with God. Jesus' own counsel to His apostles—and His advice extends to us—is to go in the exact opposite direction and make ourselves of no reputation (as He did; Philippians 2:5-8). He says, "Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). A child is of no value to society because he produces nothing, cannot do anything of value, and in a way, is nothing more than a parasite, as some cultures see children.

Notice, though, that Jesus says that becoming like a little child is the way to real power—in the Kingdom of God. It is the way to gain the right kind of recognition and promotion—the kind that God would give us by grace, not what we have earned on our own.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

This reaches right down to all of us. What room is there for either boasting or envy? There is room for nothing but to face humbly what the Bible tells us. In Romans 12:3, Paul makes a similar statement and adds a warning: "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Who among us clay vessels can rightfully ask God who has made us, "Why have you made me thus?" or look with disregard or envy at another, knowing God is also measuring out to him the gifts that please Him?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Two


 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

We have no basis for feeling greater, better, or more rewarded than either an unconverted person or a brother in the church. God's calling is strictly His choice and not based on a person's accomplishments, personality, or character. He tenders His many gifts, further aspects of His grace, according to what He wants us to fulfill within His church. We truly have no grounds for being puffed up, but instead, we should be humbled by the blessings of God's generosity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Six


 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

These people were using the gifts that God gave to them to divide the church. They were separating themselves into cliques, getting people in the congregation to say, "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter," and so forth because "Peter represents this, Paul represents this other thing, and what Paul has is better," and "Peter is not teaching this, and Paul is teaching it," etc. They were using such arguments to divide the congregation.

In argument to this, the apostle is saying, "Look, we all have our gifts. There is not one of us that did not receive what we have." Consider this within the framework of I Corinthians 1:29-31. Paul is hammering away at them because they were so proud, so puffed up, about what God had given them, as if it belonged to themselves, as if they had acquired their gifts without God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

1 Corinthians 5:1-2

Pride takes sin lightly. It produces complacency because, in the proud person's eyes, his perverse sense of comparison makes the self better than others. In the same situation, the humble would be filled with shame, remorse, and grief, yet in the proud it hardly stirs an emotional chord. It does not seem to affect them at all. Paul says the Corinthians were yet carnal, and in their pride, they took this grievous sin lightly, not letting it affect them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

1 Corinthians 6:6-8

They were failing to behave like God. They should have swallowed their pride and suffered loss. Christ gave up His glory and suffered the greatest loss in the history of creation!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Seven): The Sin and Trespass Offerings


 

1 Corinthians 8:1-2

A cause of Corinth's divided congregation was that the members were flaunting their gifts, claiming they wanted to edify, but the fruits of division showed Paul the real motivation was intellectual vanity - pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

1 Corinthians 8:1

"Puffs up," when opposed to "edifies," implies tearing down, destruction. Paul is saying that pride has the power to corrupt the bearer of knowledge. This statement is part of the prologue to the great chapter on love, written because the Corinthians had allowed their emphasis to drift into the wrong areas. Even as a gift from God, knowledge has the potential to corrupt its recipient, if it is unaccompanied by love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Love


 

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Pride makes those who have it bold and rash. It renders them careless of the feelings of others. It leads them to ridicule and condemn others who do not believe exactly as they do. Pride is an aggressive self-confidence.

There is an old saying: "When people learn a little, they imagine a lot." We remember the tag-end of this saying most frequently: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Thus, proud people, using a little bit of knowledge, are often hair-splitting and hypercritical, setting people against each other, dividing congregations and families. Paul is asking, "Is this love?" No, it is certainly not. He is warning against dependence on simply knowing something, since a person never knows all that he ought to know about a given subject. Such an attitude exhibits a complete dependence on one's self-sufficient knowledge. He is "puffed up."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

1 Corinthians 12:4-26

In verses 4-11, Paul shows that each person God places in the body receives gifts for the benefit of the entire body. In verses 14-20, he explains that diversity in the body is necessary because, if the entire body was just one part, it could not function. The diversity in this context is in terms of gifts, not doctrine, nationality, sex, or race. Diversity enables the body to be much more effective, efficient, and versatile in performing its intended purpose. Each person has a specific function necessary to the whole.

In verses 21-25, Paul makes a veiled warning that we need to guard against both pride in our abilities and its opposite—equally vain—that we have nothing to give. We become useful members when we choose to set aside these vanities and begin doing what we should.

Verse 18, combined with verses 22-26, teaches us that God Himself has organized the body. We need to understand that the greatest Authority in all of creation has specifically placed us within it and given us gifts. If the body is to function as He has purposed, each part must recognize his individual dependence upon and concern for the whole. In addition, each must understand what the body is designed to accomplish. It is the responsibility of each part to subordinate himself to God to produce the unity that will enable the whole body to do its work.

God expresses these concerns for the body because He wants it to function efficiently and effectively in unity. Therefore, what happens to one part, or what one part does, affects the whole. What we do does indeed make a difference because we are individual parts of a living, spiritual organism. Our actions will produce an increase of good or evil, efficiency or inefficiency in the use of spiritual resources, effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our witness, and growth or backsliding in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!


