My friends, we have reached the last of the seven deadly sins, but it could be argued that we should have covered this one first because pride can be found at the root of every sin we commit. In essence, in each of our offenses we choose our way versus God’s way, our will rather than his will. Yes, pride stretches into all categories of concupiscence: the flesh, the world and perhaps most fittingly, the devil.
St. John tells us that the evil one “...comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). When we are not united in communion with God, the holy desires that God places in our hearts are entirely taken. The devil plots to steal our desires and send us counterfeits in their place. It’s God himself who both gives us our holy desires and nourishes them, so when our divine union dissipates, the holy desires quickly fade. This referred to the seed that fell upon the footpath, “and the birds came and devoured them” (Matthew 13:4).
At the very core of Satan’s fall was pride. Let us take a moment to consider his infamous descent from grace. God created angels utterly beautiful. They exist as servants and messengers with a superior intellect compared to that of a mere human. The name Lucifer itself means light-bearer. Nevertheless, God granted the angels the same incredible gift that he granted us: freedom. Just like us they are free to choose, but due to their superior intellects the choices they make are final. Satan was created in freedom and for freedom, yet this is precisely the gift he is perpetually trying to steal from us now. He seeks to steal our freedom, steal what is deepest in our hearts and bind us in the chains of slavery. These are the chains of his own self-inflicted misery.
It has been said that hell wasn’t created to punish us, but that it exists simply as a radical expression of the gift of freedom that God has bestowed upon us. God means it when he definitively declares those first three words to humanity, “You are free…”, allowing mankind to choose even so much as eternal separation from himself. As we’ve seen, he relentlessly works to win us back through sacrificial love, but ultimately the choice is ours.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done" (C.S. Lewis). What a powerful force of freedom we have been given!
Scripture scholars have attributed the following statements in the Bible to the fall of Lucifer:
• “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god…” (Ezekiel 28:1). • “How you are fallen from heaven [because]...You said in your heart, o ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God o I will set my throne on high; o I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; o I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, o I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). o “I will not serve” (Jeremiah 2:20).
Consider these the “I will” statements of the devil. Pride runs deep in the heart of the evil one and notice the exactness in the way in which he tempted humanity from the beginning, “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die...when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Adam and Eve found themselves conversing with the subtle serpent rather than enjoying their divine union with the Lord and one another. That was their first mistake. Conversing with a fallen angel with a superior intellect, without talking with God; well, he will trick you every single time.
To withstand the temptations of the devil, we must recommit to uniting ourselves to God more fully through prayer. A choice not to pray is a critically clear sign of pride illuminating a belief that we can live life on our own without the need for God. If we fail to cultivate a daily prayer life, “Thy” will inevitably starts becoming “My” will.
Am I actively working to make progress against “the devil”?
• Do I begin and end each day with prayer? • Do I complete an examination of conscience every night? • Do I find time for silence with God every day? • Do I go to Confession at least once per month? Once per year? • Do I have a spiritual plan for my life?
Simply stated, we conquer the devil through prayer. Look below at ‘Our Pathway through the Wilderness’. Although pride was covered last, we have been strategically including prayer in each of the other six areas. This was intentional because an element of pride involves itself in every area of sin.
OUR PATHWAY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS:DAY 23
• Recommit to the prayers we have begun above because pride abides at the root of every sin.