Revive Our Hearts Radio

A Pride Test

Leslie Basham: How do you know if you’ve been acting in pride? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When is the last time you said these words to a family member, to a friend, to a co-worker? "I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?" Let me tell you, if it’s been more than a month, mark it down. Haven’t you sinned in a month?

When was the last time you said that to your husband? "I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?" Why is it so hard for us to say those words? Why? Because we’re proud.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 3.

Everyone needs to learn about humility and then everyone needs to keep being reminded of it over and over. Nancy's teaching from her workbook, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.   

Nancy: This week we want to talk about what I think biblically is one of the most foundational elements of seeking the Lord.

It’s the foundation for experiencing and enjoying the presence of the Lord in personal revival and in corporate revival. It’s the starting place. If you miss this step, you will never experience revival. You’ll never experience the nearness of God in your life, in your marriage, in your home if you miss this very foundational principle.

What is it? Well, if we go to 2 Chronicles chapter 7, verse 14, that verse is familiar to us. The Scripture says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will . . .” What’s the first thing? “humble themselves . . .” (NIV). Humility.

Humility—the thing everybody says they want, but most of us don’t realize how much of it we lack and need. We see the absence of it in other people more than we can see its absence in our own lives.

So this week we want to talk about humility and its converse, pride. So by looking at pride, we’ll see what it is that God needs to change and what we need to repent of to have humble hearts.

Isaiah 57, verse 15, tells us how important God views humility. “Thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place’” (NKJV).

Notice all those references to God being high. He is lofty. He is exalted. He is elevated. He is high up above us. God says, “My address, the place where I live is this high and holy place." He is transcendent. He is further beyond and above us than we could ever imagine.

But God says I have another address. There’s another place where I live besides the high and the holy, exalted place. I also dwell “with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (NIV) or a humble spirit as some of your translations say.

So God says I dwell in this high transcendent place far beyond what you could ever imagine, what you could ever attain to, but I also dwell with those, close to those, at home with those, who have a humble and a contrite spirit. “To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15 NKJV).

You want to experience revival in your life? The starting place is a contrite and a humble spirit. You want to experience revival in your home, your marriage, with your children? The starting place is humility, a humble, a contrite, a lowly, a broken heart. So God who is high and lifted up says, "I stoop down, in effect, to meet with those who have a lowly, a humble spirit."

Now as we mentioned, pride is the opposite of a humble spirit, so I want us to talk about what is pride. What does it look like? How does God feel about it? How can we identify its evidences in our lives?

Pride: self-exaltation. God said, “I am the high One. I am the lofty One.” Pride is when we say, “I’m the high one. I’m the lofty one.” That was Satan’s first sin. That’s what got him in all that trouble. "I will be like God." Self-exaltation.

Lifting ourselves up, because when we lift ourselves, by default, we bring God down. Isn’t that what our whole world system does? It deifies man and humanizes God, bringing Him down to our level and trying to bring us up to His level.

Pride is a sense of self-importance. It’s my world revolving around me. Self-centeredness. Self-absorption. It’s all those self-ish words. Pride.

Jonathan Edwards said:

[Pride] is . . . the first sin that ever entered into the universe and the last that is rooted out. It is God’s most stubborn enemy!
Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature. That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself.  Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it? 

Again, we can see it in others; but when we have too high an opinion of ourselves, we’re unaware that we do. Pride makes us blind to our failures, to our weaknesses, to our need. It makes us think we’re okay.

Now, we hear a lot today about self-image and people saying, "I’ve got a poor self-image. I’ve got low self-esteem." According to the Scripture, the problem is just the reverse. It’s that we think so much of ourselves that we get easily wounded when others don’t think highly of us.

It’s that business as one writer said of “thinking much about ourselves and much of ourselves.” Oswald Sanders said egotism or pride “is the practice of thinking and speaking much of oneself, the habit of magnifying one’s attainments or importance. It leads one to consider everything in its relation to himself rather than in relation to God and the welfare of His people.”

According to the Scripture the problem is this root issue of wanting to be in control, the world revolving around me, this drive to have things work in a way that I want to have them work. And when things don't work the way I want them to work, I have pity parties, I become demanding and controlling. There are all kinds of ways to get control. This is the essence of pride.

Even people with what are called inferiority complexes or low self-esteem, what are they told to do? Think much of ourselves. "How I feel." "How I fit in." "How do people view me?" To think much about ourselves and much of ourselves.

Oswald Sanders said,

Egotism or pride is the practice of thinking and speaking much of one's self, the habit of magnifying one's attainments or importance. It leads one to consider everything in relation to himself rather than in relation to God and the welfare of His people.

So we say, "How does this affect me? The way my husband is behaving, the way my children are acting, the way my co-workers are treating me, the way the weather is, the way my health is, how does this affect me? How does this make me feel?" Rather than what does God think about this? How does this help the welfare, the wellbeing of God’s people?