 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies [builds up]." "Puffs up," when opposed to "edifies," implies tearing down, destruction. Paul is saying that pride has the power to corrupt the bearer of knowledge. This statement is part of the prologue to the great chapter on love, written because the Corinthians had allowed their emphasis to drift into the wrong areas. Even as a gift from God, knowledge has the potential to corrupt its recipient, if it is unaccompanied by love.

Paul thus begins chapter 13 by contrasting love with other gifts of God. He does this to emphasize love's importance, completeness, permanence, and supremacy over all other qualities we consider important to life and/or God's purpose.

Prophecies end because they are fulfilled. The gift of tongues is less necessary today as then because of the widespread use of English in commerce, politics and academia. Its value depends on specific needs. Knowledge is increasing so rapidly that old knowledge, especially in technical areas, becomes obsolete as new developments arise. Yet the need for love is never exhausted; it never becomes obsolete. God wants us to use it on every occasion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Love


 

1 Corinthians 13:5

It is interesting to note that the Revised Standard Version translates this verse as, "It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful."

The Revised English Bible translates it: "Never rude; love is never selfish, never quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs."

The Amplified Bible renders it: "It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]."

Each of these translations clearly catches the essence of why so many are so easily moved from mere irritation to resentment and bitter anger, which in turn lead to retaliation. This progression can divide blood brothers (Proverbs 18:19).

This verse does not deny the fact that offenses will come, just as Jesus said. They will range from hurt feelings, giving rise to a mild animosity, to direct powerful temptations to sin through a flaming temper bent on getting even. Yet we can overcome all of them because love "is not provoked" or exasperated.

There will be temptations to sin, and all of us will offend others from time to time, even unintentionally. But God expects His children to have the love to override the offenses when they come.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

2 Corinthians 5:9-10

These verses state a reality we all face: We are accountable to the Creator for our conduct. We know that standing between us and God is an internally generated pride that, if allowed, will greatly hinder our desire to please Him by submitting.

We must understand that God's calling of us, His granting of repentance to us, and His providing us with His Spirit have given us a valuable power, an "edge." He has not given us an impossible challenge. Receiving the Holy Spirit has given us the wherewithal, the powers, to meet our responsibility to submit voluntarily to Him. What is the solution? In short, it is to exercise humility before the Holy One of Israel. Humility can defuse pride's power.

There is a major difference between pride and humility. Because of exposure to Satan and the world, pride is within us almost from birth. Humility, though, is not part of us from birth. Spiritual humility is most definitely a developed characteristic, derived because of contact with God and our choosing to be humble before Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

2 Corinthians 10:12

Apparently, the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing commonly compared themselves with each other. They not only made false ministers the standard to follow, but they also made themselves and their peers standards of righteousness.

Many of the Corinthians were graphic examples of pride and complacency. Occasionally, we also suffer the pride that causes us to compare ourselves among ourselves because it is so deeply ingrained in our human nature to evaluate ourselves by human standards.

A professing Christian who, in his own eyes, sets himself up as the standard of righteousness, will compare himself to others who appear to him to be less spiritual than himself. His views are the standard of righteousness, and his ways of worship are the models of proper devotion. His habits and customs are—in his own estimation—perfect. He looks on himself as the true measure of spirituality, humility, and zeal, and he condemns others for failing to rise to his level. He judges everything by his own benchmark: himself.

Each of us lives under a unique set of circumstances. We are working on different problems, growing at various rates on diverse character traits. We experience dissimilar trials and have been influenced by our environment in distinctive ways. A true and accurate comparison is impossible by another human being. It misses the mark of perfection according to the truth of God. Only God can truly judge a person, for only He can judge the heart and observe the entire picture.

We know that it is our responsibility to examine ourselves intensely before Passover, and the Days of Unleavened Bread teach that we must rid our lives of the leaven of sin. However, comparing ourselves among ourselves does not accomplish the goal God has in mind for us, that is, the total renewing of our minds. Individual comparisons deter us from overcoming our problems because it causes us to aim too low and in the wrong direction. It deceitfully provides us with self-justification for the way we are. The result is no change and no growth. This is judgment according to our own standards and the standards of the created rather than the Creator.

In athletics, it is commonly understood that, if a person competes only with athletes of equal or lesser ability and skill, he cannot improve his ability and skill above theirs because he will not strive to improve. This is the principle of Proverbs 27:17: "iron sharpens iron." Whether it is an individual sport like tennis or a team sport like volleyball or basketball, skills are sharpened by pushing oneself to exceed the skill of the other person or team. This principle works just as effectively in spiritual matters. Only if we set our sights higher than mere humanity (Colossians 3:1-2) will we ever attain godly character.

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves


 

2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul twice says, ". . . lest I should be exalted above measure." God gave him this "thorn in the flesh" so that the apostle would not get too big for his britches, as it were, because God had given him some revelations. That sort of communication from God could swell a person's head. Thus, the apostle says God allowed Satan to afflict him so that Paul would not venture beyond what he had been given.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Was there ever a man who was given as many gifts as the apostle Paul? Judging from how much God wrote through him—how much God used his mind, intellect, training, experience, yieldedness, and willingness to work and sacrifice himself on behalf of God and the church—it might have been very easy for him to have been puffed up. He even said himself that nobody worked any harder than he did, writing, "I labored more abundantly than they all" (I Corinthians 15:10).

