Master Sermon List
Beware Of Spiritual Pride!
by William Gurnall
Pride was the
sin that turned Satan, a blessed angel, into a cursed devil. Satan knows better
than anyone the damning power of pride. Is it any wonder, then, that Satan sows
pride among saints, that he so often uses it to poison them? Spiritual
pride is one kind of pride that Satan uses to assault the saints.
One kind of
spiritual pride is pride of gifts. By gifts I mean those spiritual
abilities the Holy Spirit dispenses to Christians for the edification of the
body of Christ as a whole. The apostle tells us of the great diversity of gifts
(1 Cor. 12:4-11). Just look around you at the different species of plants and
flowers, and you will have some idea of God's love for infinite variety. He has
been no less creative with the human personality. Every child of God is unique
and important for the proper functioning of the body of Christ.
pride creeps in, we begin to create hierarchies among the brethren and among
gifts. This inevitably leads to divisions and disputes. Satan knows it and
labors to taint every single gift with pride. In so doing he can hurl two stones
at once. With one, he strikes the unity of the body as a whole; with the other,
he cripples the individual saint.
possibility that pride is the reason we do so little good for others with our
gifts. When pride prevails, we pray, preach, comfort, or console to be thought
good by others, rather than to do good to others. We set ourselves upon a
spiritual pedestal and, in a manner of speaking, expect those we serve to
worship at the shrine of our good works. Will God honor such efforts? He has
told us in no uncertain terms that He will not share His glory with anyone else
(Isa. 48:11). The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him, but
the proud man will find himself in a worse fix. God Himself will be there to
resist him. If you doubt it, read His Word: "[He] resisteth the proud, but
giveth grace unto the humble" (Jas. 4:6).
Our pride is
also the reason we receive so little good from the gifts of other Christians.
Pride fills us with notions of our own spiritual sufficiency. We think we are
too good (or too holy) to need the help of most other saints. We find few
preachers who are "spiritual" enough to minister to us. And if someone offers a
word of correction, we close our ears.
us into thinking we "are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of
nothing" (Rev. 3:17). Alas for us! How long can a soul thrive if it
steadfastly refuses wholesome nourishment, and will only sit down to a "choice
dish" of high-sounding theory? Just as simple food is healthier for our physical
bodies than an elaborate feast, so a steady diet of plain truths and God's
ordinances is better for our souls than dipping in the lordly dishes of man's
If you are
one who holds yourself in high spiritual esteem, hear this: Many humble
Christians, of low estate by the world's standards, have much to offer you if
you are not too proud to receive spiritual food at their hands. Pride always
destroys love and separates saints. Without love for all the brethren, we are
bound to lose much that God wants to give. The Bible says every saint has
been given gifts to benefit the body of Christ.
Here is a
word to you who think your gifts are inferior to those of other members of the
body: Be content with your condition. Great gifts lift a saint up a
little higher in the eyes of men, but they also tempt him to pride. Do not envy
those with great gifts; instead, pray for them. It is hard for them to escape
the error of supposing that God's grace in them is their own doing. You have a
real advantage over them, for you have the help of their gifts but not the
temptation of their pride.
Words of Caution
are some words of caution for you to whom God has given more or better gifts
wants to grow where the best gifts have been bestowed. So beware of pride!
The only thing that will keep you from it is your humility. Remember whom you
wrestle with, spiritual wickednesses. Their ploy is to lift you up high in
order to give you a harder fall. They will try to convince you that your
spiritual accomplishments are a result of your own efforts and that you deserve
the credit for them. Surely you know this is not true! In case you have
forgotten, think back to what you were like before the Holy Spirit came to you
with gifts from God's storehouse. How can you be proud of another's bounty? You
may be able to impress other men with your gifts, but you will not impress God.
He knows where they all came from.
pride flourishes, the body of Christ suffers. Had God given you gifts merely
for your own pleasure or edification, the sin of pride would not be quite so
bad. But when you use your gifts to lift yourself up, you tear down the body of
Christ. Your gifts are necessary to the health of the whole body, but they must
be administered properly. You must be careful to acknowledge that Christ is the
Great Physician; you are only the assistant who uses His instruments and carries
out His orders.
pride grows, grace withers. Here is another reason to be humble if you have
great gifts: every proud thought you entertain costs you a measure of grace.
There is not room for both to prosper in the Christian's heart. Indeed, when
grace and pride sit down at the same table, pride shows itself a glutton, and
grace leaves the table unfed. Pride must have the most and best of everything to
satisfy its appetite. This voracious lust will devour your spirit of praise.
