Q&R with Brad Jersak – The Creepy Twins of Spiritual Pride and Self-Loathing

Screenshot from Stephen King’s “The Shining”

Question

Do you have any advice in the spiritual pride behind the deeply held belief that “God can’t forgive me”? I’ve dealt with this for years and it’s beginning to hit me how prideful it was.

Response

Yes, ironically, rejecting the forgiveness of God “because I’m not worthy” is totally prideful but the pride is so often obscured by our self-loathing. We think that if we condemn ourselves that it can’t possibly be pride. But what does self-loathing reveal except that the ego has become so deluded that it imagines it has usurped Christ from his throne and his judgment seat and has replaced the all-merciful Judge with itself. The ego, in this case, is a self-righteous inner Pharisee—and now it condemns you for embarrassing its perfectionism.

We don’t overcome such pride by waiting for a new feeling to spontaneously arrive. I recommend beginning with direct rebuke, renunciation, and repentance: I speak to my Pharisaic ego and say, “How dare you sit in the seat reserved for Christ alone! Your hubris in doing so is far more grievous than any sin for which you condemn me.”

Then I tell the Lord, “I’m so sorry. Your judgment seat IS the mercy seat, IS the throne of grace, IS the Cross of Christ! I resign from my part in usurping your throne. I am not worthy but you are!”

Oddly, the ego is resilient and keeps slithering back up there. We overcome this habitual cycle with a deeper conviction: there is nothing the blood of Christ cannot wash. I even challenge the self-righteous ego: Do you truly think your sins are more powerful than the blood of Christ!? Seriously? As one of the church’s great teachers once said, All the sins of the world amount to be a single drop of water, swallowed in God’s ocean of mercy and love!  

Our desire for real freedom from the bondage of sin will never be accomplished through self-loathing, moralism or fear of punishment. That has never worked except to feed our pride and self-righteousness—the same egoistic spirit that condemns us for our sins also drives us to them! It’s a bottomless pit, an incorrigible craver … But what if surrender and gratitude to God’s unfailing love and mercy were to unluck our prison cells and beckon us out to freedom, even just for today!

Reply

Wow, thanks, Brad. That is a lot to take in but it makes perfect sense. It seems crazy now to think I could not be forgiven or that sin has more power than grace! I am going to save this for tough times. I’ve had this pride for decades but I have been surrendering it. This helps a lot.

No wonder the older we get the less we “know” but the more we grow.

Glory to God.

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