However, he was not bragging. It is not wrong to take the right kind of pride and to speak the truth about what we really have done. There is nothing wrong with a developed skill and confidence in our ability to do it. If we do not have any confidence, will we ever offer ourselves in service to others? There must also be a proper recognition of where all that power, strength, and everything flows from. It flows from the gifts, from what God has given.

God mercifully allowed Paul to suffer a physical problem to keep him mindful of his dependence on Him. The truly humble are knowledgeable of their dependence, and they cry out to God continually for help, for what God only can supply: His Holy Spirit, His love, His faith, the forgiveness of sin, etc. Theirs is not just a feeling of weakness, because everyone, the converted and the unconverted, experiences weakness.

People with pride experience a feeling of weakness too, but they compensate, not by seeking God's help, but by flaunting what they think others will accept and bring praise to them. As long as a person continues to depend on himself, this world will continue as it is. Nothing will change. This attitude is illustrated in the beginning so simply. Without actually saying the words, Adam and Eve told God in Genesis 3, "We don't need you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

Ephesians 4:1-6

The part we have to play is to walk worthy of our calling, and as the apostle goes on to say, our calling is to be one: one body, one spirit, one faith, one baptism, one hope, just as we have one Lord and one Father. We are to be one bride of Christ. He is not a polygamist; He will not marry many brides but one united bride.

We in the church can be disunified if we fail to practice verses 2 and 3: Without lowliness (humility), without gentleness (meekness), without longsuffering (forebearance or patient endurance), without love and peace, we will never have unity. As long as we are proud, easily angered and offended, jump on every little thing, lack patience, and treat each other hatefully—as long as we cause strife—there will never be unity. Even with all that God does (I Corinthians 1:4-9), it will not happen. He will not force unity upon us if we show that we do not want it. The natural order of things is that we will disunify further if we fail to show Him that we are working toward it. So, without these virtues, even with God deluging us with His Spirit, we will not have unity.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 133


 

Ephesians 5:21

What do we fear when we will not submit to one another? Is it the loss of control? Loss of power? Do we fail to make peace with an offended brother because we are afraid of losing face? We see that pride keeps rearing its ugly head, causing us to feel that we are about to lose something.

This is why the Bible shows humility to be a choice. The fear of loss to our ego has to be challenged and overcome. Overcomers are conquerors, and it is because of this attribute that they will be in the Kingdom of God. The overcomers challenge inertia. They challenge entropy. They challenge this fear of loss.

Ephesians 5:2, in the phrase "Christ . . . has . . . given Himself," also contains a seed of the reason why love is so difficult. Love requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is painful. Facing fear is painful. Making oneself diligent in doing work is painful, so the sluggard pays in sacrifice when overcoming laziness and fear. Sometimes the discipline required to love an enemy is awesome.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Philippians 2:3

Paul is getting to the heart of the problem. One or both of these ladies had a problem with pride, with vanity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Philippians 2:5-11

God commends the humble, not those who consort with the rich and famous, and He promises to exalt the humble at the appointed time (Proverbs 16:18-19). Jesus Christ's example of humility helps us to realize the meek stature of true Christians. In Him we see the zenith of virtue from which the apostles drew illustrations and admonitions for us. He gave up inexpressible glory to take upon Himself the humble form of humanity and perform the lowliest of services to us. He consented to be without distinction or honor and was willing to be despised and disregarded. When He laid aside his former rank and dignity, He became as nothing, yet now He is exalted above everything and everyone. He set this example for us that we might overcome self-exaltation and develop the true and ultimately exalting trait of humility.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation


 

Colossians 3:5

If we seek something contrary to God's will, we covet. If we lust after something, it can become an idol to us, and we will serve it (Romans 6:16). The Bible associates lust with pride and vanity (I John 2:16-17). When a man amasses possessions, he feels a false sense of security because they make him feel he is superior to others. He deceives himself into thinking that calamity will not touch him, yet covetousness is never satisfied and brings on many sorrows.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Colossians 3:5-8

What we fear to do is to suffer the pangs of self-denial. We fear putting to death our flesh that is demanding satisfaction. But the truth is that we are dealing with the most troublesome aspect of our humanity. It is pride demanding its due. That is what we do not want to face because, in submitting to God, we are denying what pride is demanding, that we stand up for ourselves.

Do you understand that it is pride within us that wants to be god? It loves being praised and being coddled. It quickly puffs up with angry judgment over the real or perceived wrongs of others while being oblivious to its own. It is almost like a living, breathing something, a form within us unlike that of any other creature. It can be fed, or it can be starved. When fed, it grows. When it is starved, it diminishes and dies daily.

Pride starves and diminishes when we choose to submit to God's Word in obedience. But it is going to put up a strong defense of itself through the fear of being denied. It wants satisfaction. "You shall be as gods," the serpent told Eve. God made the serpent say exactly what was happening. Pride in Adam and Eve exalted itself over God, and made them god by changing the standard to satisfy themselves when they saw that the fruit was attractive. They did not deny their flesh.

Whether the challenges arise in what we permit ourselves to eat or to drink, how much we permit ourselves to eat, the control of the tongue, directing the temper, or whether we choose to be kind or sarcastic or cynical or hopeful and encouraging, the test to control our fear of humbling ourselves exists. That is where the battle is being waged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Colossians 3:12

Unlike pride, humility does not come naturally; it must, in the Bible's terminology, be "put on." It must be added to our character by means of God's Spirit and consistent, conscious decisions to submit to God because we love Him, because we are sincerely seeking to be like Him, and because we greatly desire to glorify Him. In this manner, by God's power and our cooperation, humility is created as part of our character, enabling us to grow stronger toward overcoming pride's evil influences.