When you should be blessing God, you will be applauding yourself. It will eat up
Christian love and cause you to disdain the fellowship of other Christians. It
will keep you from acknowledging the gifts of others, because that would take
away some of the glory you want for yourself. Ultimately, pride so distorts our
taste that we can relish nothing drawn from another's dish.
pride reigns, God chastens. God will not allow such a weed as pride to grow
in His garden without taking some course or other to root it up. He may let you
fall into a sin that will humiliate you before men and God, and force you to
come crawling home in shame. Or He may use a thorn in the flesh to prick the
balloon of your pride. If your pride has placed His honor in jeopardy, expect to
feel God's rod of correction. Most likely it will be applied to the very spot
where your pride is rooted. Hezekiah boasted of his treasure; God sent the
Chaldeans to plunder him (Isa. 39:1-8). Jonah was proud of his gourd; God sent a
pestilence to destroy it (4:6-11). Can you expect Him to wink at this sin in
your life when He has dealt so firmly with it in His other children?
gifts are bestowed, God calls an audit. Suppose a friend died and named you
executor of his estate. But instead of dividing his inheritance according to the
instructions left in his will, you took the money and put it in your own bank
account, then went around town bragging about how rich you were. How long could
you fool people with your false prosperity? Sooner or later the rightful heirs
would show up and not only take what is theirs, but probably sue you as well. In
a spiritual sense, you are only God's executor. He has given you gifts, and
specific instructions on how to dispense them. By the time you have paid all the
legacies, you will see little left for yourself to brag or boast of. Never
forget for a moment that you will be held accountable for the talents left in
you do not keep your gifts from others, but serve the church tirelessly. That
sounds commendable. But let me ask you this: who gets the credit for your
activities? Suppose a man who was named executor of an estate paid out the
legacies as instructed but he pretended they were gifts from himself. Would we
not label him a thief and a swindler? A proud soul who takes the credit for his
good works is just as much a thief. What is worse, he steals from God Himself!
Warning Signals of Pride
How can you
know when you are in danger of committing the sin of spiritual pride with
respect to your gifts? Here are some warning signals.
You are in
danger of spiritual pride if you catch yourself dwelling on the thoughts of your
gifts with a secret kind of contentment, always taking them out to look
at and admire. A proud man is consumed with love for himself. He is the apple of
his own eye. The great subject and theme of all his thoughts is who he is and
what he has that is better than someone else's. Before you protest that you
could never fall into the hands of pride, let me tell you that no one is beyond
its bounds. Bernard, that great old saint, confessed that even in the middle of
one of his sermons, pride would be whispering in his ear, "Well done, Bernard,
How can the
Christian escape those persistent self-promoting thoughts? Run from them as you
would from an enraged bear. Do not stand still to listen to these lies, or soon
the devil will have you erecting a monument to yourself with the glory of your
God-given gifts. Remind yourself daily how weak you are and how utterly
dependent on God for every good and perfect gift.
indicator that you are caught in the trap of spiritual pride is envy of
others' gifts. Keeping our hearts and envy separated is as difficult as
keeping two lovers from meeting. It is the sin that shed the first blood: Cain's
envy hatched Abel's murder.
Envy is an
affront to the character and person of God. When you envy you are questioning
God's right to administer His gifts as He sees best. You are also maligning the
goodness of God. You are angry that God wants to bless someone besides you.
Would you not have God be good? You might as well say you would not have Him be
God, for He can no more cease to be good than He can cease to be God! When your
envy prods you to belittle the gifts of other Christians, you are really
belittling God who gave them.
its mother, pride, is the scout for a whole host of other sins. This sin of the
heart goes before and sets the stage for all kinds of sins of the flesh. Saul,
Israel's first king, fell so low as to plot the murder of the very man who had
saved his kingdom. From the day he heard David preferred above himself in the
women's songs, he could not get the sound out of his head. Envy brought him to
hate, which carried him on to plot David's death (1 Sam. 18:6-9).
what did envy do to David's own heart but make him covet the wife of his trusted
soldier, Uriah, and lead him through a maze of lust, lies, adultery, and murder?
(2 Sam. 11:1-27). Not one of these would have been committed had it not been for
that rabble-rouser, envy. It is a bloody sin, the womb wherein a whole litter
of other sins is formed (Rom. 1:29). Therefore, unless you are willing to
welcome the devil and his whole train, resist the sin of envy.
mastery over this sin, you must call in help from heaven. We have a sure promise
that the foundation of our grace is stronger than that of our lust, but only if
we enlist the Holy Spirit in our behalf: "The spirit that dwelleth in us
lusteth to envy. But He giveth more grace" (Jas. 4:5-6). Do not challenge
envy to a duel with your own resolve; you are not strong enough or smart enough
to win. But God can give you more grace than you have sin, more humility than
you have pride. If you are humble enough to ask for His grace, He will make sure
you are not so proud as to envy His gifts or grace in others.
Excerpt from "Christian in Complete Armour"