Chapter 7: The Consequences of Pride
How Common Is the Sin of Pride?
In the preceding chapter we observed that the Lord gave two separate reasons for the conclusion that, MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN. One of these reasonsthat almost all men are disposed to exercise unrighteous dominionwas discussed in the prior chapter. The other reason we will discuss herein.
It was the Lord who said that the reason the many are not chosen is because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men . . . (D&C 121:35) If we accept His statement as true, we must face the fact that almost all of us have a problem with the sin of pride. The Lord also stated that because of this sin, the many do not learn those lessons which must be learned in order to wield the powers of heaven. The consequence of this failure is that the many are not chosen and Amen to their priesthood.
Do other scriptures confirm the conclusion that the sin of pride is almost universal today? Nephi who saw our day, recorded that because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few who are the humble followers of Christ . . . (2 Ne. 28:14) Moroni used similar words to describe our condition. Said he:
. . . there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts . . . (Mormon 8:36)
The Lord was even more sweeping in condemning the Gentiles who would sin against His gospel in these latter days. Here are some of His words:
At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth . . . I [p. 38] will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. (3 Ne. 16:10)
The Lord recognized the possibility of our repentance, but said if we did not do so, we should be trodden under foot as salt that hath lost its savor. (v. 15) The salt of the earth are those who have made covenants with the Lord. (D&C 101:39, 40)
In a modem day revelation the Lord has placed the whole Church under condemnation because of pride. He has threatened that a scourge and a judgment will be poured out upon the children of Zion unless they repent of vanity and unbelief, and do as He has instructed in the Book of Mormon. (D&C 84:54-59)
These and many other scriptures which might be cited, fully confirm the fact that today the many have set their hearts upon the things of this world and they aspire to the honors of men.
Pride Is a Sin Which Should Concern All Men
A sin which is as widespread and dangerous to our eternal welfare as is pride, deserves to be studied with meticulous care. Since it afflicts almost all men, wisdom dictates that every person should be able to recognize it in his own life if he is afflicted, understand its consequences, and learn ways to overcome it.
The worst consequence of pride is that it causes misery both to the one afflicted and also to his associates. It invariably produces contention with its resulting misery. It leads to envy, hate and anger.
It causes one to have an insatiable desire to be honored or worshipped. It produces spiritual blindness and subjects one to the influence of the deceiver. If pride were a disease it would be the worst disease a man could have because the victim of pride is blinded to an awareness of the symptoms of the disease of pride to exactly the same degree he is afflicted with the disease. The scriptures provide instructive examples of these consequences in the lives of various individuals. Let us first consider the effect of pride on Lucifer. [p. 39]
Lucifer Exemplified Pride in its Most Extreme Form
Although at one time Satan was an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, (D&C 76:25) he fell from his exalted position and is now suffering indescribable misery. The scriptures indicate that the cause of his horrible fate was his pride. Some indication of the extent of his fault is given in the following words of Isaiah:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . .
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high. (Isa. 14:12-14)
Satans fall occurred when his offer to be Gods only begotten Son was rejected and the offer of Christ was accepted. At this point he became angry and rebellious and sought to destroy mans free agency:
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, sayingBehold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto meFather, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; (Moses 4:1-3)
This scripture teaches a lesson of transcendent importance. It sets forth the stark contrast between the humility, submissiveness and obedience of the Savior on the one hand, and the pride, lust for power and honor, and rebelliousness of Satan on the other. The joy and misery which humility and pride brought into the lives of these two individuals, and can bring into the lives of all others, is a matter for serious reflection. [p. 40]
Other Scriptural Examples of the Consequence of Pride
The theme that pride causes a person to be envious, angry and hateful when some honor or possession he wrongfully seeks is bestowed on his brother, is repeated frequently in the scriptures. We find it in the life of Cain who, when the Lord rejected his offering and accepted that of Abel, murdered his brother and appropriated his flocks.
Esau also became murderously jealous and hateful when the birthright he had sold, and the blessing he coveted, were given to his brother Jacob. To his credit let it be noted that these evil feelings later changed to love and friendship. The brothers of Joseph became so envious at the favoritism shown him by their father Jacob, that they were ready to put him to death. They were restrained from doing so only when the opportunity to sell him into slavery presented itself.
The envy and hate which the pride of Laman and Lemuel caused them to have toward their younger brother Nephi, is repeatedly mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately they never repented of these feelings, but transmitted them to their posterity thus causing a series of wars which lasted for hundreds of years. Pride, envy and a lust for power and the possessions of others have been the primary cause of international war and bloodshed throughout the history of the world.
Pride Leads to Envy, Hate, Anger and Misery
The one consequence of pride which should be feared above all others is the misery which it produces in the life of its victim. Men are that they might have joy. But pride is wickedness, and wickedness never was happiness. To the extent pride exists, joy is made impossible and misery inevitable. A proud person is envious. Like Satan he seeks that which he does not deserve and cannot rightfully possess. He wants the possessions, honor and glory which belong to others. Rather than recognizing that the earth and all honor and glory belong to God, he wants such things for himself.
