GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
PRIDE: "THE SPIRITUAL CANCER"
By Keith L. Estes
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis called pride "the spiritual cancer" which eats up the possibility of love or contentment or even common sense.
When theologians, teachers, and preachers designated the seven deadly sins, every listing puts pride first. In "The Parson's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales we are told that the root of all seven deadly sins "is Pride the general root of all harms." The order of their listing may not be as important as the fact expressed by the Parson: They are "all leashed together"; they are "the trunk of the tree from which others branch." I doubt, however, if any of the other seven deadly sins has as great an outflow leading to other expressions of sin as does pride. "The essence of sin is selfishness, and pride is the inordinate assertion of self" (Stalker, p.4)
The sin of our first parents was pride. (Read Gen. 3:1-5;)
Satan's hooker "You will be like God" scored its mark. Though there is a rather baffling mystery around the origin of Satan, Revelation 12:7-12 tells about the war that broke out in heaven between Michael and his angels with the "dragon" (serpent)) and his angels. Michael and his angels won and "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-was thrown down to earth."
It was pride that brought the fall. Isaiah 14:13-14 reads: "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." (It appears that Satan, the enemy of our souls, has “I” problems.)
There it is- "I will be like the most High"- the same temptation to which Adam and Eve succumbed: "You will be like God" (Gen. 3:5).
So this is the first sin of which we have knowledge. Why did the angels fall? Pride. Milton in Paradise Lost pictured the outstanding feature of the leader of the angels in this tragic drama as arrogance. He cries, "Better to reign in hell, than to serve in heav'n."
All of this seems so dramatic, but that's not the way it is with most of us. The way pride usually expresses itself is not to be dramatic, but it is pervasive. Think of pride as preoccupation with self, the inordinate assertion of self. Stop for a moment and reflect on your life and that of those around you. Do you see why those who have investigated the subject most deeply see pride as the primary sin?
Dictionaries give the following as their first definition of pride: "an inordinate self-esteem" (Webster); "an unreasonable conceit of superiority...an overweening opinion of one's own qualities" (Oxford English).
Synonyms for pride are not very attractive: vanity, conceit, arrogance, egotism, self-glorification, and boastfulness. Synonyms of a more slang nature are big head, cockiness, stuck-up, snobbishness, self-centered, full of yourself, know-it-all, puffed up. It is no wonder Proverbs says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).
Ref. The Workbook On The Seven Deadly Sins, by Maxie Dunnam & Kimberly Dunnam Reisman, Upper Room Books Nashville Used by Permission.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition