Jun P. Espina         9 min read
Updated on September 4th, 2022
Saul, who later became Paul, the Apostle, had a heart filled with religious pride before his conversion. He thought of Judaism, the religion of the Jews, as God’s only faith system, which they practiced for thousands of years. There should be no other tenet than that which was given by God to Moses. This conviction has led him to persecute the followers of Christ. His religious pride heightened in toxicity when Saul consented to the death of the first Christian martyr named Stephen. (See Acts 7:58.)
Mindful of his former fanaticism, he wrote in Galatians 1:13, “[Y]ou have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.”
- 1. Our Religious Pride Lives in Our Souls Naturally
- 2. Our God is Clear Within Us
- 3. When Your Religious Pride Ignites
- 4. Religious Pride Gets Triggered by Christ’s Truths
- 5. Religious Pride Versus the Experience of Paul
- 6. Religious Pride, and God’s Attitude Towards It
- 7. Religious Pride, and the Attitude of Searching for God’s Truth
- 8. How to Defeat Our Adamic Religious Pride?
- 9. The “I” in Religious Pride
- 10. You Cannot Know God as Long as You are Proud
- 11. Religious Pride or Fighting Spirit
- 12. Rationalize God, Said Buddha
- 13. Conclusion
Our Religious Pride Lives in Our Souls Naturally
Religious pride fills the human heart naturally. It is like our instinctive animosity towards the truth. When the TikTok-brainwashed young people, for example, received fake news concerning their candidate or idol, they would high-five their friends or dance on a street corner. But teach them about Jesus, who is the Truth, according to the Bible, if you want a dozen fresh eggs to smash on your face and forehead. You don’t need to be the apostle Paul or any other Bible character. Every person is against the God of the Holy Bible, naturally. All pride broke loose when the topic was about the God of the Scriptures.
We don’t love the true God, one with Jesus Christ, who is God the Son. And for proof, Paul said,
Our God is Clear Within Us
The Bible did not say that God is clear WITHIN SOME of them, but WITHIN them. God is inescapable, but humanity rejects intrinsically our biblical Creator. This human hubris of denying the real God of the Scriptures was best conveyed by Buddha:
No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it,
Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.
Our Sins Have Separated Us from God
How did man become estranged from the God of Abraham and His truths? Well, right after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, humanity’s sense of God had been flawed. Sin has disunited our sacred consciousness from God, just like a computer system that is bugged with a virus. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (Is. 59:2)
The devil called this egotism “the wisdom of knowing good and evil” from his satanic perspective. Note Genesis 3:4-5:
You Will be Like God, Knowing Good and Evil.
The devil said that we would become like God. It was his false teaching that our first parents received from a demonic deception. As a result, God’s absolute truth became manipulable and humanized. You will know right from wrong, just disobey God. It was Satan’s message to Adam and Eve. It was his sort of theology.
Buddha then taught that truth has to agree with reason and common sense—with YOUR OWN reason and common sense, that’s it!
We have a little backstory here. Cain killed Abel right after Adam and Eve’s fall. At first, he thought that killing his brother was the right thing to appease himself. His knowledge of right from wrong became his conscience’s self-defense. It is how pride works at the start. And we have suffered from such weakness since then. The folly of pride has become our chief wellspring of satisfaction and supply of emotional balance.
Hear this satanic doctrine again, so that we will not forget: “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When Your Religious Pride Ignites
The mystery of it all is that man’s pride in religion turns ballistic only when faced with the truths and claims of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is like a dormant volcano that could become activated and ready to erupt only by the mere mention of the word “Jesus.”
Somebody wrote that Jesus was a conversation stopper. When there is a discussion about Allah or Buddha, there would be no inner struggles experienced by the group until the word Christ became part of the topic.
Baffling, isn’t it?
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (John 1:9) Every person gets our Lord’s divine light. He “enlightens every man.”
Religious Pride Gets Triggered by Christ’s Truths
Religious pride is like the deep darkness that is being silhouetted by a sacred presence. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20) Robert Anton Wilson said that “belief is the death of intelligence.”
I think the reverse is true in Christianity. Jesus Christ is the Light of this world. The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:23-24: “[B]ut we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, CHRIST IS THE POWER OF GOD AND THE WISDOM OF GOD.”
Religious Pride Versus the Experience of Paul
We mentioned above Paul’s religious pride. But God humbled him. Through a miracle, the risen Jesus met him in Damascus, where he was converted (cf. Acts 9:3-6). After his conversion, Paul wrote: “to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Cor. 12:7)
Religious Pride, and God’s Attitude Towards It
God is opposed to the proud. (See James 4:6.) A survey shows that almost all Catholic countries are economically poor. In the Philippines, for instance, we are paid less for our labor. Underpaid, we look for food outside of our country. God humbled us with hard labor because our majority worship idols of wood and stone. Idolatry is a form of religious pride.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks…. and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.” (Rom. 1:21-23)
God is the Savior of man from his distresses and pains, according to Psalm 107. When Christ’s Spirit lives in your heart by faith in His atoning blood, He would transform your religious pride into religious submission to His lordship.
