Respectable Sins: 4 Manifestations of Pride | Part 1

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:

  1. The pride of moral self-righteousness
  2. The pride of correct doctrine
  3. The pride of achievement
  4. 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 [1].

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.

Looking Forward

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

  1. 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?
  2. Why do you believe Moral Self-righteousness is a common sin amongst Bible believing evangelicals?
  3. Has God convicted you of this sin in the past? If so, how did you deal with it?


[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 90.

Post Adapted from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, 89-100.

How Do We Live Like the Elder Brother?

In my last post, I made some observations from the parable of the prodigal son. In doing so, I highlighted the Gospel as the third way to live, with the other two ways to live being the way of the Relativist and the way of the Moralist. You can read my post here.

In the parable, the younger brother represents the Relativist, and to him everything is about self. The elder brother represents the Moralist, who lives outwardly for God, but inwardly his heart has not changed. In an effort to help us see how we live like the elder brother, so we can correct our thinking and actions, I want to ask and answer the question: How do we live like the elder brother?

We Act Like The Elder Brother:

When we believe we are saved by our works

  • This manifest itself in the following ways
    • We do this so, so we get salvation type thinking
    • When we do not think of our sin as being offensive to God.
    • When we think we are not that bad saying, “Sure Christ died for me, but I really was not that bad.”
    • Comparing ourselves to others saying “I needed God’s grace, but not as much as this person over here does. Look at their sin and look at mine.”

When we believe our works earn us favor with God

  • This manifest itself in the following ways:
    • We show up to church every time it is open thinking if we miss a service we are not in God’s favor.
    • When we believe we may get in a car wreck, or lose our job, or fail a class, or that one of our kids will not turn out right, if we are not consistent with our quiet times because somehow God will pay us back for not spending time with Him.
    • When we believe God will not use us or bless us if we are not reading His Word or doing Christian type activities often.

When we believe we must pay Christ back for our salvation

  • This manifests itself when we say things like: 
    • Christ died for you, witnessing to others is the least thing you can do for Him.
    • Christ suffered for you, the least you can do is read your Bible and pray to Him everyday.
    • Christ went to the cross for you, the least you can do for Him is go on a missions trip, part with some of your resources in order to help the church, or show up to services on Sunday.

When we believe God owes us for being such a good Christian.

  • This manifest itself when:
    • We do not receive the recognition we thought we should have received at church for helping with a ministry project, serving the church, attending regularly, and we get mad about it.
    • When we get jealous when another person who obviously has not done as much as we have gets recognized or asked to help with another ministry/task even though we said we wanted to serve as the chairman of that committee, teach that class, or serve those people.

The Christian disciplines mentioned throughout this post are good, but they can become corrupted when we believe they: 

  • Earn us salvation
  • Earn us favor with God
  • Become a way to pay Jesus back for what He has done for us
  • When they are done because we want to gain things such as recognition, or opportunity.

Should we stop coming to church, serving the body, doing our quiet time, praying, teaching a class, etc? 

  • No, we should not. The reasons we do them though should change.