Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
October 9, 1998
Last Updated :
February 13, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Cancer, Subtlety Of Pride, The "Pure Heart" Myth, War Of The Spirit, "Sinless Saints" Myth, Automatic Forgiveness?, The Lord's Books, The Fall Of Adam And Eve, Spiritual Disease Of Pride, Divide And Conquer Through Pride, Attack Key Pillars, Not Ignorant Of Satan's Devices, Deceived By Pride, Humbled By Our Mistakes, Fools For Christ, Strength From Weakness
Cancer. It is a subtle disease. It starts out small, and it starts out unnoticed. Sometimes it can escape our attention for weeks or months while it performs its destructive work. In quite a few cases, there are no outward physical signs that anything is even wrong. On the surface, everything appears normal. By the time we finally do discover it, sometimes it can be too late! The disease has advanced so far, that sometimes the only remedy is to entirely remove the infected organ; and sometimes, if the doctors aren't careful, if they don't remove every single diseased cell, the affliction can return in even greater force and fury. Sadly, in quite a few cases, this malignant cellular growth can wreak so much destruction upon the human body before it is actually discovered, that sometimes it results in the death of its victim! In fact, Cancer is now one of the primary killers in the United States of America!
How much like Cancer is human pride. It is always there deep within our being, but it requires a catalyst to activate it. Pride is a dormant spiritual disease which only springs to life and rears its ugly head when certain conditions are present. In my article entitled "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement", I wrote in part: "That old pride of ours just bursts out of our chest like an over-inflated balloon which repels anyone who tries to draw close to us in order to show us the error of our ways". While outwardly, all may appear to be well in the life of the Christian, deep within, one's mind, heart and spirit might be totally infected by this loathsome disease. Just like Cancer, pride can be an invisible killer. Quite often, it is when we erroneously believe that we no longer have it, or when we foolishly convince ourselves that we have obtained a permanent victory over it, that we are in fact most overcome and deceived by our pride.
Why is this? It is because our pride and our deceptive evil heart work hand in hand in order to try to defeat the new man of the Spirit. In other words, because of our pride, we allow our hearts to deceive us. We create a false image of ourselves, and do not see ourselves as others may see us. Because of our pride and the deceitfulness of our own evil heart, we cushion ourselves with a distorted image of our true spiritual condition. It is a form of self-preservation. While some people tend to use the phrase "a pure heart" when describing a certain person, this kind of talk is very far from Biblical truth. As shocking as this may be for some of my readers, no one has a pure heart; at least not in the sense that most people use the phrase. When the Lord was dealing with the rebellious children of ancient Israel, He said through the mouth of the Prophet Jeremiah:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Jeremiah 17:9, KJV
In other words, our heart is so wicked, so full of pride, and so deceptive, that most of the time, we don't even know when we are being deceived by it! We are in fact deceived by it time and time again. This certainly seems to destroy the myth of certain people having pure hearts. Some six hundred years later, in the New Testament, we are told that our Lord was also aware of the pride and the evil which lurks in the heart of man. In the Gospels of John and Matthew, we find the following very revelatory verses:
"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man."
John 2:23-25, KJV
". . . Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."
Matthew 15:16-20, KJV
These verses reveal the true essence of the war between the selfish carnal man, the man who looks after the temporal things of the flesh, and the new spiritual man, born through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who looks after the eternal things of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul explained the frustrations of fighting this spiritual warfare in this way:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Romans 7:18-25, KJV
Later on, in his first Epistle to the Church at Corinth, Paul summarized his feelings regarding this spiritual warfare between the sinful flesh and the new man of the Spirit when he wrote:
"I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
1 Corinthians 9:26-27, KJV
It should be clear then that, contrary to the "pure heart" myth, we are all lost in sin until we accept God's saving Grace through the Sacrifice of His Son, our dear Lord Jesus Christ. This idea is further clarified for us through such verses as the following:
". . . The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."