Because of exposure to Satan and this world, pride is within us almost from birth. Humility is most definitely not that way but is a created attribute of character. A carnal humility can be created within a child living under the supervision of loving parents who are making the effort to train their children in good character qualities. In like manner, spiritual humility is most definitely a developed characteristic because of contact with God and our willing cooperation. James 4:6-10 asserts:

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Once we understand some of the Bible's instruction regarding spiritual humility, this clear series of commands becomes important. They must be commanded because these actions are not natural to human nature and because the pride dwelling within us is so strong and influential.

Humbling ourselves is commanded just as surely as resisting the Devil, cleansing our hands, purifying our hearts, lamenting, mourning, and weeping. This means that humbling ourselves in submission to God is a choice that can—indeed, must—be exercised. Humility is important enough that God repeats this command briefly in Proverbs 3:34 and in I Peter 5:5-6.

Humility is dealt with somewhat differently in each testament, but at the same time, there is a tight similarity between the two treatments. In the Old Testament, it is shown less as a good quality of an honorable person's character than as a condition or situation an individual finds himself in because of poverty, affliction, or persecution. In this approach, a humble person is one in a humble circumstance.

In other words, the humble person has been brought low in a social sense. This perspective provides an understandable illustration that visibly portrays the more important spiritual attitude of the heart. People in a humble circumstance project degrees of attitude and conduct that may even approach obsequiousness, portrayed to an extreme in the movie Lord of the Rings, when the conniving counselor, Wormtongue, is confronted and embarrassingly corrected by Gandalf.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

Colossians 3:12

How does the New Testament present humility? According to commentator William Barclay, the classical Greek language did not even have a word for humility that included no sense of shame. The root of the word the apostles used literally means "to depress," a very expressive word. To the Greeks, humility indicated servility and slavishness. This may have been because Greeks looked down upon anyone who acted in humility as not being an upstanding person of good character. Culturally, it was evil, shameful behavior, as to them it exhibited someone untrustworthy. At best, they would consider the person to be a wimp because they admired people who aggressively took charge, commanding others about.

The Christian approach is entirely different. We will consider a few scriptures that give a description of the way humility enhances one's character.

Psalm 113:4-7: "For He is high above the nations; His glory is far greater than the heavens. Who can be compared with God enthroned on high? Far below Him are heavens and the earth; He stoops to look, and lifts the poor from the dirt" (The Living Bible).

Psalm 138:6: "Yet though He is so great, He respects the humble, but proud men must keep their distance" (The Living Bible).

Both of these psalms picture God as being of awesome power, but He holds His power in check to achieve a greater good. Rather than destroy through imperious self-centeredness, He pities and builds with gentle, understanding kindness.

Matthew 20:25-28 shows New Covenant leadership: "But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'"

Matthew 11:29 makes Jesus' insistence on humility exceedingly clear: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11:29 is a direct command from the same God described in Psalms, though here He is acting as a Man. His example and commands regarding this continues to be the way Christians are to follow.

Humility is not a weak, cringing approach to life. It is not a denial of power but the deliberate controlling of power to accomplish a greater good. It comes into proper use when a converted person deliberately utilizes a servant approach rather than a natural, proud, and carnal human-ruler approach. It is the attitude that best promotes good relationships because it neutralizes pride and the damage it can wreak. At the very least, it indicates modesty that grows from a genuine self-evaluation that concludes in the person deeming himself worthless in relation to God and His truth.

It is important that we understand self-evaluation better. In the Christian sense of humility, the person is not deeming himself worthless because he sees himself as a vile creature full of sin—though to some degree this is true in comparison to God—but because he is merely a creature, absolutely dependent upon God even for every breath of air. Further, he views himself as possessing nothing intrinsically good, having to receive all good, spiritual things from God as well. Even Jesus had this attitude, and He is our model.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

1 Timothy 3:2-7

A spiritually immature person in an office of authority like this will follow the same course that Satan took. He will get a big head and try to grasp beyond his position.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Timothy 3:6

There is some disagreement over "condemnation" here. Some commentators say that it ought to be translated "criticism" or "snare."

From what it says in Ezekiel 28, we can be safe in concluding that Lucifer was created far different from the Satan that he became, that pride led to Lucifer's downfall by providing motivation. It plowed the way, and it completely obliterated his knowledge of God and His power, and eventually it produced rebellion.

Paul's warning is that a converted person can fall into this snare, this criticism, or this condemnation, if he is not mature enough to fight and overcome its influence. If he does not recognize it, he is really in trouble. He will not put up any fight at all. If he does recognize it, and if he is mature, then he can overcome it because he will do the things necessary to ensure that it is in check. As long as there is a Devil, as long as we are human and have this human spirit, and as long as that spirit can be triggered by Satan, then we can fall prey to it if we are unaware of its working within us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Just as the signs of Matthew 24 give us indications of the last days, so do the attitudes listed here by Paul. He says, "Know this!" because it is important in identifying the signs of the times. When he finishes with his litany, he writes, "Have nothing to do with such attitudes!"

