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Our Default Mode

February 2012
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“Pride is the default mode of the human heart,” states Mark Driscoll in his latest book, “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together,” coauthored with his wife, Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson, 2012, p. 157). He continues, “As sinners, we are prone toward pride. It is a besetting sin and the root of all sin that we must continually seek to be conscious and repentant of. No one can claim they are humble . . . .

“Throughout the Bible, pride is dealt with in the sternest of terms. God’s emotion toward pride is ‘hate’ (Prov. 6:16-17; 8:13). God’s action toward the proud is punishment (Prov. 16:5) that includes ‘destruction’ and ‘a fall’ (Prov. 16:18). This explains why God said, ‘Clothe yourself, all of you, with humility towards one another, for ‘God resists the proud, but give grace to the humble”’ (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5) [Ibid, pp. 157-158].

The opposite of pride is humility. And we all like to think that we are humble most of the time. That, in itself, speaks to how much pride has control over us (it’s thinking we are humble and not actually being humble that gets us in trouble). And, as Mark Driscoll noted above, pride is the root cause of all sin. Pride is what got Lucifer (known to us as Satan) thrown out of Heaven. And even though sin had nothing to do with causing all of the tragedies that hit Job in rapid succession (see Job 1:6-22), after his conversations with his wife (very brief—Job 2:9-10) and three friends (covering Job 3-31) it is noted that “these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1). That got him in trouble with a young man, Elihu (see Job 32-37) and the LORD spoke to Job in Job 38-41 by stating at the beginning of those four chapters, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job: 38:2-3).

To Job’s credit, he responded to the LORD in Job 42:2-6, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked me, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you. And you will answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” And “after Job prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job. 42:10).

Pride is defined at Dictionary.com as “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” It is the one sin that we fail to recognize in ourselves but are eager to point out in others. It is the greatest of all sins in our Adversary’s arsenal because it is at the root of all other sins. Pride usurps God’s authority in our lives. Pride says we can run our own lives. And its at the root of the very first sin by Eve and then Adam in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of the world (see Genesis 3). Pride is all about “self” and not about “God.”

We cannot serve others when we are full of ourselves. As Phil. 2:3-11 states, our attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And in Phil 4:4-8 the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

In “Spiritual Warfare: The Battle For God’s Glory” (B&H Publishing Group, 2009), author Dr. Jerry Rankin states, “God will not share His glory with anyone. We dare not take credit for doing anything that comes only by God’s blessings and favor. He alone is worthy of all glory and honor for every success and anything worthwhile in our lives. Pride may not necessarily be limited to someone who is arrogant or conceited; it is more typically an attitude of self-sufficiency [emphasis mine]. To presume that we can do anything in ourselves . . . is extremely dangerous. Satan will feed our success and gloat in the recognition and attention we get. . . . When we are not humbly submitting to God and relying on the Holy Spirit, pride will bring ultimate defeat” (p. 176).

Dr. Rankin continues, “We are so vulnerable to pride because, like unforgiveness and anger, it is aligned with the nature of our flesh, that old nature that is centered on self. We should recognize the caution light is flashing when we are obsessed with what people think of us, find ourselves living for the approval of others and have a constant need for acclaim and recognition. God gives us everything we need to live life to the fullest; He blesses us with results and success, but we dare not take credit or think that it is due to our own ability. Whether we experience success or failure, both should stimulate us to yield in humble submission to God and His Lordship” [emphasis mine] (Ibid, p. 178).

One of my regular readers made a comment on my previous blog post, Stop Apologizing, regarding a song composed by Bob Dylan titled “Gotta Serve Somebody” and she said she considered it to be one of the best Gospel songs ever written. And, indeed, we all do “gotta serve somebody.” Pride tells us to serve self in all of its various forms and even sometimes in the most seemingly innocuous ways (remember what I said earlier—we always recognize pride in others but never recognize it in ourselves). God hates pride and it’s at the top of the list of seven things that are an abomination to Him (Prov. 6:16-18): “These six things the Lord hates; yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Also “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). It will lead to our downfall if we don’t recognize it for what it is in our lives and deal with it just like Job did in Job 42:1-6 by recognizing who God is and who we are not and by repenting.

Repenting . . . it’s something we need to do often as Mark Driscoll stated in the first paragraph of this post: “It is a besetting sin and the root of all sin that we must continually seek to be conscious and repentant of. No one can claim they are humble.”

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (I Peter 5:5-6).

YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody” written and composed by Bob Dylan and sung by Shirley Caesar:

Photo credit here

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