Psalm 14:1b, KJV
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:23, KJV
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8, KJV
It is also important to note, as the Apostle Paul clearly demonstrates through the previous verses from the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, that even after we do come to Christ, it doesn't mean that we suddenly stop sinning. It doesn't mean that we all of a sudden obtain a permanent victory and stop yielding to our pride and other sins of the flesh. In other words, when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we don't just all of a sudden become some kind of "sinless saints" as some forms of organized religion erroneously teach. This is a false doctrine. It is a manmade tradition. "Oh yes, I remember when I used to be a sinner!" they self-righteously claim. "Thank the Lord I haven't sinned in three years now!" they boast. I have actually heard certain people say and others write these kinds of statements. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
Well, I am sorry to burst their bubble, but this kind of mentality is not only born of pride and self-righteousness, but it is also totally contrary to what Paul is saying above. Bear in mind that Paul is writing to the Romans after being a dedicated Christian missionary for a number of years. He clearly states that even though he is now a Christian, he still has to battle his sins of the flesh. He plainly tells us that he is frustrated by the fact that, even though he is now trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, he still falls into sin and commits evil. In his own words, he states "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do". He knows that these things are wrong, yet he still does them. In short, Paul is admitting that even though he now knows Jesus Christ, he hasn't attained to some state of sinless perfection. That is precisely why he writes to the brethren at Philippi:
"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:12-14, KJV
So if coming to Christ doesn't mean that we all of a sudden stop sinning and become "sinless saints" overnight as some Christian denominations erroneously teach, exactly what does it mean? Quite simply, it means that in addition to becoming heirs to Salvation like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through our faith in God's promises concerning His Son Jesus Christ, there is now a way to find forgiveness if we do fall again into sin; which we most certainly will; after all, we are all only human. However, thank God that He remembers our frame, that we are dust:
"For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
Psalm 103:11-14, KJV
Notice that a key requirement for being forgiven, and obtaining this mercy, is fearing the Lord. It is Godly reverence. As I point out in "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement", forgiveness is not an automatic act whether we seek it or not. If this were true, then no one would end up in Hell, or in the Lake of Fire if you prefer. Everyone would end up in Heaven; but this is most certainly not the case. It is absolutely foolish to think that we can continue to disrespect the Lord, reject His Word, and live our whole lives deep in sin, and then expect to end up some day in Heaven because of the erroneous doctrine of automatic forgiveness. That simply is not what the Bible teaches. Forgiveness can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. Victory only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that the Apostles Paul and John make statements such as the following in some of their Epistles:
"I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Romans 7:25, KJV
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
1 John 5:4, KJV
So again, Paul is basically saying that even though he now knows Christ, it hasn't stopped him from sinning in the flesh; it hasn't made him perfect. Thus, all he can continue to do until the day he dies, is to continue to trust in the victory which is by faith through the Blood of Jesus Christ. In "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement", I share a very fitting example which I believe elegantly explains the Plan of Salvation in a graphical form. Following are several quotes taken from that article. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety when you have the time:
----- Begin Quotes -----
"Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, and because of the Special Arrangement that God has made with His Son, as I explain in the series "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", the Lord also gives us a clean record. He doesn't really forget our sins per se, but we are declared "clean" in His carefully-kept Books:
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18, KJV
"Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities."
Psalm 51:9, KJV
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
Revelation 3:5, KJV
". . . Before we come to accept the Lord, our sins are marked in bright red letters in the Books found in the Halls of Heaven. The American Heritage Desk Dictionary defines scarlet as a bright red or red-orange color; and crimson as a vivid purplish red color. In other words, our sins are very apparent to the Lord; they stare God in the Face from the pages of His Book! They show Him without a shadow of a doubt that we are all guilty! However, once we repent of our sins and accept the Salvation of the Lord through Jesus Christ, what happens? Our sins become as white as snow; they become as white as the wool of a newborn lamb. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if you were to take a pen containing white ink, and write on a white piece of paper. The words would not only be difficult to see, they would basically be invisible! So it is with the Lord. Those bright red sins of ours which are written in His Books, become "invisible" to His Eyes! He remembers them no more!"
