Blaise Pascal once said that mankind suffers from two great evils: Pride and lust. Pride, he said, repels us from heaven while lust binds us to earth.1 I think he’s right. Pride causes us to kick against the sovereignty of God in heaven while lust causes us to cling to and worship the transitory things of this world.
In our sinful state, we hate the idea of Jesus being Lord and King over us. As a consequence, and to varying degrees, we push back against everything true and beautiful that comes down to us from the Father of lights.
We were led to believe that we had no need of God and in our pride we refuse to acknowledge that we’ve been lied to.
Finish this sentence. Pride goes before…
“…a fall”? Here’s a good reason not to build your Christian faith around fridge magnets.
This saying from Proverbs is much stronger and reads,
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
Pride brings destruction. Pride doesn’t know when to pull its head in. When threatened, it only grows bigger and louder. And so, unsurprisingly, one of the last things pride does on it’s way to destruction is go on parade.
Welcome to the 21st century where we have pride on stilts. Arrogance on steroids. High rebellion against the king of heaven.
A man in this state will often declare that he has never felt more free, more liberated. But this kind of freedom is akin to the man who throws himself of a cliff and for one brief moment believes he’s flying. Such a man is not an eagle on the wing, but a bag of vegetable soup awaiting the rocks below.
Such a man has not somehow freed himself from God’s dominion and gained liberty. In rejecting the God of heaven, this man is now spiralling down to the only thing he has left. His lusts.
His appetite for destruction may vary in appearance and may even be well hidden for a time, but he is as bound to his earthly lusts as much as any other slave is chained to his master.
This is where our world is at. We have rebelled against the God of heaven and we celebrate our dark, degrading, plummeting lusts.
As Christians, we are not immune to this. We live in this world of high-handed rebellion and we are affected.
We show that we are affected by our inner resistance to any preacher who starts to talk a little too earnestly about holiness. We show that we are affected when we get nervous about anyone who talks a little too passionately about God’s righteous judgement.
And many of us would fairly lose our collective bum junk were anyone in the prayer meeting to start praying like King David,
Declare them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out… (Psalm 5:10)
May his days be few; may another take his office. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. (Psalm 109:8-9)
We worry about what the neighbours might think. We worry about what a visitor might think. And so we try and fashion ourselves after the world. But not too much. Just enough to gain the respect of the cool kids without losing our place on the leadership team.
But righteousness, holiness, and godliness, these are the tracks of faithful lives. Lives that have overcome the world. And unqualified, humble and repentant hearts, united to Christ in faith, who forgives the highest of our rebellious lusts, is our only escape from the shallow rocks below.
Pride and lust have this in common: Before they destroy us, they destroy intimacy. They separate and divide. Let’s face it, arrogance and unfaithfulness are pretty hard to live with.
But intimacy, drawing near to one another unafraid, comes by first being reconciled to the God of heaven.
Christ came down from heaven to bridge that divide. Where pride and lust run deep, His sacrificial love and humility run deeper.
He redeems the earth by bringing the kingdom of heaven into it.
He is the guard rail who stands at the cliff’s edge to warn those who are on the path of destruction. But He is also the medic standing by at the rocks below. Ready and more than willing to put us back together again and make us whole.
So come and be made whole.
1 Blaise Pscal, Pensees, VII