The Many Faces of Pride (Part 7)

In today’s blog, I unveil the last 4 of the 13 faces of pride. In parts 4 – 6 of the series we uncovered arrogance and haughtiness, boastfulness, inability to rejoice in the success of others, the fear of men’s faces, rebellion, the critical spirit, unwillingness to admit the need for help, the spirit of entitlement, and perfectionism.

10. Shame. At the root of shame is pride. Shame causes us to keep things hidden for which we need healing. Why do we keep them hidden? We do not want others to know that we did or did not do something because our image will be tarnished in their eyes. This is pride at work. Satan uses shame to keep us in bondage by playing on our fear of what others will think. The spirit of pride in us therefore gives Satan power to keep us from receiving the healing God desires for us.

 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jas. 5:16)

It becomes evident from this verse that if we continue to allow shame to have power over us we will continue to be wounded soldiers who cannot be used of God because Satan will have legal authority to accuse us. We lose the spiritual authority and power required for us to be victorious in this spiritual warfare to which we have been called as sons of the Living God. Like Jesus, let us be able to say that Satan will find nothing in us with which to exert his power.

I will not speak with you much longer, for the ruler of the world (Satan) is coming. And he has no claim on Me [no power over Me nor anything that he can use against Me]; (John 14:30, AMP)

11. Unforgiving spirit. Many times, people are unwilling to forgive because they feel that others are not deserving of their forgiveness. Forgiving another is tantamount to giving up power over that person. You can no longer speak about the bad thing the person did to you or trash their reputation to others. Pride always wants to deceive you into believing that you are better than others. Therefore, no one is ever worthy enough to receive your forgiveness. The thought going through the prideful mind is, “How dare they do this to me, do they know who I am?”

The opposite is also true. Persons with a spirit of pride also feel no need to seek forgiveness since pride deceives persons into believing that they are never to blame. The prideful person never takes responsibility when things go wrong but is more than willing to accept the praise when things go right.  You will recall early on in the series I pointed to the fact that pride was man’s first sin. Satan appealed to Eve’s pride and caused her to sin (Genesis 3:5). We also see pride’s manifestation a little later in the same chapter in the form of the blame game.

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:11-13)

12. Unteachable spirit. When a spirit of pride is at work in your life you do not take correction well. This results in lack of spiritual growth and maturity.  Prideful persons believe that they know it all or do not want to admit when they don’t know. Either way, they become stagnant. It is not only that they do not want others to teach them, pride also prevents them allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them because, of course, they know where they are going. This goes hand in hand with a face of pride we discussed earlier, unwillingness to submit to authority.  This aspect of pride, like all of the others, causes us to walk in disobedience to God’s Word.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)

Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (Prov. 9:8-9)

But the Helper, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance all things that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. (Prov. 12:1)

Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be honored. (Prov. 13:18)

13. Judgmental spirit. Pride causes us to easily think the worst of others and to speak the worst of others even without knowing all the facts. The worse others are the better we feel about ourselves. The prideful person is quick to jump into discussions that seek to malign other peoples’ character and will many times steer the conversation in such a way as to show how much better he/she is than that person. In fact, many times you will hear them saying, “Who me, I could never do anything like that.” On the other hand, a spirit of humility says, “But for the grace of God, there go I”.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)

You may have realized from our discussion that many of these faces of pride actually overlap and feed off each other. It’s like a web of deceit and lies that is skillfully orchestrated by the enemy to keep you from being of use to God because it makes you walk in your own power rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan knows, more than anyone else, the power of a believer who is filled with and is being led by the Holy Spirit. Consequently, he will do everything in his power to prevent this from happening.

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Pet. 3:17-18)

Want to know how to overcome pride? Join me next week for the final blog in this series.

Shalom.

 

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 6)

There are 13 faces of pride that I want to reveal as we go through this series together. It is important for me to repeat that some of these manifestations of pride are more obvious than others. I mentioned also that this is not by chance, as Satan wants to keep pride hidden. Consequently, he allows it to masquerade as other things and many times we do not realize that pride is at the root. In Part 4, we discussed the first 3 faces of pride – arrogance and haughtiness, boastfulness, and the inability to rejoice in the success of others. Part 5 dealt with the fear of men’s faces, rebellion and the critical spirit. In today’s blog, I will unveil another 3 faces of pride.

