It is important to have confidence in our faith lives. However, we must be be wary of falling into conceit and pride, especially as these things are becoming more and more common.
A Syndrome of Spiritual Pride
At some point in the life of faith, people want to compare themselves to others. In this process, they see the faith contaminated with pride growing in search of self-satisfaction. "I devote myself to prayer like this, but the elder of my church never appears in early morning prayer meeting. I can't find anyone with spirituality like me in our church! Can a person who doesn't even fast be called a believer?"
On the other hand, we can meet people who want to reveal themselves as if they were the only ones who had a special spiritual gift. They often say: "I met God. The Lord has told me clearly." This means that we see people who speak and do things as if they were the only ones who have the privilege of meeting the Lord and understanding his will. Furthermore, these people pretend as if they have received a direct message from the Lord and often saying, "I asked the Lord and he said this to me." However, it is possible to think that underlying this idea is only spiritual pride that ignores the spirituality of the other person or overly shows off and rationalizes their own spirituality.
These people also frequently share a common fact: they often talk about their dreams in which they receive a response to their prayers and are comforted by. As I see in particular, they put their own experiences of being trapped in certain mysterious fantasies rather than living a life of faith through words of God. While justifying their own faith life, it is frequently seen that they like to judge or criticize other people's faith life.
The problem is that these symptoms of spiritual pride continue to dominate the person's spirituality. Remember that faith is not achieved through one's ability or effort, but rather a gift from the Lord according to the amount each can afford. In response, the Lord seems to have asked us if he could find a believer in end time. I think he wanted to find a believer who was not stained with pride among the numerous crowds with such faith as measuring the height of the acorn.
The Nature and Problems of Spiritual Pride
Human beings have a problem that can lead to spiritual pride, and first of all the phenomenon that occurs when our lives and beliefs do not coincide. Jonathan Edward, who led the spiritual awakening movement in the United States in the 18th century, diagnosed the nature of spiritual pride. First, spiritual pride focuses on the faults of others and easily overlooks them and does not see their pride. Second, spiritual pride is about outspeaking in criticizing others, especially other Christians.
The Lord has clearly taught through the Bible how dangerous this spiritual pride can be. Spiritual pride is a serious disease that leads to the death of the saints. The Lord also said that the person has all the reasons for his spiritual pride. Many people have a self-centered faith, not the Lord-centered, in doing their ministries by saying that "I am good and I did everything well."
Spiritual pride is an extremely dangerous spiritual phenomenon that makes each person believe in themselves while causing pride. This is the most covert sin and is rooted in the false pride that only he has received God's revelation. As the New Age sect argues, it accomplishes a tragic task of making oneself the object of faith, not the Creator God, as this spiritual pride deepens. It is as if you remember that Satan was corrupted by arrogance while enjoying great honor and high privilege in heaven before it was corrupted.
This spiritual pride appears very stealthily in nature, but it is bound to be revealed by the results and fruits. While people full of spiritual pride are not tolerant of others, they tend to judge and condemn others' faults or sins to the extent of excessive degree. They always believe that they only speak the right and the truth, so they take the attitude that it doesn't matter how the other person feels. Such a spiritually arrogant person shows a tendency to separate himself from others while thinking that his spirituality is better than others.
Free Yourself from the Sin of Spiritual Pride
It is precious to have a spiritual experience, but we should be able to be wary of the spiritual pride that comes through it. Spiritual pride is given by Satan, and those who are immersed in it tend to be immersed in the sense of superiority that they are the best. This is because they must be afraid and placed in a lowly position as the saints mature spiritually, but they will fall under the trap of Satan if they become arrogant. Anyone who has experienced even a little bit of God's love and realized the Lord's grace can never be arrogant. As someone said, spiritual pride plays the same role as a gate that the devil enters the hearts of those who are passionate about religious life. In response to this, we must remember the words in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
In a letter to his disciple Timothy, Apostle Paul mentioned himself as a "monster among sinners" while revealing his shortcomings. It was never easy to reveal his weaknesses to Timothy as a teacher who made him to be his spiritual son. Here, we have to reconsider how humble Paul, the apostle of Jesus, was. This is Paul's confession of faith containing pure humility, which can only be made possible by fully following the Lord who came to this earth to save the sinners. We have no choice but to confess that anyone is a sinner and a monster among sinners when we look at ourselves in the grace of God.
God has never used those who practice the faith life with pride as seen in the history of the Christianity. Believers should be able to treat each other with as much humility and warmth as Christ, infinitely higher one, treated them. It should not be forgotten that Adam's disobedience to the word of God is also based on his pride, and that pride becomes God's most powerful enemy. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (See James 4:6; Proverb 3:34). God, the Creator of all things, dwells among the souls who humbly go out with repentance. The prophet says in Isaiah 57:15: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
God clearly states in many parts of the Bible that we will be defeated when we fall into spiritual pride. The longer our religious life goes on, the more we lose the purity and humility of our first love toward the Lord. And we may unknowingly fall into spiritual pride while repeating our lukewarm religious life. He treats his children with whip when they fall in spiritual pride, so they should turn back from their own spiritual pride at that moment. This is God's grace to save his children who were in full of sins and faults through pride. Accordingly, Proverbs 29:23 was able to teach us: "Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor."