Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Have you ever been proud of your humility? I was once. And then I quickly became angry at myself for this kind of twisted, inverted pride that I felt. Soon after, I began to quietly admire myself for the righteous anger I felt at my feelings of pride for my own humility. After that, I berated myself for my pride towards my anger at my pride that came from what I perceived to be my own humility. And if I recall correctly, I then felt pride creeping in because of my hatred of my pride that came from my pride for my anger at my pride that came from what I initially saw as my own humility.
Confused yet? Because I sure was, and still am every time I begin to think myself in circles about pride.
The first assertion I want to make is that as sinful human beings, none of us will ever be free from pride. Of course, we will steadily become less prideful as the indwelling Holy Spirit transforms us and makes us more and more like Jesus1, but none of us will be purely humble on this side of heaven. The reason I point this out is that because of this reality, we don’t need to constantly scrutinize our every thought for traces of pride. Self examination is a good and necessary skill for the Christian who seeks to live a Christlike life in obedience to God, but it becomes detrimental when taken too far.
Instead, when we become hopelessly entangled in pride’s sticky web, we should drop our weapons, stop trying to vanquish the enemy on our own, and run to our Savior and His cross. We should confess our pride to the Lord, but we must also know and trust that we are already forgiven if we have put our faith in Jesus and asked to be saved for eternity. This is a gift that cannot be taken away. It is finished. Jesus has won the victory over pride and every sin, so we can rest in the joy, peace, and security of our salvation even when pride lurks in the background. It will not overtake us.
So, now that we have said why we should not try to defeat pride by thinking our way out of it, we can also know that we don’t have to fear it. In the same way that we cannot think ourselves out of pride, we also will not be consumed by it when we do think deeply about our own struggle with it.
So let’s do a bit more thinking about pride.
I have begun to realize that I ruminate on, talk about, and focus on my brokenness far too often. I believe that this preoccupation with my sinful nature is itself a symptom of pride. See, why else would I think of my sin so often if not because of pride? Concentrating on how messed up I am makes me feel like I am more pure because I can see my own sin. My mind tells me that I am more righteous when I condemn myself, but self-condemnation goes against the very heart of God Himself, God who cries, “Stop living like a captive; I’ve set you free!”
It is right and necessary for us to feel genuine remorse for our sin; this is in fact the first step in being transformed by the Gospel – we must recognize that we are dead in our sin. But rather than feeling a persistent burden to constantly dwell on our sinfulness, we are free to live in joy because Jesus was, is, and always will be victorious! Even in our deadness in sin, Christ has made us alive in Him!
We’ve heard it said that “humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.” So true humility, the real escape from pride, is to not wallow in the knowledge of our own sinfulness, but to bask in the joy of Christ’s victory!
1This is the process the Church refers to as Sanctification.
--Jackson Elling is a CCO Fellow working in partnership with Cornerstone Campus Ministry of Bellefield Presbyterian Church.