7. Unwillingness to admit the need for help. When you find a person unable to accept help, with a tendency to always want to be the one to give help, pride is present. A prideful person wants everyone to believe that he or she is in control and all is well. A facade of “everything is fine” is always presented to the outside world. Some persons rationalize their reticence to accept help, to themselves and others, by saying they don’t want to be a bother. However, this is not in keeping with God’s plan. He put us in community and gave us all different skills, talents, abilities, giftings, experiences, and strengths so we would not be self-sufficient but have need of each other (Ephesians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 12:20-26).

Another justification given for not accepting help is that those who gave help in the past rubbed it in our face, always reminding us of the help they gave as though we are to be forever beholden to them. This is a reasonable position to take where that individual giver is concerned. I am agreed, that person needs ministry.  But then, be wise and do not go back to that person. Not because one person did it means that everyone is the same. Sometimes, too, the prideful person who does eventually accept help from another may become resentful of that person. Envy of the person’s ability to help may also rear its ugly head.

Prideful persons would rather suffer in silence than admit that they need help. Even when ministry is being offered during church service they stay glued to their seat. Sometimes, they may find someone after church to get one on one ministry. Yes, they are admitting the need for help but the fact that they couldn’t do this in public is an indication that pride is at work.

I used to struggle with accepting gifts of money from people until the Lord showed me from the scriptures that when I do not allow others to give to me I am robbing them of their blessing (Luke 6:38). I realized I was actually doing them a favour by accepting their gift. So, I thought I had conquered this aspect of pride in my life. One day, I was home alone and got locked out of my house in the washroom. You cannot imagine the struggle I went through to open my mouth and cry out for help. I felt so undignified. That’s when I discovered the stronghold of pride was very much still present. It took me completely by surprise. Do you know that to this day I don’t know how the door slammed shut on me. Maybe, just maybe, the Lord wanted me to become aware that there was more cleaning up to be done?

8. Spirit of entitlement. Pride makes us believe that we are deserving of what we have and more because of the great things we have done. We even take this approach with God. The spirit of entitlement is in operation when we get upset with God for not giving us something after we prayed morning, noon and night for it. Many times we start to tot up all the things we have done to make us deserving of getting whatever it is we have asked of the Lord. But the truth of the matter is God does not owe us anything. We never gave Him anything to put down for us. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. So, where did it say that we have shares in this fullness? If you want to get over this entitlement spirit quickly just read how God dressed down Job good and proper for the length of 4 chapters (Job 38 – 41). I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Job’s shoes when that was happening and I don’t think you would either. Let us therefore be slow to complain and quick to give thanks. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). Ultimately, we need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ paid the price for our freedom and gave His own life so we could gain the gift of eternal life. Anything else we get is brawta.  We are the ones who owe God everything. Hence, Paul’s recognition of this fact in Romans 12:1.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your REASONABLE service. (Rom. 12:1, emphasis mine)

9. Driven to achieve/perfectionism. Pride is an enigma (mysterious and difficult to understand) and its almost paradoxical (self-contradictory, absurd, inconsistent). Why do I say this? Well, I didn’t really. The Holy Spirit gave me this revelation. Low self-esteem and insecurity (which we usually consider to be the opposite of pride) actually leads us into pride.  And here again I speak from personal experience. Because of our inner feeling of inadequacy we counteract by striving to prove we are just as good as or better than others. Common consequences are perfectionism and the fear of failure. Persons with low self-esteem do not take criticism well and crave admiration. The obvious way to achieve both is to do things perfectly. Such persons pay attention to detail and will check and recheck to ensure no errors have been made. This is not a bad thing on the face of it. What is bad is not the actions themselves but the motive for the actions. This is why the scriptures tell us that God is not interested in the outward appearance but looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Pride, masquerading as perfectionism, perceives failure as proof of inferiority. This is a lie of the enemy. The scriptures tell us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) and that we are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).

Another indicator that pride fuelled by low self-esteem is at work, is the desire to only associate with a certain calibre of people. Acceptance by those who are ‘successful’ gives us a false sense of security that we too are ‘successful’ and that others should look up to us. We pursue all of the outward symbolisms of success in an effort to convince ourselves and others that we are someone of worth. Ultimately, when we surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ we come to the recognition (or some of us do) that all of our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Join me next week for Part 7 as we complete the unveiling process and then in the following week we complete our series with Part 8 by revealing how to overcome pride.

Shalom.

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 5)

Happy and prosperous 2019 to all Transformation Today followers!! My prayer is that you will grow from strength to strength and from faith to faith in the purposes of God for your life to the glory and honour of God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

In my last blog, I started to take us through the many faces of pride, noting that some are more obvious than others. This is not by chance, as Satan wants to keep pride hidden, so it masquerades as other things and many times we do not realize that pride is at the root. We already discussed the first 3 faces of pride – arrogance and haughtiness, boastfulness, and the inability to rejoice in the success of others.

