Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pride, the Greatest Sin

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (Ezek 16:49)

There is no doubt for anyone that, according to the teaching of the Scriptures, their sins are unequal. For the one set is called “great,” the other “smaller” by these Scriptures. Now, since sins are unequal, that is, either “small” or “very great,” someone might perhaps ask what the greatest among all sins is, and the answer is readily given that either fornication or impurity or some other pollution of lust is greater than all other sins. And indeed, those are truly abominable and filthy sins too, but they are not as bad as this one, which is condemned by Scripture here as greater than all the others, from which we must guard ourselves.

Then which sin is greater than all other sins? Clearly it is that sin because of which even the devil tumbled down. What is this sin, in which so great an eminence fell, that, as the Apostle says, “being puffed-up, he may fall into the judgment of the devil.”* The devil’s sin is being puffed up—pride, arrogance; because of these faults he passed from heaven to earth. Hence “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”† And “why is earth and ash proud,”‡ so that a man would be lifted up with arrogance, forgetting what he will become, and in how fragile a little vessel he is contained, and in what piles of manure he is submerged, and what sort of excretions he constantly ejects?… Pride is greater than all other sins, and is the primary sin of the devil himself. Whenever Scripture describes the devil’s sins you will find that they flow from the spring of pride; for he says, “I shall act with strength, and by the wisdom of my understanding I shall remove the boundaries of peoples, and I shall consume their powers; and I will move their cities which are inhabited, and I shall seize the entire world like a bird’s nest, and I shall take them away like broken eggs.”§ See how proud his words are, how arrogant, and how he considers everything as worth nothing. Such are all who are puffed up with boasting and pride.

Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical Works on Ezekiel, 9.2.1-2

* 1 Timothy 3:6
† James 4:6
‡ Sirach 10:9
§ Isaiah 10:13-14

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