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Pride will kill you. Forever.

Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think
they are well will not look for a doctor.

As seriously dangerous as pride is, it’s equally hard to spot. When it comes to diagnosing our hearts, those of us
who have the disease of pride have a challenging time identifying our sickness. Pride infects our eyesight,
causing us to view ourselves through a lens that colors and distorts reality. Pride will paint even our ugliness in
sin as beautiful and commendable.

We can’t conclude that we don’t struggle with pride because we don’t see pride in our hearts. The comfortable
moments when I pat myself on the back for how well I am doing are the moments that should alarm me the most.
I need to reach for the glasses of Christ-like humility, remembering that nothing good dwells in my flesh, and
search my heart for secret pride and its symptoms.

In his essay on undetected pride, Jonathan Edwards points out seven sneaky symptoms of the infection of pride.

1. Fault-Finding

While pride causes us to filter out the evil we see in ourselves, it also causes us to filter out God’s goodness in
others. We sift them, letting only their faults fall into our perception of them.

When I’m sitting in a sermon or studying a passage, it’s pride that prompts the terrible temptation to skip the
Spirit’s surgery on my own heart and instead draft a mental blog post or plan a potential conversation for the
people who “really need to hear this.”

Edwards writes,

The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints. . . . The eminently humble Christian has
so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.

2. A Harsh Spirit

Those who have the sickness of pride in their hearts speak of others’ sins with contempt, irritation, frustration, or
judgment. Pride is crouching inside our belittling of the struggles of others. It’s cowering in our jokes about the
‘craziness’ of our spouse. It may even be lurking in the prayers we throw upward for our friends that are — subtly
or not — tainted with exasperated irritation.

Again Edwards writes, “Christians who are but fellow-worms ought at least to treat one another with as much
humility and gentleness as Christ treats them.”

3. Superficiality

When pride lives in our hearts, we’re far more concerned with others’ perceptions of us than the reality of our
hearts. We fight the sins that have an impact on how others view us, and make peace with the ones that no one
sees. We have great success in the areas of holiness that have highly visible accountability, but little concern for
the disciplines that happen in secret.
4. Defensiveness

Those who stand in the strength of Christ’s righteousness alone find a confident hiding place from the attacks of
men and Satan alike. True humility is not knocked off balance and thrown into a defensive posture by challenge or
rebuke, but instead continues in doing good, entrusting the soul to our faithful Creator.

Edwards says, “For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be,
unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still.”

5. Presumption Before God

Humility approaches God with humble assurance in Christ Jesus. If either the “humble” or the “assurance” are
missing in that equation, our hearts very well might be infected with pride. Some of us have no shortage of
boldness before God, but if we’re not careful, we can forget that he is God.

Edwards writes, “Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm
2:11 — ‘Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.’”

Others of us feel no confidence before God. Which sounds like humility, but in reality it’s another symptom of
pride. In those moments, we’re testifying that we believe our sins are greater than his grace. We doubt the power
of Christ’s blood and we’re stuck staring at ourselves instead of Christ.

6. Desperation for Attention

Pride is hungry for attention, respect, and worship in all its forms.

Maybe it sounds like shameless boasting about ourselves. Maybe it’s being unable to say “no” to anyone because
we need to be needed. Maybe it looks like obsessively thirsting for marriage — or fantasizing about a better
marriage — because you’re hungry to be adored. Maybe it looks like being haunted by your desire for the right
car or the right house or the right title at work: all because you seek the glory that comes from men, not God.

7. Neglecting Others

Pride prefers some people over others. It honors those who the world deems worthy of honor, giving more
weight to their words, their wants, and their needs. There’s a thrill that goes through me when people with
“power” acknowledge me. We consciously or unconsciously pass over the weak, the inconvenient, and the
unattractive, because they don’t seem to offer us much.

Maybe more of us struggle with pride than we thought.

There’s good news for the prideful. Confession of pride signals the beginning of the end for pride. It indicates the
war is already being waged. For only when the Spirit of God is moving, already humbling us, can we remove the
lenses of pride from our eyes and see ourselves clearly, identifying the sickness and seeking the cure.

By God’s grace, we can turn once again to the glorious gospel in which we stand and make much of him even
through identifying our pride in all its hiding places inside of us. Just as my concealed pride once moved me
toward death, so the acknowledgement of my own pride moves me toward life by causing me to cling more
fiercely to the righteousness of Christ.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in
me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23–24)

Related Articles

◾Think of Yourself Less: Fighting Pride’s Preoccupation with Me

◾Don’t Let Pride Steal Your Joy

◾Pride, Despair, and Sovereign Grace


Think of Yourself Less

Fighting Pride’s Preoccupation with Me

Article by Jason Meyer

Series: Killjoys

I am very qualified to speak on pride because I am so proud. I hate my pride, but what I take even more seriously
is how God hates it so much more.

Pride is our greatest enemy because it makes God our enemy — an almighty opponent. “God opposes the proud”
(James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Why? What makes pride so singularly repulsive to God is the way that pride contends for
supremacy with God himself. Pride is not one sin among many, but a sin in a class by itself. Other sins lead the
sinner further from God, but pride is particularly heinous in that it attempts to elevate the sinner above God.

Pride is not just a sin, but a sinful mother — a sinful orientation that gives birth to more sins. For example, pride
can lead to lying. You tell a lie because you are too proud to admit you were wrong or you did something wrong.
But the problem is so much bigger. Pride doesn’t just tell lies; it is a lie.

Why? Pride is self-obsession; pride is preoccupation with ourselves. Therefore, it is a lie about reality. It says I am
worth thinking about all the time. It is an orientation that wrongly assumes that everything revolves around us.

A Shape-Shifting Sin

Pride deserves to die, but it is hard to spot and even harder to kill. Pride is a slippery sin because it is a shape-
shifter. Jonathan Edwards said pride is “the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all sins.” Let me give you an
example. Here is a conversation that I might have with myself after a meeting at church:

“That meeting went really well. I think the turning point might have been when I asked that question which no
one had thought to ask before. Wait a minute! That was such a prideful thought. It sounds like I am taking credit
for the meeting going well. I am such a prideful person. I hate my pride.”

“Humility is fundamentally a form of self-forgetfulness as opposed to pride’s self-fixation.”

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Meanwhile three seconds later, “I fight pride pretty hard. I’m glad that I caught that initial prideful thought. I
wonder if other people are as aware of their pride and fight it as hard as I do. Wait a minute! It just happened
again. I am taking pride in my awareness of pride. O, deliver me from this body of death, Lord Jesus! Thank you
God that you give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Several Shapes of Pride


If pride is preoccupation with ourselves, then we cannot defeat pride by becoming preoccupied with how we are
doing against pride. When we do, we play right into the hands of pride because we take a page out of pride’s
playbook. Think about yourself more. Obsess more. Become preoccupied with how you are doing — how the fight
is going.

You can fall into self-exaltation (takes credit for success) and self-promotion (put those successes in other peoples
faces so they will give us credit for them). But pride can shift into the shape of self-degradation and self-demotion
when we beat ourselves up for our failures. We are still obsessed with ourselves. In the first form, we are
obsessed with our successes; in the second, we are obsessed with our failures.

Think of Yourself Less

Maybe some of this will make more sense if we talk about what real humility is. As C.S. Lewis said, true humility is
“not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.” We can spend a lot of time thinking less of
ourselves but we only end up thinking a lot about ourselves. The problem of pride does not boil down to whether
we think high thoughts or low thoughts about ourselves but that we think lots of thoughts about ourselves.

Humility is fundamentally a form of self-forgetfulness as opposed to pride’s self-fixation. Humility can set you free
because when you think about yourself less you are free to think about Christ more. Humility puts us on the path
of grace; pride puts us on the path of opposition. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James
4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

Two Crash Sites

The collision between the glory of God and the pride of man has two possible crash sites: hell or the cross. In
other words, either we will pay for our sins in hell or Christ will pay for our sins on the cross. Hell is like an eternal
crash site and crime scene. It is a horror movie in which there are no closing credits because it never ends.