----- End Of Quotes -----
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest sins of humankind is pride, because pride leads to other sins. As I point out in my article on Leviathan, it was pride which brought about Satan's fall; and he has used it as one of the primary weapons in his spiritual arsenal to bring about the fall of humanity ever since, beginning with the fall of Adam and Eve:
"For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
Genesis 3:5-6, KJV
Because of their pride, Adam and Eve believed Satan's lies instead of God's Word, when he told them that they would become as gods. The very tactics which Satan used against Adam and Eve, are the very same ones of which the Apostle John warns us to beware in his first Epistle:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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 2:15-16, KJV
Continuing with my comparison between Cancer and the sin of pride, in the Old Testament, King David even went so far as to describe sin as a loathsome disease which afflicted his body. While it is quite possible that he may have actually been referring to a physical disease which tormented him, I tend to believe that a spiritual application may be what was really intended. Although there is no clear indication in the introduction to this Psalm, it is also possible that the king wrote these lines once the Lord had begun to deal with him after he had committed first degree murder, and then committed adultery with the wife of the murdered man. I am of course referring to the story of David, Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife:
"There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me."
Psalm 38:3-10, KJV
This idea of the sins of pride and rebellion being a spiritual disease which afflicts the whole body is clearly echoed in the words of the Prophet Isaiah. Several hundred years after King David, the Lord sent Isaiah to warn a very rebellious Israel to repent of her wickedness. This occurred some seven hundred years before Christ, just prior to the Assyrian invasions which served as the Lord's tool of chastisement:
"Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
Isaiah 1:4-6, KJV
In the Book of Job we are told that our pride can be so strong, and that it can be so deeply rooted in our heart, that the Lord has to actually hide our pride from us through natural physical sleep, in order to seal our instructions. Sometimes, it is only then, when our walls of pride are lowered through a state of unconsciousness, that He can speak to us, and deal with us as His dearly beloved children:
"For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man."
Job 33:14-17, KJV
Thus we see that pride can be extremely dangerous for our spiritual wellbeing. Not only can it affect our walk with the Lord, but it can seriously affect our relationship with our Christian brethren as well. When pride is deeply lodged in our heart, Satan can use it as an open door to come into the midst of our fellowship, just as he used it to destroy the fellowship between the Lord and Adam and Eve. It is important to realize that Satan does not just choose his battles at random. It is my personal belief that he chooses to attack those Christian fellowships and gatherings which are bearing the most fruit for God's Kingdom. I really don't think that he bothers too much with those Christians who are spiritually dead. He is more interested in stopping those who are alive, and who are growing in Spirit, and who are actively witnessing God's message of love and Salvation to others. These are the ones who present the greatest threat to his Kingdom of Darkness.
As I state in some of my other spiritual warfare articles, the enemy usually doesn't start attacking until we come out of the foxhole and start invading his territory. However, as in worldly warfare, sometimes the enemy of our soul will use espionage in order to try to discover our battle plans in advance; or he will send a spy within our midst in order to try to sow dissension, division and mistrust amongst the brethren. At the root of these things can usually be found pride; and as the Book of Proverbs clearly points out, all of these things are an abomination to the Lord:
"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Proverbs 6:16-19, KJV
"Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."
