Pride of Knowledge
How much do you really know? Does your pride get in the way of your relationships with others and your relationship with God?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Happy mother’s day to you!
Let me ask you a question: What are the 3 hardest words to say in the English language?
Some say it’s, “I love you.”
Maybe it’s, “I am sorry”
I think…quite possibly…it’s “I don’t know”
This morning, we are starting a new 3-Week series called, “Distorted Reality”
It’s going to be a 3-week series on “Pride”
Which is to have a falsely inflated or overly high view of your self.
It’s to have a distorted sense of your reality.
You think you’re an amazing racecar driver, when you’re really going 3mph through a parking lot.
And we’re going to break this 3-week series down, into what theologians, for centuries have been calling the 3 most common forms of pride.
The pride of knowledge
The pride of power
And the pride of virtue
WE ARE PRIDEFUL
This morning, we’re going to cover the pride of knowledge
The idea that you already know it all.
That you’re basically right…all the time.
This is a message for your spouse. J
This is a message for the American
Americans have tremendous faith in themselves.
In 1950, the Gallup organization asked high school seniors, "Are you a very important person?"
And in 1950, 12 percent of high school seniors said yes. T
In 2005, they asked the same question to high school seniors, and 80 PERCENT said, "Yes, I am a very important person." Yikes!
Time magazine recently asked Americans, "Are you in the top one percent of earners?"
Apparently, according to our own estimates, 19% of Americans are in the top 1 percent of earners.
A friend told me once that Americans score 25th in the world in math, but we’re #1 in the world at thinking we are really good at math.
Pride of knowledge is an epidemic here.
And you don’t have to be educated, or have a degree, or even consider yourself smart to struggle with the “pride of knowledge” .
We all struggle with this.
The Bible is FULL of people who thought more highly of themselves than they should have
Pride is a sneaky sin.
If you’re a Christian, and you think you’re pretty mature compared to a lot of these newer Christians at Renovation…this series will hopefully be a wake up call to you.
This isn’t going to be a surface look at how to avoid outward sins.
This is a deep, interior look at the catalyst for most of our sins
It’s a tough one.
This is a tough one for me.
I’m a prideful person.
I’m so prideful that sometimes I’m even prideful about being prideful J
But like I said, it’s not just me…it’s not just professors and pastors and leaders that suffer from this…it’s everyone.
Just listen to people talk.
Eavesdrop on people in a restaurant and see what they’re talking about.
If they tell you it’s sinful to eavesdrop, just say, “My pastor told me to, it’s okay.” J
Eavesdrop and tell me what most people talk about…
And it can be anyone from a CEO to an entry level worker
What do most people talk about?
They talk about how stupid everyone else is!
And how, THEIR opinion, is of course, right!
It’s the pride of knowledge.
We all know better than our boss
We all certainly know better than the politicians
We all know better than that one relative of ours who can’t seem to get it together.
We just ALL know better!
And we LOVE to be right!
And we’re used to it…
In fact, “Pride of Knowledge,” is SO common and SO pervasive in our culture…we’re almost numb to it.
We’re just used to everyone spouting off their arrogant opinions on everything.
For example, I had a history professor in seminary and sometimes a student would ask him a question such as, “What did Luther think about that?”
And often, he would just say, “I don’t know”
It was the first time in my academic career that I had heard someone do that.
And it was almost weird to hear.
“What do you mean you don’t know?!?”
“Surely you must have an opinion! We all do!”
When you go out to lunch with a friend…and you talk about things like:
Your friend’s personal lives
How to parent…
You name it!
Do you just sit there the whole time saying, “Who am I to have an opinion on that matter?”
We say, “I can’t believe she’s dating him! She should know better!”
“I can’t believe they let their kids do that!”
I can’t believe they homeschool!
I can’t believe they send their kids to public school!”
We spend most of our dinner conversations bringing others down while lifting UP our views, our knowledge, and ourselves.
If you don’t believe me, pay attention to what you talk about at dinner tonight!
We ALL struggle with the pride of knowledge. No matter your age.
