Spiritual self-esteem and natural self-esteem can have the same overt appearance, but they are the manifestations of two totally different sources.
Natural self-esteem comes from having a favorable opinion of one self. It is often based upon the success and achievements of oneself in the exercise of human talents and abilities. (1John 2:16). Other times it is based on one’s ability not to have failed or become involved in certain indulgences. (Luke 18:11).
Natural self-esteem becomes a spiritual issue when a positive & legitimate self-image is developed to the extent that the individual enters into a false sense of superiority, or worse, assumes the right to pass moral judgment on others.
Spiritual self-esteem comes from the knowledge of total acceptance by God of an individual. Spiritual self-esteem is based on righteousness found in the individual that is the result of what God has done and for which the individual takes no credit for what- so-ever.
Natural self-esteem comes from the belief in what the individual has accomplished via his human talents and abilities and assumes full credit.
Anything that comes from the fallen sin nature within us produces what is natural and glorifies man. Anything that comes from God the Holy Spirit within us is divine and glorifies God.
“…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought… .” (Rom. 12:3 NIV).
Spiritual self-esteem will cause us to be “...content in whatever the circumstances…” (Phil.4: 11 NIV) we find ourselves in, where as pride will cause us never to be content, but rather anxious.
Natural self-esteem causes us to enter into all kinds of evil & inordinate competition to either to obtain or retain our status & recognition of accomplishments on which our pride is based.
The sin of pride did not originate with the human race. It was pride that motivated Satan to lead a prehistoric angelic rebellion against the authority of God. Satan was a high-ranking cherub angel with the honor and function of guarding the throne of God. (Ezekiel 28:14).
Satan’s appearance, as Biblically described (Ezekiel 28: 12, 13) is anything but the way he is often perceived and depictured. It is interesting to note that Satan never tried to clarify the distorted impression of how he appears and operates. No doubt this is a part of his strategy of deception. It is quite difficult to defeat an adversary that cannot be easily identified, located, or who does not operate in an expected manner.
However, pride would not allow him to be content. He wanted “more”. He wanted to be like God, and it was his pride that led to his fall.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn. You have been cast down to the earth, you who had once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14: 12-14 NIV).
The sin of pride, like many other sins of the mind, is not always discernable. Prideful people can do a pretty good job of concealing their true identity & motives. (John 8:41,44). In fact, the human heart is so easily deceived that an individual may not even be aware that he is involved in the sin at all. Pride appeals to our fallen nature &, humility is perceived as a sign of weakness.
The sin of pride can lead to a whole series of sin with equally destructive capabilities such as the sins of unforgiveness, revenge, murder, hatred, envy, coveting, slander, gossip, and the list goes on. No wonder the Bible warns, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)!
An essay on the sin of pride would be incomplete without providing the Biblical antidote.
Regarding salvation and deliverance from the wrath of God, a person is saved when he believes in the Person and the Works of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is relevant to the subject of pride as it is the sin of pride that will lead one to believe that there is something that he can or must do in addition to believing in order to obtain or retain salvation. Such a belief is, in the final analysis, an attack on the integrity and character of the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is motivated by the sin of PRIDE!
The effect of the sin of pride to the post-salvation spiritual life is like the disease of cancer can be to the natural life. Its presence can go on undetected, but its devastating consequences ca not be denied.
The issue of all post-salvation sin is addressed though confession (1 John 1:9). The ability to forsake the same sin in the future (John 8:11) is secured in the filling of God the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:16).
One we have been able to diagnose the spiritual poisoning of pride, the antidote is needed to purge our minds of its effects.
The Biblical antidote for pride is humility. As long as we submit the control of our minds to the leading of God the Holy Spirit, we will not come under the influence of the power of pride. The Christian focus is not what we have accomplished, but what He has accomplished.
When we reflect on what we are (Romans 3:23) or what we can do in the spiritual realm without Him (John 15:5), we have no cause to be proud, but we have every reason to have spiritual self-esteem. (Psalms 9:2).
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.