Pride is the root cause of everything self-destructive, anti-social and ungodly. This is a copy of a document that I wrote back in 2002, framed and placed on the wall of my office. Enjoy.
THE FIRST TEST
On accepting Christ as our Lord, it is inevitable that we are immediately faced with The First Test. Not one of us is immune from it, and our acceptance of the grace of God will increase as we come to see how the Lord uses a wilderness experience in the tender loving process of helping us to grow.
We read in the Scriptures – Matthew 4:1 – “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” For forty days and forty nights Jesus fasted and was then tested by the tempter with the three forms of the primary evil, PRIDE. (Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eye, and The Pride of Life)
It was pride that caused Satan to fall. It was pride that caused Eve and then Adam to fall. It was pride that hindered God’s best for His chosen nation for centuries. It was pride that fueled the religious fervour to crucify the Lord Jesus. And, as young Christians, it is again against pride that we struggle.
It is clear that if Jesus himself was actually led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for the very purpose of being tested, we should expect that all Christians would require a similar experience (if not more so as we are sinners and He was pure). A God who loves us and wants the best for us would surely want His people to know the nature of the war they are involved in, lest they fail in ignorance and be immediately lost. We must therefore upon conversion be led into The First Test. Only the proud would claim it to be otherwise!
The First Test is a spiritual event. It is a battle between the grace of God and the temptation of the Devil. Upon losing the war for a particular soul (against the miracle working power of Christ), the devil must then resort to attacking and tempting a young believer from within. The battlefield is the mind and the challenge for a young believer is the same as it was for Jesus – to deal with the issue of pride in a way that claims the authority of God’s word in their life above all else, therefore undermining the temptations of pride.
Put simply, pride is the process of considering ourselves higher than God – in any matter. Amongst other things, it primarily undermines the Word of God (as Eve was so tempted in the Garden of Eden) but it can also subtly undermine God’s appointed authority (our church leadership) or sometimes affect our attitude to His chosen people (the Jews and then the Christians) and others.
The signs of pride are subtle but when sought after are clear to see. A common clue to the appearance of pride is the use of the word “I”. Upon salvation it is quite often said “I am saved”. This could very well be a true statement, however compare it with the subtly different words “God saved me”. While both could be perfectly correct, in the former, the continual temptation is to then follow up with the words “I am the salt of the earth”, “I know the truth”, “I can help save you”, and then slide further and further into the subtle clutches of pride. In extreme cases this can sometimes degenerate to the extreme of “I am the one with the only ‘true’ revelation” and ultimately “I am God”.
Examples of pride may be . . .
- “I don’t believe the bible!” or “The bible is wrong! (on this matter)” i.e. I know better than God.
- “I don’t need the bible!” i.e. I am better than God.
- “God (or church leadership) doesn’t understand me (or must have made a mistake)” i.e. I don’t trust God. I know better than God.
- “That person has it all wrong!” i.e. I’m better than another.
- “I’ve got it all together! (on this matter)” i.e. I don’t need God.
The alternative however is a continual determined effort to place the Word of God higher than ourselves and seek His will and glory alone. This is humility before the Lord and requires a constant vigil and conscious effort to achieve. It is similar to effort that swimming requires of us to keep us afloat in water, or that a bird requires to continually remain aloft despite the forces of gravity. The temptation of pride is continually there awaiting our weakest moment and denial of this is again a form of pride.
There are always times where we fail The First Test but it is then that we can come to truly appreciate more of the wonderful Grace of God that continues to love us and accept us just as we are. Even more then, the valid reason to humble ourselves before the Lord, and submit to His Word, and His authority in all areas of our life!
For a Christian The First Test is both a first encounter early in their Christian walk and but also a continual test to be dealt with on a daily basis.
Are you passing The First Test today?