If you’re young, you’re often thinking, “These loser old people don’t know anything about the world today! They can barely figure out how to turn their phones on!”
You know it all.
If you’re old, you’re thinking, “These young whipper snappers today don’t know anything! When I was their age, I had a job, a family, responsibility, and some wisdom!”
Our pride oozes out of us no matter our age.
Did you ever stop to wonder how is it that Jesus, who actually KNEW IT ALL, never comes off as a KNOW IT ALL?
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
So how does it happen for us?
How do we become so convinced that we’re right?
The great Christian thinker, Reinhold Niebuhr, said it this way back in the day, Pride of knowledge always tries to obscure your partiality
In other words, your pride, doesn’t want you to think about how partial you’re being.
Your pride doesn’t want you to think that other angles even exist!
It doesn’t want you to put the shoe on the other foot or walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
It just wants you to think that yours are the only shoes that matter.
That you somehow have the greatest “bird’s eye perspective” to how things really ought to be.
This is one of the reasons our vision is that every single adult in this church goes on an international missions trip with us at least once. Every one.
Because we’re going to bring you to an entirely differently culture where people act, think, and live completely different…and you’re going to go…”OH…”
And the superiority of which you view the world is sure to at least lower a few notches.
See, pride of knowledge arises because we don’t really understand how finite, how small, how ignorant our own minds are.
We are ignorant of our own ignorance.
All we do is just cherry pick areas that we happen to be smarter than others
Maybe it’s your field of work
Maybe it’s what you know about cars
Maybe it’s what you know about babies
And then, when other people don’t know what you know…they’re, of course, idiots…and YOU…one of God’s gifts to humanity!
And yet…how much do we really know…really?
In the book of Job in the Bible, after Job experiences horrific tragedy, he and his friends debate for 35 chapters, using their own limited knowledge, about WHY it happened.
Then God answers Job. Look at what he says:
(Job 38:1-4) – NIV
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said 2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
He goes on to ask all these questions:
“Were you there when my angels sang for joy?”
“Did you put the constellations out in space? Was that you? I can’t remember…Oh, that’s right, it was me!”
What do we really know??
Solomon, whom the Bible says was the wisest person to ever walk the earth (outside of Jesus) once said this:
(Ecclesiastes 5:2) – NIV
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Think about this: God is in heaven.
He sees all things…knows all thing.
You are on earth.
One person out of 7 billion.
One person in history out of billions more.
The context of this passage is in making vows or promises to God about what you’re going to do.
Solomon is saying, “Watch your mouth”
You’re so limited in your understanding of how life really works that you’d better be careful before you spout off to anyone (especially God) “what really needs to happen here…”
Sure, maybe you know a thing or two about cars or babies…but think about what you don’t know?
What do you know about:
Anthropology, sociology, quantum physics or ecclesiology
What do you know about:
Investing, cooking, fixing an engine, or how to make your biceps good looking?
What do you know about…
The reality is…we know about one out of a trillion things we could know…
But when it comes to decision-making…or for many of us…second-guessing the decisions of others…
We act as if we had the knowledge and wisdom of all the great minds of the past COMBINED.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF PRIDE
And the consequences of such pride are many
Many Christian theologians call pride the root of all sin.
I don’t think that’s 100% accurate…but it’s pretty close.
C.S. Lewis called it the most cancerous of all attributes in the mind of man
My hero, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says it this way:
“Although man likes to treat it as some type of simple growth that can be excised, when God describes pride, he describes it in malignant terms. It pervades the whole system. – Ravi Zacharias
The consequences of such pride are many.
It isn’t simply that you will sometimes look funny around your friends when they prove you wrong.
Let me walk you through some of the consequences of the pride of knowledge
There are dozens of them…but let me rattle off 5 for you.
One of the first consequences of the “pride of knowledge”…is that it leads to isolation.
When a friend challenges us, we often think we know better.
However, for many of us…rather than listen to their constructive criticism, we withdraw.
An almost constant companion to those who no longer have companions… is the tendency to believe that they are always right.
