Based on Esther, chapters 5, 6, and 7.
The most outstanding characteristic of the devil is pride. It was first revealed in heaven when Lucifer said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:13-14). Because of his pride, Lucifer, also called Satan, was cast to the earth, where God is allowing him and his host to operate among the human family. The truth that pride goes before a fall is very true for Satan in that he was a respected angel before the great fall into the condemnation of the Holy God.
In the world, Satan has gone out “to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth” (Rev. 20:8). He is yet at war with God, and he focuses this conflict on humanity, seeking to influence people against God by portraying the heavenly Father as cruel and unfair. In his pride, Satan has become the prince of the kingdom of this world. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
Some people in their unconverted state believe in their own excellence. However, man has no excellence of himself. In the absence of God’s grace, man is corrupt and unable to please his Creator. It is only God’s grace that keeps society from running headlong down a path of evil and ending in complete anarchy.
The proud native flesh of man never gets converted; however, there is grace for a humble walk of life. The heavenly Father loves the children of men with an unconditional love and has provided a way for them to come out of the kingdom of evil. In Jesus Christ there is salvation for whomsoever will believe to the saving of his soul. In truth, God values every soul the same. He is just as interested in saving the simplest, uneducated person as He is in saving an intelligent, accomplished leader in the community or church. Those who are saved have a new life in which they have power over their proud flesh.
The account of Haman in the book of Esther shows how the pride of the unconverted heart deceives a person to think he is more important than others. “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?” (Obad. 3). Pride causes a person to seek an identity by means of his accomplishments, abilities, family lineage, social status, or anything else that is held dear. With this frame of mind, I will categorize people as to whether they are more or less important than me. Many times a critical, vengeful attitude is an attempt to lower someone to my perceived level. All of this maneuvering in the mind is futile. As Haman found out, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5). Though pride expresses itself in many and varied ways, underneath it always involves a lie. Any credit I take for my talents, knowledge, or abilities is not my own. It belongs to God.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6). Peter’s instruction is worthy of daily attention for all Christians. Because pride is elusive, we may need others to help us identify it. Our tendency is to overlook our faults and notice our virtues. When looking at others, pride causes us to do the opposite. A proper understanding of our native depravity is a deterrent to our pride; however, we must turn to God for the remedy. Our own efforts will always prove futile to achieve genuine humility.
When I believe in my heart that God loved me enough to die for me, I no longer need the approval of men. True humility causes me to trust God. And therein lies our hope of deliverance. Jesus told Peter, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). We can trust Him! And when we do, we will find our every need supplied, and we will not need to lift ourselves up. As we humbly incline our hearts toward Him, He opens our eyes to see ourselves clearly and gives us grace to identify our pride wherever it may be hiding in our hearts. The glorious liberty we find in trusting Him will be the humility that our soul has desired.
From Adult and Youth Sunday School Lessons, September 10, 2017