Unfortunately, we can see these attitudes in today's youth. This discourse does not intend to ridicule but to analyze them. Nor does it intend to paint everyone between 15 and 35 with the same brush. Many do not fit the general type, but it may be surprising to learn how many of this world's attitudes have rubbed off on us and our families.

According to the authors of the book, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, everyone born between 1961-1981 belongs to the 13th Generation, the thirteenth since the birth of the eldest of America's Founding Fathers (e.g., Benjamin Franklin). The authors, Neil Howe and Bill Strauss, admit that their findings are generalities. Not every person fits the mold of a 13er, as they call members of this generation, but 13ers typically follow certain trends, attitudes and ways of thinking.

Sadly, II Timothy 3 lists many of them. Here are some examples of how these attitudes appear in society today:

Lovers of Themselves

This attitude heads the list because it is the root cause of all the others. We could also use the terms "selfish," "self-centered," and "self-absorbed." These are the young people of "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Cosby Show," and "The Simpsons." Their selfishness has many different facets:

Clothing: the grunge look, the 70's-retro look, the designer-GQ-Mademoiselle look.
Body Sculpting: steroids for bulking up and anorexia/bulimia for slimming down.
Body Accessories: rings in the ears, nose, navel, nipples, tongue, lips, eyebrows, and other places; tattooing.
A Soaring Suicide Rate: Suicide is a totally self-centered act. Tragically, 10% of adolescent boys and 18% of adolescent girls admit they have attempted suicide, and one million of them succeeded. In the 13er movie Heathers, a teacher says, "Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make."

Lovers of Money

David Leavitt, a 13er writing in Esquire, reasons, "It's okay to be selfish, as long as you're up front about it. . . . We trust ourselves, and money. Period." Their greed has put many of them into debt. Two 13ers, Anne Gowen and Sean Piccoli, write about their contemporaries in a Washington Times article, "A Generation Lost in Time":

They are little Drexel Burnhams, little S&Ls: free-spending in the '80s, when they got their first taste of plastic; broke now. . . . Their parents are like ATMs, hit up regularly to pay for plane tickets and help tame credit-card debt.

Boasters, Proud

Daniel Smith-Rowsey, a 13er, brags in Newsweek:

We're street smart, David Letterman clever, whizzes at Nintendo. We can name more beers than Presidents. Pop culture is, to us, more attractive than education.

In fact, the authors of 13th Gen say that 13ers proudly think of themselves as the "clean up" generation, out to right the wrongs and clean up the messes of their elders. "We're not trying to change things. We're trying to fix things. We are the generation that is going to renovate America. We are going to be its carpenters and janitors," says 21-year-old Anne McCord of Portland, Oregon.

Blasphemers

Modern Bible translations render this word as "railers," "defamers," "abusive," "contemptuous," and "given to bitter words." Who do 13ers rail against, defame, and abuse? Baby Boomers, who, they say, ruined everything for them. One 13er vents:

Drugs, crime, sexual diseases and family stress is all stuff you [Baby Boomers] blame us for, when you are the ones that raised them all to an art form. You blame young folks for having no concept of the higher ideals in life, when you're the ones who trashed most of them. . . . Your gnatlike attention span has produced a culture of ideas that is far junkier than any video game we could ever waste an hour playing.

Disobedient to Parents

Some translations read, "disrespectful to parents." Growing up, this generation faced the highest divorce and abortion rates ever in America. They were the latchkey kids whom the television baby-sat. Their parents indulged them with expensive clothes, cars, stereos, and games because they felt guilty for spending so little time with them. As a result, most 13ers have no respect for parents, and many feel they know more and are more mature.

Unthankful

13ers appreciate neither what their parents have provided for them nor the tried-and-true methods for prosperity that have a long and successful history. Howe and Strauss write:

Twenty years ago, the biggest fights between adolescents and their parents were over global "values" involving politics, war, and religion. Today, surveys show their biggest quarrels are over "how they spend their money" and "what they do with their leisure time." . . . 13ers collectively lack that strong attachment to the familial, educational, and economic institutions that once helped move older generations from here to there on the ladder of adult success.

Unholy

Other translations have, "without piety," "irreverent," "having no religion," "irreligious," "wicked." Pollster George H. Gallup reports, "Religion ranks behind friends, home, school, music, and TV as factors teens believe are having the greatest influence on their generation."

13ers make up a large portion of those who are fleeing churches and taking up witchcraft, New Age religions, or becoming totally secular. A professor at Cal-Berkeley says, "TV is their collective dream machine, their temple." An ethics report reads: "An unprecedented proportion of today's youth lack commitment to core moral values like honesty, personal responsibility, respect for others and civic duty."

This is the generation most heavily influenced by the baby boom idea that "God is dead." They do believe in sound bites, rap lyrics, and advertising slogans that become their mottoes: "Just do it." "Do the Dew." "Life is short. Play hard." "All the sugar, twice the caffeine." "Life is a sport. Drink it up." "Image is everything." "Why ask why?"

Unloving

Other translations read, "callous," "inhuman," "without natural affection," "hard-hearted." This is the generation of inner-city gangs, Neo-Nazis, carjackings, and Lyle and Eric Menendez. They were raised on Dirty Harry, Rambo, and the Terminator. Syndicated columnist William Raspberry writes:

Their casual acceptance of violence, the attitude (often reinforced by their parents) that any means is okay to get what you want, and the fatalism that kills their hope of the future is turning them into a generation of animals.