I know many people who are distressed on all sides, even though they have money to burn. Their conscience cannot help them calm down because only Christ’s Spirit can give anyone true peace in this world. Their religious pride, however, is just too high-and-mighty to trust in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Religious Pride, and the Attitude of Searching for God’s Truth
Before he became a Christian, the apostle Paul was a truth seeker of sorts, to the point of fanaticism.
The attitude of searching for God’s face in our souls is required to relax our religious pride. Before his conversion to the Christian faith, the Ethiopian eunuch was inquiring after the truth while reading the Book of Isaiah. (cf. Acts 8:28)
The same happened with Lydia, the first European convert, before she was saved. She listened, “and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16;14)
We cannot just say: “God, You save me, but I know right from wrong. I don’t know if I can agree with You.”
It is the apogee of religious pride. No one can enter heaven without stooping, said Spurgeon. We must bow down like the giraffe as she entered Noah’s ark.
How to Defeat Our Adamic Religious Pride?
I heard a sermon about the “mother” of all sin, which is the lack of love for Jesus. I couldn’t take that statement since the greatest sin is the rejection of our Lord after hearing the Gospel. Observe this Scripture: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him…. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (John 3:36; Rom. 10:17, KJV)
The wrath of God becomes “locked and loaded” after hearing and then rejecting the Gospel of our Lord. Rejection of Christ, therefore, is the mother of all sins—and not a lack of love for Jesus.
You may love your parents and disbelieve and disobey them at the same time.
The greatest sin is the rejection of Jesus in our souls. “Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” (Heb. 10:29, NLT)
As a result, the only biblical way to overcome our Adamic religious pride is to sincerely trust and believe in Christ for who He is.
The “I” in Religious Pride
Observe the “I” in Isaac Asimov’s statement: “Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”
Asimov felt he had the authority to “suspect” that God doesn’t exist, so “I don’t want to waste my time.” It was the perfect application of the devil’s doctrine that we would know right from wrong. (cf. Gen. 3:4-5)
The other thief on the cross expressed the same demonic theology when he told our Lord: “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” (Lk. 23:39)
His question was a conviction that Christ was not the Messiah—after all, he knew right from wrong.
In Acts 24, we also find the governor of Judea named Felix employing the big “I” in religious pride. Luke wrote in Acts 24:24-25: “But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.'”
Believing he knew right from wrong (the devil’s doctrine), he told Paul to leave and that he would just call the Apostle when “I find time.”
You Cannot Know God as Long as You are Proud
C. S. Lewis described the “I” in religious pride as “looking down on things and people”: “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.”
We need to look up to the proper Authority on everything, who is Christ.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:16)
Religious Pride or Fighting Spirit
I was as prideful religiously as most of us before Christ humbled me when I searched for Him in my heart.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3) I was not just poor, but also poor in spirit. Or, to be exact, poor regarding a fighting spirit, to reject and ignore the goodness of Christ in my life. For us to be saved by faith, Christ humbled Himself first and died on the cross for us. But most of us have a fighting spirit to resist God’s grace and mercy to save and forgive our souls. Every day, we fight against God’s goodness by denying Him access to the deepest recesses of our hearts.
I remember Christ’s parable about the vineyard owner, whose son his servants murdered. Christ is God’s Son who condescended to forgive our sins and reconcile us to His Father. But the Jews crucified Him, just as we killed Him in our hearts every single day with our unbelief of His blessed Words.
Rationalize God, Said Buddha
Buddha believed we could reduce God to the level of “your own reason and your own common sense.” It displays his “fighting spirit” to deny God since he knew right from wrong. He knew how to rationalize God.
To borrow from A. W. Tozer’s contention: “faith is always above reason.” What I need is to believe in Christ’s promises, and the entire citadel of my religious pride will break up like broken glass.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Believe in Christ; trust your soul to His saving power and grace. Arrest your religious pride. Don’t feed it through the power of your genuine faith in Christ our Lord.
Short Fiction Stories:
- Her Promise After She Confessed Her Dark Secret
- Unschooled Wisdom from Common Sense
- When Empathy Grows Into Love
- When Reason Surrenders to Faith
- The Atheist Billionaire’s Road to Faith
- Miyah’s Cave House
- Loving the Unlovable
- After He Slapped His Wife