1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1–2, NKJV)
Nicodemus had heard the teachings of Jesus, and he had apparently seen some of His miracles (or their effects). From this, Nicodemus rightly concluded that Jesus had come from God, and that God was with him. From the context, we are not amiss to conclude that Nicodemus was an early believer (John 2:23). He was a Pharisee, and a ruler of the Jews (John 7:50). This indicates the influence of Jesus’ words and deeds was already beginning to reach the upper echelons of Jewish power. Although this night visit implies an element of fear on the part of Nicodemus, it also shows him acting on the conclusion he drew from the words and signs of Jesus. He did not withdraw from Jesus, criticize Him, or obstruct His work. This “teacher of Israel” went directly to Jesus to investigate for himself. We must never allow our place in society, our degree of education, or the authority we hold over others to prevent a humble investigation of Christ and His gospel. Pride would have prevented this night visit. Is pride keeping you from going to Jesus, learning from Him, and following His word? Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17–19, NKJV)
Pride prevents repentance and salvation from sin. It is only when we realize the depth of our sin against our Father in heaven, that we become willing to entertain the thought of returning to Him in search of His compassionate forgiveness. God is always ready to give it. Just as a father whose child has wandered far away from him, wasting the blessings of the father’s love, God is always ready to receive and forgive the sinner who repents and abandons sin with a servant heart. There is no doubt that God compassionately forgives repentant sinners. The real question is, when we sin, will you and I humble ourselves before God, repent, and come to Him and cast ourselves upon His mercy?
Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2, NKJV)
Nobody likes a braggart. Praising oneself is a prideful display of self-importance. Christians do not go around “tooting their own horn.” Their meek and quiet life will speak for itself (see Jas. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). Praising oneself is a mark of self-righteousness, not humble self-denial. The self-righteous Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’” (Lk. 18:11-12). Praising oneself indicates one is absorbed with selfishly demanding the spotlight. Christians do not seek the praise of men, but the praise of God. Therefore, we must not draw attention to ourselves through the vanity of self-adulation. Instead, let us be busy directing our attention toward serving others, and toward humbly obeying God. Then, we will have neither the time nor the inclination to draw attention to ourselves.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:22–25, NKJV)
It is truly sad to watch human beings in the death spiral of sin. Pride blinds the unbelieving heart, producing all manner of false gods and therefore, false hopes. While God desires all men to be saved, that choice must be freely made; He will not force us to follow Him. When lust reigns in one’s heart, the shame of moral defilement results. As the body is used to serve lustful impulses instead of honoring God, divine truth is exchanged for foolish lies. The moral defilement of unbelief amounts to worshiping and serving ourselves instead of our Creator. Do not be defiant against God; that will always end poorly. Instead of sin’s death spiral, be lifted up from its darkness by following the Jesus, the light of the world. Hear His word and follow it, and move out of darkness into light (Eph. 4:17-24).
By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10, NKJV)
How much conflict could be averted if humility filled the human heart? Pride prevents us from seeking godly advice. Pride, because it has a swollen estimation of self, easily deflects wise counsel and rushes headlong into the fray, sure it is right. The result is strife, contention, turmoil. Pride is a scourge upon the soul and all who encounter it. Let us work to eliminate personal pride and replace it with a humble spirit that will benefit our homes, our churches, our businesses, our country – our souls.
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:1–2, NKJV)
What a truly carnal action it is to take a fellow Christian to court to settle a dispute. “For where there is envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men” (1 Cor. 3:3)? Yet, Christians divorce without Scriptural cause, and claim it as “the only solution.” No, sundering what God has joined together is not a solution (Matt. 19:6). When matters arise that disrupt harmony among God’s people, we must be willing to let faithful Christians help us resolve the turmoil, whether it is in business, a marriage, in a family or among friends. “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated” (1 Cor. 6:7)? Pride and prejudice interfere with reconciliation and restoration of godly relationships. Put such sins to death, and pursue peace (Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:11).
16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:16–17, NKJV)
Pride prevents many from recalling the certainty and the brevity of life as they plan their strategies for life. Or, at least, pride prevents them from allowing these realities to turn their attention to God when making life choices. These arrogantly boast in themselves and their ability to live without God, to be the master of all they survey – even though they do not control life’s uncertainty or its brevity. Convincing themselves they are sufficient without God, they choose to live their uncertain and brief life sinning against the very One who gave them life. On the other hand, when we know and do God’s will (that which is “good”), we avoid sin and instead, attain the real purpose of life: to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). May we ever humble ourselves before God to do His will. May we do the good His word reveals to us, and so by avoiding sin, equip ourselves for life, death and eternity.