Quotations and statistics can easily be found to support the ten other attitudes Paul lists in II Timothy 3. For now, it will suffice to read what 13ers say about themselves:

» We are clueless yet wizened, too unopinionated to voice concern, purposefully enigmatic, and indecisive.
» Mine is a generation perfectly willing to admit its contemptible qualities.
» We are an impatient, quick-and-dirty generation.
» Our generation is probably the worst since the Protestant Reformation. It's barbaric.
» It's only wrong if you get caught.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are These the Last Days? (Part 2)


 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

The reason we have such a lack of courtesy in today's world can be found in II Timothy 3:1-2, where the apostle Paul writes: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves. . . .” He goes on to list about eighteen more traits people will exhibit in the end time, but he leads the list with “lovers of themselves.” If we are first and foremost in our lives a lover of ourselves, then we are never wrong. We are always first, and, we think, deservedly so! The left lane is ours! We are the direct opposite of “humble.” We could not be courteous if we tried.

Consider verses 2-5 from the Contemporary English Version. Remember that Paul is speaking of the last days, and note how each of these traits relate to courtesy:

People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won't be real. Don't have anything to do with such people.

Powerful words, indeed. Perhaps the reader thinks that I am making too much of the lack of courtesy around us. Maybe so. But it is something foundational, something basic, to a Christian life. A humble and God-fearing person will naturally be courteous. If we esteem others greater than ourselves, we will be courteous. If we are striving to live in accordance with God's laws, we will be courteous.

So, does this mean that by simply saying “please” and “thank you,” we will be in God's Kingdom? No, it is not quite that easy, but it is a start! Conversely, it is probably safe to say that those who are impolite and rude will not like their reward at all. As the sign says, “Keep Right.”

Mike Ford
Courtesy


 

Titus 1:7

Self-will is insisting stubbornly and arrogantly on one's way, as opposed to following the will of God. Paul states that a minister of God must not allow himself to be self-willed but must be led by and do God's will. What kind of minister would a person with false pride and stubbornness make?

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 4): Self-Will


 

James 4:5-6

Taken together, James 4:5-6, Proverbs 23:6-7, and Romans 12:3 indicate that what a person thinks of himself is clearly important to God. We all have an image of ourselves that we carry about in our heart. We tend to think of ourselves in a certain way, a persona that we want to project to others. This is not wrong of and by itself. Because we love God, we should greatly desire to project to others an image of Him that is pleasing to Him. What is wrong, though, is that too often the image we project has its basis in some area of pride.

Most of us do not really understand exactly what image we project to others. In other words, we often do not succeed in projecting the impression we want others to have of us. For instance, it is easy for a person to think he is projecting an image of one who is serious, quiet, and contemplative, when the reality is that others consider him to be stern and condemning. A wide divergence of conclusions about an individual is actually quite common. While those who know us may see the same person, they take away different impressions, which results in different assessments.

The image that we try to project is what we think we ought to project for someone in our position. As mentioned earlier, the problem in most of this image-projection is that it is driven by pride, and "God resists the proud."

Since so many commentators believe that pride is the father of all sins, it is surprising that "pride" appears only 49 times in Scripture and only three times in the New Testament. The Hebrew term ga'on in a good sense indicates "majesty" or "excellence." However, most of its usages are negative, as the antonym of "humility." It is associated with arrogance, insolence, evil behavior, and perverse speech.

The Greek word translated pride is tuphoo. Its literal meaning is "to envelop in smoke," but metaphorically, it indicates "conceit," "lifted up," and "high-mindedness." The word pictures a person using smoke as a screen to conceal the image he does not want the public to see.

Pride includes a degree of haughtiness, a measure of contempt for others. It is a matter of the heart that is buried under the surface. However, though the one who suffers from it may appear to walk in downcast humility, all the while in his heart he has vast contempt for God and fellow man, which is revealed in his lack of the fear of God and general, overall disobedience.

Why is God so against pride? A person infected by this deadly quality so admires himself that he is unaware of his paucity of vastly more important qualities. A proud person cherishes independence so that he will not be beholden to others. He is so preoccupied with his self-proclaimed goodness that he never realizes that he has any sin from which he needs to be saved, and thus he will not be corrected. He believes that he is above it all.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

1 Peter 3:8

A short definition of courtesy would be “polite behavior that shows respect for other people.” Does God have anything to say about courtesy? Remember the “Golden Rule”? Jesus exhorts His disciples in Matthew 7:12: “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the law and the prophets are all about” (Contemporary English Version).

If we truly lived by this, we would always treat others with courtesy. Chivalry would not be dead. For those younger folks who may not know, chivalry was an ancient, knightly code emphasizing the virtues of service to others, honor, love, and courtesy.

Consider, for instance, how we treat the “hoary head(s)” among us. Leviticus 19:32 commands us: “Show respect for old people and honor them. Reverently obey Me; I am the Lord” (Good News Bible). There have been times when I have come up on the rear of a slow-moving car and muttered, “Come on, grandpa, let's go!” only to remember that I, too, am a grandpa!

