Isaiah 2.11-22 — Pride

Ah, the pride thought again.

It’s hard to think of ourselves as being like everyone else. With humans it’s so easy to compare, but when we grasp a true vision of God, we realize how much we are all really alike. Our DNA is a good example. I think I read somewhere that the DNA of Britney Spears and of Hulk Hogan had fewer than 1% differences. It always catches us up short to think that we’re normal and like everyone else. We all try to be our best, and though we know we’re not perfect, we tend to think we do pretty well. To entertain the thought of “I’m like everyone else” is a profound and uncomfortable confrontation with our self-concept. Even when we become aware of our own shortcomings too, we still have the impression of ourselves that…”but at least I never did what HE did.” Pride is the biggest killer of us all. It’s the original sin, the universal sin, and will no doubt be the last sin standing on the planet. I think because pride is so common and SO internal, we tend to not include it on our “scales” of sins that are terrible. You know, we put murder, genocide, adultery, rape, and betrayal high on the list, and things like lying and envy and theft further down. We know that pride belongs on the list, and we known it’s bad, but it doesn’t have the same emotional punch that murder does, so we don’t weigh it the same. Besides that, it can’t be measured, and it’s something we all share in common and can’t be helped anyway.
Yet that’s where its insidious corruption lies. Ironically, it’s pride that makes us think pride isn’t the same as the others. It’s pride that makes us think murder is worse. But when you think about it, it’s usually pride that is the foundation of murder, adultery, betrayal, and anger. It’s pride that causes us to weigh sins in the first place, so we can set up a hierarchy and see where we stand. Pride is the very foundation—so innocuous we are often unaware that it is the sand on which the whole house it built. Pride IS the monster inside that causes all orientation to self, which in turn causes most of the sins in which we engage.
John Calvin teaches that we are all TOTALLY depraved, and I believe that. There is not a single part of us that is fit for heaven all by itself. Every inch of us must be transformed by the sanctifying power of the Spirit. Pride is usually the most difficult piece of all, for it is the very foundation of our lives. Until God has conquered our pride, we retain a vicious stronghold on our sin nature.
V. 17: “The Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Imagine the life where God was always the reference point, where we could see clearly enough to see his hand and his activity, and know where the credit belonged. Imagine the life where God is the first and last thought, and where He is the known to be the source and the goal. It’s funny to think that if we knew were all the true reference points were, and if we knew where God was at work, and if we knew where credit belonged, and if we knew the source and cause of everything, and the true goal of things, we wouldn’t be in the picture at all except in the “sin” column and in the “headed in the wrong direction” column. But by God’s grace, his power at work in us, and our following by faith, the window of the real world can be cracked open and we can truly strive to live where the Lord alone is exalted. Honestly, the focal point of life.
18: “And the idols will totally disappear.” We will learn to trust in God rather than anything else. What does it take for us to recognize truth, and what is truly valuable? At what point will we eventually desert all lies and deceptions and come to a knowledge of the truth? Logic and reasoning will not take us there, because people will hang on to their positions no matter what. Hard times and suffering will not, because they’ll find some object to blame for their misfortune. Only sheer desperation and deadly fear will cause anyone to abandon lies and deceit and run for cover. That is why the Lord will have to resort to this strategy; after all, he has already tried logic, reasoning, and hardship.
Verse 22: Man is untrustworthy because, ultimately, we know so little. When you take account of all disciplines of science and knowledge, and then consider how much each one of us knows, it’s miniscule. Add to that that we are terrible at understanding our past objectively, and we are totally incapable of knowing our future, and it makes us a poor risk for trust.
What the text expects is that we should trust in the Lord, who sees all and knows all. But it’s so difficult when we can’t see him, he doesn’t speak to us, and we are dreadfully unaware of his guidance, and terrible at sensing his presence and discerning his work around us. That’s what makes us trust in ourselves instead, but it’s a foul mistake. God is findable for those willing to do the work. His guidance is seeable for those with a trained eye of faith. His voice is hearable for those who have meditated on his word and who have learned the nuances of his voice.

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