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What the Bible says about Sin Produces Immodesty
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Proverbs 16:16-19

Regarding pride, God gives some strong warnings. It must definitely be eradicated from our character. Pride has many manifestations, but it almost always starts when a person makes perverted comparisons, elevating one thing above another, making the self feel better or more deserving than another, and so forth. Pride may well be the father of other sins. God says that pride leads the way to destruction (Proverbs 11:2; 17:19; 18:12), which a product of sin.

The natural corollary of pride is prejudice, which is all about perverse comparisons. Jane Austen wrote a popular novel a couple of centuries ago entitled Pride and Open-mindedness. I jest. The title is Pride and Prejudice. Prejudice falls on the heels of pride because of the perverted judgment that is a part of it.

Pride begets numerous emotional disorders because it brings people into conflict either openly or internally. Whenever mental discord is held within, its outbreak will likely manifest as some sort of emotional disorder. We call the people unbalanced or even mentally ill, but churning away inside this person is a perverted comparison. Pride is present, bringing them into conflict with another, and they never resolve the conflict. Most frequently, the conflict occurs within the home, usually with someone close. Sometimes, it can be on the job. Wherever it may occur, good personal relationships are almost impossible where pride and its firstborn, prejudice, exist.

Another of the more damaging children of pride is intellectual arrogance. It produces an inability to learn either from one's own experiences or those of others. It also spawns a hatred of criticism and disdain for others.

The greater the pride, the more dangerous the consequences to the relationship, whether in a marriage, a partnership, or politics. It is a major cause of war between couples, within companies, or between nations.

Have we ever considered that America offers few rewards for modesty and moderation? The big rewards in the United States go to the arrogant, and we have thus produced a competitive and violent society that rides on the coattails of this proud attitude.

This is illustrated in no better place than in entertainment, especially in the movies. At one time, the heroes in the movies were almost always valiant and modest men or women. The actors like Jimmy Stewart, Alan Ladd, Spencer Tracy, or Gary Cooper usually portrayed them with an understated strength. It is difficult to remember them ever playing somebody arrogant. Today, the heroes are often proud and vain, reflecting the general attitude that has changed in that direction over the decades. Now the icons of the entertainment world are the arrogant, the smug, the aggressive, the abusers.

Pride has its roots in a sense or feeling of strength, wealth, prosperity, or accomplishment. Sometimes these things are imagined, and sometimes they are real, but whatever the case, misplaced confidence in self arises, producing a "better than" feeling. The perverted comparison emerges.

There is nothing wrong with having confidence in one's ability to perform something. However, an ability to do something does not make a person intrinsically better than another. All the individual has done is to develop a skill that he already had a latent ability to perform. In the eyes of God, that talent does not make one better than another. Skill is good, even great. We should strive to develop them but always understanding that they do not intrinsically equate with "better than." If we fail to understand this, our comparisons are on their way to becoming perverted.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Seven)

Proverbs 21:4

Some Bibles' margins may read that "plowing" can also be rendered "lamp" or "light." A light gives guidance. This verse says that, as plowing prepares the way for the earth's production, so pride prepares the way for producing other sins. Another way of looking at it is that pride is the guide that leads the way to other sins.

The "haughty look" indicates a comparison. It occurs on a person's face when he is looking down on another, showing an attitude of superiority. It illustrates comparison because perverse comparison is at the heart of this sin, pride. A person with this problem is greatly hindered from knowing God because he does not make the right comparison between God and himself.

We must perceive God as so high above us He is beyond comparison. God Himself says, "To who then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?" (Isaiah 40:25). He challenges us to make a comparison, and we can come up with nothing adequate.

He is so holy, so righteous, so pure, so intelligent, so great, so awesome, so powerful—so much of everything—that man is in far over his head when he tries to compare anything or anyone to God. Humans are only made in His image. Who knows which is greater: the difference between us and our reflection in a mirror or the difference between God and us? We know that our reflected image is not us and does not even begin to compare with what we are.

Men and women are only in the image of God. But the proud exalt themselves against God, which hinders their relationships with God. A man's perspective of God ultimately determines his perspective of men, including himself.

The dictionary defines pride as "an undue sense of one's own superiority, importance, or worth." It is "inordinate self-esteem," a word in vogue in pop psychology today. They say everybody needs self-esteem. Well, pride is an inordinate self-esteem, and its synonyms are conceit, vanity, and vainglory. Its antonyms are humility and modesty.

Consider these comparisons between words: Pride manifests itself in disdain, haughtiness, and arrogance toward others. Self-esteem gives more deference to one's opinions than others grant. Conceit is an exaggerated opinion of one's ability or worth. Vanity is an excessive desire for admiration and praise, and vainglory is undue boasting about one's accomplishments. But pride encompasses all of them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Six)

Mark 5:15

At least five significant changes occur in the men in Mark 5:15 and Luke 8:35:

First, the exorcism left the men with a new posture, that of sitting and resting, in direct contrast to the constant roaming and wandering about the tombs and mountains and wilderness day and night. Christ says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." A problem of sin is discontentment, the lack of peace and rest (Isaiah 57:20-21). However, that all changed when Christ entered the lives of the demon-possessed men to deliver them from the evil adversary.

Second, before the exorcism, the possessed men want nothing to do with Christ, but afterward a tremendous change in attitude occurs: The delivered men want to go with Christ out of reverence and respect for their "Savior." Jesus, though, has something else in mind: It is more important that they witness to others of what happened. Jesus instructs His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). A man may want to follow Jesus physically, but Jesus wants him to take up his cause for Him.

Third, before their deliverance they wear no clothes, yet afterwards they are clothed (Luke 8:27, 35). Sin makes people shameless and immodest, a natural development due to their separation from the righteous God. The men's spiritual cleanness is indicated by visible changes; modesty, cleanliness, and appearance improve, as it does when anyone is delivered by Christ. Wherever God's truth is received, people's morals improve, reflected in modest clothing.

Fourth, they regain their sanity. Fools, not wise men, reject God (Psalm 14:1), and sin invites Satan into a person's mind. Ultimately, his influence causes madness. Jesus explains: "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order" (Luke 11:24-25). When a demon is removed, a person's mind is cleaned of chaos and made orderly. To avoid being possessed again, he needs to replace what was swept out with God's Spirit and truth.

Fifth, the words "right mind" (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35) suggest the controlling of thoughts and actions, so it indicates, not only sanity, but also self-control. The demons in the men are uncontrollable ("neither could anyone tame him," Mark 5:4), but when Jesus comes, they recognize God's authority over them. Evil people cannot control their desires, and society cannot control them, so crime rages on. Living God's way of life as revealed in the life of Christ is the answer. God provides the right mind to produce the fruit of the Spirit, including self-control (Galatians 5:23).

Jesus instructs the healed man to tell people about his deliverance, particularly those who were familiar and intimate with him. He wants him to be an example of God's grace, first among his own family and friends, so that they can come to repentance. A Christian is first responsible for witnessing to those closest to him, who will see the greatest difference in him as he lives God's way of life.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed (Part Three)


 




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