In the book of Proverbs, God lays out a list before us of what are often called the “Seven deadly sins.” They earned that nickname, not because those sins will cause a believer to lose his salvation, but because they are the most destructive sins to a believer's spiritual progress before the Lord.
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:17-19).
We’ll go through them in depth as we go on. But first, note that God HATES the first six on the list. Note even more carefully His opinion of the seventh -- it is an ABOMINATION to Him.
The first deadly sin on the list is pride. Although it doesn’t make the “abomination” category, it is the first step on the road that leads there.
Pride is the most insidious sin, since it might easily be termed the “silent” sin. Its very nature prevents us from either recognizing it in ourselves or admitting to it when it is finally recognized (usually by somebody else.)
God hates pride. “Pride” is arguably the seminal sin of the universe out of which all other sin arises. The first recorded sin in the history of the universe was not the fall of man, but the fall of Lucifer.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12).
What follows is Satan’s indictment, often called the five “I wills” -- each of which are the byproduct of Lucifer’s pride.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (14:13).
Some preachers have made the case that sin can be defined through this passage. “I will” rather than “God’s will.” It’s pithy and elliptical and even accurate, up to a point but it doesn’t quite hit the bulls eye. Close, but not exact.
If one were seeking to locate the root and branch of sin, “I will” is a lesser included offense, so to speak, but not the original sin. “I will” is merely the outward expression of the original sin of pride.
If you take God’s list in order, “pride” is first because without it, the rest of them haven't a leg to stand on.
The secular dictionary defines “pride” thusly: “A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect.”
Pride breeds lies. Why do people lie? Generally speaking, it is to conceal some secret that would make them look bad. There is a standing joke in prison that the one thing all inmates have in common is that they are innocent.
Even after having served their time, few convicts own up to the crimes for which they were convicted, even though vindication wouldn't give them back their time served. It is gone forever, so why bother continuing to deny it? Pride.
“Hands that shed innocent blood” immediately brings abortion to the forefront of my mind. Why are abortion records kept secret? After the abortion is accomplished, the “problem” is “solved.” It isn’t illegal to have an abortion, so there is no legal jeopardy attached to having had one. The records are sealed to protect the privacy (and pride) of the perpetrator.
And while there are many “reasons” for wanting to get an abortion, when they are distilled down to their essence, one will find pride in there somewhere. The pro-life slogan, “It’s MY body” is an expression of pride. The abortion destroys the baby's body, not the mothers.
“A woman’s right to choose” is another. A pregnant woman already made her choice when she did the deed that produced the pregnancy. Claiming a special “right” to a SECOND choice to correct the first wrong choice -- as an expression of the uniqueness of womanhood, is rooted in pride.
Men are expressly forbidden the same “right” to correct a wrong choice. And not only is their sin NOT concealed, it is a matter of public record, accessible by anybody searching through court-ordered child support records.
The identities of those who actually shed innocent blood are protected, to protect their pride. Those just as involved in the creation of the child, but who have no say in the matter of abortion, are often held up to public ridicule. (Or even imprisonment.)
The “innocent blood” shed in the process is secondary to protecting the reputation of those who shed it. I would venture to bet that there would be lots fewer abortions if there were a legal requirement to post the particulars of an abortion in a local paper, the way the law requires public notification of a death, an estate, or a bankruptcy.
A heart devising “wicked imaginations” and feet that are “swift to be running in mischief” would be less divisive and less swift if the particulars were certain to be published on the front page of the newspaper, even when no crime has been committed.
We’ve discussed pride’s role in bearing false witness, and now we come to that final pride-sponsored abomination, “he that soweth discord among brethren.”
Ever find yourself in a discussion over doctrine that turns nasty? Where what ostensibly began as an effort to “straighten out” someone else's doctrinal error degenerates into an argument over whose understanding of doctrine is the correct one?
You can tell when it has made that shift from discussion to debate to argument, even if you aren't part of it. It becomes less about the doctrine in question and more about who is right.
Even after both sides have agreed to disagree, the debate lingers as each side waits for an advantage, some unrelated event or circumstance that will re-open the debate and give one side or the other a hope for the opportunity to say, “Aha! Told ya!”
