“Pride Goes Before a Fall”
How many times have you heard the phrase “pride goes before a fall”? Oh, it is a common statement that is true in all aspects of life. It relates to one's attitude about knowledge, ability, or even experience. Have you ever thought about it in regards to one’s spiritual life? Perhaps you have been around people who believe they have the answers to all spiritual questions. They have read the Bible once or twice and think they have it all figured out. Well, they might even believe they are more spiritual than others, because of their so-called expertise in spiritual or biblical matters. It is hard to have a conversation with such a person, isn't it? Oh, that person likes to draw attention to himself or to herself; and, the issue seems to revolve around the matter of pride. Well, the Bible contains many references to the danger of pride and to the goodness of humility. There is a big difference between the two. On “Key to the Kingdom,” today, we will consider how pride can go before a fall in the matter of one’s salvation. We will look at a familiar story found in the Old Testament. The way these are people responded to God cost them dearly. They disobeyed God's commands. And because they believed they knew better than God, they chose to do what pleased them instead of doing what pleased the Lord. Every day we face the same temptation. Do we allow ourselves to be tempted to do what we want to do or do we seek to obey God? It really comes down to the question, am I filled with pride or do I live with humility? I hope you will stay with us for the next few minutes, as we study that most important question.
A number of years ago, a sweet widow friend of mine shared with me a statement which I will never forget. She said, “There is one of two things that is at the root of all sin, either pride or selfishness.” Well, I have thought about that statement many times and, indeed, agree with it. For example, false pride will lead to the downfall of an athletic team. Selfishness may lead to ruined relationships. Someone else made this statement. “A person who is wrapped up in himself makes for a very small package.” When I think about it, pride and selfishness are basically the same thing. They are both destructive behaviors which may lead to a life of sin. There are several passages in the Bible which indicate that truth. Let me share some of those with us. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16, verse 18). Jesus stated, in Matthew 23 verse 12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” James wrote, in chapter 4 verse 6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And then there are these words from the apostle Paul, in Philippians chapter 2 verses 3 and 4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” A story that illustrates that truth is found in Genesis chapter 3; and perhaps you are familiar with this story. God created a very beautiful place, called the Garden of Eden, and He asked Adam and Eve to be in that garden and to take care of it and to enjoy all the wonderful things God had prepared for them. They were to see about the garden. They were to see about all of the animals there in that area. But there was one thing God told them to avoid; they could eat fruit from any of the trees that were in the garden, but there was one they had to stay away from at all cost. There in the middle of the garden was a tree called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil;” and, they were not to eat any of the fruit that came from that tree. It was completely off limits, and if they ate of that fruit then they would surely die. Well, it was about that time Satan entered into the scene, and he told Eve that was not the case at all. In fact, he told her, “You will not die. Rather your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Well, Eve liked the sound of that. She liked the idea that she would be as wise as God, and she would know the difference between good and evil. And so, she took some of the fruit from that tree. She ate of it, and then she gave some to her husband, Adam. Well, Eve took matters into her own hands. She sought to become as wise as God, but obviously that did not happen. Her pride and her selfishness were examples of her disobedience to God. And as a result of that disobedience, as a result of not doing what God asked her to do, then both she and Adam were expelled from the garden, never to enter it again. Well, as a result of that sin, people have had to live with the consequences of sin in their life, ever since. Pride and selfishness and disobedience are problems for all of us; and through them, Satan influences us to sin. Satan influences us to pursue our own interest and our own desires, to the point that we become very prideful or very selfish. Oh, the devil even tempted Jesus to be prideful and selfish. You might remember that story. While preparing for His ministry, Jesus spent some 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. While He was there, He prayed, He fasted, He began to think about what God had prepared for Him in His public ministry. After that period of time, no doubt Jesus was hungry. He came out of the wilderness, and Satan confronted Him. Satan tempted Him with things that would no doubt show His pride and selfishness. But yet in the midst of those three temptations, Jesus rejected Satan. Even though He was hungry, even though He was vulnerable to what Satan presented to Him, Jesus did not give in. He did not fall for Satan's lies, as Eve had fallen for them; but rather, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture. On each and every of those three occasions, Jesus stood firmly upon the Word of God, and He basically told Satan to get behind Him, to move away from Him, that you are not going to tempt Me to do something that is not in accordance with God's will. So with each of those temptations, Jesus kept His eyes focused on His Heavenly Father, and He would not allow Satan's negative influence to affect Him and His relationship with God. So in a spirit of humility, Jesus submitted to His Father's will. With an attitude of unselfishness, He focused on obeying His Heavenly Father. The apostle John reminds those, who were God's children, to distance themselves from Satan. He encourages us to stay away from Satan's influence and from those evil temptations that come to us. And he does that in a very beautiful passage, in 1st John chapter 2, beginning with verse 15. <Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world -the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.