This is the seventh, and final part, of a multi-part series on the Seven Deadly Sins written by Father Robert Wills, Canon Theologian of the Mid-South Diocese, ICCEC. I would like to thank Canon Wills for letting me share this series with you. As a note, Canon Wills notes these are the Seven Deadly Sins recognized by a group of monks in the 5th Century.
7. Pride– putting oneself in the place of God, above everything and everyone.
The Sin of Pride.
Pride is not only putting oneself in the place of God, it is becoming self absolute. We express pride with an attitude such as: “We’re number 1”, or “Be all you can be.” The sin of pride becomes deeply rooted in our personalities and is often difficult to recognize or to admit to in our lives.
Pride is undue confidence in and attention to one’s own skills, accomplishments, state, possessions, or position. Pride is easier to recognize than to define, easier to recognize in others than in oneself. Many biblical words describe this concept, each with its own emphasis. Some of the synonyms for pride include arrogance, presumption, conceit, self-satisfaction, boasting, and high-mindedness. It is the opposite of humility, the proper attitude one should have in relation to God. Pride is rebellion against God because it attributes to self, the honor and glory due to God alone. Proud persons do not think it necessary to ask forgiveness because they do not admit their sinful condition. This attitude toward God finds expression in one’s attitude toward others, often causing people to have a low estimate of the ability and worth of others and therefore to treat them with either contempt or cruelty. Some have considered pride to be the root and essence of sin. Others consider it to be sin in its final form. In either case, it is a grievous sin.
Paul describes this sin and its results in his Epistles to Timothy.
2 Tim 3:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2 Tim 3:3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
2 Tim 3:4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2 Tim 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
1 Tim 6:3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
1 Tim 6:4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
1 Tim 6:5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Forms of Pride
1. Vanity—Striving for perfection and trying to be the center of attention.
2. Narcissism—Creating oneself in whatever image one desires and becoming completely self centered and self absorbed; ie the most important thing in the universe.
3. Domination—Expecting others to always see to our own creature comforts.
4. Selfish Ambition—Wanting to achieve something at the expense of others without any concern about the means or cost of that achievement.
5. Self Deification—Self becomes a god and whatever self wants, self tries to possess.
6. Hypocrisy—Setting the highest moral standards for others but not for oneself.
7. Sacrilege—Either using holy things and holy words for one’s own advantage, or blasphemy (denying the real power of God).
Other Words for Pride
“Boasting” can be committed only in the presence of other persons.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world.
1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
“Haughtiness” or “arrogance” measures self as above others (Mark 7:23; Luke 1:51; Rom. 1:30; 2 Tim. 3:2; Jas. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). This word refers primarily to the attitude of one’s heart. First Timothy 3:6; 6:4; and 2 Timothy 3:4 use a word literally meaning “to wrap in smoke.” It emphasizes the plight of the one who has been blinded by personal pride.
Often, we recognize pride as vanity or self-conceit. In the Bible the English word “vain” is usually a translation of a number of words that mean, “nothingness” or “unreliability.” In relation to God, trying to thwart His will is vain (Ps. 2:1; see Acts 4:25).
Psa 2:1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
Psa 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
Observing vanities in life forsakes mercy for self exaltation.
Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Trying to do things without God’s help is vain (Ps. 127:1). We are warned not to take God’s name in vain (as though it were nothing) in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20: 7; Deut. 5:11). Mark warned that believers are not to give God vain lip service but obedience from the heart (7:6-7; see Isa. 1:13; 29:13; Jas. 1:26).
Pride may appear in many other less obvious forms. Some of the more common are pride of race, spiritual pride, and pride of riches. Jesus denounced pride of race (Luke 3:8). The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was directed at those guilty of spiritual pride, the ones who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). James 1:10 warns the rich against the temptation to be lifted up with pride because of their wealth.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,
James 1:10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
James 1:11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
What Did Jesus Say About Pride?
Luke 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luke 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luke 18:11 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
Luke 18:12 ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
Luke 18:13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
Luke 18:14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
What Are the Results of Pride?
Prov 13:10 By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.
Prov 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Prov 16:19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Prov 21:24 A proud and haughty man; “Scoffer” is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.
Prov 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
Amos 6:8 The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, The LORD God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, And hate his palaces; Therefore I will deliver up the city And all that is in it.”
The Sin of Lucifer Was Pride
Isa 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
Isa 14:13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Isa 14:15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.
God’s answer to the seven deadly sins is repentance. Repentance is a feeling of regret, a changing of the mind, or a turning from sin to God. As a feeling of regret the term can apply even to God. In the days preceding the flood, God was sorry that He had created the human race (Gen. 6:6-7). He later regretted that he had made Saul the king over Israel (1 Sam. 15:11,35). God also repented in the sense of changing His mind (Ex. 32:14). Most occurrences of the term in the Bible, however, do not refer to God but to people. These also do not indicate mere regret or a change of mind; they mean a reorientation of the sinner to God. In this more common sense, then, God does not repent like humans (1 Sam. 15:29).