Think of someone you know that has completely isolated themselves…and often they are some of the most prideful people you know.
You can be right all the time…but you’re going to be alone.
Secondly, we stop learning.
We stop studying.
Most importantly…we stop studying God’s Word…the Bible.
Because after all…we already know what’s right!
What more is there to learn!
And I want you to see here that the pride we have in regards to other humans, is really just symptomatic of an even greater problem.
And that is that we bring our pride of knowledge even to our relationship with an ALL-KNOWING God!
You’ll see that in the next 3 consequences
So for example, the third consequence is that our pride of knowledge often persuades us to ignore the conviction of God.
God is maybe convicting you of sin in your heart…but your pride says, “Nah…I don’t really need to stop that. I don’t really need to give that up. It’s not that big of a deal”
Just as we said about Adam & Eve in January…in our pride…we think we KNOW better.
And it’s our PRIDE that ends up sucking us deeper into sin.
Fourthly, when we are immersed in the pride of knowledge, we rarely pray.
For why would we ask God for advice?
Why would we seek God’s direction on that big decision?
We’re already smart and wise ourselves…we don’t need his help.
But it’s all insanity of course!
As Solomon said…God is in heaven…you are on earth.
Stop pretending like you have the Bird’s Eye view on life…when his view is 10 Million Miles above yours.
Fifthly, and this one will pervade our entire series:
Pride never ends well.
This is common theme in the Bible.
(James 4:6) – NIV
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
(Isaiah 2:11) – NIV
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled
and human pride brought low;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The prophet Isaiah, is saying to the people of Judah in this passage, that there is going to come a day when the prideful will be humbled
God only tolerates us setting ourselves up as equals to him for so long.
And there will come a time when, out of love, He will show you how much you “really know”
And it is often painful
So humble yourselves now…
HOW DO WE GET BETTER?
How do we do that?
How do we get better in this area? How do we decrease our “pride of knowledge”?
To start with: We have to get better at admitting we’re wrong.
I mentioned a number of years ago to a few of you that I felt seminary was really helpful for me in this regard
Every day I had to come to class and admit I was wrong.
I learned so much about the Bible and life that I didn’t know.
And it was challenging.
Every day in class, I’d end up saying, “Well, I was wrong about that! Wrong about that!”
And listen, by the 3rd year of seminary…I’m a pretty educated person at that point. 4 years of college. 3 full years of graduate school. Studying deep theology.
And still…every day…Wrong about that!
But this is how you grow in life!
You admit you don’t know all the answers!
(Proverbs 11:2) – NIV
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
The people who think they know it all, they’re not wise!
But, when you’re humble, you become wise because humble people are willing to learn!
So you start by getting better at admitting you’re wrong…that you don’t know everything.
And the second part of that…is you learn.
And you learn…not just more of the world’s wisdom….you learn God’s wisdom.
You don’t just listen to the culture…but the CREATOR of cultures
Because the answer to this message is NOT some postmodern rhetoric about “We can never really know if ANYTHING is true”
That’s not what I’m going for here.
What you ought to hear from this…is the following:
We are indeed foolish to believe that we, on our own, understand much of anything…but the answer then is not to give up on truth…but be humble enough to seek it.
And that truth is in God’s truth…the word…The bible.
So the true, humble, follow of Jesus Christ says, “I don’t know…I don’t know…I don’t know…but God knows. And here’s what the Bible says about it”
And if it’s not clear in the Bible…then we seek God in prayer…and we consult other believers
The opposite of the pride of knowledge is not being empty of knowledge
It is being humble enough to seek knowledge from the ONE that actually has Knowledge!
So at Renovation…we believe that learning God’s Word is incredibly important
That’s why, two years ago, we started the Renovation School of Theology
We want our people to really be able to study and learn God’s truth.
Because we believe what you know (if you also learn to apply it…which is why house groups are so important) has an enormous impact on your life
And we want to study God’s Word…and learn everything we can about this Amazing God!
We’ve added a class to our school every year, and we now have 4 amazing classes for you to choose from this summer
(Show SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY slide)
The classes go in order…so you start at the beginning.
Each of the classes are only 8 or 9 weeks long.
They start in June and are finished before July is over.
It’s a short-time commitment, but a HUGE payoff for your Christian walk.
Our first class is called FIRST STEPS
It’s where you can start diving into what the Bible has to say on some of basics of Christianity:
You’ll learn more about Jesus and why he died
More about prayer, listening to God, and more!
It’s a great starting point to diving into the Bible and learning more about who God is.
We used to show the Alpha videos for this class, but have now transitioned it to live teaching like our other 3 classes!
We do ask that everyone starts in the First Steps class with the only exception being if you’ve taken any sort of theological class in the past…or if you took Alpha last year.
Our second class is called MINING GOD’S WORD
MGW will help you learn how to actually interpret the Bible and give you tools to study it.
It’s a fantastic class. Our reviews of this chart are off the charts! People LOVE it!!
In just 8 or 9 weeks, it’ll dramatically change how you read the Bible.
Our 3rd and 4th classes are Theology 101 and 201.
It’s in those classes where we dive deep into studying some of major doctrines of Christianity:
The trinity, creation, end times, and we study major theological questions like: Does God just KNOW the future or did God PLAN the future?
These are seminary level classes that we are offering at our church for basically free. Amazing stuff.
(Show School of Theology Picture 1)
We’ll give you more details and tell you how to sign-up in announcements
I’m teaching 1 of the 4 classes this summer, and it’s a ton of fun. I love it!
And our other teachers are amazing!
These are the guys that I go ask questions of when I don’t know.
(Show School of Theology Picture 2)
Our hope is to have 80 to 100 adults take a class this summer.
Note: We just signed a new lease on our office space / ministry center, and we’re planning to hopefully blow out that wall in a few weeks J
I’m really excited for this summer.
Find a way to get to a class.
It’s just 8 weeks.
And it’s an incredible investment in your spiritual growth.
If you’ve got kids at home, get a sitter for 8 weeks
Or rotate with your spouse every summer.
Don’t use kids as an excuse to not grow spiritually.
That doesn’t work out well in the end for anyone in the end.
I believe this is a unique opportunity for us, the people of Renovation, to come to class every week and say:
“I don’t know everything”
“Teach me about God’s Word”
Because when you humble yourself, you will grow in Wisdom!
You can become wise!
Think about the five consequences of pride that I told you about earlier:
We stop listening to others, which leads to isolation
We stop learning
We ignore the conviction of God
We stop praying
And we’re eventually humbled by God…often in a painful way.
Now take the inverse of those.
What if you began to work on this?
What if you began to admit that you’ve got a TON to learn about God’s Word still.
What if you began to look at life not through the lens of “you know everything,” but that “you’re on earth…he’s in heaven…” HE KNOWS EVERYTHING?
What would that look like?
Well, it would like the opposite of those 5 consequences:
Firstly, it means that you would then be a person that accepts and learns from criticism and feedback…
And thus you are going to grow as a person and grow a community of friends/believers around you who are thus speaking into your life…helping you become wise!
Secondly, you would be a person that keeps learning about God.
And the more you know about Him, the more you can be like Him.
Thirdly, you’d be a person who obeys God when He convicts you
Because you trust Him! And you’ll say, “I don’t know, but He knows!”
And thus, you’d constantly be improving and working on your character.
Fourthly, you’d be a person that seeks God’s will and not their own
Because you know that you don’t have all the answers.
You NEED his direction.
You NEED his bird’s eye view from heaven.
And fifthly, God will thus exalt you.
(Luke 14:11) – NIV
11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
These are the two paths.
If you exalt yourself in pride…God will humble you.
If you choose the route of humility…you’ll actually be exalted.
So your goal for this week…an easy starting point for you…is to work on saying the 3 hardest words: I don’t know.
It’s to see your “I don’t know” quotient go way up.
May the number of times that you say “I don’t know,” both to people AND to God go way up!
And if you humble yourself, God will exalt you.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.