Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE PRIDE OF THINE HEART HATH DECEIVED THEE”

Obadiah 3-4

Turn in your Bible to the smallest book in the Old Testament, the book of Obadiah. When you find that portion of Scripture, which is between the books of Amos and Jonah, please stand for the reading of God’s Word. Reading verses 3 and 4, 

3   The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

4   Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. 

This little book of Obadiah, taking its name from the obscure prophet who received this vision from God, was written soon after the Edomites joined in with the Philistines and Arabians to attack the city of Jerusalem during the reign of King Jehoram.[1] Over the centuries Jerusalem was attacked four times after David conquered that Jebusite city and made it his capital. Of course, each of the four attacks came after the division of the country into Israel to the North and Judah to the South, following the death of David’s son Solomon.

The first attack came from Shishak, the king of Egypt.[2] The third attack came from Israel to the North. The fourth and final attack came from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army and resulted in the complete destruction of the city and the Babylonian captivity of seventy years. It was during the second attack on the city, by Philistine and Arabian forces, that the Edomites joined in the fray and entered the city and, along with the other attackers, carried away captives. But since the Edomites were, in effect, cousins of the Jews their crime was all the more wicked in the sight of God.

Remember, the Edomites were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. But though they were kinsmen to the Jews they were always antagonistic toward the Jews. Profane like their ancestor Esau, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites passage through their territory as they marched to the Promised Land from slavery and bondage in Egypt centuries before.[3] Nevertheless, God commanded that the Edomites be treated well, Deuteronomy 23.7: 

“Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother.” 

The Edomites, however, did not reciprocate and opposed Saul when he became king of Israel. Subjugated by King Saul, probably to secure his southern border, they eventually rebelled successfully against Jewish domination and participated in the attack against Jerusalem that Obadiah refers to, about 845 B. C.[4]

Now that you know the historical backdrop against which this prophecy is set allow me to lift from Obadiah verses 3-4 three phrases which comprise my text for this morning. The first phrase is “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” The second phrase is “Who shall bring me down?” And the final phrase is “I will bring thee down, saith the LORD.”

Let’s consider these three phrases in turn, and take note of Edom’s national sin and what it led to: 

First, THEIR PROUD CONDITION 

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” 

Pride, of course, is a despicable sin. Pride is one of the two sins that are most characteristic of Satan. Pride is one of the so-called seven deadly sins, which the LORD hates.[5] But pride is not considered to be sinful in our culture, here in the USA. Rather, as with the Edomites, it is here considered indispensable to success in a modern society such as ours.

We find that folks are proud to be Americans or proud to be globalists, that they are proud of their accomplishments or proud of their ethnicity, that they are proud of their children or proud of their parents, that they are proud of their heritage or proud of their accomplishments, and that they are even proud of their Church. So wicked has our country become, and so saturated with ungodly influences are we, that the word pride and delight are now virtually interchangeable. So, instead of being pleased with a child’s performance, we find that parents are proud. Instead of being thankful, we are proud.

But the problem with pride is that it is never right, and it is always wrong because pride is a sin. It’s evil, distorting, repugnant, vile and vain sin. Because it’s a sin, pride has the effect of distorting one’s perception and warping one’s view of reality. And perhaps because it’s a self-exaltation sin, a sin of lifting yourself up instead of humbling yourself, it’s a sin that alters a person’s perspective and outlook. The result of pride? Deception. And because pride is a sin you choose to commit the result is self-deception, often, or an exaggerated vulnerability to being deceived by others.

Would you like proof of this in the case of the Edomites? Look at verse 2: 

“Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.” 

The Edomites were greatly despised, though you would never have gotten that impression from their perception of themselves. Why not? Deceived by their pride. And look at verse 3: 

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?” 

They dwelt in the clefts of the rock, way up in the mountain fortress city of Petra. Because of that, they surmised themselves invulnerable, immune to attack. How could they be so wrong? Deceived by their pride. Now look at verse 7: 

“All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.” 