In ancient Israel repentance was first expressed corporately. When national calamities such as famine, drought, defeat, or a plague of locusts arose, the people did not feel responsible individually for these catastrophes. Rather, they sensed that the incidents were caused by the guilt of the nation. All shared the responsibility and, consequently, the ritual of repentance. Fasting, the wearing of sackcloth (the traditional attire for mourning), the scattering of ashes (Is. 58:5; Neh. 9:1; Dan. 9:3), and the recitation of prayers and psalms in a penitential liturgy characterized this collective experience of worship.
With the use of such outward tokens of repentance, however, the danger of sham or pretense also arose. Ritual not accompanied by a genuine attitude of repentance was empty. Against such misleading and, therefore, futile expressions of remorse, the eighth-century prophets spoke out. Their attacks upon feigned worship and their calls for genuine contrition on the part of the individual gave flower to the characteristic biblical concept of repentance. What was needed was not ritual alone, but the active involvement of the individual in making a radical change within the heart (Ezek. 18:31) and in seeking a new direction for one’s life.
Ezek 18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
What was demanded was a turning from sin and at the same time a turning to God. For the prophets, such a turning or conversion was not just simply a change within a person; it was openly manifested in justice, kindness, and humility (Mic. 6:8; Amos 5:24; Hos. 2:19-20).
A direct connection between the prophets and the New Testament is found in John the Baptist. Appearing in the wilderness, he, like they, issued the call to his own generation for this radical kind of turning. He baptized those who by confessing their sins responded to his invitation (Mark 1:4-5). Likewise, he expected that those who had made this commitment would demonstrate by their actions the change, which they had made in their hearts (Luke 3:10-14). He differed, though, from the prophets in that his message of repentance was intricately bound up with his expectation of the imminent coming of the Messiah (Luke 3:15-17; see also Acts 19:4).
The Messiah came also preaching a message of repentance (Mark 1:15). Stressing that all men needed to repent (Luke 13:1-5), Jesus summoned his followers to turn and become like children (Matt. 18:3). He defined His ministry in terms of calling sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). Moreover, He illustrated His understanding of repentance in the parable of the prodigal who returned to the father (Luke 15:11-32). Like John, he insisted that the life that was changed was obvious by the “fruit” that it bore (Luke 6:20-45).
Mark 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus also differed from His predecessors in His proclamation of repentance. He related it closely to the arrival of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15) and specifically associated it with one’s acceptance of Him. Those who were unrepentant were those who rejected Him (Luke 10:8-15; 11:30-32); those who received Him were the truly repentant. In His name repentance and forgiveness were to be proclaimed to all nations (Luke 24:47).
Acts shows this proclamation was made. Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31) and Paul (Acts 17:30; 20:21) told Jews and Gentiles alike “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20 NASB). The apostolic preaching virtually identified repentance with belief in Christ: both resulted in the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:43).
Paul described an earlier letter he had sent to the Corinthians which caused them grief, but which eventually led them to repentance. Here Paul described a change in the Corinthians’ attitude about him (2 Cor. 7:8-13). Their repentance resulted in their reconciliation with him.
2 Cor 7:8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.
2 Cor 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
2 Cor 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2 Cor 7:11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2 Cor 7:12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.
Renewal of commitment or reaffirmation of faith seems to be the meaning of repentance in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (2:5,16,21-22; 3:3,19). Twice the letters call for the readers to remember and thereby to return to what they had been. The call is for rededication and not initial conversion.
PENANCE: CONFESSION OF SIN
The sacrament of repentance, sometimes called penance, is also known as Confession the Rite of Reconciliation. Through this sacrament of grace, Christ forgives sin and restores the soul to grace: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. ” (John 20:22-23; Matt. 18:18). This covenant act has to do with the human soul. In order to experience the blessings of the covenant, the soul must remain free of sin. Sin will block the benefits of the covenant from being enjoyed. Confession cleanses the soul and restores the flow of grace that is at work in a person’s life through being in covenant with God.
Psychology is really the study of the soul (psuche in Greek), and the soul is made up of three parts. The mind (intellect), the will (volition), and the emotions (feelings) are components of the soul– the permanent, eternal essence of mankind. The church’s ministry whereby it seeks to heal, comfort, and direct the wounded souls of its members. It is also called the “care” of souls. In early times, this was done mostly through the liturgy, in which there was opportunity for a public confession of sin and an announcement of forgiveness. This gave the entire community of faith a therapeutic function. To help priests perform this function, the rite of reconciliation or confession was established where a penitent person confessed his or her sins before the priest and received absolution– forgiveness from God as declared by God’s representative (the priest). In the early Middle Ages, probably at first in Ireland, this custom of private confession appeared, and this soon placed the main responsibility for the cure of souls on those who heard confession. This was a form of counseling that helped many people to deal with problems that might otherwise have been ignored by society and church alike. This was, perhaps, the first realization that people’s emotional problems were a part of the SOULISH realm– the mind, will and emotions. By seeking and obtaining forgiveness, many people were able to prevent bitterness and anger from causing deeper psychological problems.