SE7EN Deadly Sins – The Problem of Pride (Proverbs)


Jim Collins’ book Good To Great is often used as a leadership manual for businesses and organizations. His book is popular and influential as they surveyed and studied numerous companies for identifying characteristics of successful leaders and businesses. Collins and his team identified two specific character qualities shared by CEO’s.

The first was not surprising in that the men and women CEO’s of successful companies were highly driven. They possessed incredible professional will to overcome obstacles and persevere in spite of problems. They also had and hired the skills needed to accomplish the tasks to create a successful and flourishing company.

The second trait these leaders had in common was not something the researchers expected to find. The leaders were not only highly driven but they were also humble. The leaders consistently pointed to the contribution of others and didn’t like drawing attention to themselves. They were meek and modest, unselfish and servant-minded.  “The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes… They never aspired to put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” The leaders and companies did not believe their own press clippings but instead persevered and perspired to focus on the tasks at hand for their company.

Humility is a friend and pride is a foe.

Today we conclude our series on The SE7EN DEADLY SINS, with perhaps the root of all sin: Pride.

Se7en Deadly Sins logo


EXAMINE       Se7en Deadly Sins                Pride

The warnings from Scripture about pride could not be more serious and sobering. God’s perspective of pride is human idolatry. Pride is striving for supremacy and sovereignty, which only God possesses. Pride is cosmic plagiarism[1], taking acclaim and attention away from God.

God opposes the proud.

Proverbs 3:34 “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor [grace]”

James 4:6/1Peter 5:5 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

–        “opposes” is “a military term depicting a full army ready for battle”[2]

–        Opposes is present tense active verb implying immediate and ongoing activity

Proverbs 6:17 “The Lord hates [and views as] abomination to him, haughty eyes…”

–        Pride is hated and equated to murder, deceit, wicked, lying, and gossip-dividers.

Proverbs 8:13 “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

Proverbs 15:25 “The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries.”

Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”


Titanic – God himself could not sink this ship. But God can summons an iceberg in the blink of an eye.


The irreligious are prideful but so can be the religious, and perhaps more so. The religious may clean the outside while the inside remains unyielded to God. People go to church, talk about being a Christian

–        but their spiritual disciplines, their lifestyle behaviors, and overall priorities are unchanged.

Matthew 7:22-23 “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

–        or maybe their life is very changed by religious rules but they look to rules to hang over everyone’s head, condemning others for not measuring up in appearance or actions while not extending the grace coming from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Matthew 23:24-28 “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee. First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you are like white-washed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

à Opposition Relevance:

o   Parents: Growing up, facing Mom was different than facing Dad

o   School: Taking Math was different than taking Calculus

o   Football: Facing 2015 Ravens is different than facing 2000 Ravens

o   Spouse: Coming home late to weekly dinner is different than missing Anniversary/Birthday

o   Judgment: Being judged by critics is different than being opposed by God… God opposes proud


Pride emerged early.

In the beginning of time pride was on display

–        Genesis 3 of Adam & Eve’s pride to doubt God’s wisdom and disobey God’s word in deciding to eat the forbidden fruit. It was lust of the eyes, gluttony of the stomach, greedy desires, envious emotions, and pride of the heart that caused their sin.

–        Isaiah 14 references the pride of a Babylonian king with a hint of overarching fulfillment in the pride of Lucifer.

o   Isa 14:13-15 “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascent to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.”

–        Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This is a single statement of the whole Bible from Gen 3 onward – until Jesus takes our death & rises.

Symptoms of pride

–        Crediting self-accomplishments while minimizing contribution of others or giving praise to God.

o   Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick except the person who has it. – Tony Evans

o   Great athletes credit teammates

o   Great leaders credit their staff and employees

o   Persons credit restaurant for good food while not recognizing God’s role of blessing farmers…

o   Persons credit realtor for obtaining a house while not realizing God’s role in time & circumstance

o   Proverbs 30:29-32 “Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.”


–        Contentment lacking in God, God’s provisions – so you’re ungrateful and become arrogant thinking you deserve more. The feeling of entitlement is prevalent, believing that God is our genie or meant to accomplish our will rather than us serving His will.

o   Proverbs 21:4, 24 “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin… Scoffer is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.”


–        Comparison to others, thinking God is not treating you fairly. Comparison is close to competitiveness. Constant competing so that not just that you’re the greatest but greater than _____, smarter than… earn more than… better grade… more athletic… win more games… better car/house…  better church! etc.

o   I’m tired of talking about me but you keep talking about me….

o   Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” 

–        Critical of others, bitterness sets in bc lacking overall joy and satisfaction in God and life purpose so no one else should be happy either. (Eph 4:25-31).

o   It’s always someone else’s fault… blame the school or other family’s kids bc your kids make poor choices…

o   Pride is easily seen in others but seldom spotted in ourselves.

o   Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

–        Calendar is busy with activity to appear that you are needed and you are effective, which is nothing but pride bc much can and does happen without you. If you fill your calendar with busyness without regard to God or your limitations then soon enough you will be stopped physically in burnout, if not also emotionally and spiritually.

o   Proverbs 18:12 “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”


–        Communication with God in prayer is minimal because attempting life in own strength, wisdom, resources.

o   Not yielding to God in life choices bc you think you know better.

  • I can’t listen to my parents bc I know
  • I can’t get married but I’m still going to co-habitate.

o   Proverbs 29:23 “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”


–        Concealing sin. Confession of sin is minimal because pride is self-righteous. Can’t admit wrong or apologize; admission of wrong removes you from your self-imposed royal throne.

o   Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

How can we be full of the Holy Spirit when we’re full of ourselves?

Pride must be purged from our life. John Stott: “At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend… Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.”[3]


Humility attracts God’s attention

While God opposes the proud, humility attracts God’s attention. Scripture is saturated with the view that God is near and dear to those who recognize their need for Him.

2Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” 

Psalm 18:27 “For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.”                                                

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” 

Psalm 138:6 “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” 

Proverbs 16:18-19 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Isaiah 66:2 “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

Zephaniah 3:11-12 “I will remove from your midst your proudly exaltant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly.” 

Matthew 18:4 “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  

Matthew 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”


Jonathan Edwards “The pleasures of humility are really the most refined, inward, and exquisite delights in the world.”[4]

Pride is purged through the gospel.

There is only one way to purge pride from within. The wisdom of Proverbs urges us toward humility. “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.”[5] Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It is fearing God and serving others.


Proverbs 3:6-7 “Lean not on your own understanding… Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”  

Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Proverbs 16:2 “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”

Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  

Proverbs 30:12 “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.”



Illus on Pride: When weightlifters want to strengthen their legs, their foundation base of strength, the best exercise is the squat. In squats, a person puts weight on the shoulders and repeated goes down and up, in order to build the leg muscles. The key difference between great and average weightlifters is that great ones understand that in squats you must get low as possible. The lower you go, the stronger you get. Our strength comes in seeing Jesus as our Savior from sin and Lord of Life.

‘When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride’


On the cross, Jesus took on your sin, suffered your curse, paid your debt, died your death.

[1] C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness, p. 80.

[2] John MacArthur, NT Commentary, James 4:6.

[3] John Stott, “Pride, Humility, & God”, Sovereign Grace Online, September/October 2000,

[4] Memoir of Jonathan Edwards, entry March 2, 1723.

[5] C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness, p.22.

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