C.S. Lewis is remembered as one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. The Chicago Tribune described him as “Every atheist’s favorite Christian thinker.” Whether it be for his works of fiction in The Chronicles of Narnia or his timely essays in an increasingly secular age, Lewis constantly offered pointed insight that is quoted and cherished today. In Mere Christianity, Lewis has a chapter entitled, “The Great Sin.” He begins this chapter by writing:
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone 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. I have heard people admit that they are bad tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. (Mere Christianity, 109)
This “great sin” is pride. After seven plagues in Exodus, Moses and Aaron are sent to confront Pharaoh again. Exodus 10:3 says, “So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews. How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go that they may serve me.’”
David Platt says of this verse:
Think about it: every time we sin, it is, at its root, a picture of pride. Sin is really, at its root, pride, because it’s us saying, every time we sin, “God, I know what is better for me than you do. I desire this, and even if you say it’s not good, I’m going to move forward with this desire in my heart. I say this, even though it is against your Word, but I do it because I think it’s going to work out better for me.”
Every sinful thought, every sinful desire, every single sinful word, decision, deed—it’s all pride.
The antidote to sin is what? It’s humility. It’s, “God, I trust you, I have a desire for this, but I’m not going to pursue that desire, because I trust you. Lord, I want to make this decision over here, but I’m not going to do that because I know that goes against your Word, and I trust you.”
What Exodus 10:3 just drives us to pray for, and to pray for it continually, is humility, that is, a humble trust in God’s Word and His ways. It’s the belief that his ways and his Word are always best.
We pray, God, together right now, we pray. Give us humility. We pray for humility. We pray that you would deliver us from all pride. Help us to be humble before you, to trust in your ways, to trust in your Word, to follow your Word by your grace, to trust in your grace to enable us to obey your Word. God, we pray for an ever constant posture of humility before you, and then humility before others. We think about your commands and your word concerning humility . . . To consider others better than ourselves. (Phil 2:3)
Help us not to look out for ourselves over others. Help us to look out for others over ourselves. Lord, how that would transform our interactions all throughout the day, how that would transform our marriages, our parenting, our life as kids, how that would transform our family relationships, work relationships, relationships with the neighborhood; how that would compel us to share the gospel. We would be looking out for others over our own interests . . . in a way that would be compelling us to share the gospel with those who’d never heard it.
God, we pray for humility. We pray that you would deliver us from pride. Purify us from pride. Remove pride from us more and more and more and more, we pray. Give us humble hearts before you, and humble hearts before others. We pray in Jesus name, amen.
–This excerpt from David Platt is adapted from the Pray the Word podcast titled “The Root of Every Sin.”