Envy leads to anger and hate against the object of the envy. But feelings of envy, anger and hate are the very essence of misery. Indeed Satan and his followers are called vessels of wrath. (D&C 76:33) The torment [p. 41] they suffer is so horrible that it is known only by those who experience it. (D&C 76:45) The danger of disobeying that commandment which decrees: Thou shalt not covet, is most obvious.
The most important characteristic possessed by man is his capacity to experience joy on the one hand and misery on the other. The whole object of existence should be to obtain the one and avoid the other. But the extent to which we will experience the one feeling or the other throughout the eternities, appears to depend largely upon whether we are humble or proud; whether we set our hearts upon the things of this world and the honors of men, or have an eye single to the glory of God. One horrible aspect of pride which seems to exist is that it can never be completely satiated. No matter how extensively it may be gratified, as long as it persists the desire for more is never extinguished. Thus eternal misery is assured each person who fails to repent of it.
Pride Leads to Spiritual Blindness, Self-deception and Falsehood
Satan is the father of lies and it is his mission here on earth:
. . . to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4:4)
To be influenced by the prompting of the Spirit of the Lord requires that we humbly approach Him seeking the truth. As the Lord stated in the Sermon on the Mount:
Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Matt. 7:7)
On the other hand as the following scripture says, the proud are beyond the influence of the Lords Spirit:
And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their richesyea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. (2 Ne. 9:42) [p. 42]
The inability of the proud to know and understand spiritual truths includes the inability to exercise faith, as the following scripture states:
And again, behold I say unto you that he (a man) cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart. (Moro. 7:43)
To the extent we forget God and lavish on ourselves the praise which belongs to Him, to that extent we lose touch with spiritual reality. That lie which is spiritually fatal above all others is that there is no God. This false belief which has its foundation in pride, brings us under the influence of the Deceiver and we lose the ability to think logically about spiritual matters.
What Is the Relationship Between Pride and the Disposition to Exercise Unrighteous Dominion?
We have noted herein that the Lord has given two reasons for the failure of the many: (a) the disposition to exercise unrighteous dominion and, (b) pride. It is of interest to note that these are the two reasons assigned for the destruction of the Nephite nation. The scriptures state that both the Jaredites and the Nephites were exterminated because of secret combinations. Those evil organizations used the power of government to exercise unrighteous dominion and destroy freedom. (Ether 8:21, 25; Hel. 2:13, 14) But the following scripture attributes the destruction of the Nephites to pride:
. . . Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent. (Moro. 8:27)
We have also observed how Satans pride led him to attempt to destroy free agency in the pre-existence. He it is who forms secret combinations here on earth for this purpose. His organizations are among us today and they pose the same threat to us as they did to the Nephites. The Lord has warned us of our fate if we become proud as did the Nephites: . . . but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old. (D&C 38:39)
It appears from all of this that there is an inseparable connection between the sin of pride and the disposition to exercise unrighteous [p. 43] dominion. The proud find it impossible to obey the Golden Rule because one who considers himself above others, cannot treat them as he wants to be treated. These feelings of superiority dispose him to dictate the lives of those he considers inferior in knowledge, wisdom and judgment.
Believing himself more important, he wants others to believe the same thing. He desires to be honored, praised and looked up to. This leads him to seek for things which others do not havethings which set him apart from the common herd. To obtain these trappings which he believes will distinguish him, he seeks for the things of this world and the honors of men and will resort to devious and dishonest methods to obtain them. He will resort to compulsion when the opportunity presents itself.
Government is that agency which affords the greatest opportunity of all to gratify pride and exercise unrighteous dominion. One in control of this agency of force can use it to gain the things of this world, and also the honors of men. Governments have been used to commit more plunder and to confer more titles, honors, distinctions, licenses, privileges, degrees, etc., than all other agencies combined. In doing these things they exercise unrighteous dominion and destroy free agency.
In what follows in this book we will demonstrate first that it was always the proud among the Nephites who were constantly attempting to gain control of government so that they could use it to obtain the things of this world and the honors of men. After doing this, we shall undertake to show that it is pride which has led us to corrupt our laws, and that we must remove those corruptions or suffer destruction. [p. 44]
The Lord could, I suppose, have avoided the war in Heaven over free agency. All He needed to have done was to have compromised with the Devilbut had he done so he would have ceased to be God.
While it is more difficult to live the truth, such as standing for free agency, some of us may in the not too distant future be required to die for the truth. But the best preparation for eternal life is to be prepared at all times to diefully prepared by a valiant fight for the right.
Let us act like men, men who are sons of God, men with a sure knowledge that there will be a resurrectionand a final judgment. (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April, 1964)
Now, we may rest assured of this: If there is no devil, there is no God. But there is a God and there is a devil, and the bringing of peace requires the elimination of Satans influence. Where he is, peace can never be. Further, peaceful co-existence with him is impossible. He cannot be brought to co-operate in the maintenance of peace and harmony. He promotes nothing but the works of the flesh . . . .
As a prelude to peace, then, the influence of Satan must be completely subjugated. Even in heaven there could be no peace with him after his rebellion. There, in the world of spirits, the Father and the Son could find no ground upon which they could co-operate with him. He had to be cast outnot compromised with, but cast out. (Marion G. Romney, First Presidency Message, Ensign, October 1983, p. 5) [p. 45]