The Most Insidious Sin
by Lenny Esposito
Today I’m in North Carolina preparing to speak at a national apologetics conference. I’m staying at a hotel that was built in the 1980s as part of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s empire. Of course, Jim Bakker is most famously remembered as one of the prominent televangelists who fell when his sexual sin was made public. The media ran with the story knowing the pubic loves a scandal, especially one where a minister—someone who is supposed to be a moral leader—has been caught in adultery.
Sexual failings are pretty much guaranteed to grab attention. Even in local churches, people who have fallen to sexual sin, be it adultery, homosexuality, or pregnancy outside of wedlock will cause people to talk. We tend to think sins like these are “major;” ones that carry a stigma unlike lying or addiction. Even as the culture becomes more and more sexually charged, sexual sins are held to almost a different standard. But there is a sin that is more problematic in the church than abusing sexual desire, one that no one points and whispers about: the sin of pride.
The Leaven of Puffing Up
How much do you think about the sin of pride? How do you guard against it? While there are ministries that offer filtering of pornography for your internet connection, what filters are there for one’s pride? As an apologist, I know first-hand just how easy it is to fall into pride. Anyone in a position where he or she is teaching or leading others can almost effortlessly fall into this sin. As the Bakkers built their Heritage USA center, it should have been obvious that they were no longer doing ministry toward others but constructing a monument to themselves.
Pastors and apologists can fall into the same trap. They are trying to do God’s work. They preach, they witness, and they defend the faith which is good and important work. This truly is ministry. However, when one begins to believe the ministry is so important that they don‘t have time to sit and listen to people or their calling has a higher value than another’s, they’ve begun to elevate not God’s blessing upon them but their won self-worth. That’s why I believe pride is the most insidious of sins; it is the leaven that corrupts by puffing up an individual from the inside. It replaces one’s reliance on God with a reliance on one’s own ability.
The Bible warns against the sin of pride quite a bit. God tells Jeremiah…
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