In a recent message, Responding to a worldly Christian, we discussed the definition of worldliness according to 1 John 2:15-17. In that passage, we saw that worldliness includes the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We also saw that worldliness has bad results: It replaces our love for God, makes us an enemy of God, and pollutes our lives. We have already discussed the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. Today, I would like us to consider some modern examples of another part of worldliness.
3. The pride of life
The third phrase used to describe worldliness is “the pride of life.” The first part of the phrase is pride. The Greek word translated as pride is ἀλαζονεία. It is defined as “boasting, pretension, arrogance … haughtiness.”1 The Greek word for life is βίου. It is defined as “(everyday) life; what one lives on, property, possessions.”1 When you put the two together, you get a haughty attitude about one’s life and possessions. The person who succumbs to the pride of life is proud about what he has accomplished in life and what he owns. “It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness.”2
What is a biblical example of the pride of life?
The biblical example that immediately comes to mind is Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4). After becoming successful and overseeing the worldwide Babylonian empire, the king became proud. God warned him about his pride by sending him a dream about a huge tree that could be seen by all the earth. It provided food and shelter to all but was cut down until everyone realized that God is the Ruler and uses humble people. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know what the dream meant, so he called Daniel in to tell him. Daniel told the king that he was the great tree which would be cut down until he acknowledged that God rules over all and puts whomever He wishes in charge.
We don’t hear of Nebuchadnezzar changing his ways at first. A year later, he made a haughty statement: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” In other words, Nebuchadnezzar was proud about his accomplishments, his power, and his majesty. Without acknowledging what God had allowed him to accomplish, Nebuchadnezzar took all the credit. This was the worldly pride of life. God’s judgment immediately fell on the king. He lost his kingdom, became like a beast, and was kept in the wild. But after a period of time, God allowed him to think like a man again. God’s judgment brought him to repentance where the once arrogant king praised God and acknowledged that God was ultimately in charge. He concluded by saying that, “those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”
What does the Bible say about pride?
We may be tempted to think that all pride is wrong. However, “there is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates (Proverbs 8:13) and the kind of pride we can feel about a job well done (Galatians 6:4) or the kind of pride we express over the accomplishment of loved ones (2 Corinthians 7:4). The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness or conceit is sin.”3 The Bible makes it clear that pride in our own accomplishments or possessions is sinful because we are taking all the credit and not acknowledging what God has done. “Pride is essentially self-worship.”3
Consider several Bible verses about pride:
Psalm 10:4 – “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.”
Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Mark 7:21-23 – “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
1 Timothy 3:6 – “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”
In all of these verses, we see that the pride of life is anti-God, hated by God, destructive, defiling, and condemned with the devil. The pride of life is a worldly evil that doesn’t come from God but comes from within our sinful hearts and is prodded on by Satan and those who follow his ways.
Where does the pride of life confront Christians today?
It would be easy to point to Pride Week and point out the anti-God ideas expressed by those who rebel against God. But let’s take a closer look to ourselves. The pride of life is “that which makes us feel superior to someone else.”4 Do any of these apply to you?
• I am much better than people who are not Christians.
• I am much better than other Christians.
• I have accomplished so much in my life.
• I am beautiful, handsome, strong, hard-working, etc.
• I have a better position at work than others.
• I have more money and possessions than others.
• I have a better educational degree than others.
• I have more experience than others.
• I have a better pedigree.
• I am from a better race than others.
All of these proud statements are symptoms that we have become infected with the pride of life. The pride of life “is not of the Father but is of the world.” So when we find ourselves boasting about our accomplishments or possessions, let us quickly remind ourselves that we are being worldly instead of godly. This does not please the Lord at all.
Let us take a moment and examine ourselves. Have we been acting proudful? If so, we should step back and reconsider where all that we are and have actually came from. Paul, who was one of the most influential Christians used by God, could have boasted in his accomplishments. But instead, he took pride in what God did for him.
Galatians 6:14 – “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
When Paul looked back on what had been accomplished in his life, he realized that it was all due to what Jesus did for him on the cross. Like the rest of us, Paul was a sinner who could not please God. Jesus had to die for his sins as well as for ours. When Paul repented of his sins and put his faith in Jesus, there was a remarkable change in his life. God changed him from an abusive, ignorant, religious zealot who was headed to destruction. What a difference God made in his life. What a difference he has made in my life.
Everything that we are and have is a direct result of the One who created us, sustains us, saved us, changed us, and provides for us. We can’t take credit for what God has done without sinning against the One who has done everything for us. If the Lord has revealed to you that you have given in to the pride of life, will you this moment repent of your sin and acknowledge God as the One who deserves all the glory?
2 “What is the pride of life?”
3 “What does the Bible say about pride?”
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 775.
Mounce, Bill, “Greek Dictionary” as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary on 6/25/2023.
“What does the Bible say about pride?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=383 on 6/25/2023.
“What is the pride of life?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2563 on 6/25/2023.