God opposes pride actively and hates it passionately, which means that pride is spiritual suicide. The reason is
simple. Pride is on a collision course with God himself and the date is set. “For the Lord of hosts has a day against
all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up — and it shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:12). All must be torn
down so that one thing alone may be left standing. “The Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). The
Bible calls it the day of the Lord.

“The collision between the glory of God and the pride of man has two possible crash sites: hell or the cross.”

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But God in his mercy made another way. The Son of God emptied himself by taking on humanity and humbled
himself by obeying to the point of death — even the death of the cross. God sends his Son to vindicate the worth
of his great name, which sinners have defamed. The sacrifice of Christ fully absorbs and satisfies the wrath of God.
This glorious aspect of the atonement is called “propitiation” (Romans 3:24–25).

The Solution to Our Self-Obsession


Seeing the cross rightly crushes our pride decisively. Why? Seeing the cross rightly means that we see ourselves
rightly. We see him on the cross and conclude that we are actually seeing our sin on the cross. The cross reveals
what we deserve from God. We cannot receive the grace of Christ apart from seeing and embracing the
undeserved dis-grace of Christ.

We see the cross rightly through the miracle of conversion. We were blind to the glory of Christ on the cross (2
Corinthians 4:3–4), but God’s grace is stronger. When Christ is proclaimed, God overcomes our spiritual blindness
by flooding our hearts with light. The eyes of the heart are opened to see and savor the glory of God in the face of
Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The Spirit acts like a floodlight to illuminate the work of Christ on the cross.

The Bible’s answer to our fallen self-obsession is a great work of grace in the gospel that creates a worshipful
obsession with God. Pride is defeated decisively at conversion, progressively in sanctification, and totally at
glorification — where we experience ever-increasing, everlasting, white-hot worship of God. The day is coming
when God alone will be exalted. It will be the worst day for unbelievers and the happiest day for all Christians.
Pride is perhaps the greatest evil that exists. It wreaks destruction at every level of human experience. It’s present
in small irritations and in the collapse of great civilizations. Pride is the root of every sin and pollutes every
otherwise righteous affection, motivation, and action.

While humility sees glory and wants to praise it, pride sees glory and wants to possess it. Pride turns ambition
selfish, perverts sexual desire into unspeakable lusts, interprets net-worth as self-worth, infects the wound of
grief and loss with the bacteria of bitterness, and twists competition into conquest.

To be proud is what it means to be fallen, whether angel or human. Pride is our most deadly enemy — it is what
makes Satan deadly to us. And it is alive and active within us.

But Jesus came to deliver us from the power of pride and restore all the joy it steals. “Death to the tyrant pride!”
is the great gospel battle cry of freedom.

The Killer of Our Happiness

To understand what pride is, we must understand what humility is. Humility is essentially the recognition of what
is real, simply assessing things as they really are. To be fully humble is to fully trust God (Proverbs 3:5), the Truth
(John 14:6; 17:17), to govern according to his just ways and perfect work (Deuteronomy 32:4); to be content with
what he gives us (Hebrews 13:5), knowing that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him
from heaven” (John 3:27).

Pride, then, is simply to think higher of ourselves, and therefore lower of others, than we ought to think (Romans
12:3). Oh so simple to define — and yet powerful to produce such hellish consequences. To be proud is to see the
world through the lens of a lie.

In thinking ourselves far greater than we really are, we see truly great things far smaller than they really are. The
lie of pride becomes a damned lie when we see God as smaller, and less important than he is. And in trying to
make truly great things subservient to our false supremacy, pride shrinks our capacity to experience joy and
wonder. In seeking to be gods and goddesses, we learn to only value what magnifies our glory or satisfies our
appetites. We yawn at the Grand Canyon and fawn at the mirror.

“Pride makes us yawn at the Grand Canyon and fawn at the mirror.”

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The damned lie of pride is that it promises us happiness through God-usurping self-exaltation, which turns out to
be the very thing that kills our happiness. The more highly we think of ourselves, the smaller our capacity for
wonder and worship over what is most worthy.

Only Children Enter the Kingdom

This is why Jesus said that only children would enter the kingdom of heaven.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to
him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–4)

Why do only childlike people enter the kingdom of heaven? Because only childlike people have the capacity to
enjoy it.

Think about it like this: Children delight in going to a playground; adults chase delight in trying to possess their
own “playground.” Children love to hear a great story; adults want to be impressively well-read. Children dance
for joy at the thought of a doughnut; doughnut dancing is beneath the dignity of self-conscious adults. Children
are easily absorbed in the greatness of something wonderful; adults are easily absorbed in wanting to be great.

“Proud ‘grown ups’ cannot be happy in heaven.”

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Satan wants us to grow up and be like God. God, on the other hand, wants us to grow up and be like children.
Listen to God. He knows that it requires humility to fully enjoy things for what they are. That’s why heaven is for
children. Don’t listen to Satan. All he shows us is that proud “grown ups” cannot be happy in heaven.

Just Take the Next Humble Step

Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). And the devil’s most destructive work
was to turn humble, wonder-filled, happy creatures into proud, rebellious, miserable sin-slaves who think they
can become gods and goddesses. On the cross Jesus purchased the reverse of this curse, to set us free from
satanic pride and to restore our God-like joy and wonder.

This is why everything about the gospel is designed to expose our pride and force us to put it to death. God
doesn’t humble us because, like some conceited tyrant, he takes pleasure in our groveling. He humbles us
because he wants us to be happy and free — he wants us to reflect his image! God is perfectly humble; he sees all
things — himself and everything else — exactly as they are. And he is the happiest being alive.

The only road for us proud sinners to travel to reach the promised land of joy and be the free children of God
passes through the valley of humiliation. And it’s hard, and the trek requires real courage. Humbling ourselves
often feels like death, but it really is not. It’s holy chemotherapy that kills the cancer of pride. “Whoever would
save his life will lose it” (Luke 9:24) means losing the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16) in order to gain what is “truly
life” (1 Timothy 6:19).

“The holy habit of humility is formed one honest step at a time.”

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Yes, through humility Jesus is inviting us into a heaven of joy and wonder. And it’s a heaven that begins now. To
travel this humble road to joy only requires taking the next step, the one right in front of us today. It’s that step
that our pride doesn’t want us to take.

Go ahead and take it. You won’t regret it. The joy of humility will grow and the misery of pride will shrink as you
do. The holy habit of humility is formed one honest step at a time.
Grab a corner of the curtain over the powers at work in this world, pull it back, and look inside, and you will
discover two of the strongest forces on earth: pride and despair.

One generates what seems to be tremendous dedication and focus; the other robs life of all motivation and
concentration. In the clutches of pride or despair much of mankind gets stuck — trapped by self-glory or pinned
down by hopelessness, both alienated and isolated, unable to taste the joy.

Few see more clearly behind this curtain, and few explain what they see with more bone-chilling reality, than
David Foster Wallace in his novel Infinite Jest. His complex and sprawling work exposes the human love affair with
entertainment, the high-octane drive of personal glory, the prison of drug addiction, and the nightmarish isolation
of depression. For a thousand pages, he exposes the world’s dark plagues of pride and despair.

Pride Ensnares

LaMont Chu is an eleven-year-old athletic prodigy with “an increasingly crippling obsession with tennis fame.” He
desperately wants his picture in glossy magazines. He yearns for television commentators in jackets and headsets
to celebrate his every move on the court. He wants endorsements. He lusts for hype. He longs for the worship of
photographers. His greatest threats in life are losses and injury.

“Why,” his friend Lyle asks, “are you driven to this fame?”

“I guess to give my life some sort of kind of meaning,” he answers honestly.

LaMont’s lusts burn for a fame that will give his life substance.

Like a good friend, Lyle tries to talk real sense into LaMont by explaining how fame decomposes the heart. “The
first photograph, the first magazine, the gratified surge, the seeing themselves as others see them, the
hagiography of image, perhaps. Perhaps this first time: enjoyment. After that . . . they do not feel what you burn
for. . . . Something changes. After the first photograph has been in a magazine, the famous men do not enjoy their
photographs in magazines so much as they fear that their photographs will cease to appear in magazines. They
are trapped, just as you are.”

The lust for fame and the need to preserve our fame are both traps that cannot sustain meaning in our life or
pleasure in our soul. Craving for self-glory is to hunger for food that does not exist, it is to feed a fire that cannot
die by feeding it. It is to be suffocated by constant fears and growing isolation.

Despair Destroys

Despair accomplishes something similar but through another route. Throughout the novel, David Foster Wallace
walks the reader down through the various layers of depression in a Dante-like descent.

He begins with anhedonia, a simple melancholy. At this level, “The devoted wife and mother finds the thought of
her family about as moving, all of a sudden, as a theorem of Euclid.” Anhedonia is life hollowed of joys, leaving a
shell of dull detachment. Such a woman can still recall memories of happiness, and she can talk about happiness,
but really only as a matter of principle. She feels none of it. The melancholy anhedonic becomes “Unable to
Identify,” uprooted, lost, disconnected from the world and home, floating through life in a sort of affection-dulled
and anesthetized abstraction from reality.

This type of depression is especially reserved for the characters in Wallace’s book that have lived only to achieve
professional goals. In mid-life, they find the joys they have expected through all their strivings have evaporated.
Like a blow to the gut, they have come to see the fun in life, what drove them, was the carrot chase. Once the
competition to supremacy ends, they find only a dose of numb emptiness. Anhedonia.

But this stage of melancholy is a vacation compared to “the Great White Shark of pain,” a “predator-grade
depression,” an anguish and despair so dark it simply goes by the name It.

It is a level of psychic pain wholly incompatible with human life as we know it. . . . It is lonely on a level that
cannot be conveyed. . . . If a person in physical pain has a hard time attending to anything except that pain, a
clinically depressed person cannot even perceive any other person or thing as independent of the universal pain
that is digesting her, cell by cell. Everything is part of the problem, and nothing is the solution. It is a hell for one.

No simple solutions cure clinical depression, and the characters in Wallace’s novel pursue just about any medical
option to escape the pain (or worse). Those tormented by the relentless It, long simply to be numb again, to
return to a place where they feel no pain or pleasure, anything to escape the ravishing pain and the living
decomposition they now feel eating away at them. They stand at the open window of a tall building on fire, the
flames roaring below, pressed for a decision: burn or jump? That is the daily decision of those living under the
oppressive nightmare of It.

Made to Love

Pride and despair empty the human existence, because at the root of our identity, we know we are made to love.
In the profound words of David Foster Wallace: “You are what you love.” We love, he says, because we are
“absolutely dying to give ourselves away to something.”

We were made to give ourselves to transcendence. As another character suggests: “Someone taught that temples
are for fanatics only and took away the temples and promised there was no need for temples. And now there is
no shelter. And no map for finding the shelter of a temple. And you all stumble about in the dark, this confusion
of permissions. This without-end pursuit of a happiness of which someone let you forget the old things which
made happiness possible.”

Our only hope is to stumble our way to the temple, but we have no map. We’re stuck. Our lives are meant to be
lives of worship, but we grope in the dark. David Foster Wallace explained this point in a commencement address:

There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. . . . If
you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough,
never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always
feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On
one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the
skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb
you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always
on the verge of being found out.

But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious.
They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and
more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what
you’re doing.

On the contrary, there is sin here — sin so strong and so deep we have no hope of escape in ourselves.