C. S. Lewis put it this way,

The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice. It is the complete anti-God state of mind.

So just how serious is pride? Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to the book of Proverbs, chapter 26. I want us to read there a series of verses that give us a contrast that helps us see how serious pride is. Verse 1. Now, you’ll notice a word in the first twelve verses that recurs over and over again, and it’s the word fool. This passage is talking first about a fool.

Verse 1, “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.” Honor doesn’t go with a fool in the same way that snow doesn’t go with summer.

Verse 3, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.” That’s how you have got to deal with a fool. He won't listen to counsel, so he has to have discipline, the rod to make him do what's right, to make him go the right direction.

Look at verse 6: “Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.” He’s useless. You’re going to get yourself in trouble if you entrust your message to a fool.

Verse 7, “Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” Fools don’t have any wisdom so what good does it do if they say wise things? It’s useless in their mouths.

Verse 8, “Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool.” Now if you bind a stone in a sling, what’s going to happen when you . . . It won’t go anywhere. It won’t do anything. It won’t reach its object. He says that’s the same as if you give honor to a fool. It’s foolishness.

Verse 9, “Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” He’s just staggering around. He’s drunk. He can’t see what he’s doing, and he just accidentally pushes his hand onto a stake or thorn. I mean he didn’t feel it, didn’t know what he’s doing, just oblivious to what’s going on. That’s like a proverb in the mouth of fools.

Verse 10, “Like an archer who wounds everyone . . .” Somebody takes a bow and arrow and just randomly shoots at people walking down the street. “Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” They do a lot of damage. They’re deadly.

Verse 11, this is a kind of awful word picture here, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” He keeps going back to it.

After reading those first eleven verses, do you want to be a fool? Would you say it’s pretty awful to be a fool? It is. Now look at verse 12. “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” What’s worse than being a fool? It’s being proud.

How does God view pride? He says in Proverbs 8 that He hates it (see v. 13). He hates pride and arrogance and the evil way. In Proverbs 16 He says it’s an abomination to Him (see v. 5). God detests pride. God is the only One who is high and lifted up.

We exalt ourselves when we center our world around ourselves. God says "that is an abomination to Me. I hate it." Actually, according to the Scripture, the most heinous sin of which any man or woman can ever be guilty is the sin of pride.

Now we don’t tend to think of sin that way. When we think of horrible, heinous sins, what comes to our mind may be some of the types of sexual perversion or just gross wickedness that’s in our culture around us, things that aren’t our sins, by and large.

Yet when God lists seven things in Proverbs chapter 6 that are an abomination to Him, He didn’t even mention those things. He does mention pride. Right there in that top list, the things that God particularly hates (see vv. 1617).

“Though the LORD is high,” Psalm 138, verse 6, “he regards the lowly [the humble], but the haughty he knows from afar.” God is high. He says, "I stoop down to lift up those who are humble, those who are lowly, those whose world is centered around God rather than around themselves." God says, "If you’re haughty, if you’re proud, if you’re self-centered, I’m going to keep you at a distance. I can’t draw near to you. I’m going to know you from afar."

You’ll never be able to draw close to God until you let His Holy Spirit come and plow up those roots, those clods of pride. That’s what keeps us far from God. That’s what keeps the presence and the power of God out of our churches. It’s pride.

We say, "Yes, my pastor is really proud, or my husband is really a proud man. Those old people have been there forever, and they are so proud." No, Gods says to look at your own heart. You want to see what pride looks like? Look in the mirror.

So you say, “Okay, I want to be humble.” How do I know if I am humble? How do I get there, and what do I do about becoming humble?

Let me tell you what C. S. Lewis had to say. He said, “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step.” Are you ready for this? Do you want to write it down? “The first step is to realize that one is proud.” He said, “If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

Now, I don’t think I like that quote, but I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

I’ve come up with forty evidences of pride. Most of these I know best because they’re things I can see in different ways in my own heart. Don’t try and write all these down. We’ll make this available to you, but here’s what I do want you to do. If you have a paper and pencil, I want you to make a note, either mentally or on your piece of paper there.

As I read through these, which ones does the Spirit of God kind of point His finger in your heart and say, “I see that in you sometimes or generally or a lot of a time.” What are some of these characteristics, evidences of pride. This will help us to see areas that we need to identify as issues of pride in our lives.

1. Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?

2. Do you think of yourself as more spiritual than your mate or people in your church or people in your workplace, other believers? Do you think of yourself as more spiritual than other believers you know?

3. Here’s another one: Do you have a judgmental spirit toward those who don’t make the same lifestyle choices that you do? Dress standards, how you school your kids, entertainment standards. Think of other believers you know. Do you tend to have a judgmental spirit? Now maybe you don’t think you do. If you wonder on some of these, you may want to go ask somebody who knows you really well, "Do I come across that way, as having a judgmental spirit toward those who have different lifestyle choices than I do?"

