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What's Keeping You From God?

April 30, 2020 McGee article May 2020

by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’” -Obadiah 3

Pride. I am confident this takes the wind out of the sails of many readers who say, “Is that all? Pride is bad, but it’s not that bad, is it?” Actually, pride makes very little impression on us today, because we have lost our sense of the proportion of sin.

We think pride is a nice, polite sin. Good people indulge in this. You do not have to get down in the gutter to be filled with pride. Or do you?

I say to you, pride is the sin of sins! Pride of heart is deeper and darker than any other sin you can mention. We do not condemn it, but God does! God says He resists the proud, but He is always on the side of the humble. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (Proverbs 8:13). John tells us that “the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Where does the pride of life come from? If there is anything that comes from the devil, that is it.

A great many saints today have pride of race, pride of face, and even pride of grace—they are proud they have been saved by grace! My friend, your salvation ought not to make you proud; it is not even something to brag about. It is something about which to glorify God. It should humble you. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself that you have to be saved by grace because you are such a miserable sinner? I wish I had something to offer God for salvation, but I have nothing. Therefore, I must be saved by grace, and I cannot even boast of that. There are too many folk boasting of the fact that they have been sinners. God gives grace to the humble. Paul writes, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). What kind of mind did He have? Lowliness of mind. He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart…” (Matthew 11:29).

Pride is destroying the testimony of many Christians and has made them ineffective for God. They go in for show, but they are building nothing more than a big haystack. They are not building on the foundation of Christ with gold and silver and precious stones. (See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.) Pride has a great many saints pinned to the mat by the shoulders, down for the count of ten.

Pride was the sin of Satan. He said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13, 14).

Pride was also the root of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity. He strutted like a peacock in the palace of his kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 4:30). And what happened to Nebuchadnezzar? “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field …’” (Daniel 4:31, 32). That was no accident, my friend. This man did not know who he was, and he went out and acted like an animal of the field. Why? Because when a man is lifted up with pride, he’s not lifted up but has come down to the level of beasts.

What is pride? Pride of heart is the attitude of a life that declares its ability to live without God.

Esau lived in the rock-hewn city of Petra. Have you seen it? It’s protected by a very narrow entryway, and is easily defended. Many nations deposited vast sums of gold and silver there because they felt the city could never be taken.

But the Edomites lived in a false security. Pride of heart had lifted up this nation of Edom just like Esau who despised his birthright. Even though there was plenty to eat in Isaac’s home, Esau liked that bowl of soup more than he liked his birthright. In despising that birthright, he despised God. And now Esau had become a great nation that in its abundance and pride declared its ability to live without God. They signed a declaration of independence; they seceded from the government of God; they revolted and rebelled against Him.

Friend, when a little creature down here gets to the place where he says, “I don’t need God,” God says, “That’s what I hate.”

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My Turn

Open God’s Word in front of you and quiet yourself before Him.

  • Read in your own Bible the verses Dr. McGee references about pride and humility, plus a few more. Here are some to get you started:
    • Proverbs 6:16-19; 11:2; 27:2; 29:23
    • Matthew 11:29
    • Romans 12:3, 16
    • Galatians 6:1-4
    • Philippians 2:3-5
    • 1 Corinthians 13:4
    • James 4:6, 10
    • 1 Peter 5:5
  • Ask God to show you how pride is keeping you from your best relationship with Him. When He shows you, confess it as sin and repent of it, and turn your attitude around. God promises to be near the humble; He will help you.