by Jerry Gentry
"And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isa. 13:11).
How do you teach a proud man anything at all? It is not an easy task, because he already knows most of what you would teach him! He will often interrupt you, and preempt your words, while he attempts to teach you the same lesson. Why? Because he is a proud man. I know, because I am a proud man.
Where exactly does a proud man learn his pride? What school did he go to? Who was his teacher? I can tell you from personal experience, that there is no school of pride where I have attended; no university from whence I received a degree in that awful skill; but there is a master of pride who enthrones and promotes this terrible, fatal disease. That master is the devil himself.
Oh, you say, so this is going to be another "Bible lesson," no less? You might call it that, or you might call it a personal confession, or you might just call it life in this world. Oh, but now will I transfer this guilt as blame on "life in this world," to help take a little of the edge off the sting of pride?
No. It goes much deeper than that. It goes back to a time long, long ago, far in the distant past, when there existed pristine perfection in an age before this, when the angels of God rejoiced, and there was no death or sorrow or crying at all. No human was present in that world, yet. No flower had yet blossomed, no gentle dew drop had ever fallen from a leaf, and no mother had yet smelt the sweet breath of her baby.
That world&emdash;perfect as it was&emdash;pleased God, but he wanted something more. Then, He and his legions of angels filled a world before the one we mortals know. Soon, He devised a plan to expand his creation and bring into it a whole new species called man. We have very skimpy records of that world before ours, the realm of God and all His pre-Adamic perfect Angelic Kingdom.
One day in that cloudy, distant past God, in his unity and trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, talked and planned and decided to bring into being this entirely new creation, which would not replace the Angelic Kingdom, but would be in addition to it. He would create a physical universe with space and time, the world that we live in. And on the sixth day of that very first Creation week, He would say: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). Soon, Adam and Eve were walking in the garden and enjoying the cool, fresh air, and each other's company, while they remained in full fellowship with their Creator Father. He talked with them in that first garden, and instructed them as to their purposes for life.
From this point, we must backtrack, at least one aeon, back into the realm of the Angelic Kingdom, before Adam. God had made known to his angels all his plans for a new world and the creation of man. One of these angels was named Lucifer, a great "bringer of light," one of the Archangels of God. Lucifer was filled with wisdom in music and all the arts and sciences. He knew economics aeons before there was a Federal Reserve Bank. He knew all about money and merchandise and trade. But when he learned about the plans God had, for creation of Adam, to be made "a little lower than the angels" (Hebr. 2:7), but ultimately to be exalted and given authority to "judge angels," Lucifer rebelled.
"Why should I be lowered, to serve this new "man," when now I am high and lofty?" he thought. So Lucifer got together with his best buddies, about one third of all the Angelic Kingdom of God, and held a conference. Well, there were a lot more angels than just one third of the total at that gathering, but most saw through Lucifer's scheme and refused to go with him. In the end, he convinced one third of the angels, which amounted to perhaps a few billion, and mounted an attack on the very throne of God. We pick up the story in the book of Isaiah, of the Holy Bible:
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north" (Isa 14:13).
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (v. 14).
The picture comes pretty clear. Here is a super-being, an Archangel, not limited by the laws of gravity and momentum and other mundane restraints, who rallys his forces and mounts a campaign against the very throne of the Creator Himself.
To this, God spoke His answer: "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit" (Isa 14:15). It is as if God has said, "Whoa, Lucifer! Time out! Stop the marchers. You are defeated." And defeated, he was.
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (Isa. 14:12).
And exactly what does this story have to do with a proud man. It is a fundamental lesson for a proud man. It has a direct connection, for it was this Lucifer, cast down to the earth and now known as Satan, "which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:9). We must understand his deception, which God will use, and turn, to get glory unto Himself and his Kingdom for ever. We must understand that Lucifer's rebellion was motivated out of the pride of his own heart, which the prophet Ezekiel makes plain. Of Lucifer, we read:
"Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee" (Eze 28:15).
"By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire" (v. 16).
"Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee" (v. 17).
What was Lucifer's central problem, that led him into rebellion? In a word, it was pride, when his "heart was lifted up." He no longer sought God's will: he sought his own will, desiring to be lifted up "like the most high." And now he has deceived and infected man with that same fault. We are told: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pet. 5:8). Pride has infected the whole creation, the very nature of the world we live in. Predators devour their prey. Prideful children fight to see who can dominate others. Nations in their pride go to war for supremacy over others. Yet God tells us as individuals:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1John 2:15).
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (v. 16).
To combat pride, we must "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4).
A proud man is infected in all his ways, but he is told, "Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed" (1Sam. 2:3). How can a proud man learn the lesson and overcome his pride?
How is it possible for a proud man "to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11)? It will not be an easy task. But, it is possible, by the grace of God, and His grace alone. Because every effort of a proud man to stand in his own strength only tends to underscore and increase the very problem he would evercome!
This infection is too deep to reach, through psychological counselling. It is outside the reach of human effort. It defies all intellectual restraint. It is a problem of the heart. God alone can bring a proud man low, and it is "by his understanding [that] he smiteth through the proud" (Job 26:12). It is true that "pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).
Pride is a frightful disease of the heart. The Bible warns: "The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things" (Ps. 12:3), because "the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer" (Ps. 31:23). What goes around, comes around, in the life of a proud man.
The sin of pride is most abhorrent in the eyes of God: "Him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer" (Ps. 101:5). The Psalmist further pleads: "Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts" (Ps. 119:78).
A proud man is not close to God, at least not like he ought to be: "Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off" (Psa. 138:6). Friend, do you know God only afar off? Do you hear his voice daily, close up, when you rise in the morning, when you walk through the day and even when you lie down at night?
Oh yes, you say. I pray and read His Word every day and do many good works. But that is not the question, friend. "Do you hear his still small voice clearly?" A proud man can never hear the voice of God clearly, because a proud man thinks his own thoughts and speaks his own words and loves the works of his own hands. Will you too admit to being a proud man, or does your pride get in the way? Do you think you are exempt, that you long ago removed from a prideful heart, when you trusted Jesus as your savior? Would you like to make changes, so you can hear the still, small voice of God clearly and follow His will for your life?
Know that a necessary step a proud man must take is to make confession. Can you say with a proud man, "Yes, I too am a proud man. Lord have mercy on my proud soul. I have rebelled against you in my deepest being. I have done my own thing. I have been deceived by the devil, even after going to church, even after trusting Jesus for salvation. I am a deceived man. My pride has lifted me up, against you, even now. Please give me humility."
What a confession of a proud man, but can you too make this confession? Do you think you are exempt? Do you say, "Oh, that is a wonderful confession for a proud man. But that is not for me, not my problem."
Oh, dear Christian, could it be pride itself that has blinded your eyes, and caused you to think that you are not subject to this infection? You see, it was Eve herself who fell into deception of the Serpent's temptation, by taking of the forbidden fruit and giving it also to her husband Adam, whereby we all fell through pride into rebellion. That is the connection, with "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). That is how we all fell into original sin, and how pride has infected the whole world ever since.
Perhaps you should ask, "What could be the reason I do not also confess the sin of a proud man? Could it be that my pride obscures my own vision, that my eyes are blind?"
Christian, join today with a proud man, confess your pride. Pray, "God, I confess the sin of pride. Please give me humility." Remember how it was Lucifer, that great Archangel, called the "son of the morning," who through pride was cast out of heaven. Remember, his sin was that of a proud man, who came into the garden disguised as a serpent, who brought with him his sin of pride and infected our first parents.
But remember also, that through the grace of God, you may find humility, and remove from being a proud man.