In all seriousness, though, do we revere the older folks as we should? Do we encourage our children to go last in line at a potluck? Do we take the time to do the simple things like teach our kids to look an adult in the eye when he or she speaks to them? Do we insist that they say, “Yes, sir [or ma'am],” not interrupt an adult conversation, hold doors for them, and generally, as God urges, “Show respect for old people and honor them”?

Why would we be impolite to the elderly—or anyone, for that matter? Why not move over on the road and let others going faster drive by? Why be rude to sales clerks and wait staffs? Why not use the simplest of courtesies like “please” and “thank you”?

The apostle Paul gives the answer in Philippians 2:3: “Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves” (Contemporary English Version). Now that is truly a hard thing to do. I can hear it now: “Treat others more important than moi? How can that be? The left lane was built for me! All others must go around. Why, if I were to move over and let you by, then I would lose face. I would be admitting defeat. I would be a loser in life's rat race.” Most people fail to consider that, even if they win the rat race, they are still a rat!

Mike Ford
Courtesy


 

1 Peter 5:5-7

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders - Peter adresses presumption by starting with the young people. Just as young people are supposed to submit to their elders, so are we to submit in whatever positions we are in.

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another - Peter broadens the instructions. It is not just whether you are younger than another person, or that you are in a lesser position than another person is. It says all of you be submissive to all of you. One another—whatever your rank, whatever your position. Whether you are a toenail on the body or the left elbow. All of you submit to the other.

And be clothed with humility - Not only are we to submit, but we are to do it in humility. And have it clothed—fully draped over us—because that is the attitude that will keep presumption at bay.

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" - This is where the favor will come—to those who are humble. "God resists the proud"—that is an understatement! God backhands the proud. God will not give even the time of day to the proud. That is how much He "resists" the proud.

This passage gives the antidote to presumptuous sin: 1) submitting, 2) being humble, and 3) waiting for God to exalt—not taking it upon ourselves to do it ourselves.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

1 Peter 5:5

This commandment flew in the face of the Greek culture because, like ours, it glorified self-assertion and aggressiveness. The Greeks worshipped bodily perfection and "wisdom," as they called it, flaunting it before others as a basis on which a relationship would be conducted. Feeling better than, or being seen as better than, others was very important to people in the Greek world.

God commands us to be clothed with humility. Humility is pride's opposite, its antonym. We learn a great deal about humility when we just do the opposite of what the Bible teaches us about pride. Part of the key to understanding humility is in this short phrase "just do"—just do the opposite of pride. True humility is a choice. It is not something that comes naturally. We have to choose to do it.

Peter says that we must "be clothed with humility." We must put on humility just as we put on our clothes. Doing either of these activities is a choice. In this phrase, the apostle is reminiscing about Jesus at His last Passover, when He clothed Himself with an apron and knelt down before His disciples, including Peter, washing their feet as an example of His mind, His attitude, toward them (John 13:1-17). He girded himself and performed this lowly act. He had to put on, choose to practice, humility to do that.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

1 Peter 5:5-6

The most important thing that we can take from these verses is the understanding and the knowledge, the belief and the conviction, that humility is a choice. Peter says, "Humble yourself!" We can choose to go the right way, and when we do, we have humbled ourselves. Humility is not a feeling but a state of mind wherein a person sets his course to submit to God—regardless of his feelings. This is a terribly hard thing to do.

Along these lines, fasting makes us think about where our life-sustaining provisions come from. They are not inherent but have to come from outside of us—even the physical food, water, or air. We do not have self-sustaining life. Spiritual provision is from exactly the same source. The necessities that sustain spiritual life and produce the kind of strength that we want to have—the sense of well-being that we desire, along with a clear conscience—all of these vital "nutrients" come from God. They are directly tied to our submission to Him because "God resists the proud, but gives grace [favor, gifts] to the humble."

If we are waiting for a "feeling" to come along before we submit to God, we will be waiting a long time. It may come; it may not. However, we may use feeling in the sense of a decision that is reached. When we say that we "felt" we had to go in a certain direction, we may not be speaking of an emotion at all. In that case, our "feeling" is correct and would be a right understanding of I Peter 5:5-6.

Nevertheless, our part in settling the disagreement with God is to be humble before Him. The separation will not be bridged until we do what Adam and Eve did not: humbly submit!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

1 Peter 5:6

In most cases, we are prepared to make this choice. If we are not prepared to make it, God in His mercy will continue to prepare us to make right choices.

One of the most tragic figures in the Bible is the rich young ruler of Matthew 19, who turned aside due to his great attachment to his possessions. Everywhere we look in the Bible, pride has its roots in a sense of security because of wealth. Christ's message was not received by the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees, or the young man because they had great possessions of not just wealth but rabbinical tradition, public honor, offices, and so forth that they would have had to sacrifice in order to accept Christ's teaching.

We, too, have great possessions that need to be brought under scrutiny, things like confidence in our own judgment and ideas; familiar concepts learned while growing up; material attachments to institutions, organizations, or things; skills or academic achievements; prestige in the community; distinction of having been born into a certain family, race, or class; attending a certain school or serving in a particular branch of the military, etc. The list of things that can puff up our pride is potentially endless.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 7)


 

1 John 2:15-16

I John 2:15-16 warns us not to love the world of Satan's creation because it is a huge reservoir of influences to the budding kernel of pride in each of us. It can lead us from that sin to others in order to accomplish our ambitions.

