Seven Spirits of Pride

Seven Spirits of Pride

What keeps people from believing in Jesus as the Messiah? What keeps believers from receiving God’s gift of repentance and being filled with the Holy Spirit? Why do we keep committing the same sin instead of obeying Christ and following Him?

Psalm 10:2-4 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain, curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

A spirit of pride prevents people from believing, from having a contrite heart that leads to repentance, from asking for the Holy Spirit, and from living for Christ. Pride makes us think we can attain the desires of our flesh and not suffer adverse consequences.

This spirit of pride manifests in several ways.

Haughty Pride

When one thinks of the word haughty, an image of a wealthy snob quickly comes to mind. However, one need not be rich to be filled with haughtiness. Seeing oneself as smarter, prettier, stronger, or more capable than others are all aspects of haughtiness or arrogance. Although this kind of pride is encouraged in our culture, there is no room for it in the Kingdom of God.

The world commends haughtiness and arrogance by renaming it self-confidence. Our confidence should be in the Lord—“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”— and “Apart from Christ, I can do nothing”.

For example, one of Spurgeon’s students went up into a pulpit with every expression of confidence, but he had an extremely difficult time delivering his sermon. He came down from the pulpit brokenhearted and humbled. He went to Spurgeon about it. Spurgeon said, “If you had gone up as you came down, you would have come down as you went up.”

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

Consider the reality of this statement. The more highly we think of ourselves, the farther we distance ourselves from God. The believer who persists in this arrogance is in a frightfully dangerous position.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Self-protective Pride

An individual with self-protective pride has a very difficult time repenting and dying to self. He believes he was born the way he is and he is extremely defensive and easily offended if anyone points out his faults or sin. This person is either proud of his sin or has fortified himself with an elaborate system of defense mechanisms, to prevent his sin from being exposed. For this reason, he may not attend church. As a result, the walls of his personal fortress thicken and become even more impenetrable to any “intruders”, including the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Although he wants to go to Heaven, he does not have God’s grace to repent. So, he compares himself to the “hypocrites” in church and considers himself as qualified as they are for Heaven. He is deceived.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, not sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

The person with self-protective pride needs God’s grace to put his trust in God and discover that being humbled and corrected is not as horrible as he imagines it to be. In fact, God uses the exposure of sin for our healing and deliverance. Through brokenness, contrition, and confession of sin, God gives us grace to repent and to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin, the righteousness of Christ, eternity in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit.

Unapproachable Pride

The person with unapproachable pride cannot be corrected, reproved, or confronted on any matter. He is noticeably tense whenever he is confronted about areas in his life that need correction. He will argue, be offended, and retaliate verbally or physically.

Proverbs 9:7-8 (GNB) If you correct conceited people, you will only be insulted. If you reprimand evil people, you will only get hurt. Never correct conceited people; they will hate you for it. But if you correct the wise, they will respect you.

A proud and foolish person will not receive reproof. This is unfortunate because correction from the Word of God is essential to repentance and overcoming sin. The person with unapproachable pride must learn to view correction as beneficial, rather than as an attack that he must vigorously defend. He must be willing to listen to the counsel of others and allow himself to be reproved by them when necessary.

Know-it-all Pride

The person with know-it-all pride is usually very talented, gifted, and knowledgeable. He tends to think that he can do anything, and in many ways, he often can! He has a great deal of distrust in the abilities of others because of his inflated view of himself. He views himself as the man with all the answers because he thinks highly of himself. But in reality, he has deceived himself into believing that other people have nothing to teach him. He contemptuously discredits the abilities of others because of his arrogant pride.

1 Corinthians 8:2-3 Those who think they know something, do not yet know as he ought to know. But whoever loves God, is known by God.

Consequently, the person with “know-it-all pride” needs to humbly ask advice from others. Even if he thinks he knows the answer, this person can benefit immensely by seeking the opinion of others. Doing so will diminish the spirit of pride and increase a spirit of humility. It will also fine-tune his answers, introduce additional insight, and bring correction to his knowledge. He will become teachable, which will enable him to see his sin, become humble, repent, and be conformed to the image of Christ.

Self-exalting Pride

An individual dominated by self-exalting pride feels the need to be the center of attention. Not only does he thrive on everyone noticing him, but he usually has a personality that attracts people. He is generally very outgoing and fun-loving. To get recognition and admiration, he boasts of his deeds and the people he knows.

Proverbs 27:2 (GW) Praise should come from another person and not from your own mouth, from a stranger and not from your own lips.