> John very simply points out, there are three things that will affect us in the world, even today; the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Well, those three things affected Adam and Eve in the garden, and Satan knew that. That is what he used to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God. I want to go back to Genesis chapter 3 and read verse 6; and as I do, I want to insert these three phrases into that passage and see how this all develops. Genesis 3 verse 6: <When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food [insert, lust of the flesh] and that it was pleasing to the eye [insert, lust of the eye], and also desirable for gaining wisdom [insert, pride of life], then she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, also.> Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life, and they gave in to that temptation. It was a root of pride and selfishness and it led to their disobedience. Well, that happened also with Satan's temptation of Jesus, there in Matthew chapter 4, as we referred to it a moment ago. For example, Satan tempted Jesus to turn those stones into bread, verse 3 [the lust of the flesh]. He took Him up to a high mountain and he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world that could be His if He simply bowed down to Satan, verse 9 [and that was the lust of the eye]. Then finally, Satan tempted Jesus by saying God's angels would rescue Him if He jumped off of the top of the temple, verse 6 [and obviously that was the pride of life]. You know, those temptations are similar to the temptations we experience today. And again, as John points out, they can be described as the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. But all of those things fit into the realm of either pride or selfishness. Even though we all face temptations to sin, your temptations may be different than mine. And yet, we are to be very careful that we do not give in to those temptations and be led away from our right relationship with God. We realize that Satan is alive and he is active in this world, and sometimes we forget that. Satan's greatest desire is to draw you and me away from God. And when we allow pride and selfishness to enter our heart, then Satan wins and we lose. Paul states, in Romans chapter 3 verse 23, we all have a sin problem. No matter how good we think we might be, or how little we think we might sin, the temptation to sin still exists. Paul wrote, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That simply means that we miss the mark. We do not measure up to what God wants us to do. We stumble and we fall along the way, and we sin; and that's just the way it is in our life. But that doesn't sound good at all, does it? Sin leads to separation from God and that separation leads to spiritual death. And yet, the good news today is, that is not the end of the story. There is a way for us to overcome; and, God provided a solution when He sent His son, Jesus Christ, into this world to defeat Satan. And Satan is identified as the Prince of this world, and yet Jesus came to defeat Satan; and, that is exactly what He did. When He went to the cross He paid the price for our sin. He reversed the curse of sin. He brought a solution so that we do not have to be trapped by Satan's deceptive lies any longer. And that is highlighted three chapters later, in Romans 6 verse 23, where Paul wrote, <“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”> Oh, that is why Jesus died upon the cross and rose up from the grave. That's why that all is so important to us; that through Jesus, we go from spiritual death to eternal life. Peter puts it this way, in 1st Peter 2, verse 24: <"Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree that we might live to righteousness."> Yes, Jesus died on the cross so that we can be set free from sin. He defeated Satan. He took the burden, the guilt of our sin with Him when He went to the cross and died on our behalf. And as Jesus defeated Satan and his lies, then He also gave us the opportunity and the hope of an eternal life with Him. Jesus made this statement in John 11, verses 25 and 26; <“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live; and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”> You know, some people might say, “Well, that is a very prideful statement; Jesus saying, I am the resurrection and the life, and, believe in Me, and if you do, you will never die.” Well, that's not a prideful statement, rather that is a truthful statement. Those words came from God, Himself, and Jesus shared them with us. And as we believe in Him, we won't die spiritually, but yet we will live eternally. That's the point Jesus is making. Yes, Jesus overcame the curse of sin and the sting of death, and when we believe in Him, we can live with Him for all eternity. Here's another statement Jesus made. It's in John 14 and verses 6: <“I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.”> Oh again, somebody might say, "Oh, that's a prideful statement," but again, it is only a truthful statement. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can come to the Father and have that relationship with Him. No other religious leader, no other force in this world can say what Jesus said. He is the only way through which we can come to our Heavenly Father. When pain and sickness or disease invades our life, we typically do as much as we can to overcome it. We stay inside away from those whom we might infect, or who might infect us. We go to the doctor and see what the doctor has to say about our condition. We take that prescribed medicine. We do everything we can to feel better and to overcome the physical problems and the ailments that we experience. In other words, we seek a solution to the physical problems that affect us. Well, that's what many people did in the day of Jesus. He healed those who came to Him. He cast out demons and restored sight to the blind. He made the lame to walk and the deaf to hear. Jesus was the Great Physician. He saw the needs of the people around Him and He ministered to them. He brought healing to them. He provided a solution for their physical problems. Well, in a similar manner, Jesus is the Great Physician for us, spiritually. He heals us of our sin problem. He provides the solution that we cannot provide nor find on our own. Oh, in spite of Satan continuing to tempt us, through Jesus we can overcome; and, God gives to us His Spirit, through which we can overcome. That Spirit helps us to deal with and to overcome and to say ‘no’ to Satan and to the temptations he presents to us. And when we are tempted by Satan, and no doubt we will be on a regular basis, then God always provides a way of escape. He provides us the power to overcome; and, that is highlighted in the words of Paul, from 1st Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13. <No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.