4. The fear of men’s faces.  People who are oppressed by this lying spirit want to be accepted at any cost and will always seek to be agreeable even when deep down they do not agree. For example, they will be in a group that is discussing a matter that is blatantly in error with regards to the Word of God but will remain silent rather than correct the error. Another manifestation of this spirit is timidity to step out to do things that require you to be in the public eye. You continually shrink back when asked to do anything like public speaking or if you do bolster up the courage to do so you are constantly thinking about what others may be thinking about you. Usually you become so self-conscious that you end up making a complete mess of what you were asked to do and then convince yourself that you shouldn’t have done it in the first place and you will never do it again. Many persons label this as shyness, fearfulness and timidity and they are not incorrect in doing so. However, at the root is the desire to guard one’s image and reputation. At the root is pride. It usually manifests when there is a risk of failure, public humiliation or ridicule e.g., public speaking, public ministry, praying in public, or expressing a perspective that is in opposition to the popular view. In essence, Satan uses this spirit to silence Christians and hinder fulfillment of God’s purpose in the life of a believer. This face of pride causes us to place greater importance on our reputation and image than on obeying God’s prompting to step out and do what He has called us to do or on standing up for what is right when it is going to make us unpopular. I had to overcome this oppressive spirit in my own life and I know that many Christians struggle with this stronghold, which has contributed significantly to the impotence that is evident throughout the Body of Christ. The prophet Jeremiah was warned by God:

“Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, Lest I dismay you before them.” (Jer. 1:17)

The fear of men’s faces goes hand in hand with the pride of life, which can be defined as anything that is “of the world”, meaning anything that leads to arrogance, ostentation, pride in self, presumption, and boasting. The pride of life comes from a love of the world and “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

“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 2:16)

5. Rebellion. This speaks to the inability to submit to authority. Wanting to be in control. It takes many forms but ultimately our inability to submit to authority here on planet earth leads us to be unable or unwilling to submit to or surrender to God’s authority and will for our lives. It is in our carnal nature to want to be in control, to want to do things the way we want, how we want, and when we want. Hence, the continual struggle of wives to submit to husbands; church members to submit to church leadership; employees to submit to employers; citizens to submit to government leaders and the laws of the land e.g. taxes, traffic regulations; children to submit to parents and teachers. Lack of submission is rebellion and seeks to circumvent authority. This is the model of the Jezebel spirit as epitomized by the scriptural account of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel (see 1 Kings 21). The rebellious spirit comes with manipulation, scheming and deception all with the aim of getting one’s way, no matter what.  Recall our discussion of Satan’s fall from heaven due to his rebellious spirit towards God’s authority. Pride will always want to tell you, “you know best and you don’t have to listen to what others are saying.” How serious does God view pride manifested as rebellion?

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6)

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23)

The second scripture was God’s message to King Saul through the prophet Samuel when he failed to carry out God’s instruction to the letter. Saul felt he knew better than God and paid a heavy price for his pride. Contrast this with David who was anointed to be King but recognized that Saul still occupied that position of authority. Consequently, despite the fact that Saul was unjustly seeking to kill David, when David had the opportunity to kill King Saul, twice he chose not to because he knew how seriously God viewed submission to authority (1 Samuel 24 and 26). I believe this is one of the key things that made David a “man after God’s own heart”; even though he committed grievous sins he was humble in spirit and repented quickly.

6. Critical spirit. As we have already noted, the prideful person wants to be in control and when they cannot be in control or in leadership there is the tendency to criticize and undermine authority at every opportunity. There may also be a competitive spirit at work rather than a spirit of cooperation. The aim is to highlight the mistakes or weaknesses of those in authority and where these may not be sufficiently present they set traps and snares surreptitiously to cause the one in authority to appear to be unfit to lead. The critical spirit always seeks to ridicule and to put down anyone in authority or anyone who they perceive that others deem to be more important or influential than they are. If they are not good enough to lead then no one else is. They will foment dissensions and strife to topple the established authority.

He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered. (Prov. 28:25)

he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 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.  (1 Tim. 6:4-5)

We will continue this intriguing and illuminating journey to unmask pride in Part 6.

Shalom.

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 4)

Well, I took a break from our weekly blog to celebrate Christmas with my precious family. It was truly an awesome time as we experienced together the true Spirit of Christmas!!

