God opposes the proud

Thank you for the positive response to my uncle’s story.  It is a meaningful story.

Although I am a week late, I want us to return to the subject I introduced on Friday, November 7.  I want us to return to the subject of humility.

We concluded the blog that Friday by asking the following set of questions:

Why is it that the Bible so clearly and succinctly calls God’s people to brokenness, repentance and contrition?  So, WHAT is it?  Better yet, WHY is it?  Why is God so overwhelmingly calling us to a life of humility?

So, have you considered your answer?  Do you have a response?  Have you considered why the Bible calls us to a life of repentance?

I realize humility is not an exciting topic.  Exciting or not, let’s take a look at humility for the next few days.
Why is it that the Bible calls God’s people to humbleness?

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons the Bible repeatedly calls God’s people to humbleness is because every human being is PRIDEFUL.

People are prideful.  Humans are arrogant.  Every human being possesses a fulsome attitude.  Young or old, quiet or outspoken, bashful or playful, we are all full of ourselves.

Pride is the origin of the human disease called sin.  And the disease of sin is terminal.

Call it whatever you like – pride, arrogance, conceit, self-importance, hubris – it is the origin of man’s depravity.  When we sin we are saying, “God, I know better than You.  Therefore, I will do as I please.”  That is pride, and it is the root cause of all sin.

When Adam and Eve chose to eat of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden, they said they were smarter than God.  When Cain murdered his brother Abel, he determined he knew more than God.  When David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, he took matters into his own hands because his plan was superior to God’s.  When Judas betrayed Jesus, he was wiser than God.  And when we sin, we know what is best for ourselves, regardless of what God says.  The root of every sin is pride.

Conceit is self-given.  We are born conceited.  Whether one is secure or insecure, an extrovert or an introvert, outgoing or shy, vanity is at the root of either extreme.  Every human is prideful.  No one is exempt from it influence.  From the most self-confident to the least confident, every human is arrogant.

Thus, God’s Word calls us to continual repentance because we are prideful.

If the Bible said something once, would you pay attention?  I certainly hope so.

What if the Bible repeated something twice, would you adhere to the instruction?

What if the Word of God taught something three different times in three different places?  Would you pay close attention?

Three times the Bible declares, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5 & James 4:6).”


What is the problem with pride, besides contributing to our act of sin?  The problem with pride is that is the cause for God opposing us.  God opposes proud people.  Our pride puts us in direct conflict with the Holy One.  Pride puts at odds with God.  I would rather take on the armies of the world than to have God oppose me.  God opposes prideful people.

Why does God oppose the proud?

Prideful people put themselves in the place of God.  Prideful people know what is best; God does not.

Prideful people choose their own path; God will not.  Prideful people remove God from His rightful place of authority.  Therefore, we are called to repent in order for God to have His will and way in our lives.

As you wrestle with your own pride today, consider the Word of God:

25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Psalm 18:25-27

As if there is further need, tomorrow we will consider another reason the Bible calls God’s people to continual humility.


9 Responses to “God opposes the proud”

  1. 1 Lee
    November 17, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Wrestling with pride was a turning point for me. C. S. Lewis helped me most to clarify what pride looks like:

    1. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
    2. According to Christian teachers, it is the essential vice, the utmost evil.
    3. It was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
    4. Each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride.
    5. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . it is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride has gone.
    6. In God, you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all.
    7. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.
    8. Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.
    9. Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. . . . the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. . . . You value other people enough to want them to look at you. You are, in fact, still human. The real black, diabolical Pride, comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely because we care so incomparably more what God thinks. . . . the devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one. We must try not to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity.
    10. . . . if you really get into any kind of touch with (God) you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.
    11. Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’. . . . Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
    12. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
    Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis, “The Great Sin”

    In response to your comment, “. . . vanity is at the root of either extreme,” I reference number 9 from the above list. Even superstars care enough about what people think to watch the charts, looking for approval. Not caring what people think at all is even worse since caring is a form of loving. If loving is the love defined by 1 Cor. 13, then it is not selfish. If we define our identity according to Scripture, so that it is not I that live but Christ that lives in me (Gal. 2:20), it seems reasonable we should care very much what people think of us and want people to look at us. We should not need people to notice us to determine our worth and we should not let the opinions of others define our identity.

