In my opinion, all sins can be boiled down to pride and/or unbelief. The first four Commandments deal with our relationship to God (Exodus 20:1-11); when we break any of these, it is because we fail to believe that God is Who He says He is. He is the only true God, the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer (1 Peter 4:19; Isaiah 54:5,8), with attributes of infinite love, mercy and grace (1 John 4:8; Hebrews 4:16), as well as omnipotence (Revelation 19:6), omniscience, and omnipresence (Psalm 139:6-8). Knowing and believing this, why would we put any god before Him, worship an idol, take His name in vain, or not honor Him with our worship at designated times and always?
The fifth Commandment is transitional, dealing with our relationship to our earthly parents as the first model we have for our submission to God’s authority (Exodus 20:12). The remaining five commandments deal with our relationship to others (Exodus 20:13-17). If we are guilty of pride, we consider our own worth and our own needs to be greater than those of others. Pride could therefore lead us to commit murder, theft, lying, adultery, or coveting, in thought even if not in deed.
Faith, the opposite of unbelief, keeps us from breaking the first four Commandments. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:5-6). Jesus said the first, or most important Commandment, was to love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-30). Self-sacrificing, agape love, along with a servant’s heart, keeps us from the sin of pride and from breaking the remaining Commandments. Jesus summarized these by saying, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mark 12:31).
Our pastor gave an excellent message on what he considered to be the worst sin, namely the sin of prayerlessness. This, too, could be considered a sin of pride and of unbelief. We may fail to pray because we pridefully trust in our own flesh to solve our problems, mistakenly thinking we don’t need God’s help, even though without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Or, unbelief may keep us from prayer, if we don’t believe that God loves us infinitely, wants to bless us, can do anything in His will, and works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Pride was the sin that caused Lucifer, God’s chosen, wisest, and most beautiful angel of light, to fall from Heaven and become Satan. He imagined that he was superior to God and should be exalted over Him, not realizing that God had created him and endowed with all his gifts and talents (Isaiah 14:12-15). How sad when anyone, driven by pride, uses what God has given them not to glorify God, but to rebel against Him, leading to their own destruction (Proverbs 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:6). Yet Lucifer, even after he became Satan, was not guilty of unbelief, and even all the angels that rebelled along with him and fell to earth as demons still believed in God’s power and trembled at it (Matthew 8:28-29; James 2:19).
Unbelief as well as pride led to the fall, as Eve began to doubt God’s Word when Satan tempted her with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). So, pride also played a role, as Eve imagined that eating the forbidden fruit would make her as wise as God (Genesis 3:4-6). The sin of unbelief by those in Jesus’ home town resulted in their missing out on His miracles (Matthew 13:57-58)
The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the ongoing, persistent denial that Jesus is Lord, Son of God and God Himself, Who died, was buried and rose from the dead as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (1 Corinthians 15). John even referred to those who denied Christ as antichrists (1 John 4:3). Pride and unbelief are what keep people from being saved. When people trust in their own good works and religious practices to get them to heaven, their pride prevents them from realizing they are sinners in need of a Savior. When people foolishly misplace their belief in the false god of evolution (Psalm 14:1), or in the leader of any religion who lies dead and buried, their unbelief in the living, risen God keeps them from salvation.
A good example of both sins can be found in Luke 22, at the Last Supper on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Judas betrayed Jesus when Satan entered into him (v. 3-6; v. 47-48), which would not have been possible if he believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the Son of God. Pride was paramount in the disciples’ dispute over who among them was the greatest (v. 24), which is particularly shocking as it immediately followed Jesus’ symbolic portrayal of giving His body and shedding His blood for them (v. 15-20). Jesus then reminded them to follow His example of having a servant’s heart (v. 26-27).
Immediately after Jesus warns Peter that Satan wants to destroy him and all the disciples, and that Jesus is praying for Peter to have unfailing faith (v. 31-32), Peter succumbs to the sin of pride, boasting that he will follow Jesus even unto death (v. 33). But Jesus accurately prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster’s morning cry.
At the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples fall into the sin of prayerlessness, which, as we have seen above, may result from pride as well as unbelief. Jesus asked them to pray not to fall into temptation (v. 40), yet they fell asleep (v. 45-46) when He most coveted their prayers. Rather than asking them to pray for Him, for the agonizing ordeal He was about to endure, Jesus selflessly was concerned about them falling into temptation. The temptation to lose faith and fall prey to unbelief would be great as they were about to see their Messiah unjustly accused, sentenced, whipped, beaten, scourged and crucified.
May the remembrance of our risen Lord, Who allowed His body to be broken and His blood to be shed to pay for our sins in full and to grant eternal life to all who trust Him (John 3:16), keep us from the temptation of giving in to pride and unbelief.