4. Here’s another one: Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those faults to others? Do you have a sharp, critical tongue? We would call it discerning, analytical.

Jonathan Edwards, by the way, wrote a powerful, convicting piece on evidences of spiritual pride. This is one of seven that he listed, faultfinding: "Spiritual pride causes us to speak of other people's sins, while humility causes us to be silent about them or to speak of them with grief." The spiritually proud person shows it in finding fault with other saints. "They are low in grace. How cold and dead they are." They are quick to discern and notice their deficiencies. 

We can do that and sound so pious and spiritual. "The people at my church are so cold; they are so dead." Is that a reflection of pride in our hearts? He says, "Christian humility causes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, to make the best of it, and to diminish their failings. The truly humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart that he's not apt to be very busy with other's hearts." Faultfinding.

5. Here’s another one: Do you frequently correct or criticize your mate or your pastor or other people in positions of leadership—your kids’ teachers, youth director. Think about the people who are involved in your life, people in leadership. Are you quick to correct or criticize them? To them or to others?

6. Do you give undo time or attention to your physical appearance? Hair, make-up, clothing, body, weight, body shape, trying not to look older? Do you give undo attention to your physical appearance?

7. Are you proud of the schedule you keep? How disciplined you are? How much you’re able to accomplish? You’re a real producer, a real performer. Is that something that you’re proud of?

8. Are you driven to receive approval, praise, or acceptance from others? You always need to have a pat on the back, have someone telling you how well you’re doing or you get discouraged. Are you driven to receive approval from others?

9. Are you argumentative? You have to have the last word. Think about what it’s been like in your home for the last day or two. Proverbs tell us that only by pride comes contention. So where there’s contention . . . “Yes,” you say, “I know. My husband. He’s a proud man. That’s why we have so much contention in our home.” No, it takes more than a proud husband to have contention in a home. It’s a proud husband and, more often than not, a proud wife too. Are you argumentative?

10. Do you generally think that your way is the right way, the only way, or the best way? Think about how you go about cleaning up your kitchen and then your husband comes along and he does it differently. Is your way the right way? It has to be done your way.

11. Do you have a touchy, sensitive spirit, easily offended? Do you get your feelings hurt easily? This is another one of the evidences of spiritual pride that Jonathan Edwards talked about—people who take offense easily. He said:

Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received and is prone to be often speaking of them . . . humility on the other hand causes a person to be more like his blessed Lord when reviled: quiet, not opening his mouth, but committing himself in silence to Him who judges righteously.

12. How about this one? Are you guilty of pretense? Trying to leave a better impression of yourself than is honestly true. Here’s a way to go about seeing if you have that one. Would the people that know you at church be shocked if they were to come and discover what you’re like at home, behind the four walls of your own home?

13. Another one: Do you have a hard time admitting when you are wrong? Is it hard for you to say, “I was wrong”? Or do you wait for the other person to admit that they were wrong?

14. Do you have a hard time confessing your sin to God or others? Not just in generalities. We all say I need to be a better woman. I need to love the Lord more. I need to read my Bible more. But when it comes to the specific issues. "I’m in love with food. I’m in love with television. I love entertainment more than I love God." I mean the specifics. Do you have a hard time confessing those?

15. Do you have a hard time expressing your real spiritual needs and struggles with others? Expressing what's really going on in your heart? Do you have a hard time praying out loud with others?

16. Are you excessively shy? You say, “Shy? That’s proud?” Excessive shyness. What is it? Self-centeredness. What do other people think about me? That can be an evidence, a subtle form of pride.

17. Do you have a hard time reaching out and being friendly to people that you don’t know at church? Do you stick to your own little group there, hard to reach out to new people? That can be pride.

18. Do you become defensive when you are criticized or corrected? That anger that wells up. What is that? That’s a fruit that grows on the root of pride. Why do we get angry when somebody criticizes us? We may not express it outwardly, but inwardly. Because our pride gets hurt.

19. Are you a perfectionist? Here’s another evidence of pride perhaps in your life. The way you keep your house, the way you do your job, the way you raise your kids. Are you a perfectionist? Everything has to be just perfect and you get impatient and irked with people who aren’t.

20. Do you tend to be controlling of your mate? If you’re not sure, by the way, ask your mate. Controlling of your children, of your friends, of people in your workplace? You're always trying to manage and manipulate the people around you. You probably don't do it consciously. That's why we have to ask the Spirit to plow up the ground of our hearts and show us what's really under the surface, and He will do that for us. 

21. Do you frequently interrupt people when they’re speaking? The Lord really spoke to me about this as I was working on this list. I realized what I’m saying when I interrupt you when you’re speaking is, what I have to say is more important than what you have to say. It’s pride.