  2. 2 Searching
    November 17, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I once heard a wise friend say that children are born selfish and it’s a parents job to spend the next twenty years trying to teach it out of them. Some parents are successful and some are not. I think it is especially hard for prideful parents to raise humble children. I do think that we have to be weary of speaking in generalized absolutes though. There are people who are broken and contrite before God from an early age. There are a lot of pretenders though. Too many people know the right words to sound humble all the while not leaving room for God to work or speak through them because they are too busy talking and moving to listen and be lead by Holy Spirit. I know this because that once described me…

    Those are some interesting points Lee. I will have to examine them more closely.

    This is a truly relavant topic Ryan! Thanks and Peace to you!

  3. 3 Lee
    November 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Searching, thank you for the courage to contribute. I’ve been closely examining my list for nearly 6 months now. If I ever question whether or not I am a sinner, all I have to do is look back over my list. Since pride is the greatest sin, we will not be free of it until we are completely free from sin.

    Philippians 3:12-16 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

    Is that to say we are not free in Christ since we still sin, that we still struggle with pride? Does freedom in Christ mean we are therefore free to sin? Paul wrestled with these questions in Romans. This passage gives perspective to the ever present struggle between our freedom in Christ and our sinful flesh:

    Romans 7:13 – 8:2 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. ESV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    The law clarifies the distinction between our two natures. We should love the law because of the clarity it lends as to what our sinful nature looks like so we can disown it, claiming the identity Christ told us he has given those who are his, not as being produced by ourselves, but as one who has been set free by Jesus. I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, boldly proclaiming I am righteous, not because I am good, but because I have been made good, not because I am worthy, but because he who is in me is worthy, not because I am able, but because I am empowered to do what is way beyond me. I will be bold in my faith and in my sin, desiring my sin be exposed that I may confess it and that my faith may be evidence of Christ in me, making me a living testimony to the glory of God. I confess with a loud voice I am guilty of pride, and I boldly proclaim I am free and I am not ashamed.


    Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Honesty is the best policy. We need to be honest about being broken, unfit vessels God chooses to use for his purpose as only he can, thus giving him glory for anything that can be called “good” as defined by he who is “good.” What is good in me is not me. It’s not about me.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  4. 4 Roxie
    November 18, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Humility may not be an exciting topic to most Christians but it is something we really need to look at in our life. How do we live a life of continual repentence? How do we know when it is pride that is wanting its way or just a need in our life? And when we ask for prayer for ourselves or loved ones is that pride ( or can that be pride)or should we take it before God ourselves before bringing it before others?
    I love praying for others especially when I know that they are stuggling with what God has given them. But I also know that many of our stuggles may be our own doing because of pride and we are not looking for God’s answer but our own answers. This morning in my daily study of God’s Word and reading a devotional from David Jeremiah’s book, “Life Changing Moments with God”, I was reminded that God does not tempt us that He hasn’t already provided a way out.
    Is prayer becoming obsolete to the Christian except for “blessing our food” and maybe a short, “Dear Lord, I need your help”? I have been there and I wondered why I was so unhappy with my life to the point that I not only looked around at other Christians and their daily walk but I wanted definite answers which came not from Christians but from God. The most humble Christians were not those that are well known in the congregation (with the exception of church pastors). In fact, most leaders were just as unhappy as I was and they didn’t seem to care that what they were doing was NOT a testimony to Christ but to a life of discontent and unhappiness.
    Answers can only be found by going to God and showing true repentence, staying in His Word, and heartfelt prayer. And the happiest of all Christians are those that have a true relationship with Him and are seeking their answers from Him alone. Their life, speech, and works are all a testimony to the Holy Spirit working in their life wherever they are.
    I want to be one of those.
    Peace be with you!