What other kinds of sin? The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector provides an example, showing how destructive it can be to relationships: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Luke 18:11-12). Pride can make a person become condescending and self-righteous, so that he sees himself as greater than others, which can lead to misusing them.

At the same time, it blinded the Pharisee to his spiritual condition. Jeremiah 49:16 is spoken against Edom. "'Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,' says the LORD." One of pride's most destructive fruits is self-deception, blindness to one's own spiritual condition. It strongly tends to produce a sense of infallibility.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

1 John 2:16

The apostle John notes three powerful pulls that must be controlled. These, he says, are not of the Father but of the world, therefore they are not part of the standard that we must strive to live according to. If we follow them, we will continue to be conformed to the world.

Our eyes make us the recipients of a multitude of impressions. Many of them can excite us to desire something evil, and if we are complacent, we can be trapped in a sin almost without thinking. That is precisely the problem! We must be thinking to control what we have power and responsibility over and turn from such things as if a hot poker were about to be jabbed into our eyes! When Joseph was about to be lured into sin, he ran, controlling his own part in that unfolding drama (Genesis 39:11-12).

The body and mind possess appetites and needs that can easily lead to sinful excesses if not controlled. They can lead any of us away in a hundred different directions from the supreme devotion to Him that He desires for our good. Note the senseless luxury of this present generation, the exaggerated care of the physical body, and the intemperance in eating and drinking, which are a curse and shame on America! Our culture has molded us to seek ample provision for the flesh and material comforts far beyond our needs, drowning the spirit and producing needless anxieties. We have to learn to subordinate the drive to satisfy these insatiable appetites so they do not master us and lead us into sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control


 

Revelation 2:12-13

Pergamos was no more wicked than other cities of the day—consider Corinth and Ephesus, for example. Some commentators say the governor of Pergamos, like Satan, heavily persecuted the church, and likely oversaw the martyrdom of Antipas. Satan, king of all the children of pride (Job 41:34), deceives the whole world and is the accuser or persecutor of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-10). The lesson for us may be that where criticism, put-down, and persecution of others are common, Satan spends a great deal of time, taking bizarre, twisted pleasure in accusation and negativity. Satan dwells where pride and self-exaltation are present, attitudes we need to avoid diligently.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Pergamos


 

Revelation 3:15-17

They did not even see their need because, in their pride, they were far from poor in spirit. They felt secure in what they were. They were not asking God to fill them with love, goodness, generosity, kindness, wisdom, and faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency


 

Revelation 17:1-6

As the head of gold, Babylon's alluring qualities are manifest in the world, and we must avoid these to keep from being ensnared. These traits are clearly delineated in Revelation 17 and 18, and they are these broad areas of possible temptation or trial for us: idolatry, prostitution, self-sufficiency, self-glorification, pride, complacency, reliance on luxury and wealth, avoidance of suffering, and violence against life.

Especially emphasized in these chapters is pride ("she glorified herself"), and the second is satiety, to seek the fullness of everything. It is especially used in regard to seeking food—to become full and then go beyond that. It is to become over-full in everything. However, satiety can apply to other things as well. Some people lose themselves in entertainment: A little bit of entertainment is not enough—their whole lives must consist of entertainment, practically from morning to night. Revelation 18:7 says that the great harlot lived luxuriously. Then there is the avoidance of suffering, seen where she says in the same verse, "I shall see no sorrow."

These three are interrelated, and when combined with the other attitudinal factors, they become the perfect matrix for producing Laodiceanism in the careless Christian. The world is already largely caught up in these things, but they are a temptation to us.

A matrix is described in the dictionary as "the environment in which something is developed." In some cases, it is synonymous with another better known and more frequently used word, "womb." The womb is the perfect matrix for the development of a baby. We in this society are living right in the midst of the perfect environment for developing Laodiceanism, which is why it is so important that we understand the origin, nature, and fruit of the Israelitish culture that has become the very epitome of the Babylonish system.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism


 

Revelation 18:7

From a theological point of view, Revelation 18 identifies the hallmarks of Babylon. The signs are idolatry, theological prostitution or spiritual adultery, self-sufficiency, self-glorification, pride, complacency, reliance on luxury and wealth, avoidance of suffering, and violence against life. Reading Revelation 17 and 18 carefully, one finds each of those traits expressed in some way.

Interestingly, God emphasizes three in particular in Revelation 18:7. Personifying Babylon as a woman, God reveals her innermost, secret thoughts and thus her true character.

The first of the three characteristics emphasized here is pride, self-glorification: "She glorified herself . . . 'I sit as queen. . . .'" The second is reliance on wealth, satiety, overindulgence: She "lived luxuriously [extravagantly, lustfully, without restraint]." The third trait is avoidance of suffering, for she says, "[I] will not see sorrow." Because reliance on wealth can easily lead to proud self-sufficiency and avoiding all suffering, these three are interrelated. What bothers God is that her self-sufficiency is aimed against Him. Who needs God when one has everything? Avoidance of suffering produces compromise with both conscience and law. It can severely damage one's character, and to God that is a serious matter.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Find more Bible verses about Pride:
Pride {Nave's}
Pride {Torrey's}
 




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