“I am the greatest! I am the greatest thing that ever lived!” These were the words of the legendary, American boxer Muhammad Ali who was at one time a world heavyweight champion. Yet, just a few decades later, Ali’s strength would fade as his body and mind were overtaken by Parkinson’s disease which would eventually lead to his death. Ali’s self-assessment was fueled by pride. He had a case of “I-itis” that controlled him. Ali followed a long list of kings, queens, athletes, statesmen, champions, captains of large industries throughout history who proudly boasted in themselves yet found such boasting to be short-lived.
Where does self-asserting pride come from? Where does arrogance originate? We see in Isaiah 14 that this pride originated in heaven with Lucifer. Proud rebellion against God that is seen in the lives of many people throughout history had its origin in the sinful arrogance of Lucifer, one time the greatest of all the angelic host, until he fell through pride. What fueled the pride of Lucifer? In vv. 12-14, we read, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Lucifer desired the place of God. Lucifer desired to be the supreme ruler of the universe. An in five assertive “I will” statements, Lucifer showed that his arrogance against God began with an inward opposition to the authority of the most High God. In asserting his will over God’s will, Lucifer went from being an archangel to the devil. In desiring to rob God of His glory, he brought his own downfall from a place of favor to a place of eventual destruction as we see in verse 15- “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” And since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, Satan has planted in human hearts that same self-assertive, arrogance against God which says, “I will rule my own life…I am the greatest…I am god”.
There are two choices set before mankind: God’s way or man’s way. One leads to eternal life and the other to eternal torment. One recognizes that Christ is Lord while the other asserts that self is “lord”. One is marked by humility and the other is marked by pride.
Satan is doomed but so are all they who follow down the same path of pride and willful rejection of God’s authority. The disease of “I-itis” is spiritually and eternally fatal. Yet, God in His grace, offers an everlasting cure to those who, instead of saying “my will be done” learn to say to God “Thy will be done”.