Pride — The ‘Original Sin’?

by Douglas Hoff


Proverbs 16:18 [NKJV] says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Clearly, pride is a very bad thing to possess even in a small quantity.  The problem with pride is that it often grows into a full grown monster that consumes the one in its evil grip.

The expression “original sin” is usually associated with the Calvinistic doctrine of inherited sin.  Mankind does not inherit sin, even Adam’s, because sin is the transgression of God’s law.  Sin is something one commits (John 8:34). The word original means “belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning.”  What was the original (i.e., first) sin and who committed it?  Many would probably answer it was when Eve and/or Adam ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).  However, there was a sin that must have preceded this one. I John 3:8 tells us, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” Satan is known as the tempter (Matthew 4:3, 10).  For the devil to tempt mankind he must have already experienced sin himself (James 1:14, 15).  No holy creature would entice another to commit sin (James 1:13).  So, the devil was guilty of sin when he first approached Eve in the garden.

This leaves the question of what the first sin was.  It appears he was guilty of pride.  This is implied in 1 Timothy 3:6 which says an elder must not be “…a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”

What is pride?  There are only three verses in the New Testament that use it.  Each verse uses a different Greek word.  The one in Mark 7:22 means haughtiness.  I Timothy 3:6 uses a word meaning high-minded or inflated with self-conceit.  I John 2:16 employs one that means self-confidence or boasting. The related word, proud, appears in only six New Testament verses.  In Luke 1:51 it conveys the idea of appearing above others.  Clearly, the proud soul thinks he is better than others.

Men and angels are subject to this temptation.  Romans 12:3 (NKJV) says, “For I say…to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”  Man showed this vice when tempted in the Garden of Eden.  Satan cunningly used the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life to entice them to sin (Genesis 3:1-6; cf. 1 John 2:16).  Man has often thought he knew better than God.  Some angels fared no better.  Jude 6 tells how “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”  When God says this far and no farther He means it.  Pride causes one to commit presumptuous sins.

Jesus’ attitude is the polar opposite of pride – humility (Philippians 2:5-8). His is the perfect example for mankind to imitate even though ours will always fall short of the divine ideal.  1 John 2:6 reminds us that “he who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

Failing to conquer pride leads to terrible consequences.  The book of Proverbs has much to say about this sin.  Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes shame… Proverbs 13:10 declares “By pride comes nothing but strife. Among the things God hates is a proud look (Proverbs 6:17).  That is joined by a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood.  While man may think pride is “not that bad,” God considers it an evil that compares with things man also views as “really bad.”

One guilty of pride can be forgiven.  It takes repentance and a desire for the reformation of one’s life.  It can and must be done if one wishes to enter heaven one day.

The way to overcome pride is found (at least in part) in James 4:6-8. This passage informs man that “God resists the proud ... Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”


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