“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2: 15-16)
I have seldom heard “the pride of life” explained in a sermon. Yet, it provides a critical clue toward unraveling the mystery of eternal life.
This “pride of life” indicates that every man takes pride in his own existence.
What strikes me is how foundational this idea is to understanding our modern culture. Constantly we are told that people need to be good to themselves. To express themselves. To know themselves. To love themselves.
In reality, men have no trouble loving themselves. In stark contrast to all the self-esteem propaganda that children are subjected to from earliest childhood, the apostle Paul, had something quite different to say about this love of self.
The Truth About Self Esteem
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cheriseth it, even as the Lord the church.” (Ephesians 5:29). The flesh, spoken of here, is more than just ones physical body. It includes the inner core of our identity and personality.
We all love ourselves. We may not like our circumstances or how we look; we may not like how we perform, our failures, our behavior, or where we fall in the popular food chain; but we don’t hate our own existence.
Even the person who commits suicide is trying to escape some terrible pain in his life. Tragically, his choice is the ultimate rejection of the providence and care of God. Choosing to put himself in charge of his own life and death. Removing God from the equation altogether; or so he thinks.
That is where “the pride of life” comes in. It is a basic impulse that keeps us breathing and scratching to survive. To find our way to the surface when swept beneath the crashing waves. Reaching desperately for life-saving air.
In contrast, the Lord Jesus gave His life up willingly at the cross. “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46). Christ willingly gave up His life so that we could live. No one took this life from Him. He committed His righteous spirit into the hands of His Father.
Humanism Against Truth
The growing movement to embrace Annihilationism is deeply linked to our culture’s embrace of Humanism. Humanism leads men to reject belief in the eternal punishment of the lost. As well as to reject the Bible altogether. Claiming that any God who would torture people throughout eternity is not worthy of devotion.
Humanism places the feelings of the human being first — above all other things. Leaving no place for any concept of judgment by a god or higher being. And definitely no place for a fiery punishment. Let alone a horrible, searing torment stretching into eternity!
However, the pride of existence of human beings makes the concept of eternal punishment more understandable. Because, men will not willingly give up their existence, even to avoid pain. Even when all else is lost, they will still cling to the pride of self.
This existence is the core of what a man truly is. The body that we know in this life on earth is not who we really are. It is just a temporary shell that has been dying since we were born; and which will one day pass away — leaving only the true essence of who we are.
I have often wondered why God would not simply destroy a soul and be done with it. After all, He created man’s body, soul and spirit. Why, then, would He not have the ability to un-create it?
I think there is a sliver of an answer here in this pride that accompanies every soul. Man loves himself and his own existence. Whatever that existence may be. And he will not give it up willingly.
Even in a self-sacrificing death there is the hope that life will continue beyond this earth. Believing that what we have given up, the Lord will keep and redeem in eternity to come.
A Christian who dies for Christ has a lively hope of the resurrection from the dead. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8) There is the certain hope that he will not cease to exist. But will, in fact, begin to live as God has always intended him to live. Without sin, without fear of death, without pain, and in perfect fellowship with Himself.
The Eternal Existence of the Soul
This is not so with the man who has rejected Christ. He will die and spend an indefinite time in hell. Even those who would die just before the Millenial Kingdom is established on earth, there is a space of at least a thousand years that men would spend in hell.
Afterwards, they will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment and face the final sentence of God. At that time, all who do not know Christ will be thrown into the lake of fire. In that unspeakable place, the torment of that fire will be compounded by the addition of death and hell which will be cast in at that same time.
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)
There will never be an end to that state of existence. It will be an eternal dying of the soul. Along with eternal hopelessness and suffering.
But, even in the midst of that suffering, the soul, with nowhere left to go, will seek to live on. Because of the pride of existence. Despite all the pain, the soul will choose to struggle on.
Like a horror-movie monster that will not die. You can drown it, burn it, blow it up, chop it up, and cast the ashes to the four winds… and it will still come back.
The Way Out
There is a basic pride of man that drives the soul to live forever. Even in misery. The only way to stop this drive is for a man to submit himself to Jesus Christ.
In Christ, we are spiritually crucified and put to death. By faith in Christ, we are made partakers of His death. Put to death in accordance with the law. And therefore, freed from the demands of the law and the pattern of sin and death.
In Christ, we are also risen again, right now, as new creatures. By His indwelling Spirit, we walk, right now, in eternal life. And though we will know physical death, we will live on forever with the Lord in the joys and wonders of heaven. To experience all that the Lord has been preparing for us.
Freed from “the pride of life” and living “in newness of life” in Christ.
To Be Continued . . .
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