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27 Apr '13

Why arrogance is so deadly

Posted by T.J. Addington
Few people in Scripture model the sin of arrogance better than King Saul. For most of his reign he did his own thing, followed his own path and actively resisted the counsel of Samuel and God. In fact, one of the core traits of a person of arrogance is that they resist the counsel of others - at least anyone who chooses to disagree with them. 

There is a defining moment in Saul' life in 1 Samuel 15 where he again disobeyed the Lord's commands and when confronted by Samuel, made up well sounding excuses that were transparently false nonetheless. It is here that Samuel uttered the famous words, "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" This goes to the heart of arrogance, doing our own thing our own way regardless.

But there is another piece to Samuel's words to Saul that is equally telling. He says that arrogance is like the evil of idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23). Idolatry of course is the worship of something other than God.

Arrogance is like the worship of an idol precisely because that idol is self. It is nothing else than self worship, believing that we are autonomous, that we are the final authority, that we are wise and right. This is a deeply dangerous place to be yet Christian leaders are not immune from this disease - and it is a disease. There are other professional critics in the church as well who display that kind of arrogance and cause a great deal of harm to those around them. After all, they are right and everyone else is wrong.

Self worship, arrogance goes to the heart of the sinful nature. Isaiah put it this way. "We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). Again the autonomous self that sets itself up against God and others. 

Humility is not just a nice thing. It is the antidote to the autonomous self that worships itself. Arrogance is a disease that has no good ending because the more we believe in our own wisdom and actions the more deluded and isolated we become until we are unable to see our own sinfulness and foolishness. I have met some who have crossed that fatal line and cannot see what everyone around them sees.