Just to recap what we have covered so far in our current series. We looked at God’s heart concerning pride in Part 1, scriptural insights about the nature of pride in Part 2, and the consequences of pride in Part 3. Today, we begin looking at the many ways in which pride can be manifested in our lives.

Pride is particularly challenging to target, and therefore to dislodge, because it masquerades as other things so we do not easily identify it for what it is ……. pride. It is very subtle and very deceptive in nature. In this way, Satan keeps us in bondage to pride, his cardinal sin, because he knows more than anyone the damage pride does to our relationship with God. Many times I believed that I had conquered pride but time and time again God allowed me to face a situation that revealed another face of pride from which I needed to be delivered. Pride was still present, camouflaged as something else. Let’s look at the many faces of pride, some are obvious and some are not.

1. Arrogance and haughtiness. This is one of the more obvious manifestations of pride. The proud look, the high look, the haughty spirit, are all mentioned in the scriptures. This face of pride is displayed when we feel we know it all and we are better than everyone around us. Many times this is fueled by being materially wealthy, having special giftings, having expertise or experience, having qualifications, having some attribute (complexion, long hair, straight hair, height, weight, shape, nationality, career, to name a few) that somehow makes us feel better and more blessed than those around us. Many times we feel that God gave us these things because we are more special than others. We forget that everything we have and everything we are is because of the grace of God. We have all been given a different journey, a different mission, or purpose for being here on earth. Our gifts and abilities, even our wealth, are given so that we can be a blessing to others not so that we can compare ourselves with others. There will always be someone who can do something better or less than we can or who has more or less than we have. God did this on purpose so we would have to depend on each other.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Pet. 1:2-3)

for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:28)

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:3)

2. Boastfulness. The deception of boastfulness is that many times we may not be boasting to others (although that could be happening too) but boasting inside ourselves as we compare ourselves with others and perceive ourselves to be superior to them. For example, you may have been successful in taking off weight and you want others to know (especially those who are overweight) just how much discipline and perseverance it took to achieve this milestone (implying, of course, that they lack these things or else they too would be able to take off weight). Pride in our achievements or in the achievements of those who are dear to us is not a problem in and of itself, after all God desires that we prosper and have good success (Joshua 1:8, 3 John 1:2). The problem arises when we need to let everyone know about the achievement (subtly and otherwise) at every opportunity or we get upset when the achievement is not acknowledged (God forbid that we have a doctorate but someone fails to call us “Dr.”). That’s when we know pride has taken over. The boastful face of pride is also evidenced among fellow Christians who always want you to know just how much God has used them to help others. An immediate warning sign that pride is in the house!

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often………………………………..If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. (2 Cor. 11:1-30)

For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. (2 Cor. 12:6)

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:23-24)

3. Inability to rejoice in the success of others. When you are upset, disappointed or just feel grudgeful when someone else achieves what you have achieved or surpasses your achievement then pride is at work. You are smiling on the outside but inwardly you are seething because you are no longer alone on your pedestal of achievement. Your mantra is ‘the less the merrier’ rather than ‘the more the merrier’.  In this case, your achievement has become your identity and the thing that gives you value and pride of place. You see another’s achievement as devaluing you and robbing you of that which is rightfully yours. If you are not careful, this may even give place to bitterness and hate towards the individual who you have determined is guilty of such a personal indictment against your image.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;………………………… Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. (Rom. 12:10, 15-16)

Next week (wow that’s 2019), the list continues.

Happy and Prosperous New Year to all from Transformation Today.

Shalom.

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 3)

Having looked at God’s heart concerning pride in Part 1 and scriptural insights about the nature of pride in Part 2, we now turn our attention to the consequences of pride.

CONSEQUENCES OF PRIDE

1.God will not tolerate you

In other words, God will not allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of pride without interference.

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbour, him I will silence; The one who has a haughty look and a proud (arrogant) heart I will not tolerate. (Psa. 101:5 AMP)

2. Pride will bring punishment from God

We noted above that God will not tolerate pride without interference. He will interfere through punishment.

Everyone who is proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; Be assured he will not go unpunished. (Prov. 16:5 AMP)

3. Pride brings destruction and embarrassment.

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. (Pro. 16:18)

The proud usually have lack of support when going through destruction because pride causes self-sufficiency and pushes people away because they feel unneeded and are usually made to feel inferior. So, when the proud person needs people they are nowhere to be found. The persons who do tend to hang around an arrogant person are usually able to do so because they also have an arrogant nature. God says that they too will be destroyed. God’s destruction will be so complete that nothing will be left.