> Now, we need to clearly understand the point Paul is making there, in verse 13. Paul is not referring to the test, or to the trials, of life. He is referring specifically to the temptations that come our way. The word test, or trial, is not even mentioned in verse 13; but rather, the word tempted is mentioned once and temptations are mentioned twice. Three times, Paul is referring to what Satan does, as he tempts us with the various things of this world. Now, obviously we experience some tests and trials along the way, and they might be a great burden to us. And God may provide the means through which we can work through those and overcome; and, that's great. Yet, that is not the message Paul conveys to us. He is specifically writing about the temptations that come from Satan. And as he points out, when they do come, then God provides a way of escape so that we might be able to endure, we might be able to overcome the lies and the deceptive nature of Satan. Yes, there is not a single temptation that you and I experience in this world that we cannot overcome through Jesus. And no matter how challenging, no matter how enticing Satan presents that to us, God promises to always provide an escape route. He provides the means through which we can endure and remain faithful to Him. When Satan comes to you with his deceptive lies, and know that he will, stand firmly on the truth of God's Word. Do what Jesus did; rely upon God's Word to give you that firm foundation to say no to Satan and to resist his lies. Rely on your Heavenly Father for the strength to stand against the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The encouragement for today is simply this, may we never allow pride or selfishness to keep us from receiving God's blessings for us. That is so important! And God will provide those blessings. He will provide the strength we need! And so, let us turn away from the things of this world that keep us from receiving God's free gift of salvation. Let us acknowledge Jesus as the Great Physician, who heals us of our sin problem. And then, let us humbly obey the teaching of God's Word, as we become a part of God's family. Let us eliminate pride and selfishness in every aspect of our life, and let us turn to the Lord and receive from Him what He freely offers to us. My encouragement today is to eliminate pride and selfishness, which leads to disobedience, and embrace the wonderful love of God, the strength that we need to resist temptation.
**BONUS VIDEO CLIP
The sights and the sounds of this world can easily grab our attention. Things like this seem to be attractive and they demand our attention and our time. And yet, oftentimes, things like this can get us in to trouble. Things like this might lead us down a wrong path that will take us further away from God. And the big temptation is to say no or to say yes. We read in the Bible of many people who gave in to the temptations of this world, and they suffered consequences as a result of it. On the other hand, however, there are many who resisted temptation and they kept their focus and their attention on the Lord; and as a result, they were blessed by God. You know, sometimes it's hard to say no. Sometimes it's hard to resist the devil and resist the temptations the world presents to us, and yet we know that is important. It seems to come down to a matter of either pride or humility. Pride prevents us from realizing there is great danger in succumbing to the temptations of life. While on the other hand, humility allows us to trust God to give us the strength and the wisdom to say no and to draw closer to Him. My prayer and my desire for you, today, is that you will say no to the things that take you away, in this world, and that you will humbly submit to God, trusting Him to give you the guidance and the strength that you need to resist the temptations this world presents, the problem of pride or the blessing of humility. My prayer is that you will eliminate the pride and live a humble life.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It has been our pleasure to share this message, and I hope you were blessed by it. The matter of pride and humility is something that affects all of us, and I hope we are always willing to be humble when temptations come our way. This message is available on our website, keytothekingdom.com. If you are interested in listening to or viewing it again, please feel free to do so. It can be downloaded in several different formats, and it is absolutely free. Other messages are on the website, as well, and I trust you will take a minute to look at those offerings. On the website, you can also find two minute video clips and one minute daily devotional thoughts. These are designed to offer an encouraging message, as you seek to walk closer with God each day. Other ways to access our ministry include a free app for smart phone users, and through Roku® television. Every Sunday night a short message is posted on Facebook®; and, if you use social media, consider finding us on Facebook® and then share our messages with others. And finally, by calling the number on the screen, you can leave a message which will be returned very soon. Again, I want to say thank you for spending a few minutes with us today. Hopefully you consider it to be time well spent. I invite you to join us again next week, at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom."