As we read the Scriptures it becomes clear that there are only two types of hearts within man: either a proud heart or a humble heart. The proud heart does not recognize a need for God and attempts to live life without any acknowledgement of Him. In contrast, the humble heart not only recognizes the need for God, but also demonstrates that recognition by relying on Him to provide everything necessary to live life in this fallen world.
James 4:10 says, “God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble.”
Isaiah 47 presents the fall of the City of Babylon and a description of humanity’s pride and rebellion against the One True God. Although Babylon was a real city with a real place in history, it also serves as a symbolic picture of the collective mind of fallen man that sets itself in opposition to the Lord’s rule and reign.
The same heart that characterized Babylon that is on display in the judgment pronounced by God in chapter 47 is the type of heart that is within each of us as descendants of Adam. If that be the case, what are some of the characteristics of the proud heart and what conclusions can we draw out that might benefit our own walk with the Lord?
I humbly offer the ‘arrogant 8’ below. 🙂
Anatomy of Arrogance
- Self-sufficient – Babylon was being judged because she had made the claim: “I am, besides me there is no other” (v. 8,10). Isaiah 45:5 reminds us that language is exclusively used by the One true God to describe Himself. The arrogant heart sets itself on the throne.
- Entitlement mentality – Babylon was “the daughter of the Chaldeans”, but the arrogant heart believes that any position of power (in this case, the privilege of the palace) is deserved because of the perception that it has been earned.
- Sense of invulnerability – Babylon couldn’t imagine a day when she was not the mistress of the kingdoms: “I shall be mistress forever” (v.7) and asserted “I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children”(v.8). Babylon believed the position and prosperity she enjoyed currently would go on forever.
- Cruel intentions and actions – God’s people were given to Babylon by God’s sovereign purpose (v.6), but she placed a heavy yoke on the aged captives showing their disrespect (at best) and malicious intent toward others – especially God’s people.
- Immediate gratification mindset – Babylon is described as a ‘lover of pleasure’ (v.8) with no long-term view of the prophetic word of God spoken (v.7). The arrogant heart lives for today, with no real sense of a future day of reckoning.
- Sees no need for accountability – Babylon’s own “wisdom and knowledge” led her astray (v.10) and she was comfortable with the notion that “No one sees me.” The arrogant heart foolishly believes that we can live life isolated from the loving input of others.
- Complacent in evil deeds – How horrible to get to the point of jadedness that Babylon was told by God she “felt secure in your wickedness” (v.10). Arrogance is not concerned with the guilt of wrong actions, often times justifying deeds that are unjustifiable.
- Seeks counsel in any source other than the One true source of God’s Word – Babylon had “enchantments and many sorceries” that she had relied upon for counsel and wisdom for many years beginning in her youth.
The sobering reminder of Isaiah’s description of the fall of Babylon is that every spiritual support structure was consumed when the fire of the judgment came (v.14). So it is will be for any of us if, for our salvation from the penalty and power of sin we place our hope in anything other than the finished work of Jesus’ righteous life and substitutionary atoning death on the cross and subsequent victory over the grave.
So, there truly is no righteous thing in any of us. None righteous, no not one. But the exceedingly wonderful news of the gospel is that God knew our hearts fully when He gave Jesus Christ to be a Savior for sinners. He came to conquer and transform and humble our proud hearts. He accomplishes that mysterious work by His truth. Our encounters with His truth point us to our need for a Savior and to the Savior who meets our need. Abiding in Him and humbly relying on His grace to accomplish that good work (which He has begun and He will complete, by the way!) we can hope for characteristics of a humble heart with greater frequency than those of the proud heart.
See these in contrast to the ‘arrogant 8’ above:
- Dependent on God for all things – The One who truly claims “I AM, besides Me there is no other” is trustworthy and dependable to deliver, so we lean hard into Him and rely on Him for wisdom, righteousness, strength and peace. (Isaiah 46:3-4)
- Poverty of spirit – If there is to be any good coming our way, it is a gift of God’s amazing grace. When we acknowledge our inability, we make room for His grace to guard and guide our hearts. Subsequently, knowledge of His grace produces gratitude. (Eph 2:8-10)
- Feel deeply the frailty of our frame – We come to realize we aren’t invulnerable, but weak and frail. Resting in the promise of God that His grace is sufficient for us and His power made perfect in our weakness, we are able to with the apostle, “Therefore, I would rather boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. …When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
- Tender-hearted and kind toward others – How easily we slip into ‘being mean’. Argh. But understanding the love that God has demonstrated toward us who were at one time His enemies, we are actually able to, by grace, “owe no one anything, except to love each other…” (Romans 13:8; see also Eph. 4:32)
- An Eternal Perspective on suffering and pleasures – Those who belong to Christ have their perspective reordered to His perspective. We grow in our realization that the sufferings of this present age cannot be compared to the glory which is to come, and even a pursuit of pleasures in this life are but shadows of the pleasures that at His right hand are forevermore. (2 Cor. 4:16-18; Psalm 16:11)
- Live in Community – Understanding our frailty and inability to serve God in our own strength also draws us to see the need to live accountable His church where our lives and doctrine can be known and, if needed, lovingly corrected. We grow in our willingness to submit ourselves to the ‘One-anothering’ that characterizes the Body of Christ where we bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Hebrews 13:17; Galatians 6:1-2)
- Righteous Priorities – Abiding in Christ changes what we consider important and how we spend our resources (time and talents). God promises that ordinary people like us can come to consistently hate that which is evil and cling to that which is good. (Romans 12)
- Seekers of the True Source – God knows that if we are to be transformed by His grace it will be a result an regular encounters with His truth. By God’s grace we can let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, submitted to the Scriptures teachable, ‘reproofable’, correctable, and trainable in righteousness so that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:15-17)
God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Let that sink in deep – He gives grace. Praise be to God!