22. Does your husband feel intimidated by your "spirituality"? How well you know the Bible? How easily you can pray? He feels, "I have to go to seminary to measure up to that woman" It may be not your knowledge that he is reacting to, but the superior attitude of pride that you are communicating, maybe without even intending to or realizing it.

23. Does your husband feel like he can never measure up to your expectations? What it means to be a good husband? What it means to be a spiritual leader? He's supposed to be romantic and tender and strong and all these impossible composite things of the picture we're creating of this incredible husband. Does he feel like he can never be the husband you want him to be?

24. Do you often complain about the weather, your health, your circumstances, your job, church? Complaining. How’s that pride? You think you deserve better. It shouldn’t be happening to me.

25. Do you talk about yourself too much? Are you more concerned about your problems, your needs, your burdens than about other people’s concerns?

26. Do you worry about what others think of you? About your reputation or your family’s reputation? By the way, that’s one thing that motivates a lot of parenting, isn’t it? With mothers, "What are people going to think if my child is this way?" That can be pride.

27. Do you neglect to express gratitude for the little things to God, to your mate, to others? An ungrateful spirit, that’s pride.

28. Do you neglect prayer and intake of the Word? How’s that pride? Well, I’m saying I can live my life without God. I can manage without Him.

29. Do you get hurt if your accomplishments or your acts of service are not recognized or rewarded? In your home? At your job? In your church?

30. Do you get hurt if your opinions are not considered when your boss or your mate is making a decision and you are not informed about the changes? And you get your feelings hurt.

31. Do you react to rules? And who of us doesn’t? Do you have a hard time being told what to do? Do you have an issue with authority? That’s pride.

32. Maybe you're thinking, I'm not proud. I don't have anything to be proud about. I don't have any special gifts. I'm not beautiful. I don't have any achievements to be proud of. If you are self-conscious about that, that can be a subtle form of pride.

For example, are you self-conscious because of your lack of formal education? You don't have a college degree and you get uncomfortable or intimidated when you are around people who are more educated.

33. Do you avoid participating in certain events for fear of being embarrassed or looking foolish? Do you avoid being around certain people because you feel inferior compared to them? Feel like you just don’t measure up.

34. Are you uncomfortable inviting people to your home because you don’t think it’s nice enough, or you can’t afford to do lavish entertaining?

35. Is it hard for you to let others know when you need help? Maybe practical help or spiritual help. You have an independent spirit. I can do this on my own. I won’t let anybody else help me.

36. Here’s a way to measure your pride quotient. When is the last time you said these words to a family member, to a friend, to a co-worker, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

Let me tell you if it’s been more than a month (let me just pick a figure) if it’s been more than a month, mark it down. Haven’t you sinned in a month? When’s the last time you said that to your husband, "I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?"

Why is it so hard for us to say those words? Why? Because we’re proud. We have to humble ourselves to say those words.

Let me just throw in this last question.

37. Are you sitting here thinking how many of these questions apply to someone you know? You’re feeling pretty good that most of things don’t really apply to you. You want to get a tape of this session and hand it to about a dozen people you know. Could that be an evidence of pride?

God spoke through the prophet Obadiah to the people of Edam in that prophet’s day. Obadiah chapter 1, verse 3, and he said, “The pride of your heart has deceived you.” The pride of your heart has deceived you. It makes us blind.

Here’s what Spurgeon had to say about that verse. He said,

Pride is self-deceit. Those who are sure that they have no pride are probably the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed. The confidence that we are not deceived may only prove the completeness of the deception under which we labor.

So we need to say, “Lord, would You show me where I’m self-deceived?” Has the pride of my heart deceived me from being able to see what God sees? Has the pride of your heart deceived you, made you blind, to the real condition of your heart?

As you seek the Lord, say, “Lord, show me what You see. Reveal my heart to me. Let me see it as You see it. Show me the pride of my heart. As you do, I will repent. I will humble myself. I will agree with You, and I will let You bring me to a place of humility.” That’s the starting place of revival.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today she’s been giving us a pride test. A very convicting pride test. If you missed any of the questions in that test you can read the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy writes about the danger of pride and the importance of humility in the workbook, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

It’s a twelve-week study about the elements of personal revival. There’s a chapter on clearing your conscience. Chapters on honesty, purity, and living by the power of the Holy Spirit. This would be a perfect study for your personal devotional time. And then if you find it helpful, you could get copies of the workbook for your small group and go through the study with them.

We’ll send you one copy of the workbook, Seeking Him, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.  

Donations from you and other listeners keep the Revive Our Hearts coming to you each weekday, and we really need your supportespecially if you’ve never given to the ministry before.

Ask for Seeking Him when you call 18005695959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

What happens if we say "no thanks" to humility? Nancy will tell us tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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