“The arrogant (proud) one will stumble and fall With no one to raise him up; And I will set fire to his cities And it will devour all who are around him.” (Jer. 50:32)

4. God is against the proud and withholds His grace

The scriptures say that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Have you ever thought about what happens if God is not for you? You are left without anyone to defend you against enemy attack because God Himself refuses to stand with you. That is a scary place to be.

“Behold, I am against you, O most haughty one!” says the Lord God of hosts; “For your day has come, The time that I will punish you. (Jer. 50:31, NKJV)

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)

…….Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5b)

Not only does God resist the proud, He withholds His grace from them. ‘Grace’ does not only mean unmerited favour as most of us have been taught, it also means divine influence within us to overcome sin. Hence, the inability to withstand the enemy. Since the prideful person believes that he/she is their own god they believe they can do things in their own strength and do not avail themselves of the grace that has been made available through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The inability of the proud to resist the attack of the enemy is brought out further in the following scripture.

So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. (Jas.4:7 AMP)

It is obvious that a precondition for God’s grace to resist the devil is to submit yourself under God’s authority. A major challenge for the proud person is submitting to any authority.

5. Pride brings poverty, dishonour and death

By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life. (Prov 22:4 NKJV)

We established in Part 2 that humility is the opposite of pride. Hence, whatever benefits are gained by being humble the opposite must be true if pride is present instead. Instead of riches there will be poverty, instead of honour there will be dishonour, and instead of life there will be death.  We can argue further, that the Lord says we have prosperity when we obey his commandments (Joshua 1:8). We already know that pride is sin; hence, we cannot access the promises of God that pertain to the righteous, including prosperity.

6. Pride hinders our prayers

One of the chief reasons Satan does not want us delivered from pride is to hinder the effectiveness of our greatest weapon – PRAYER.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. (2 Chron. 7:14-15)

The Lord says ‘NOW My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer’. Now when? When prayers are made with an attitude of humility. God’s first requirement is not for us to pray but for us to pray with a spirit of humility. Where there is a spirit of pride our prayers are dead in the water. They have no effect. We could quote every scripture, agree and bind left right and centre, but God’s eyes will be closed and He will not hear our prayers. We will simply be wasting our time and His.

Ultimately, PRIDE DESTROYS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND OTHERS; IT CAUSES US TO MISS OUR PURPOSE.

See you next week for the next installment of “The Many Faces of Pride”.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 2)

Last week, we looked at the importance of pride and, as promised, this week we will delve deeper into the nature of pride as outlined in the scriptures.

  1. Pride is a soul issue

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; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’  (Isa. 14:13-14, emphasis mine)

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word ‘heart’ in this context means ‘mind’. We see this same translation in other scriptures where pride is mentioned (Proverbs 16:5, 18:12, 21:4, 28:25; Psalms 101:5). Pride has to do with wrong thoughts and attitude. Other expressions used in the scriptures for pride are a high look, proud look, thinking of yourself more highly than you ought, and high minded. There are also instances where we see pride referred to as ‘a haughty spirit’ (Pro. 16:18). Here again, one of the the words for ‘spirit’ used in this context is ‘mind’. It is an important concept to grasp, particularly when we come to our discussion later in the series on how to overcome pride.

2. The opposite of pride is humility

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Pro. 16:18-19)

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. (Pro. 18:12)

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines humility as ‘the quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities.’ The Google Dictionary states it is ‘having a modest or low view of one’s importance’. In essence, it is a recognition that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6), it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ in which we are able to stand before a Holy God (Isa. 61:10) not any righteousness in and of ourselves, so we have nothing of which to boast.

3. Pride is a sin

Pride and submission are mutually exclusive. How do we know this? Because pride and humility are opposites and it requires humility to submit. Submission means ‘the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person’ (Google dictionary). The Collins Dictionary gives the meaning of submission as ‘a state in which people can no longer do what they want to do because they have yielded control to someone else’.  In both definitions, we note that submission is an act of the will i.e. it is your decision whether to submit or not. We see throughout scripture that it is a requirement of God that we submit to Him, to others in authority, wives to husbands, and children to parents. It is not a suggestion it is an instruction. Anything that causes us to disobey God is sin.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, (1 Peter 5:5-6)

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Eph. 5:22; see also Col. 3:18)

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Rom. 13:1)

4. Pride is part of our carnal nature

We will continually struggle with pride even when we are saved. Our spirits are regenerated through salvation but not our souls. This is why we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12b). In Romans 7, Paul shows us the struggle we go through daily as we seek to bring our souls into subjection to our spirits. This recognition should stir in us the need to be on constant guard against pride, particularly because God hates it so much.  It is so easy for material things, spiritual giftings, and achievements to make us prideful. Is this why some people wanting riches don’t get them because God is protecting them from themselves? We must always remember who is the source of all that we have and all that we are (2 Pet. 1:3; James 1:17).  Look how earnestly God had to warn the Israelites not to forget that God was the source of their new found wealth. It was not through their own power and might (Deut. 8:11-18). He also warns the rich in 1 Timothy 6:17 not to be high minded by trusting in their riches rather than in the living God who gave them the riches in the first place. He reminds us in Romans 12:3 that even our faith comes from Him. Why so many warnings? Because it is our human tendency to ascribe to ourselves the things that have been provided by God. Those things then become a curse to us. It happens so subtly.

Having gained a better understanding of the nature of pride, next week we will begin to look at the consequences of pride.

Shalom.

The Many Faces of Pride (Part 1)

About a month ago, I was asked by a dear Sister in Christ to do a teaching at her church on the Spirit of Pride as part of a series that was being conducted on spiritual warfare. I have said on more than one occasion that Father God has a great sense of humour and here again He proved my point. Who better to teach on pride than one who has struggled with it in one form or another and the struggle goes on. In fact, it is my own journey that has revealed to me the many faces of pride, some so subtle that if you are not careful you will mistake it for something else. Truth be told, pride is a sin that all Christians struggle with whether you want to admit it or not. It is one of those all-pervasive sins, like fear, that if not conquered will hinder the fulfilment of all that God has purposed and planned for your life. I believe that, except for my series on Holiness, this is the most important series I will publish. Topics to be covered will be: the importance of pride, the nature of pride, the consequences of pride, the many faces of pride and overcoming pride. May you be transformed by the renewing of your mind as you yield yourself to all that the Holy Spirit wants to minister to you as we go on this journey together.

The Importance of Pride

To fully understand the importance of pride we need only look at the Father’s heart.

These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 
A proud look, a lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Pride is an abomination to God. The word ‘abomination’ means causes disgust or loathing, a disgrace, an outrage, evil, an atrocity, an obscenity, a curse, a torment. Notice in these verses, pride is the first abomination mentioned. It comes even before ‘hands that shed innocent blood’. This is the degree to which God hates pride. If we think about it, many times pride is at the root of many of the other abominations mentioned.

Pride was Satan’s cardinal sin. This is the sin that caused him to be cast out of heaven, out of God’s presence.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa. 14:12-14, emphases mine)

Jesus was there in heaven and testified of what He saw.

And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

Pride was the first sin recounted in the scriptures. We see in Genesis 3:5, that Satan beguiled Eve to disobey God by appealing to her pride.

For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 3:5, emphasis mine)

In both cases, Satan and Eve, we see that the essence of pride is wanting to be our own god. Thinking we can do the same as or better than God. Thinking we know as much as or even more than God.

Pride is at the root of most of the problems in society and, yes I will say it, in the church. Marketers understand man’s innate nature that is called the ‘pride of life’ and use it as a prime marketing tool.

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 2:16)

Next time, we will delve deeper into the nature of pride.

Shalom.

 

WHO AM I?

IMG_1541852686177I posed this question to my Heavenly Father and rested quietly in His presence to hear His response.

“Who are you?”, I could hear the smile in His voice. “You are My creative miracle. Only I could have done this extraordinary and exceptional act of making you just as I wanted you to be. Before you were even thought of by your earthly father and mother I knew you because you came out of Me. I pictured you and then formed everything about you – the colour of your eyes, the colour of your skin, the colour and texture of your hair, how tall you would be, the pitch of your voice, every detail of your face, the length of your fingers and your toes, every little detail about you came out of My creative thoughts. I looked upon you when you were in your mother’s womb and smiled to Myself for I knew I had fashioned you fearfully and wonderfully. You were the work of My own hands, a work in which I took great pride. I made no other quite like you. I created you to be different from every other person. You are My special treasure. Whoever says you were an accident or they didn’t want you to be here are not speaking in agreement with Me. It was I who planned for You to be here because I wanted you to be here. Do you know why?”

“I have a plan and a purpose that only you can carry out for Me. You do not belong to yourself. You are so precious to Me that I allowed My own beloved son Jesus Christ to sacrifice His life to pay the price for your freedom. Through Him, you have the power to overcome the control of Satan over your life. A power he gained when he deceived your forefathers Adam and Eve. He took from them the power and authority I set aside for you from the beginning. Jesus agreed with Me that you were far too precious to allow Satan to have control over who you are and who you should become.”

