Pride: The Gateway Sin

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. – Prov. 11:2

Ever notice that in the dubious list of Seven Deadly Sins, Pride is always listed first. Of course it is. Pride would be proud of that.

Derived in a roundabout way from Prov. 6:16-19, the sins are: pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth, and greed.

The Canterbury Tales says pride is the root of all the others, the general root of all harms, and the trunk from which other sins branch.

I would say that Pride is the gateway sin leading eventually to all the others. No sin stands alone, rather – they are all intertwined.  Pride, though, would be the mother of them all.

Pride is “an inordinate self-esteem.” Synonyms like vanity, conceit, arrogance, cockiness, know-it-all, and puffed up come to mind.

I have always struggled with pride and the selfish tendency to make it “all about me.” My wife has helped me greatly with this inclination over the years. When we first met, I wasn’t even aware I was doing this until she pointed out. I had the terrible habit of steering every conversation back to myself or only talking about my interests. Is it not annoying to be around someone who cannot start a conversation without using “I”? Well, sorry – that was me. And I still fight that urge.

At its root, it is self-worship. It is also insensitive to others around me; it signals that they are not as important as me or my life.

Reflecting upon the cure, I am indebted to God’s Grace on my pride.

First, God has given me the perfect help meet: my wife. God has provided a partner for me that is not afraid to point out flaws in order to help me objectively look at myself. This has both been helpful and… painful.

My wife’s honesty to make me really look in the mirror and see where the logs lie has been a great blessing in my life.

Pride leads to loneliness. As self-worship, Pride is filling our hearts with ourselves. If we fill our hearts with ourselves, then there is no room for anyone or anything else and thereby, we become more and more alone.

This could be anyone’s future who does not confront Pride before it is too late: relationships will atrophy.

Secondly, God’s grace on my pride has been to lead me to Scripture. Passages such as Gal. 6:3-4 or Prov. 11:2, 21:4 have served me well. God’s word is truly that which can cut to the heart. It is the scalpel God uses to remove the cancer.

I am forever indebted and wedded to God’s wondrous Scripture.

Lastly, the love of God is primary for me in this issue of my sinful nature. Without the love of God, I would not be able to even see this fatal flaw, let alone extract it from my life. God’s continual forgiveness, long-suffering, and patience with this chief sinner has been something that has tremendously humbled me.

God’s love is also the gold standard for me to emulate in my ministry and personal life. It is my duty and great honor to represent my King. How could I properly do that without exhibiting His same manner of love?

I want to end with balancing the Seven Deadly Sins with a second, more righteous list: the Seven Cardinal Virtues; wisdom, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and love.

I refuse to be an instrument for the Devil and to allow him to use my unresolved pride against myself, my family, or my ministry.

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Anger: Pregnant Nostrils

“A fool gives full vent to anger” – Prov. 29:6-11

Anger is a fool’s response.

There are two Hebrew words for anger: one is to have “pregnant nostrils” and the other means “to burn, grow hot.” Ever seen someone so upset they have pregnant nostrils? Yeah, not pretty.

When someone is mad, we say they are boiling mad, red with anger, hotheaded, or has a flaming temper.

Pixar’s Inside Out depicted the character Anger as this red man whose head would literally burst into flames when upset.

It’s like a powder-keg just waiting for the tiniest spark to set off a huge explosion.

I struggle with anger.

According to Maxie Dunnam, their are two types: Blazing (represented as a powder-keg) and Brooding (represented as a Crock-Pot). I identify with the brooding type. I am quick to hold grudges, be bitter or resentful, and to be hyper-critical.

Anger and pride are intrinsically linked: Upset my pride? Wound my ego? Anger is the result.

Because of my ingrained pride, I am more likely to be short-tempered and impatient. This leads to a brewing anger that permeates everything. Unchecked, this could lead to a volcanic eruption.