Their allies not only deceived them but prevailed against them and did them harm. How could that have happened? My friends, they were deceived by their pride.

You see, pride warps reality and distorts the truth. Pride results in you thinking more of yourself than is warranted and less of your adversary than is safe and wise. In the end, you are deceived by your pride. Satan was deceived by his pride into thinking he could successfully rebel against God, and the Edomites were no less deceived. Proverbs 16.8: 

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” 

 

THEIR PROUD CONDITION QUITE NATURALLY LED TO A PROUD QUESTION 

“Who shall bring me down?” 

I have often said that you will never get the right answers until you first ask the right questions, and pride prevents a man, or a nation, from asking the right questions. This question is not the right question because it’s a question that’s loaded, that’s self-answering. It’s a question that’s almost a rhetorical question, with the answer built into the asking of it. Only a person who was of the opinion that he could not be brought down would dare ask this question.

Because pride exalts self and diminishes others, nothing is seen or evaluated correctly by the proud person, or by proud people. The Edomites considered their terrain, bleak and barren and rugged and dry, and thought themselves to be unapproachable. “No one will want to cross this barren, desert landscape to fight us,” they thought. They considered their capital city of Petra, high in the mountains and accessible only by narrow passages, and concluded themselves to be invincible. “How can anyone climb up here without us being able to block their way?” they imagined to themselves. 

BUT THEIR PROUD QUESTION DIDN’T ANTICIPATE THEIR PROPHESIED CATASTROPHE 

“I will bring thee down, saith the LORD.” 

You can imagine how high they were riding after the attack on Jerusalem? There they sat, in their lofty fortress city of Petra, high above the desert floor, far beyond the reach of mortal men, reminded every day by their new Jewish slave girls and their captured trinkets of their power and their might and their safety.

And then they received a message. A spy, an informant, has gotten word to them that a prophet has come on the scene in the kingdom of Judah. And as the Judeans strive to reorganize after the Philistine and Arabian and Edomite attack, the prophet walks about the countryside and through the cities preaching a message.

The prophet’s name is Obadiah, “servant of the LORD,” and he claims to have a vision that he proclaims over and over and over again, wherever a crowd will gather. “God will judge Edom,” the prophet declares. “God will also judge the nations.” “And someday God will gloriously restore Israel.” Isn’t it wonderful our president has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at long last?

The leaders of the Edomites gathered to read a copy of the vision Obadiah claimed he received from the LORD. And I can imagine their eyes fixing on three phrases: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” “Who shall bring me down?” And, finally “thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” 

So, what effect did the vision of Obadiah have on the Edomites? What do you think? What effects do warnings ever have on the proud, even when the warning comes from God? By the way, Edom, more than any other nation mentioned in the Old Testament, is the supreme object of God’s wrath. But did they care? Do the proud ever care? Typically, not until it is too late. They have not existed as a distinct and recognizable people for almost 2000 years. And Petra, the Edomite capital city, is today an unoccupied relic, a tourist attraction. God did bring them down. They should have cared. 

SERMON: 

Dr. McGowan attended Church his entire life. When he was a little boy, his mother took him to the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth to be baptized by J. Frank Norris. After that, he attended Church regularly, even recording the sermons at the Church where he attended after graduating from dental school. But Dr. McGowan wasn’t converted. By his admission, he would turn on the tape recorder to record the pastor’s sermon and then lean back and start counting the holes in the asbestos tiles in the ceiling or the bricks in the wall behind the pulpit. Every Sunday he counted holes or bricks.

One day it dawned on him that he should probably pay attention to the sermons. As he listened, he realized he was lost, and some few weeks after that he was converted. Imagine that. An intelligent and well-educated man attending Church for years without paying attention to the sermons. Once he paid attention, he was converted.

I mention that this morning because I was told by someone, who has listened to hundreds and hundreds of my sermons, that he didn’t actually listen at all. He actually admitted attending Church and paying no attention to the sermons that I preached. He told me at the time he had begun to listen to a couple of weeks before. I hope he continues because if he doesn’t listen to my sermons, he is unlikely to be converted.