“Who are you? You were made in My image to be loved by Me, to worship Me and to live an abundant life under the direction of My Holy Spirit.”

“Who are you? You are My master piece, created to rule and reign in the earth; to destroy the works of the devil. This is who I created you to be. Walk as My child of light.”

Supporting scriptures: Genesis 1:26; Psalms 139:13-16; Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2; John 10:10; Revelation 5:10; 1 John 3:8; Ephesians 5:8.

Shalom

Adversity: Test or Consequence?

Adversity in the life of a believer can have two main sources – sin that gives Satan legal authority over specific areas of our life or God allowing us to be tested. Sin can be created from actions taken by our forefathers or by ourselves (Lam. 5:7; Num. 14:18). Ultimately, whichever source the adversity is coming from, we are called to be more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour (Rom. 8:37). However, to be conquerors it is important that we be able to discern the source so that we can act according to what is required in the situation.

Is this a test from God or have we (or others in our family) by our own action or lack of action brought suffering upon ourselves? How can we know? Simple, ask God. Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you if there are things you have done or not done that have given place to the devil (Eph. 4:26-27, 6:11; Jas. 4:7; Lk. 4:6; Rev. 20:10). Trust me, He will be quick to show you if you honestly want to know. God wants above all things that you would prosper and be in good health even as your SOUL PROSPERS (3 John 1:2). He wants you to have good success and to have an abundant life (Josh. 1:8; John 10:10). He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Ps. 23:3). He therefore has a vested interest in your victory over the enemy and will not withhold from you that which is necessary to gain full freedom. That was the purpose for His coming (Isa. 61:1; 1 John 3:8). If you are the one who has sinned, then most likely you will already be aware of the issue that needs to be dealt with as the Holy Spirit would have been convicting you to repent and receive forgiveness, resist and rebuke, and walk into freedom rejoicing (John 16:8; Prov. 28:13; 2 Tim. 2:25; Lev. 26:40-42; Jas. 4:7; Lk. 4:35).

On the other hand, when we are being tested, God usually doesn’t answer us right away. Job is our example. God did not warn Job that the test was coming and during the test He kept silent. It’s like your teacher coming to class one day and giving a pop quiz. There is no prior warning and the teacher is not going to answer your questions, after all it is a test. You are being tested to determine how much you have learnt so expect the silent treatment. When you know that this is the kind of teacher you have it is in your best interest to always be prepared so when the test comes you are not taken off guard. God allowed Satan’s request to attack Job because He could trust in Job’s commitment to Him. God was showing off. God knew that Job’s commitment to Him was not just based on what God had blessed him with. That even if he lost everything he would still praise the Lord.

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there. The Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. (Job 13:15)

Job understood that God was his source and all that he had, including his family, did not belong to him, he was merely a steward over what God had given to him. Job was going to serve God not based on the condition that God bless him but simply because God deserves it because of who He is, his Creator. Are you at that place? Many of us have been weaned on the prosperity message and truly believe that God owes us something. We have developed an entitlement mentality. To the extent that if God doesn’t respond in the way we think He should, because we have been faithful and obedient, we get upset with Him.

Another reason for testing is evidenced in the life of Jesus Christ. Who was more faithful and obedient than Jesus? But He was led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted of the devil (Mt. 4:1). This was prior to being released into ministry. Why then do we feel that we will not also be required to walk that same road if we are serious about being used of God? (Phil. 3:10)

God also allows adversity to build our faith in a God who will take us through. So, having overcome we can strengthen and encourage others.

Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me; (Ps. 23:4a, emphasis mine)

Note, God is not taking us out of the valley, He is helping us to go through it. He is allowing us to be strengthened through adversity. When we go through then we are strengthened in our faith because we know it if hadn’t been for the Lord at our side we would have perished (Ps. 16:8) and we must needs go through hardship if we are soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3).

No matter the source of our adversity, it is critical that in the midst we maintain trust in God our Father. He tests us not because He seeks to harm us but because He wants to build character in us so we can be overcomers and become the image of Jesus Christ (Jer. 29:11; Rom. 8:29).

In the midst of adversity then let us seek God to determine, “Is this test or consequence?”

Shalom

 

Satan Gets Too Much Credit

Many times we credit Satan with the bad things that are happening in our lives when most times we are our own worst enemy. We blame demonic activity rather than taking responsibility for the consequences of our own actions. These actions can be conscious and unconscious. Either way, there are consequences for every action we take in life. Many times we don’t realize that our action creates an open door that gives Satan legal authority over us. Legal access because our decision has taken us from under God’s authority, by failing to trust Him or to obey Him.

It is human nature to want to find someone else to blame when things are going wrong. Unfortunately, Christians, particularly charismatics, are very quick to ascribe demonic activity when negative things take place and nothing seems to be going right. Many times they are correct but fail to recognize that their own actions, attitudes, and words actually invited the demonic onslaught that they are now facing.

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Fear and anxiety is one of the most common doors through which Satan gains access. Stress is many times the manifestation we see. Fear can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The thing we fear is going to happen usually does because fear opens the door and the enemy acts in accordance with our fear (Job 3:25). Three other common doors of access for Satan are hatred (unforgiveness), occult practices and sexual sin. Yes, the enemy will come to tempt but we are the ones who choose whether we yield or not. “The enemy made me do it” is a lie from the pit of hell. Satan cannot make you do anything. You decide whether you are going to partner with him or with God.  The Lord says He has given his followers power over ALL the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm us (Lk. 10:19). Therefore, when we choose to renege on the authority we have been given by God and allow the enemy to take over we have no one to blame but ourselves.

In addition, to the things I have already mentioned as common door openers, there are also some spiritual laws that if not obeyed will result in us not receiving the blessings that we all want. Failure to pay tithes (Mal. 3:10-11), not meditating in God’s Word (Josh. 1:8), being ungrateful (1 Tim. 6:6), making our own decisions (Prov. 14:12, 16:25), not seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first and foremost (Mt. 6:33), sowing the wrong seeds (Gal. 6:7,8), being ungenerous (2 Cor. 9:6), being prideful and arrogant (Prov. 16:18), just to name a few. There are also physical laws, which if not followed will have dire consequences on our health – poor diet, insufficient sleep, lack of exercise, overwork, inadequate water. We traumatize our bodies and then rebuke the devil when we become sick.  We call on the elders to lay hands on us and then we go right back to our undisciplined behaviour and blame our continued sickness on the devil. Yes, there are several autoimmune and chronic diseases that have a spiritual component to them, but again it is because of open doors either through our forefathers or ourselves that we have again given access to the enemy to bring these diseases upon us.

I must mention here a pet peeve of mine. I am tired of us bringing up Satan’s name in the midst of our praise and worship on a Sunday morning. This is God’s time. He is the one we need to be focusing on. Instead, we are singing about “treading down the enemy” and “commanding Satan to take his weapons and flee”. We give him too much attention. That’s what he loves. Remember it was pride that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven. He wants to gain our attention like a spoilt child and when we call his name in the midst of our praise and worship we have played right into his hands. The worst thing you can do to Satan is ignore him. He thrives on attention so don’t give it to him. Having gotten that off my chest let’s get back on track.

For those who may be saying, “but aren’t there times when we have done nothing to deserve Satan’s attack but he still comes after us?” My answer is “yes”. There are times when we will be tested and God allows Satan access to us for a season as seen in the story of Job. The point is, even during a time of testing we cannot afford to play the victim. The aim is to pass the test with flying colours; in other words, to be victorious. The ‘woe is me’ mentality is not going to get you through the test. Many of us go through the test with the wrong attitude because we have somehow come to believe that we are entitled not to go through suffering of any kind. Recognize that it is God’s purpose that is being accomplished by the test and not Satan’s. He thinks he is getting the victory but God is working on your character so you will come into the image of Jesus Christ. See it for what it is and don’t give the devil any credit. Take power and authority over him and move on. Don’t allow him to keep you distracted by keeping your attention on him. That’s where he wants you to be. Understand his tricks and don’t get pulled into his game (2 Cor. 2:11). You may miss the purpose of God while the enemy has you distracted. In my next blog, I will tell you how to tell the difference between a test and a consequence of your own actions. That’s a whole lesson in itself.

Many times we do not meet God’s conditions but expect God’s blessings. When we don’t get them we find someone else to blame, usually Satan and his demons. Many times we act unwisely and then cry out to God to deliver us from the enemy, when WE are the enemy. Today, let’s look into ourselves and take responsibility when we are at fault. We need to honestly and without reserve ask God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24, NKJV).

Ultimately, whether our adversity is because of generational iniquity, wrong decisions, or testing from God we have the final say in whether we will be victorious or remain a victim. God’s divine power has given us everything that pertains to life and to godliness, therefore we are without excuse (2 Pet. 1:3).  He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we could ever ask or think according to the POWER THAT WORKS IN US (Eph. 3:20). It always comes back to our decisions. Stop blaming Satan. Take responsibility. Stand in authority.

Shalom.