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” 1 And God spoke all these words: 2 I am the Lord thy God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 1-3, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.116-117).
I begin this new series of reflections this Sunday, April 18, 2010 called the Sin Series with this most basic, but important of commandments delivered to Moses by God, to illustrate how we are fooled into sinning in the first place. I want to introduce you to a world that is at war, but one we do not see with our own eyes, one that is fought for the ownership of our immortal soul. God clearly stated who he was, and what he wanted within the commandments which he delivered to Moses. God stated clearly through profits that were to follow in the many years since what he wanted from us. God has clearly warned us not to believe in anything other than his words, his promises, which he has faithfully kept. He tells us like we tell our own children not to do this, or that, but like our children we rarely listen. We are all guilty before God, we are all unworthy before God, and that also includes Lucifer, hence the need for Lucifer to go to war against God. To prove who is truly greater, but the one thing Lucifer forgot in starting this war was one very simple thing, he is not God, and Lucifer was created, God was not. Nevertheless Lucifer is remarkable in that he has a silver tongue, one which fooled one third of all the angels in heaven to rebel against God. (For a visual that would be like looking up at the night sky and watching one third of all the stars in the heavens fall before your very eyes.) So it is no wonder why we sin, if we are consistently tempted by Lucifer the great deceiver, right? But wait, before you get to righteous in this defense, remember you are held accountable for all your sins before God.
“10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: ‘As surely as I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God” (Romans 14: 10-11, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.1768).
“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother’-which is the first commandment with a promise- 3 ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 1-4, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.1768).
Within these words of the Bible, God has commanded all of us to obey him, male and female, adult and child alike. But Lucifer within the creation of sin, through pride, stood opposed to God, thus paving the way to convincehumanity to rebel also out of pride. This is his first and most favorite trick, that of pride and it is the sin which turned him form an archangel into Satan. Interestingly there is a list found in the Bible of all the things God hates, the chief thing among them is that of being too proud;
“16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension amoung brothers” (Proverbs 6: 16-19, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.967).
If you look closely all these things come from pride, all of these things are an accurate description of the original sin of Lucifer which turned him into Satan. Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote a book called Summa Theologica, though unfinished it explores this chief of all sins, in which he writes; “I answer that, some say pride is to be taken in three ways. First, as denoting inordinate desire to excel; and thus it is a special sin. Secondly, as denoting actual contempt of God, to the effect of not being subject to His commandment; and thus, they say, it is a generic sin. Thirdly, as denoting an inclination to this contempt, owing to the corruption of nature; and in this sense they say that it is the beginning of every sin, and that it differs from covetousness, because covetousness regards sin as turning towards the mutable good by which sin is, as it were, nourished and fostered, for which reason covetousness is called the “root”; whereas pride regards sin as turning away from God, to Whose commandment man refuses to be subject, for which reason it is called the “beginning,” because the beginning of evil consists in turning away from God” (Aquinas, T. , Summa Theologica: Part I of Second Part Q. 84 Art. 2). Thus through reason, the exact opposite of pride is humility, within that you have Satan as the opposite of Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “‘Pride is the commencement of all sin’6 because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact, only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, ‘Ye shall be as gods.'”7 (Shaffle, P., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1887, p.132).
I know in my life when I have got a bit full of myself, I have always felt a change take place, a transition of internal control from myself, to Satan. When I have become prideful I get caught in whatever I am doing. God has always been quick to send someone who points my false belief out in spades. I am always quick to respond, and ask for forgiveness, and offer my gratitude in his wisdom and patience. Likewise God has always been quick to bless me, and to show mercy. This interaction with God is unique only to God, as Satan on the other hand is incapable of forgiveness, or mercy, because Satan turned away from God in rebellion, we to turn away in rebellion. Pride ushers in though more than just an act of rebellion, or thinking oneself better than God, but allows the heart to become drowned in other emotions such as, arrogance, impatience, intolerance for others, and the lack of forgiveness. All which attack the heart squeezing from it every ounce of God given love. This is typically known as the hardened heart, and a baron, fruitless, lifeless place where there is no happiness, or joy, leavening behind instead a soul which is in pain and starving. It is an absolute take over, and Satan does not take prisoners, nor does he give back what he has stolen, and the sin of pride comes from within us, but originates from Satan.
“(In saying this, Jesus declared all fools “clean”), 20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’. 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean” (Mark 7: 20-23, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.1539).
Knowing these things then how does one keep from this sin, keep from falling into this trap set by Satan?
The most important thing to remember in dealing with pride issues, is the acknowledgment that nothing is truly yours as God gives you everything, from cloths on your back, to the food on your table, the money you earn, to your wife, husband, children, friends and family. There is nothing God does not have something to do with in your life. Each accomplishment was granted by God, each achievement was his blessing to you.
“9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself; ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers,evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even lookup to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18: 9-14, Zondervan NIV Study Bible, p.1607).
The exact opposite of pride is humility.
“Those who praise themselves will be humbled. Those who humble themselves will be praised.” (Lost Gospel Q: Q 67, p.67).
There is a fine line between being to prideful and being proud in the good things God does for us, celebrating and glorifying God. There is a difference between saying you did this or that, giving yourself praise, believing in your heart that you made the accomplishment happen, and that of saying God gave me this accomplishment, he allowed it in my life. The difference is that one gives glory to self, and the latter gives praise to God. The first is pride fullness, the second is humility. It is easy to be prideful; it is easy to destroy and to celebrate self. It is much harder to believe God grants all things, and to fall upon your knees and give him praise for your good fortunes in life. It is much harder to create and maintain your relationship with God; it is way too easy to turn away and to celebrate self, which is a sin.
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you. Amen.