When Israel was looking for the young man God had selected to be the first king of Israel, the Lord had to tell them that Saul, the son of Kish was “hiding by the luggage” (1 Sam 10:20-24).
Later, when the prophet Samuel met with King Saul to tell him that Jehovah is displeased with his actions, Saul had come to Mt Carmel to “set up a monument for himself” (1 Sam 15:12). In rebuking Saul, Samuel referred to that time “when you were little in your own eyes” (1 Sam 15:13-19).
In the beginning, Saul had been a humble, unassuming, even shy young man who hid with the luggage at this great assembly of Israel. But it was a different individual who deliberately disobeyed the word of the Lord. It is a different person who went to Mt Carmel to “set up a monument to himself” when the battle was over.
Let us make note of this fact: that people sometimes change! Sometimes the young and wicked repent and grown up to spiritual maturity. And sometimes people, like Saul, change like a chameleon and later in life become proud and haughty.
Our topic for today is arrogance. Arrogance is the state of being arrogant. Arrogant means having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities. The word is not found in scripture, but the idea certainly is: Romans 12:3 defines arrogance well and forbids it!
Rom 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
Look first today at this passage in terms of its 1. universal application. “I say to every man.” Arrogance is not a problem confined to a select few... to the esp. talented, athletes, the famous or the powerful. “To every man” warns that any person can “think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”
The psalmist was concerned with it (Ps 131:1). He warms us of the danger of being tempted by pride (Ps 73:1-3, 6). Actually, no form of pride is compatible with God’s will (Prov 8:13). And in one way or another, arrogance and pride precede sin (Prov 16:18)!
Pride and arrogance can hinder men from coming to Christ. It is the humble one is who greatest in the kingdom of God (Matt 18:2-4). A person in order to enter the kingdom will have to give up his own pride and the arrogance of his heart to do so. All in all, while baptism is a death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6), “He that believeth and (gets his body totally wet in water) shall be saved” requires at least a suppression of arrogance on the part of the believer. Plainly, there is something humbling about immersion in water.
Returning to Romans 12:3 “I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.” “Among you” indicates that this is 2. a problem among brethren. As Christians, the New Testament has much to say to us about humility (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5; Matt 18:4; Rom 11:25; Phil 2:3-4). We even have a New Testament example of a very arrogant brother, Diotrephens (3 John 9).
Now many false doctrines have been embraced because “brethren think more highly of themselves than they ought?” Yet, we are admonished not to, in arrogance, exceed what is written (1 Cor 4:6). Exceeding what is written with arrogance results in church division and digression. Many “hurt feelings”, “church fusses”, and “church splits” have resulted from the arrogance of brethren.
3. Arrogance is not wise. The arrogant do not think with sound judgment (Rom 12:3). Sound judgment is thinking wisely! The wise do not seek out their own glory (Prov 25:27). There is more hope for a fool than for him who is wise in his own eyes (Prov 26:12). The one who is arrogant deceives himself (Gal 6:3-5). Arrogance often involves the self-assurance that whatever one is doing or thinking is right! It is “right” because they think it to be so. The irony is that such are foolish (Prov 26:12).
4. The arrogant are not faithful. Rom 12:3 … “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” In the context of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6f), the arrogance was the failure to appreciate that the gifts all came from the Almighty who is to receive all the glory and honor. See also 1 Cor 4:7. So, instead of arrogance, our faith and our gifts are to be exercised with a sense of the obligation to do it right. Arrogance, on the other hand, will lead us away from the exercise of faith and the diligent application of truth to our lives (1 Cor 4:6-7). Faith, talent, and ability come from God, not to make men superior, but useful! And the more one is humble, the more useful he is (James 4:6; Matt 23:11-12).
Now let us make a short list of arrogance in application:
1. Going Beyond. Nothing is more arrogant than going beyond the will of God (2 John 9-11). Continuing to teach error even after that error has been exposed is the arrogance of believing that “I know more than all my brethren combined.”
2. “I am above the law.” This is usually expressed as “you have no right to challenge my error.” When a man holds an erroneous doctrinal view but says “this is my view and none of your business” is arrogance. This is arrogance in application of “exceeding what it written” and defending the practice.
Again, under a false idea of “congregational autonomy,” the idea is a congregation can do what is not authorized but you may not challenge it, because it is none of your business.
Sometimes this idea is spoken in the area of private sins. It is the idea that it is none of your business, or the church’s business, what I do. Example: who I am living with in my personal life is none of anybody else’s business.
3. Calling Righteous Troublemaker. It is the arrogance of calling the one upholding truth the cause of trouble. It is what King Ahab once said to Elijah (1 Kings 18:17-18). None are more arrogant than those who lead men into sin accusing the righteous of causing trouble. Nothing is more arrogant than those who are digressing from the strait and narrow old paths accusing those who stand for truth as causing division in the house of the Lord. Trouble is never caused by truth. Trouble never comes from standing for truth. Trouble is always the direct result of forsaking the commandments of the Lord.
4. Defining for others what they must have done... beyond what is right. Arrogance is standing in the place of Christ as a judge of another (Rom 14:4). In Matthew 18, the Lord deals with personal sins.. How to and how not to deal with offenses. But today some would apply Matthew 18 to publicly preached doctrines. The idea is that one must go to the false teacher privately before he may oppose what was taught publicly. Such is so absolutely arrogant!
5. Claiming divine knowledge – i.e., a knowledge of the hearts of others. They say, “This brother is honest and sincere.” and of another they say, “This brother is proud, and dishonest, and will not treat me fairly.” But how did they come to know the hearts of men. Nothing is more arrogant than to think I have knowledge that only God could have.
6. Advising against God’s Will. Gospel preachers are taught (1) to preach the truth of God’s word (2 Tim 4:1-2). And Gospel preachers are taught (2) to preach boldly (Eph 6:19-20). Who then could be more arrogant than those who tell the preacher not to boldly preach the gospel. Go Softly! Don’t be so hard. Go lightly on this subject or another. It is arrogant to advise the very opposite of what one must do to please God!
Finally, 7. My way before God’s!
The concept was that of King Saul who spared King Agag and the best of the flocks and the herds. That was his idea! This is the notion of: “God’s Will does not apply to me; I can do it my way.” No one is more arrogant than the one who will be saved by his own plan of salvation.
In closing, what did Jesus say about salvation in Mark 16:15-16? When we differ from His plan, at some point, that difference is only a matter of personal arrogance. Who are you? Who am I? …To change one word of God’s will.
Why not put aside pride and arrogance and just do what God has said?