Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mere Christianity: Book 3: Chapter 8 (The Great Sin)

The Pride of Man

In this chapter Lewis describes the greatest sin, the sin that every human person is guilty of--Pride.  The thing about pride, Lewis states, is that for the most part, only Christians (and other religious people I'll amend) think its really a sin.  You'll hear "non-believers" call themselves short-tempered, bad conversationalists, and cowards... but seldom prideful.  The other thing about pride is that the more you have of it, the less you recognize it in yourself, and the more you hate it in others.  A hypocritical sin, that pride.

Why is pride the greatest sin?  Lewis argues that it is the only purely spiritual sin.  All other sins (lust, drunkenness, gluttony) are products of our animal nature.  Pride however, was the sin of Satan, a purely spiritual being, and thus pride is a spiritual sin.  Since our spirits are eternal, spiritual sins are the worst.  As Lewis states, all other sins are "flea-bites" in comparison.

Pride is also the most divisive sin because of its very nature.  Whereas most other sins desire merely to acquire, pride desires to acquire MORE than your neighbor.  Therefore pride, at its very essence is COMPETITIVE.  Furthermore, pride is essentially ENMITY, not only between men, but between God and man.

This poses the question, is competition inherently evil? I don't know the answer to that, and truth be told I'm somewhat biased.  I am a relatively competitive person (ok, I'm VERY competitive), so I would like to think competition is not inherently evil.  Perhaps it's just neutral?  Is there any good product of competition?  Perhaps it could be good when it drives you to be your best without being at the expense of others...

Finally, pride is so evil that Satan often uses it to "cure" us of other sins just so we unknowingly fall into the sin of pride!  How often do we say to ourselves, "I can't smoke/have sex/drink/lie because I am too good of a person for that kind of action", or "I vow not to drink because I don't want people to think of me as weak"?  Newsflash--THOSE ARE PRIDEFUL REASONS FOR NOT SINNING!  The Devil will gladly allow you to move beyond those sins if it means succumbing to pride.  You should be unsinfull because of your love of God and hate of sin, not based on your appearance to others. Radical idea, I know.

What is the only way to conquer pride?  First, acknowledge that you are guilty of it.  Other than that Lewis doesn't give any advice, but I would suspect it has a lot to do with prayer.

So ask yourself today, are you Prideful?

1 comment:

  1. I am pondering your questions about "competition". And really I think it comes down to how you define it and/or a person's intentions. Paul says that he runs as thought to win the prize (Jesus Christ). True, he was using an analogy of competition.
    We live in a competitive world. The question is... are we competing to survive? to help others survive? competing to grow in faith, hope, and love? Or are we merely competing to win an earthly prize of glory and honor for ourselves? The last I think is pride. The others would be more virtuous and God-fearing.