Seven Capital Sins – Pride, pt.1

This week we are reading about the sin of Pride in chapter 4.  Pride is the excessive belief in one’s own abilities that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It is traditionally seen as the sin from which all other sins arise for in Pride we put ourselves in the place of God.  In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes “The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility . . . . According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites 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.” (Book 3, chapter 8). The great insidiousness of Pride, as pointed out by Augustine and Aquinas, is that Pride is the hardest sin to avoid since “other sins find their vent in the accomplishment of evil deeds, whereas pride lies in wait for good deeds to destroy them.” Summa 162.6.  The easiest way to understand pride and its antidote of humility is simply to compare the pride and fall of Lucifer with the humility and exhalation of Christ:

Isaiah 14   12 How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Lucifer, son of the Morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    on the heights of Zaphon;
14 I will ascend to the tops of the clouds,
    I will make myself like the Most High
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the depths of the Pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you,
    and ponder over you:
“Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
    who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
    and overthrew its cities,
    who would not let his prisoners go home?”
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
    each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
    like loathsome carrion,
clothed with the dead, those pierced by the sword,
    who go down to the stones of the Pit,
    like a corpse trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
    because you have destroyed your land,
    you have killed your people.  

Philippians 2 1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8     he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.  

As you read through chapter 4, think about those areas in which we, especially the Church, put ourselves in the place of God – when we judge others (Matt. 7:1-6); when we seek to cleanse the church of the unrighteous (Matt. 13:24-30), when we are wasteful with the gifts we have been given (Luke 15:11-32), and especially when we trust in our own righteousness like the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-14) or in our own faith and knowledge (1 Corinthians 8, 13). In addition to chapter 4, please read Psalm 51 and Psalm 22.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is beef vegetable soup. Discussion begins at 6:45. Hope to see you here. And this week would be a safe week to bring a friend.

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