Reflecting upon the cure – God’s Grace on my anger:

First, God loves me in spite of myself. That doesn’t mean God gives me a blank check to do whatever I well please. God’s loving grace on my anger has been to point me to models of peace – like my mother, who is a peacemaker and my mother-in-law, who makes sure everyone’s needs are met. Of course, my perfect example is Jesus Christ. Who else to turn to for humble and meek peace?

Anger can be directed at God or at Self; I find my anger is at myself, not God. I am very hard on myself and therefore can be self-loathing. Anger is tricky like that. Regardless, to be angry with God OR Self is a sign of bondage.

Anger makes room for the devil.

Secondly, the saying goes: the size of a man can be measured by the size of the thing that makes him angry.

What makes me angry? What are my triggers? What sets me off?

I need to learn to understand my anger. I also need to express my anger in nondestructive and non-sinful ways.

Only by God’s grace!

James 1:19 is a life verse. My anger is not going to result in God’s righteousness. I cannot be an angry man and a man of God at the same time. Olsson gives us the imagery likening someone trying to do things on their own strength to burning wet garbage; it only creates suffocating smoke.

It will take Divine Intervention.

Lastly, the image a ticking timebomb has been on my mind over these last few weeks.

What happens when something explodes? It destroys whatever is around it. No life is ever brought from an explosion; only carnage.

Or the Crock-pot: it seethes and smolders. It’s repressed, resentful, and bitter. It re-hashes real and imagined wrongs. What a mess.

Do I really want to be like that? People tip-toeing around me?

I do not want to have pregnant nostrils!

I have full faith and confidence that God’s grace and love will calm the waters and lower the temperature. What is my anger telling me about myself and what is going on in my life?

I refuse to be an instrument for the devil and to allow him to use my anger against me, my family, or my ministry.

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All True or Not True At All

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” – 2 Tim. 3:16

There is an old preacher’s phrase that goes: “The Bible is either all true or not true at all!

Paul tells Timothy that all scripture is breathed out by God. The Author is YHWH. YHWH is perfect and therefore anything He inspires will be perfect.

The Bible has complete and total authority. It is inspired and inerrant. It is infallible and eternal. We either believe this or we don’t.

The Bible is either all true or not true at all!

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They Which Testify of Me

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” – Jesus (John 5:39)

The inerrant, inspired, and eternal word of God testifies of Jesus.

He said the Bible points to Him, speaks of Him, reveals Him, and bears witness of Him.

That is why Bible intake is so critically valuable to everyone.

The Scriptures testify of Jesus.

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The Instrument God Uses

“Of His will He brought us forth BY THE WORD OF TRUTH” – James1:18

Only God transforms the soul. He performs spiritual heart surgery (Ezekiel. 36:26).

What is His instrument?

What is His scalpel?

THE WORD OF TRUTH.

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Sin Killed Me

“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” – Romans 7:11

There are many pulpits across this nation that won’t admit that SIN IS REAL. How can we help sick people if we ignore the very thing that is making them sick?

We are born into sin (Psa. 51:5), but also sin is a choice – and that choice leads to death. Owning up to that fact should not be paralyzing; it should be liberating! We don’t wallow in shame. We yield our lives to Christ. We revel in victory.

The root-problem in our lives flow from one source: our rebellious sin-soaked hearts making selfish and foolish choices.

Sin is a matter of the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jer. 17:9

Adam and Eve started as gardeners, became rebels, and ended up as fugitives (Dunnam, 10).  The temptation to disobedience came “from without – in the form of a serpent” (Dunnam, 11). The sin nature was “alien” (not God’s intention for us). It came from without. I think that is an important distinction.

As an answer to the Fall and consequently, Man’s total depravity – God has provided deliverance in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Ref: Maxie Dunnam and Kimberly Dunnam Reisman. The Workbook on the Seven Deadly Sins. Upper Room Books, 2017.

 

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His Commandment That We Believe

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us” – 1 John 3:23

The call to believe the gospel IS A COMMAND.

It is not optional. It is not a suggestion. It is commanded. It is mandatory.

Disbelief is disobedience.

Belief is obedience.

Only belief in “His Son Jesus Christ” is fulfilling the commandment.

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