What is the worst sin? Most of us probably think of the big ones in terms of visibility and fallout. Sins like adultery or murder are usually near the top of the list. But how many of us would put pride as chief of crimes against God?
Scripture actually contains a list of things God hates and pride is at the top of that list (Proverbs 6:16–17). Pride is certainly one of the best ways to imitate Satan. No wonder it’s so offensive to God. “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5).
Pride is a subtle and sinister threat that continually stalks the Christian life. The temptation is always there to take credit for things when God rightly deserves the glory. Pride is so utterly subversive it often attacks us subconsciously. Even our piety can become a battlefield with pride. Have you ever caught yourself feeling good over your worship of God, your selflessness—even your humility?
In his sermon “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3,” John MacArthur points out that the pride so inherent to the human condition was turned into an art form by the Pharisees.
Fallen, unredeemed flesh is proud and it will turn pride into a virtue, as you well know from the culture in which you live. That’s bad enough. But when you compound it with religious pride—spiritual pride which takes it to a higher level of virtue—you sell that as if that is legitimate religion. It is a difficult disconnect to remove people from those things which are both instinctive to their fallenness and cultivated in them from their youth as virtuous.
And so Jesus spends a lot of time teaching His disciples about humility, while at the same time they’re having discussions about which of them will be the greatest in the kingdom. Even so audacious, a couple of them send their mother to ask Jesus if they can please be on His right hand and left hand. And when that was unfolded, the rest of the disciples were angry—not because they were more humble but because two of them got there first. They were struggling deeply with these issues of humility, it just wasn't part of their nature and nor was it part of their religious culture.
Our modern plight is really no different from the prideful struggles of Jesus’ disciples. Humility is counterintuitive to every natural tendency and instinct we have. For that reason, we need it to take root via supernatural means. And John MacArthur lays out that reality from a profound biblical perspective in “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3.”
Here’s what one of our staff members said about John’s sermon and its central text, Luke 17:5–10:
Jesus’ teaching in these verses serves as a welcome reminder that everything commendable in us is the result of God’s grace, and all good works attempted and accomplished must be attributed to His gracious gifting and empowerment. Jesus’ words in verses 9–10 remind us of the beauty of humility in our service for God: “He [the master] does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” Such an attitude rightly acknowledges and exalts God’s grace which works in us who believe. —Jeremy S.
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