There are two ways that we use the word pride: the good sense and the bad sense. The good sense of pride is of dignity and self-respect (I am proud of my child). The bad sense of pride is of arrogance, self-importance and conceitedness. The Bible mostly references pride in the negative sense because of the damage it reaps among God’s people. Pride can prevent one’s conversion, cause one to refuse to confess sins, and can lead to contention, rebellion and apostasy. However, one of the fundamental issues that pride causes is self-deception. A person who has been deceived by another can be corrected. A person who has been deceived by their own selves is nearly impossible to correct. This is the center of what it means to have a hard heart.
Obadiah writes to the Edomites addressing this issue: The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? (Obadiah 3). Their presumptuous and deceiving pride was partly due to their excellent geography. The Edomites lived in a very mountainous area, which was difficult for any nation to try and take by force. They lived among the highest cliffs, so they would boast the question, “who shall bring us down to the ground?” Obadiah warns them of their false confidence: Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD (Obadiah 4).
We see from their example how pride can deceive you; but when it comes to the more practical issues today, how do we know if we are caught in self-deception? For it is easier to see if another is lying than if we are lying to ourselves! Here are just a few signs that can imply I am lying to myself. My pride might have deceived me if:
1. I am unwilling to receive help
Our pride can deceive us into thinking we can handle our problems on our own. It can tell us we don’t need to have the humble attitude to ask for help; not just from God, but from others around us. What happens when we refuse to seek out help when we need it? The problem may not get resolved because the solution may be asking for help. Thus, the problem may get worse!
2. I am unwilling to acknowledge the problem
My pride may deceive me into saying I do not have an issue at all. It may be that we are refusing to call our sin, sin (Isaiah 5:20). What happens in our lives when we don’t acknowledge our difficulties? Similar to the first point, there is no resolution and our problems compound on each other.
3. I am unwilling to acknowledge the consequences
This is usually in the moment of temptation; when I am only thinking on my desires, and not what destruction my actions will reap. I may have the mindset of Rom. 6:1: continuing in sin that grace may abound. I may have the attitude that Christ won’t come back at this moment, so I will have time to make amends for my wrongs. However, this particular deception will leave us unprepared for the consequences when they arrive. Judas was not thinking of the full magnitude of his actions when he betrayed Jesus. He was so caught off guard that, when he realized what he had done, he took his own life (Matthew 27:3-8).
Pride is destructive for so many reasons; but self-deception is perhaps the most lethal consequence. It is tough to know if we are lying to ourselves; so we have to be watchful in examining our lives to ensure we are living with good and honest hearts (Luke 8:15).