The person struggling with self-exalting pride needs grace to see himself in God’s eyes, to humble himself before the Lord, to repent, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who will develop in him the fruit of meekness. Rather than promoting himself and making sure that everyone notices his good deeds, he must learn to quietly work for the Lord and allow God to promote him.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Unsubmissive Pride

Those with unsubmissive pride are rebellious to authority. This person is also confident in his abilities and thinks he should be the one in leadership. He arrogantly places himself at the same level as those God has placed over him. He may make brazen statements like, “I hear from God, not man.”

Since the 1960’s, rebellion has run rampant in America, infecting our culture with unsubmissive pride. Rather than accept orders from a parent, a superior at work, or even the Word of God, people continually question authority and live by their own rules. How different this is from God’s perspective on authority.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

This rebellious spirit is also prevalent in the Church and home today. Until we repent of our unsubmissive pride, we will continue to have conflict in our homes and churches.

Colossians 3:18-20 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Spiritual Pride

Lastly, anyone with a “holier-than-thou” mentality has the opposite mindset of those Jesus described as being “poor in spirit”. The one with spiritual pride imagines himself to be a spiritual giant. What is truly incredible is how those with spiritual pride can commit the most detestable types of sin and still see themselves as more spiritual than others! Jesus’s harshest rebukes were aimed at the religious Pharisees who were filled with self-righteousness and spiritual pride.

Matthew 23:25-28 “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 whitewashed 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.”

Spiritual pride will send individuals to Hell and eventually kill a church because the Holy Spirit will not be present. Visitors to a church can sense the presence of spiritual pride and the absence of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, those with spiritual pride do not realize their sin. Only by God’s intervening grace will they see their pride and their need to repent.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

A spirit of pride is easy to detect in others and difficult to recognize in ourselves. Such is the nature of this evil spirit. That is why we need the grace of God to see our pride. With grace, we can contritely confess it and be delivered from it through humble repentance.

Contrition and brokenness are works of the Spirit that are necessary for deliverance from a spirit of pride. The results are humility, repentance, and the character of Christ. The more of self and pride that remains in a believer, the less room there is for Christ and His attributes. Although the process of deliverance and repentance is initially painful, we must allow Holy Spirit to cleanse us completely of all pride and fill us with Himself.

Andrew Murray said, “This is the true self-denial to which our Savior call us—the acknowledgment that self has nothing good in it except as an empty vessel which God must fill with His Spirit. It is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all in us.”

Humility is counter to the self-esteem movement of today. However, life is not a matter of having high self-esteem or low self-esteem. Anyone who matures as a believer will eventually come to the place where self-esteem is replaced with Christ’s esteem. He is our life.

It is not effective for a man to combat the low opinion he may have of himself by trying to pump himself up. The only real answer for someone struggling with “low self-esteem” is to humble himself and allow the Lord to instill a sense of assurance and fulfillment that comes to any child of God who is walking in obedience to Him. Drawing nearer to the Lord results in a corresponding decrease in self-awareness, which is vital to having the mind of Christ and walking by the Spirit instead of our flesh.

To those with high self-esteem, Jesus teaches us to be servants. Oh, how foreign the concept of servanthood is in the Church today! It is not lowliness that most desire, but loftiness! Striving for honor is such a part of our sinful nature that it seems practically unavoidable. Even the disciples, during the very eve of our Savior’s crucifixion, argued amongst themselves about who was the greatest.

Jesus corrected them in Luke 22:25-26, And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”

After saying this, He got on His hands and knees and washed their feet. The Lord was showing them, through this act of total servitude and selflessness, how to be the greatest in His Kingdom, which is a humble servant.

John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The point Jesus was making was not that we should have foot-washing ceremonies, although there might be a place for that. Rather, He was showing believers that His Kingdom is made up of humble servants.

Becoming a servant is a mindset that the Holy Spirit develops by renewing our mind with the Word of God. It involves a repentant lifestyle of putting others before oneself.

Until a person learns to put others before himself, he will never truly be free from pride, sin, and the desire to gratify his selfish flesh. Humbling oneself by repentant acts of servitude is one of the greatest tools God has given us to overcome the prideful self-life.

Pride is the foundation that sin thrives upon. Living in a repentant awareness of the needs of others and having a servant’s heart will absolutely undermine the spirit of pride and counteract the powerful temptations to gratify our sinful nature.

James 4:5-8 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Since repentance is His desire, resist the spirit of pride that is preventing you from humbling yourself before God. Ask the Father to break the spirit of pride and the stronghold of anything in your life that is unlike Jesus. When He points it out, humbly confess your sin and your inability to do any better. Give your life to Him, and ask for His grace to repent. Continue to ask Him daily for grace to die to self and to be filled with the Holy Spirit so you have power over temptation and grace to be changed into the image of Jesus.