This week we are going to discuss pride. To be more specific, I are going to dig a little deeper and look at certain expressions of pride that believers are easily susceptible to committing.
The expressions of pride I will focus on will be:
- The pride of moral self-righteousness
- The pride of correct doctrine
- The pride of achievement
- The pride of an independent spirit
In what follows, I will discuss how each of these manifests itself in our lives, what Scripture has to say, and how we can rid this sin from our lives.
Let’s start today by looking at the pride of moral self-righteousness.
The Pride of Moral Self-Righteousness
In Luke 18:11-12 Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee who went down to the temple to pray. A tax collector went down at the same time he did. As the Pharisee stood before God, and next to the tax collecter, he prayed like this:
“‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’” (Luke 18:11–12, ESV)
The Pharisees’ prayer shows he thought himself to be morally superior to the tax collector. When reflecting on this prayer and Jesus’ teaching afterwards, we learn that anyone who believes they hold a moral high ground, whether that be in their spiritual life, or in politics, economics, or environmental policy are committing the sin of moral self-righteousness.
Why is Moral Self-Righteousness a common form of pride?
Amongst Bible believing evangelicals moral self-righteousness is a common form of pride. That is because it is easy to indulge in this sin when reflecting on the moral climate in our society. When we look around and see others either “committing or condoning such flagrant sins as immorality, easy divorce, a homosexual lifestyle, abortion, drunkenness, drug use, avarice, and other flagrant and scandalous sins,” which are sins we don’t commit, we tend to feel morally superior to them .
How do we guard against this form of pride?
First, by realizing none of us are naturally morally upright (Ps. 51:5). If it were not for God working in our lives, then we very well likely could be in the same or even worse place as the drug dealer on the other side of the tracks. Knowing that should lead us to have the attitude that:
“There but for the grace of God go I.”
Second, we can guard against this sin by identifying ourselves before God with the sinful society in which we live. Ezra did just this and so should we. In Ezra 9:6 we read,
“saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6, ESV)
Did you notice that Ezra said, “our iniquities” and “our guilt”? Even though he was one who feared the Lord and sought to please Him with his actions, he still identified with his societies sins. He identified with their sins because he believed himself to be apart of his society. As a member of the nation of Israel, he felt he was just as guilty.
So then, instead of setting ourselves apart from our society, if we include ourselves in it, we will be hesitant to think ourselves morally superior to everyone else.
In my next installment in this series, I will focus on the pride of correct doctrine. Until then, reflect on this post through the questions below.
Questions for Reflection
- What principle can we learn from the Pharisee? Are there other areas of life besides spiritual life that we can become morally self-righteous about?
- Why do you believe Moral Self-righteousness is a common sin amongst Bible believing evangelicals?
- Has God convicted you of this sin in the past? If so, how did you deal with it?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 90.
Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 89-100.