Pride goeth before a fall

Click for source

There’s something so fitting about an arrogant fool cut down to size.

The Bond villain declaring “I am invincible” seconds before his grizzly death.

The cocky athlete slowing down for the cameras and then tripping before the finish line.

The deluded despot, overstretched and finally overthrown.

At these times we love to quote from Proverbs:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18)

Usually we just abbreviate it to “pride goeth before a fall.”

But there’s one scenario this phrase describes better than any other – the fall.  The fall of humanity.

Because in Genesis chapter 3 we see the ultimate pride and the ultimate fall.

In verse 1 the serpent appears on the scene.  The prophet Ezekiel assures us that he was not wicked when he was placed in the garden (Ezekiel 28:14-15).  What we see in Genesis 3 is not only the couple’s fall but also the serpent’s.  Genesis 3 is the fall of both men and angels.  It was in fact an alliance of earth and heaven against God.

Isaiah 14 puts the serpent’s desire brilliantly:

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

To be with the Most High was not enough.  Lucifer desires to be like Him – as a competitor.

And this desire is precisely what the serpent tempts the couple with.  When they eat the forbidden fruit he promises, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).

That was an offer too good to refuse.  So the couple trust Satan’s words over the LORD’s.  The alliance is formed.  The pride is sulferous.  And we are set up for the biggest come-down ever.

Well, perhaps not.  Perhaps we shouldn’t call Genesis 3 the ulimate fall.  Because there has been an even greater climb-down than this.  And from an even higher throne.

But how utterly different is Jesus Christ to all this!

We went from nothing to dust to delusions of grandeur. He went from eternal glory to flesh to crucifixion.

We amounted to nothing and laid claim to everything.  He had everything and made Himself nothing.

Our come-down was deserved.  His come-down was deliberate.

Our uprising was demonic.  His uprising was divine.

Our story is self-exaltation then humbling.  His story is self-humbling then exaltation.

Our pride brought the fall.  His humility brought salvation.

Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:5-11)


7 Responses to “Pride goeth before a fall”

  1. Mark Carroll says:

    The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride.”

    As a “young” Christian I happened upon the book Mere Christianity. In it CS Lewis made this statement. Certainly it was not the one sin I would have expected, not nearly so bad as murder, and it takes a bit to come to terms with this truth.

    Here it is in its context
    There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians ever imagine that they are guilty themselves….The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you…~ C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

  2. Tim C says:

    This is great stuff Glen – and so simple and easy to grasp (albeit not easy to hear/accept). I have found it helpful to frame this very same idea in the following concepts.

    The opposite of sin is not righteousness (a narrower term whose antonym is ‘unrighteousness’) but ‘glory’.

    This is based on an understanding of all sin as self-centredness and all (true) glory as other-person-centredness (Pr. 25:27).

    Christ’s humility is thus a function of his (other-person-centred) glory.
    • In order to submit willfully and joyfully to his Father’s will, Christ went to the cross and endured its shame – therein lies his eternal glory for this is how he always had acted as God the Son.
    • In order to place the lives of his brothers and sisters before his own, Christ went to the cross and endured death and despair in our place – therein lies his glory as the perfect man, the second Adam, living fully in the image of God where the first Adam had failed.

  3. [...] First Eve receives her life and then her name from Adam.  But in between these two events the whole world falls apart. [...]

  4. [...] flesh in the fullness of time.  He was meant to be a king ruling under God in righteousness.  But pride came before his fall and the chaos and darkness we see around has been the result.  How the mighty are [...]

  5. Hey there this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  6. The pride before the fall