We want to look a little more at what sin really is. Sin is what destroys us more than any sickness. Sin is what has brought chaos and confusion into the world. The answer to all of our problems lies, first of all, in being saved from sin, even more than being healed from our diseases.
Do you realize that sin is more serious than sickness? Suppose you heard a message that Jesus could heal all your diseases and that Jesus could save you from all your sins, which would you prefer, if you had a choice of one of the two? Supposing Jesus appeared to you and said, 'Either I can save you from all of your sins, or heal you from all your diseases,' which one would you choose? I think most people in the world would choose healing from all their diseases, even many believers. The reason is they have never understood how serious sin is.
The destruction sin produces in our soul is invisible and that is why we don't realize how bad it is. It is like when a smoker smokes cigarettes and his lungs are being destroyed, he doesn't see it. If he could actually see it, he would stop smoking. It is the same way with sin. We don't see it till it has destroyed us completely; the seriousness of it, the damage it is doing. That is why the message of the New Testament primarily is not that Jesus can heal you from all your diseases, but that Jesus can save you from your sins. In fact the meaning of the word 'Jesus', in Matthew 1:21, is not healer but saviour. He has come to save us from all our sins. Of course He heals the sick, but that is secondary. He primarily came to save us from our sins.
If we are to be saved from our sins, we need to understand what sin is, what are we to be saved from? Sickness we understand. We saw in our last study that there are sins, the inward sins, which Jesus condemned, which were far more serious than anything listed in the Ten Commandments. In the last study we looked at one of the inward sins - about hypocrisy.
In this study we want to look at another sin that Jesus spoke about which is again far more serious than many sins listed in the Ten Commandments, and that is the sin of pride. In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable about two people who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. In those days the tax collectors in most cases were cheats, who made money from other people. Everybody knew that they are sinners. On the other hand, the Pharisees were a people who appeared to be very holy on the outside. This Pharisee stood and prayed, in Luke 18:11, "O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican." and then he listed all the right things that he did; he fasted twice a week, he paid tithes and so on. But the tax collector, standing some distance away, said, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." And Jesus said, that man, that sinner, went to his house justified rather than the Pharisee. What was wrong with the Pharisee? What was his sin here, which made God condemn him? Pride!
Pride is what made the devil into a devil. Prior to that, he was an angel, a perfect angel. As soon as pride came into his heart, he became a devil. It didn't take even one second, it was immediate. As soon as the thought came into his heart, God cast him down. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5, "God resisteth the proud" God is always fighting against proud people. Wherever He finds pride, wherever He finds proud people, He is resisting them, fighting them, standing against them, because that is contrary to God's nature. Just like, if you are a clean hygienic person, you would hate filth and rubbish and garbage, whereas a pig doesn't hate rubbish and dirty water. Why do you hate it? Why do you immediately have revulsion to filth and rubbish, whereas a pig doesn't have such revulsion? It is a matter of nature.
We don't have revulsion for pride because pride is part of our nature . We don't see it as a filthy thing. We are exactly like that pig, wallowing in the mire and thinking, 'This is okay'. But God's nature is the opposite of that. He hates pride. The Bible says that Jesus humbled Himself. He came down from heaven to earth, became a servant and thereby demonstrated what God's nature is like; one of humility and lowliness. He showed thereby what man should be like. God created man to be humble. When man is proud, what he has is the nature of Satan, the thing which God hates, the thing which God resists, it is sin.
When you are proud of anything, for example, if you are proud of your good looks, it is a sin. Jesus came to save you from that, that you will never again be proud of your good looks. There is nothing wrong with good looks. But to be proud of it, there is everything wrong with that. What about your intelligence? There is nothing wrong with being intelligent. You can be the most intelligent person in the world with the highest IQ. That is not a sin. But if you are proud of it, even a little bit, then it is a sin. If you are proud of the house you live in, proud of what you have accomplished in life, proud of your position in society, proud perhaps, of the family you belong to, all of these are sin. And if Jesus has not saved you from these sins, I have to say that Jesus has not become your saviour. Then what has He saved you from?
A lot of people want to be saved from hell. But do you know that the Bible almost never speaks about being saved from hell? It speaks a lot more about being saved from sin and from the judgment of God against sin. But where do you find a verse in the Bible about being saved from hell? Almost never! Most of the verses about salvation speak about being saved from sin. The first promise in the New Testament is you should call His name Jesus because He will save His people not from hell or from their sicknesses but from their sin. Salvation from hell is the end result of being saved from sin. If you are saved from sin, you will be saved from hell automatically. It is like saying, if you are saved from sickness, you will be saved from death. You must be saved from sickness then you will be saved from death. That is automatic. Then should not you say that if you are saved from sin, you will be saved from hell. That is automatic.
That is why, as I said in the beginning, we need to understand what sin actually is. Pride, seeking the honour of man, glorying in what God gave us as a free gift, is sin. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7 "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" Just think of that for a moment. Think of all the things you have in your life: health, good looks, intelligence, a house, a job, a position, you never chose any of these. You never got any of these by any ability that God didn't give you. Maybe you were born with certain intelligence, you were born into certain family, but you didn't choose it. Why are you proud of it then? What have you got that you did not receive? You may say that you have earned so much, you have accomplished so much. That is because God gave health to you for so many years. Think of another person who is bedridden, paralytic or blind or deaf, if you were like that you would never accomplish what you did. So what do you have that you did not receive.
What about spiritual gifts, your Bible knowledge perhaps. People can be proud of Bible knowledge. That is a sin. Bible knowledge is not a sin, but to be proud of it is. For a Priest to stand up and be proud of the fact that he is such a wonderful preacher, accepted and invited everywhere, he is the biggest sinner of all. Not because of his preaching, but because he is proud of it. Because he goes back from his preaching and congratulates himself that so many people appreciate him. It could be that your Parish is one of the biggest Parishes in the city and your Parish is growing more than other Parish. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you are proud of it, you are evil. Jesus came to save us from pride. Pride is not listed in the Ten Commandments just like hypocrisy is not listed. But those are the sins Jesus came to save us from. Jesus spoke about those who seek the honour of men, when they give money, when they pray, when they fast, what is this? All this is pride. Jesus said to His disciples, 'Don't be like that.'
Whenever we look down on others, we are proud. Think of the story of the prodigal son. What is the problem with the elder son in that story? He looked down on his younger brother. He said, 'See what he is like and see what I am like.' Whenever you compare yourself with another person, and you think what a wonderful person you are, how much better you are, maybe you are purer, or holier, that is pride. You can be proud of your holiness. Maybe you are holier than somebody else, you are proud of it, and you can say, 'Lord I thank you that I am not like some of the people in the Novus Ordo.' When you are proud of the Religious Society you belong to, it is a sin. There is nothing wrong in belonging to a good Parish, but when you are proud of it, it is a sin.
You see there is a lot of sin in the many, many good things that we do and that we have. And that is the sin of pride, a sin found right in our most religious and so-called spiritual activities, a sin which is unrecognized. Jesus hates it. Imagine you got something in your life that Jesus hates; don't you want to be saved from it? Ask God to show you right now the areas in your life where you have pride, because they are destroying you. Ask Jesus to save you from them right now.