Summary: The thesis of this sermon is that pride is the root of all sin and must be confessed and surrendered to the cleansing power of Jesus.

God’s Answer for Pride: Swallow It

--Proverbs 16:18

--James 4:5-10

--Luke 18:9-14

In Shakespeare’s satiric tragedy on the Trojan War Troilus and Cressida the Greek General Agamemnon conjectures:

He that is proud eats up himself;

Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle. . .

[--Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene 3, ll. 166-167.]

Pride sounds its own praise, not only in the Agamemnon’s trumpet call, but in the mirror and in the newspaper. Pride destroys its own accomplishments by self praise.

“Pride is such a subtle thing. I usually don’t recognize it in my life. In his classic book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis has a chapter called, ‘The Greatest Sin in the World.’ With his characteristic insight and clarity, Lewis demonstrates that pride is that ‘greatest sin.’ He writes this incredible chapter that defines the right kind of pride (‘I’m proud of my son.’) and the wrong kind of pride (‘I have to be the best. I have to be number one.’). And after discussing all the subtle nuances and ins and outs of pride, Lewis ends the chapter by stating, ‘If you have read this and you’re convinced that this does not apply to you, then it certainly does apply to you.’ Whoa!”

[--Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong (Questar Publishing, 1995), p. 108.].

Shakespeare and Lewis echo the warning of King Solomon in Proverbs 16:18:

“Pride goes before destruction,

and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are two kinds of pride—one that is healthy and good; another that is unhealthy and sinful. Oftentimes positive pride refers to a healthy sense of “self-esteem” or “self-respect.” Negative pride is a spirit of “haughtiness.” Someone has said, “A haughty person signals his pride like a flashing red light at an intersection. He displays how ‘great’ he is by his walk, his talk, and his mannerisms. English clergyman Caleb C. Colton remarked, ‘Pride, like the magnet, constantly points to one object: self. Unlike the magnet, it has no attracting pole, but at all points it repels.’”

[--Bible Illustrator Deluxe for Windows 3.0. Omaha, Nebraska, FindEx, Inc.

“Pride: Warnings Against,” Index: 1722.].

It is this later meaning in which Solomon, Shakespeare, and Lewis

use the term pride, and in this sense pride is the root cause of all sin. Billy Graham reminds us, “The first, and worst, of the seven deadly sins is pride. It may be spiritual, intellectual, material, or social. The most repugnant of these four is spiritual pride. This pride of the spirit was the sin that caused Lucifer, the devil to fall. This is where sin actually began.” [Flint, Cort R. and others, editors, The Quotable Billy Graham. Anderson, NC: Droke House Publishers,


Sinful pride is an “excessive love for one’s own self.” It is

“thinking that I am better than I really am.” Pride wants human applause and is frustrated when it does not receive enough praise from others.

The pride which goes before destruction is a spirit of arrogance, a spirit of haughtiness. It is an uncalled for spirit of self-importance. It is a spirit of aloofness, an attitude scornful towards others because I consider them “beneath me in dignity.”

In Romans 1:18-31 Paul explains the spirit of wickedness that has prevailed in the world since Adam and Eve led the human race into sin. In Romans 1:30 he defines the attitude of pride as an “insolent spirit.” An insolent spirit is a boastful spirit; it is an “over-bearing” spirit that mistreats and insults others. The pride that goes before destruction is that “boastful spirit” which makes more of one’s self or his accomplishments than is warranted by the facts.

Both the Old and New Testaments condemn arrogant, haughty pride. Another warning of Solomon is found in Proverbs 16:5:

“All those who are arrogant are an abomination to the LORD;

be assured, they will not go unpunished.”

Pride is an “abomination to the Lord.” God abhors a proud spirit; it

Disgusts Him. An abomination makes a person sick. A proud, haughty, arrogant attitude makes God sick.

Let’s recall our text one more time from Proverbs 16:18:

“Pride goes before destruction,

and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Hebrew poetry is written in a rhythmic pattern called parallelism.

This means that two lines of poetry repeat a similar thought

in different words. Pride in line one and haughty in line two are similar

terms for the same spirit. The Hebrew word for pride literally means “to

mount up” or “to be puffed up.” In modern day terminology it means “to

have a swelled head.” “Haughty” in Hebrew means “aloofness.” Both lines

give us the same warning: “a swelled head,” “an aloof” spirit leads to one’s destruction, fall, and ruin.

Such pride brought about Satan’s Fall. It was his “swelled

head,” his “puffed up spirit” that led him to rise up in rebellion against God.

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