I tell you of these two cases because I am convinced that few people listen to sermons as they are preached. This fact breaks my heart because I know that preaching is a serious means of God’s dealings with men’s hearts to bring them to Christ, and if someone doesn’t listen to the sermon he’ll not likely be saved from his sins. First Corinthians 1.21 declares, 

“it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 

It is urgent that you pay close attention to my sermon this morning because I am speaking to you about that which is most likely to hinder you, that which is most likely to prevent you, from being converted; pride. Pride is the most serious spiritual matter that I have to contend with in my life, and it is likely the same in yours.

To refresh your memory, my text is taken from Obadiah 3-4, three phrases: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” “Who shall bring me down?” “I will bring thee down, saith the LORD.” 

First, I WANT YOU TO CONSIDER YOUR PROUD CONDITION 

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” 

Let me provide you some proof of your pride of heart, my unsaved friend. Have you considered the state of your soul? You are lost and undone, without God in the world, Ephesians 2.12. But you are unmoved by your situation. It doesn’t bother you. Why not? Pride. Pride causes a person to think he can make it on his own. Pride causes a person to think he can make decisions on his own. Pride causes a person to think he is spiritually competent when he’s not. Pride is a spiritual narcotic that makes you think you are far better off than you ever are. Turn to Second Corinthians 10.5 and notice Paul’s description of a Gospel preacher’s ministry to people who need the Lord. The Gospel minister is engaged in 

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 

A man cannot know God until he knows Jesus Christ. But as I try to convince people of their desperate need of the Savior by convincing them of their wickedness and depravity and helplessness in the sight of God, their minds are too often drifting elsewhere, or they are actively engaged in refuting and resisting what I am declaring. Either way, by ignoring the sermon or by stubbornly resisting what God’s Word says, or even by staying home and not being here at all, people display their pride. Humility, you see, would show itself by recognizing your spiritual need and by listening carefully for truth from God’s Word. But they do not recognize their need; therefore they do not listen carefully.

Now let me show you what is produced by one’s pride of heart. As their pride of heart deceived the Edomites, each’s pride of heart has deceived him, as well. The Edomites surveyed the terrain that surrounded their fortress city and concluded they were safe from likely attack and certainly immune from conquest. It’s not physical terrain and a forbidding landscape that protects the unsaved from their perceived enemies. It’s confidence in their cleverness, confidence in their reasoning power, confidence in their judgment, confidence in their cleverness, perhaps. It may even be a gregarious personality that comforts a fellow and gives him confidence. In short, someone’s own pride of heart, just as surely as with the Edomites, deceives him. It warps and distorts his perception of reality. It clouds his judgment. It confuses him into believing he is not confused. And, worst of all, it obscures his understanding of God. Because of his pride of heart, a person imagines himself as much bigger than he really is. Because of his pride of heart he imagines God as much smaller than He really is. God is not terrible in majesty to one who is proud.[6] He is not high and lifted up to one who is proud.[7] He is not awesome and holy to one who is proud. And is the truth of this not confirmed by the fact that men do not fear Him, Whom to fear is the beginning of wisdom, Whom to fear is the beginning of understanding, Whom to fear is the beginning of knowledge?[8] Ah, yes, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” 

AND YOUR PROUD CONDITION PROVOKES YOUR PROUD QUESTION 

“Who shall bring me down?” 

You may not be so boorish and unsophisticated that you would ask this question to anyone. You are not, after all, a megalomaniac. But this is not to say you might not think in this fashion, or that you do not live in this fashion, or that you do not prepare for eternity in this fashion.

Think for just a moment. You have five senses with which you function in this world you live in. You see and smell and taste and touch and hear. And wonderful are these senses to live in the realm of time and for the course of your life. But of what use are these capacities to accomplish spiritual tasks and deeds? And what good are they when God has already ruled that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags to Him, Isaiah 64.6?