Proverbs 13:10, KJV
Satan knows that if he can instigate in-fighting through such human weaknesses and sins as pride, jealousy and personal sensitivities, he will have stopped the planned attack on his kingdom even before it ever gets started. As Jesus explained to Peter in the Gospel of Luke, Satan will try to sift the Lord's children like wheat, one by one, beginning with the strongest. He knows that if he can knock out or neutralize the key pillars of the fellowship, it will be an easy matter for him to defeat the weaker brethren:
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:"
Luke 22:31, KJV
It is because Peter was himself one of Satan's key targets, that he later tells us that our adversary the Devil will boldly come into the midst of our fellowship like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
1 Peter 5:8, KJV
Sadly, this is precisely what we allow Satan to do when we foolishly yield to our pride and personal sensitivities. Just as Satan spoke through the mouth of Peter so that the Lord had to actually rebuke him, we too can become the enemy's conduits because of our pride and other weaknesses and inadequacies of the flesh:
"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Matthew 16:21-23, KJV
In his first Epistle to the Corinthians, while discussing the sins of the Children of Israel who repeated murmured, or complained, during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Paul states that those things are written for our admonition, that we might learn and profit by them. In his second Epistle to the same church, he tells us that we are not ignorant of Satan's devices; so we are all without excuse. We have a solid written record which clearly exposes the tactics of the enemy; and using our pride against us is clearly one of them:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Corinthians 10:11, KJV
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV
Pride was also the downfall of Peter and the others the night of the Lord's betrayal. You will recall that it was only a few hours prior to the Lord's betrayal and trial, that Peter and the other eleven proudly claimed that they would never deny their Lord:
"Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples:"
Matthew 26:33-35, KJV
What a blow it must have been to Peter's pride to have the Lord contradict him in front of the other Eleven. By this time, the others must have begun to look up to Peter, for they immediately followed suit and likewise confirmed that they would never deny their Lord. But, as we know, barely had they spoken these words, when they all fled from the Garden of Gethsemane like weak cowards, leaving their Master alone in the hands of wolves; but He was not really alone, for His Father was with Him:
"But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
Matthew 26:56, KJV
Shortly after that, Peter openly denied knowing the Lord three times when his own life appeared to be threatened with persecution; and it caused him no small grief when he realized his own weakness born of foolish human pride:
"And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."
Matthew 26:75, KJV
You see, because of their pride, all of the Apostles had deceived themselves into thinking that they were much stronger spiritually than they actually were. The Gospel record clearly reveals that in the flesh, before the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, they made mistake after mistake, and failed the Lord's tests time and time again. We read a number of occasions where the Lord had to openly rebuke them because of their pride, or because of their lack of love, or due to their lack of faith, or some other human weakness. Despite these things, after three and a half years of following the Master, they still had inflated images of themselves. But the Lord knew these things in advance; and not only did He graciously forgive them all, but He used them in even greater ways in the years ahead.
To put it another way, the Twelve Apostles were like young guys stumbling their way through boot camp. They were proud and cocky and full of self-confidence. The Lord was still molding them and preparing them for the major battles ahead when He would use them to boldly, but humbly, preach the Gospel to the known world of their day. Like Moses of old who was basically useless to the Lord until his pride had been broken through spending forty years in the wilderness as a nomadic shepherd, the Apostles also had to go through a number of humbling experiences before they finally realized that it was only the Lord's Power working through them that made them who and what they were. If there is one important lesson we can all learn from this, it is as the Apostle Paul wrote, that the Lord truly uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. I discuss this in more detail in my articles "The Only Credentials You Need!" and "The Wisdom Of God vs The Philosophy Of Men":
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, KJV
How true indeed! We are all so foolish and so weak. We make so many mistakes. It is truly a miracle that the Lord is able to accomplish anything through us at all. As I have stated before, the Lord doesn't use us because of ourselves; that is, because of who we are, or who we think we are; but rather He uses us in spite of ourselves; in spite of our many sins and shortcomings; so that as Paul says, "that no flesh should glory in His presence". In other words, when anything good is accomplished through us, we can only thank the Lord for it, and give Him the glory, knowing what a mess we are ourselves. As the Apostle Paul also wrote:
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31, KJV
"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
2 Corinthians 4:5-7, KJV
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV
Thus far we have looked at the subtle destructive nature of pride, and how it can spoil our relationship with the Lord, cause division within our fellowship, and give us a false sense of self-confidence. We have also seen that, contrary to the "sinless saints" doctrine, accepting Christ into our lives does not free us from pride or other sins of the flesh. Finally, we have seen how it is through the mistakes that we make, that the Lord actually molds us into the true humble servants that He wishes for us to be. In part two of this series, we will take a look at turning the other cheek, saving face and preserving personal images, Christian fellowships and the spiritually dead, guarding our tongue, godly exhortation and correction, being accountable to God, the Galatian compromise, hard sayings, man-pleasing, the absoluteness and authority of God's Word, and legalism versus love and mercy. I trust that you will join me.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .