The Leader’s Pride

Tags: Discernment, Spiritual Warfare
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The Leader’s Pride
The Leader’s Pride covers 5 biblical examples of leaders who were proud. This is an important biblical teaching which will help you deal with pride in your own life.

The Leader’s Pride

Pride can be defined as esteeming yourself incorrectly, in accordance with selfish motives, rather than according to true, biblical, humility. The essence of pride is a lie, because pride says, “I am a good person, and have earned the right to be praised.” This is a fundamental lie, because,

There is no one righteous; no, not one. (See Romans 3:10)

In fact, we are all deserving of hell, for,

For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. (See Romans 7:18)

Pride seeks to dethrone God and elevate self. It is a usurper and bent on evil. It is a thief as it seeks to rob God of his glory and put the glory on self. The proud heart is an enemy of God. The Bible says,

Pride goes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

The Bible also says,

Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to Yahweh: they shall certainly not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

Pride seeks to remove your accountability before God. It will tell you that you are specially-privileged, and put you in a special category, and tell you that you are not subject to judgment like other people.

Pride will tell you how great you are. It is the voice of an enemy trying to lure you away from giving glory to God. It will seek to use you to lure others astray, as well. It is a destroyer.

Examples of pride abound in the Bible, but some of the more notable ones include:

(1) Nebuchadnezzar

(2) The Pharisee

(3) Naaman

(4) Herod

(5) David

Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. He was very powerful. Like all rulers, his authority ultimately came from God. However, Nebuchadnezzar made the mistake of thinking that it was his own hand that had wrought him all of these things. One day, as he was walking in his royal palace, he said,

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (See Daniel 4:30)

Here is what God thought about this:

While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from the sky, saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: ‘The kingdom has departed from you. You shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass as oxen. Seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will.’” (Daniel 4:31-32)

Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall was his pride, and for the next seven years, he would learn the meaning of humility. After that, his attitude was changed and he recognized that God was deserving of praise, and not himself.

The Pharisee

The Pharisees were religious leaders in Israel. Jesus gives us a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector, in order to demonstrate that the Pharisee had a problem with pride.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortionists, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

The Pharisees were proud because of who they were in society, and used their position to elevate themselves. Though they were supposed to know about God, yet they did not look to him for their approval! This tells us that religious leaders can be subject to falsely esteeming themselves before God, even as everyone else. They are not immune from getting easily trapped in the sin of pride.

Naaman

In the Old Testament, we read about Naaman who was the commander of the Syrian army. This man had a problem. He was a leper. He went to see Elisha the prophet, who was known as someone whom God used to perform miracles. Elisha told him to dip himself in the Jordan river seven times. But Naaman’s head swelled with pride, and he initially resisted! He reasoned that the Jordan river was inferior to the rivers in his own home country. This pride would have kept him back from receiving his healing, had Naaman’s servant not talked some sense into him. We read,

Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come again to you, and you shall be clean.”

But Naaman was angry, and went away, and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leper.’ Aren’t Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

His servants came near, and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had asked you do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? How much rather then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’”

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:10-14)

Naaman had a preconceived idea as to how Elisha would heal him. His preconceived idea was wrong, and his pride got in the way. Fortunately, Naaman was able to get out of the pride trap as a result of the wise counsel of his servant.

Herod

Herod was a king in Israel at the time of the Roman occupation. He was installed by Rome in order to keep order in society, manage affairs, and prevent civil unrest. King Herod was filled with pride, and when the people said that his voice was the voice of God and not a man, he believed it and accepted their praise. This displeased God and the Bible tells us,

Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory. Then he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:23)

As we read about the life of Herod, we know that this was not the first time that Herod ever became proud. This demonstrates to us the patience of God, because God was not quick to judge Herod, but patient. However, eventually, God’s patience ran out, and Herod was judged.

This story should help us to understand both the patience of God, in seeking our restoration, as well as the severity of God, in that we cannot continue walking in sin and expect God’s grace to last forever.

Herod maintained his position, even in the midst of his pride. This can be deceptive, because a person may reason that “all is well since God is blessing me.” This type of thinking is a trap. All was not well in Herod’s life up until that moment in time, but God was having mercy upon him, giving him a chance to escape the pride trap before it was too late. Herod was not listening, and eventually judgment came.

How then can we know if all is well in our lives? Only if we are living lives that please the Lord, according to the Scriptures. Any deviation from the Scriptures will eventually result in correction (or judgment), sooner if not later. We must accurately assess ourselves, in accordance with the Scriptures, and not in accordance with appearance. Even as Jesus warned us, saying,

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

David

The next example I would like to give is that of king David, whose sin of adultery with Bathsheba exemplifies what we read in 1 John 2:16,

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. (1 John 2:16, KJV)

First, concerning the lust of the flesh, David lusted after a woman who was not his, namely, Bathsheba. This was both the “lust of the flesh” and the “lust of the eyes,” as we read in the above passage. However, it is also “the pride of life” since David, in pride, slept with a woman who was not his wife. David despised God when he did this (see 2 Samuel 12:10, below). He also had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed in order to cover up his sin of adultery. David did not fear God but feared man when he did this. And because of this, he lost true, biblical, authority, which can only come when your relationship with God is secure, based on a solid faith relationship with God. But if you are fearing man and not interested in obeying God, then you are not operating in true, biblical, authority, and will bear the cost.

Any sin we commit has the propensity, or possibility, of filtering down to “the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me” (see Exodus 20:5), and David did, in fact, hate the Lord when he did this! For it says so right in the Scriptures!

“Now therefore the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken Uriah the Hittite’s wife to be your wife.” (2 Samuel 12:10)

Therefore, to claim that we are absolved of the consequences of sin, because we “love the Lord” is a baseless claim not founded in Scripture. To what extent are we loving the Lord when we sin? Not at all! Great turmoil ensued, including civil unrest where David was effectively booted out of his kingdom by his own son, who later got killed.

God delayed the judgment that he said would happen, but it still came two generations later. Starting from the generation of his grandson Rehoboam, the kingdom became a divided kingdom and was never united again. Sin has serious consequences! Let us never forget it!

The claim has been made that since God is a loving God, there are no consequences for sin because Christ atones for all. It is true that the blood of Christ does atone for our sin for those who are truly repentant, but atonement and consequences are two different things.

A woman who has had an abortion can be entirely forgiven for her sin, but she will never get her baby back until the resurrection. A woman who has caused fetal alcohol syndrome in her child can similarly entirely be forgiven for her sin while she was pregnant, but she will also live with the consequences of her actions, even though she is entirely forgiven. In all of this, we must learn to differentiate between God’s forgiveness, and consequences of sin.

The consequences for sin do not mean that God is still angry at you. But it is a constant reminder of what can happen when we choose to sin.

The Spirit of Pride

I was shocked one day when, coming down my stairs, a spirit of pride latched itself upon me. That is the best way to describe it. Suddenly, pride overcame me, and I cried out to the Lord that I did not like it, and wanted to get rid of it. The Lord answered me very promptly, and said that I was to make an offering to the church. I am not one to promote these types of things, but I can assure you, this is exactly what happened. At that time, in order to get his spirit out of my midst, I quickly wrote a cheque and sent it to the local church where we were fellowshipping. And the spirit of pride immediately left me.

I realize this is a very unusual testimony, but it would be good to look at it along biblical lines. First, there are many (demonic) spirits in the world, and there is no doubt that some specialize in one sin, while others specialize in another. In my view, this was certainly a demonic spirit, and along biblical lines, it had been given permission (by God) to afflict me. God himself permitted it to refine me (even as we read in Luke 22:31-32).

“Over the Top” Pride

I would describe “over the top” pride as being that which happens when we fall into unteachableness. I like to emphasize the importance of fellowship, because fellowship helps to keep us humble. However, if we separate ourselves from others, thinking, “I am better than that person, who is not as smart and wise and capable as I am,” we set for ourselves a snare and a trap, by which it becomes difficult for God to reach us. Do we separate ourselves from others? Or, do we allow God to use others to speak to us in our time of need? Moses was a wise man and allowed Jethro (his father-in-law) into his life in order to speak with him. Jethro gave him good advice!

Who are the friends that God has given to you, to bless you, in your time of need? Are you willing to listen to them? Or, do you treat the ones that God has put there for you as enemies? This would mean that you have fallen into unteachableness, which is a very dangerous place to be. Not even David fell into unteachableness after he sinned with Bathsheba, but was willing to listen to Nathan the prophet, and heed the warning.

It is important to have people in your life, who can help you, and bless you, in time of need. Who are those key people that God has specifically put there for you? Perhaps you do not know who they are, but I would advise you to take out your smart phone if you have one (and I assume you do), and to start scrolling through all of those names that are listed among your contacts, and ask the Holy Spirit who those people are, according to his own choice, who can and will, bless you. Then, step out in faith and contact some of them and share with them your situation and watch God begin to help you.

Summing It Up

In this article, I have answered the question, what is pride, and given examples of those who fell into the sin of pride. I have also provided some examples of some serious consequences that can arise if we do fall into this sin, and provided a means by which you can find help in the midst of your trial. I have also attempted to show the difference between consequences and forgiveness, which are quite different, indeed.

God will indeed forgive you, as you ask him for forgiveness. This does not mean that the consequences will be so short-lived. You can indeed experience complete peace with God, though you sinned in the past. And part of the humbling process will be to realize that the consequences may not be as short-lived as you thought at the time of committing the sin.

 

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