  5. 5 Lee
    November 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Great comment, Roxie! I agree we really need to talk about pride and humility. I’m glad Ryan chose the subject.

    Living a life of continual repentence is living in a life of continual presence, God’s presence. To be in his presence, we must be free of sin. Sin is what is “not good.” The law defines the difference between “good” and “not good.”

    If who we are and what we do is not for the glory of God, if we are thinking of ourselves outside of his presence or not thinking of him at all, no matter how good a thing or action is in and of itself, it is still sin for us and for others, which answers your question about how to pray. Praying without ceasing and living a life of continual repentence means continually seeking and desiring being in his presence (fellowship) above anything else, including all that is revealed to be derived from our sinful nature. Fellowship with God yields righteousness and fellowship with other “true” believers. To be a true believer, one must have fellowship with God and other true believers.

    You are right on by stating God is our ultimate source of credibility. All people, no matter their credentials, are fallible. God never contradicts himself, therefore he never contradicts his word. Satisfactory affirmation can only come from God, which he affirms through Scripture, prayer, circumstances and fellowship with other believers, which includes leaders and teachers. Agreement is the source of affirmation. When God speaks, he speaks from everywhere, leaving no room for doubt. His answers simply keep “turning up” till you finally give in and say “O.k., I can take a hint.” We hear him as a result of seeking him. As long as we are self-absorbed, we will be deaf and dumb. Deaf and dumb are the symptoms of the cancer of pride. That is why confessing and renouncing pride is our first step, confessin “it’s not about me.” Only then can we know fellowship with God and receive our ultimate source of “happiness,” as stated in the Westminster confession:

    The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

    Joy is an expression of the fruit yielded by being “rooted in Jesus” as Ryan said Sunday. Fruit (works) is inevitable when our identity is in Christ, which can only be claimed by killing our own identity, daily nailing it to the cross.

    Grace and peace to you!

  6. November 18, 2008 at 11:32 am

    If you pray really hard maybe you can hear my replies I typed yesterday and today. Hahaha. Maybe I have no humility. Both in depth responses were lost as I carelessly hit the submit button before inserting my info. Two times on two different days! How goofy is that? You would think I would know how to do this by now:) Suffice it to say, great comments to all and pray for my parenting and other skills (or lack of). Much time has been invested here although it doesn’t show. God’s richest blessings to each of you! Again, great comments and I agree it is a critical, although not exciting, topic. It defines who we are. We’re either in Christ or in ourselves. I’m learning humility through the submit button! What I had to say was obviously not that relevant:) Thanks for your patience and care.

  7. 7 Lee
    November 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Chandra! I’m sorry you had such trouble, but your pun is probably as profound as all you wrote and lost: learning humility through the submit button! I love it!

    You’re a blessing, sister.

  8. 8 Lee
    November 19, 2008 at 9:57 am

    1 John 4:16-19 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

    “Perfect love casts out fear. . .” Is it wrong, then to fear? Yes and no, for God takes even what was meant for evil and works it for good (Gen. 50: 21-22a). Fear beckons us to the love of God for relief, driving us to our knees to cry out for help. Abiding in the love of God rescues us from the fear induced by pride, the fear of being found out for who we really are. God loves us unconditionally and enables us to love unconditionally, a love that is only possible when looking at others through humble eyes. Having found forgiveness for our sins after crying out from the horror of recognition of our own sinfulness, God gives us the capacity to look more kindly and with compassion on the horror evident in those around us. In Greek, this love is called “agape,” the perfect love of the father that shines brighter than the darkness of our hearts, so bright it shines light into the darkness around us, enabling others to see as well, and tremble.

  9. November 21, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Thanks Lee. Such spirit-filled words and verse connections in your Nov. 19 reply. God bless you.

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