What mental games people play with themselves. What self-deception and delusion people live with in their pride. Someone is a pawn who can be overwhelmed by Satan or one of his demons, yet it concerns him not at all. We are each so fragile, and we can be stricken with a stroke or an accident or Alzheimer’s that will leave you mindless. But no one is at all fazed.

Wake up, man! Do you not see what your heart’s pride has left you with this deception? It has left you unreasonable. It has left you illogical. It has left you irrational. As incapable as your sinful depravity leaves you to deal with matters of the soul, your sin of pride has only made the situation worse, has only compounded the condition you live with. 

BE WARNED, MY FRIEND. YOUR PROPHESIED CATASTROPHE AWAITS YOU 

“I will bring thee down, saith the LORD.” 

Allow me to read some verses to you so that you might know what God’s plans are for you who are proud: 

Psalm 101.5: 

“Him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” 

Proverbs 15.25: 

“The LORD will destroy the house of the proud.” 

Proverbs 16.5: 

“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” 

Proverbs 21.4: 

“An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” 

Isaiah 13.11: 

“I will punish the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease.” 

James 4.6: 

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” 

First Peter 5.5: 

“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 

Some of you may think you want the Lord Jesus to be your savior. You have thought about your sins, and you have decided that you don’t want to suffer the torments of Hell forever, but would rather come to Jesus Christ instead. But you’ve never actually been converted, though you’ve tried. The problem? It may be your pride of heart. It may be that God resists you because of the pride of your heart.

Still others of you are thinking about being converted. The idea of all your sins being forgiven appeals to you. But you too are proud, too proud to want to face the sins of your past, too proud to be guided to Christ by any preacher. My friend, I concern myself with only one of your sins, the one which interferes with your conversion.

As you think about your conversion, think about this: God has promised to bring you down. And He will bring you down . . . all the way down to the pit. I don’t want that for you. But the only thing standing in the way of your deliverance from your sins and the ultimate penalty for your sins is your own ugly, nasty, vile, soul-damning pride. 

I urge you, this morning, to cast off your pride as an act of will. And you must if you want to be converted, since Psalm 10.4 declares that 

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” 

And how can God be in your thoughts if you are proud? Your thoughts are full of yourself if you are proud, and there is, therefore, no room for God in your thoughts.

The danger of pride was even recognized by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4.37, where even he admitted that those that walk in pride God is able to abase. So, there is no doubt, my friend, that God is able to bring you down, that God is able to abase you.

What I urge you, therefore, to do is humble yourself. Job 22.29 says, 

“He shall save the humble person.” 

Psalm 9.12 comforts us with the words, 

“He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” 

And listen to what God says in Isaiah 57.15: 

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” 

The Lord Jesus said, in Matthew 23.12, 

“Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” 

James 4.10: 

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” 

First Peter 5.6: 

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 

I have not, this morning, told you how to be saved from your sins. I have not told you of the blessed Savior of sinners, Jesus Christ. Rather, I have focused my attention on that single sin that presumes self-sufficiency. I have targeted that sin that deceives a man into thinking he needs no Savior, that sin that fools a man into thinking that God will not bring him down into the pit, that single sin that causes a man to ignore the fact that everyone dies, that everyone goes to Hell who dies without Christ.

I’ve not told you how to be saved. But I have told you that your present attitude will damn you. Cast it off, as Zacchaeus did. Cast it off, as the Philippian jailor did. Cast it off, as the Ethiopian eunuch did. Cast it off, as the Apostle Paul did. Cast it off, as Peter and James urged their readers to do. Cast off your pride and clothe yourself in humility. And when you are humble in heart, and when you feel your need of a Savior, consider the claims of Jesus Christ. And if I can be of any use to you, of course, I am at your disposal.

__________

[1] 2 Chronicles 21.16

[2] 2 Chronicles 12.2-9

[3] Judges 11.17

[4] 1 Samuel 14.47

[5] Proverbs 6.16-17

[6] Job 37.22

[7] Isaiah 6.1

[8] Job 28.28; Psalm 111.10; Proverbs 1.7; 9.10; 15.33

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org