Pride, by its insidious nature, blinds us to the fact (obvious to most observers) that the goal of the debate has morphed. It's no longer about the doctrine. It's about being right.
The debate about the timing of the Rapture is a perfect example. It is a given that, when two genuinely saved, born-again Christians start debating the timing of the Rapture, both sides sincerely believe that they are right. Why else would they want to argue about it?
What neither side can articulate very effectively is what difference the timing of the Rapture makes to their own salvation. Or what difference it makes to the mission of leading souls to Christ.
One is saved by grace through faith in Christ, not by faith in Christ's appointment calendar. An understanding of the timing of the Rapture is necessary to rightly dividing the Word insofar as understanding the Bible's prophetic outline.
But we aren't saved by our understanding of the Bible's prophetic outline. It isn't when He comes that saves us, it is faith in the One Who is coming.
But spend a little time reading through some of the debates and it is hard to find much about Christ in them. It's about being right. Pride. Bragging rights.
Proverbs says that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).
In our forums, debates about the timing of the Rapture has driven many members right out of our fellowship. Those who remain are vindicated; some even rejoice at having driven such a one away.
Nobody has learned anything from the exchange except which party is the better debater. Each side remains convinced of their own position, because the goal is to defend their own view, not consider the merits of the other side.
And pride won’t allow us to see that the damage being caused in the process far outweighs any eternal value that might be gleaned from winning over a post-Tribber to the pre-Trib side.
Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Nowhere does the timing of the Rapture play a role. Nothing of eternal value is obtained by driving away a brother or sister from fellowship over an issue that can never be proved until after the fact.
It serves only to spread unnecessary discord among brethren, which the Scriptures identify as an “abomination before the Lord.”
The discussion at hand in today's briefing isn't the timing of the Rapture -- it is the insidious nature of the sin of pride. It sneaks up on us, unawares. By the time we recognize the role it plays, (if ever) it is too late to undo the damage its caused.
It shatters relationships, spreads discord among brethren, damages the shared mission of all Christians, to demonstrate the truth that, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
There are doctrinal differences between Christians because that is the way God has ordained it to be.
In the book of Genesis, we read of Nimrod’s efforts to rally the whole world to his cause, to build a tower that would thwart God's effort at judgment in the event of another flood.
To prevent the whole world from falling under the sway of one man's heresy, God confused the languages and divided the world into nations, confusing their languages so that they would be able to form their own opinions about God’s will for their lives without the influence of a single, powerful human leader.
Within the church, there are doctrinal differences between denominations that serve the same purpose. Interestingly, it is only AFTER those doctrinal divisions are “taken out of the way” at the Rapture that the Antichrist is free to advance his own personal doctrine, whereby he seizes control of the global religion and declares himself to be God.
His plan could never work during the Church Age. Christians can't even agree among themselves about the details of the Eternal God, despite the fact they were revealed by God Himself, let alone buy into the unified doctrine of antichrist.
There is but one universal Christian doctrine, summed up in Acts 4:12:
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The apostle Paul addressed the doctrinal divisions that had already stirred up the pride of the early Church, as some Christians declared themselves followers of Peter, and others, followers of Paul.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1).
There is probably no better example of a “doubtful disputation” than the timing of the Rapture.
As Paul noted in his letter to the Corinthians; “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” We teach what we believe, but nobody should be forced to agree with every detail in order to keep fellowship. We are all one in Christ as sinners saved by grace.
I am convinced of a pre-Trib Rapture, but if somebody wants to reject that in favor of another view, his eternity is not in jeopardy. Just his understanding.
As to endless debate about peripheral details not related to salvation, Paul says, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:36, 38).
In addressing the minor doctrinal divisions of his day, Paul writes, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded IN HIS OWN mind” (Romans 14:5).
The operative phrase here is for each man to be fully persuaded of his own doctrine in his OWN mind. If someone has a question, I will spend all the time necessary to answer it.
But debating the answer is both a waste of time and an exercise in pride. I can’t fully persuade somebody else’s mind. Nor would I want to. Rather, it is my job to present the facts as I understand them and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.
He is able.