Unable to find our way to the temple, we worship appearance, sex, money, and intellect. Our misdirected
worship is another manifestation of our pride and despair, and in this evil we are stuck. Our lives may not be as
boldly self-centered as the tennis prodigy, and we may never taste the nightmare pain of It, but all of us are
familiar with pride and melancholy. We know what it’s like to be stuck in the vanity of self-glorification or to be
deadened by despair, unable to find our way to shelter, to the altar of joy (Psalm 43:4).

This is what it means to be lost in the pain and confusion of a fallen world, in a novel with echoes of tragic
autobiographical familiarity of a famous author, who desperately needed to find his way to the Temple, but
apparently never did (John 2:19).

He killed himself by hanging at age 46.

Novocain for the Soul

The consequences of a fallen world, and the consequences of our sin, tag-team to shoot Novocain deep into the
soul. Depravity and sin numb us to all true spiritual sensation. The soul is dead.

Hardly are we aware of the thickness of the darkness and the degree of our desperation. In a broken world of
conflicting emotions, the chaos of self-motivation, and the depressing powers over our lives, we cannot escape.
We cannot escape ourselves. We find ourselves bound to our limits, confined by the self. The deck is stacked
against us.

To find any hope, God’s sovereign grace must reach into the darkness of a world of despair. God’s sovereign grace
must find exiled sinners, who pursue self-glory, who live in a “confusion of permissions,” who obscure evil for
good. Every one of us must be freed from ourselves.

Drawn by the Cord of Sovereign Grace

The point is that we desperately need to find our identity in another — but we keep falling back on ourselves.
Generations of people before us, startled by the darkness they see in the world and by the pride and despair they
have found in their own souls, have searched every holy page of Scripture to put words to this mystery. How will
God reach into history, despite all the forces at play, to redeem and call a family of his own. How does he do it?
How will he break into this mess to draw us?
The Puritans in the eighteenth century, and their heirs, turned to the romantically charged language of Song of
Solomon and to the passionately redemptive language of Hosea to hear God speak hope:
◾“I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (Hosea 2:14).
◾“I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love” (Hosea 11:4).
◾“Draw me after you; let us run” (Song of Solomon 1:4).

These passages resonate. We know God must lure us to himself. But to pull this off, he must overcome and out-
allure the powers of pride and despair at work within all of us. As redemptive history progresses, Jesus explains
how God will pull off this feat:
◾“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for
the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
◾“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John
6:44).
◾“No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65).
◾“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never
perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all”
(John 10:27–29).
◾“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people [Jew and Gentile alike] to myself” (John 12:32).

God will draw his children to himself in order to love and delight in them:
◾“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved’”
(Romans 9:25).
◾“. . . as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved . . .” (Colossians 3:12).
◾“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word,
but also in power . . .” (1 Thessalonians 1:4–5).
◾“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the
firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The Father elects, searches out, and draws. The Son attracts and secures. In his death and resurrection, Christ acts
on behalf of the elect, not only to secure their redemption (definite atonement), but to draw them into his
delight. God’s plan of redemption is unintelligible without understanding these points.

Breaking Bad

Which means even our best manmade religions offer us little hope to get us safely inside the right temple. Apart
from grace our religious devotion alone only works to make proud people more arrogant, or miserable people
more dejected. Human religion can only feed the sinner’s pride or fuel the sinner’s despair.

“Only Christianity destroys both pride and despair,” says Timothy Keller. “Christianity first shows you a law that
has to be totally fulfilled, destroying your pride. Then Christianity shows you a Savior who has totally fulfilled it,
getting rid of your despair.”

The lesson we take from the great novels and apply to our lives is this: In light of the pain, the pride, and the
despair of this fallen world, helpless sinners desperately depend on God’s wooing, alluring, tender, and
unstoppably sovereign grace.
Posts in the “Happy Calvinist” series:
◾The Van Gogh that Breaks My Heart
◾The World’s Joy-Tragedy
◾Joy Designed
◾Seven Proofs That Joy Has Arrived in Christ
◾Pride, Despair, and Sovereign Grace