“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6).
And now these three remain: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—but the greatest of these is pride.
These were the Apostle John’s designations for the three appeals of every temptation (1 John 2:16), all three of which are also manifested in Eve’s temptation.
The lust of the flesh is the pleasure I wish to consume for satisfaction.
The lust of the eyes is the possession I wish to acquire for security.
The pride of life is the position I wish to achieve for significance.
What is it that makes pride the “greatest of these”?
Theologian Jonathan Edwards described pride as “the bedrock of all sin.” It’s the foundation for the other two, and it feeds the other two. This is why Satan doesn’t appeal to Eve with the lust of the flesh or eyes, but rather, the pride of life: “you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).
It was the same with King David’s famous failure. He lusted with his eyes when he “saw from the roof a woman bathing” (2 Sam. 11:2). He lusted with his flesh when he slept with her (11:4). But the bedrock of David’s sin was his lofty ego, symbolically represented by his stroll along the roof of the palace (11:2).
All of our “lust problems” are “pride problems” first.
A naively engaging chat by the tree… a self-inflated stroll on the roof… it only requires a tiny spark of pride to ignite the fires of lust.
Now consider the contrast with Jesus.
While Eve sought to be “like God” and had paradise stripped from her, Jesus—though being God—“did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). He “emptied Himself” (2:7) of divine privileges—He wasn’t stripped of them. He “humbled Himself” (2:8) from heaven, to earth, to hell on earth—death on a Cross and wrath for our sins.
Man sought the place of God while Jesus sought the place of Man.
There is no psychological cure for pride.
But once you realize what HAD to be suffered on pride’s account, you feel humbled. Once you realize what Jesus WILLINGLY suffered on your account, you feel loved. Love is powerful. It suffocates our flaming lust and penetrates our rocky pride.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love.