A simple word from the Lord this morning has penetrated the depths of my heart, and it comes in the form of one short phrase: Pride will kill me.
Warnings in Scripture are easy to pass over for Christians. We read oracles of judgment in the Prophets or warnings of judgment in the Psalms and use the cross of Christ as a crutch to limp past these warnings without even pausing to consider their merit and weight. I know when I read warning passages, I am quick to remind myself of context. “This warning was for the Israelites.” “I don’t have to worry about that warning of judgment because Christ was judged in my place.” Sometimes our narrow understanding and view of the gospel can impede our growth in the gospel.
While more knowledge of the gospel should also play a part in producing spiritual growth in and through us, when that knowledge is limited only to one benefit of the gospel, our knowledge can work against us. Justification is a beautiful doctrine. It is our declared righteousness before God as a gift of God’s grace through the propitiation of Christ. We receive full pardon not through our works, but through Christ’s. God bestows an unfathomable gift of grace in justification, and we reach out our hands and receive it through faith.
But justification is just one jewel in the crown of salvation. It’s honestly just one step. Justification isn’t the end of the gospel’s benefits. It’s the beginning. Justification always enables and leads to sanctification, which ends in glorification. When warning passages are interpreted solely through the lens of justification, they’ll be ignored, passed over, and trapped in an ancient Israelite context.
When we take a step back and view Old Testament warning passages for what they are and understanding that we are not merely justified, but in the process of being sanctified, we will be able to receive and benefit from serious warnings.
Back to the warning I received this morning from the Lord. Pride will kill you. Psalm 52 is a warning that the Lord hates and judges pride. Letting pride fester and grow in your heart will end in destruction, banishment, desolation, sorrow, and emptiness. Pride destroys a man. Pride flows from the heart to the tongue. Pride is evil and does evil. Pride inverts the way of God. God opposes the proud. He judges the proud. He brings them down. Rebellion against God is the fruit of pride. Banishment from God is the punishment for pride. Pride will kill you. When it does, here is your eulogy:
Here is the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, taking refuge in his destructive behavior. – Psalm 52:7
So, be warned, as I was this morning. If we ignore the pride in us, it will grow. It will dominate our lives. It will be demonstrated in our speech. We will be characterized by pride to the point that our eulogy will be that of Psalm 52:7.
Pride refuses to recognize God as the supreme provider and treasure. Pride is trusting in lesser treasure to provide greater pleasure. I see it in Adam. I see it in Israel. I see it in the church. I see it in me. I pray my family will be able to say the opposite is true of me. I’m praying the Lord would deepen my trust and joy in him. I’m praying he would help me kill pride before it kills me. And I am confident he will because pride was dealt a death blow in the humility of the cross.
May our boast be in the Lord! He has caused us to flourish in his Son and through his Spirit. May we trust in his faithful love forever. My we praise him forever for what he has done. May we put our hope in his name, for it is good.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.