Psalm 101:5 reads: "Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure."

What is arrogance?

Arrogance is a wicked contentment of heart resting upon the lie that I have come to the good place I have come to on my own wits or strength. Arrogance simultaneously presumes two things: (1) that in some way I stand above others; and (2) I reached this higher ground without God. These are the presumptions of arrogance.

You can be geographically arrogant: "I'm from a special place and you are not." You can be intellectually arrogant: "I know stuff and you do not." You can be financially arrogant: "I have earned this much and you have not." Everybody is from somewhere and everybody knows something and everybody has more than somebody but the arrogant can only think to thank themselves for it.

It is not arrogant to be pregnant. It is arrogant to boast in one's fertility and not God's goodness. It is not arrogant to have morally upright children. It is arrogant to boast in one's morally upright children and not God's mercy. It is not arrogant to know the Bible well. It is arrogant to boast in one's knowledge and not God's illumination. It is not arrogant to be wealthy. It is arrogant to boast in your wealth and not God's provision and providence. It is not arrogant to be hardworking. It is arrogant to boast in your diligence and not the divine grace that has touched your will.

What does God think about arrogance? God hates it. I'm sure that is no surprise. But this might be: God sees our arrogance as a wicked rivalry.

In 1 Samuel 15:23 the arrogance of King Saul is rebuked in these terms: "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption [arrogance] is as iniquity and idolatry." Arrogance is as idolatry. It makes you a rival with God. It is the folly of self-deification, promoting before my own soul my choices and my smarts and my ideas. Quite simply, it leads you to worship yourself, an evil that God will show no quarter upon the earth (Psalm 5:5).

This is what makes the coupling of two realities, "gospel and arrogance," so different than the coupling of another two realities, "the world and arrogance."

In the coupling of "gospel and arrogance" there is no tolerating arrogance. Every shade of arrogance is expiated in Christ crucified. But in the coupling of "the world and arrogance" arrogance still remains under a host of social concessions. Because the world is left to work on arrogance alone, the world never actually succeeds in killing arrogance off. The world knows it is impossible to put an end to arrogance so a host of malleable social compromises are made. Thus it is okay to be a little arrogant as long as you don't hurt someone or as long as you have done something more significant than the rest of us, like writing a book or winning the Superbowl or getting an A+ or having your own radio/television program or being a smart aleck who cleverly marginalizes "our" political opponents with words.

So the world erects limits and boundaries to tame arrogance. In short, the world uses Law to deal with arrogance. But God uses Gospel. Only the Gospel allows us to expose all arrogance to the light, not just the versions that hurt others, but even the versions that make us laugh (sarcasm) or the versions that we admire (athletic arrogance) or the versions that we covet (financial arrogance).

Why does the Gospel allow light to be thrown on all gradients of arrogance? Because in the Gospel we have the only way to condemn all arrogance and still live; even more, still be loved. The world scrimps on arrogance because to hate every last drop of it, like God does, would be an endless road of self-condemnation. But in Christ we can hate it all because in Christ crucified our sin has been justly condemned before God and we have been graciously accepted.

Does that mean it is now okay for a Christian to be arrogant? No. May it never be. The Christian alone has every reason not to be arrogant. Only the Christian knows that arrogance will never see a day in the new creation that has already begun with the resurrection of Jesus. So the Christian can hate all the arrogance he finds in himself without being consumed by self-condemnation. Those of the world, using the Law, can never sufficiently hate all arrogance because without the gospel self-condemnation is all there is. In the Christian, arrogance is put to death (mortified) by faith. Not by "faith" in the worldly rules and hedges and compromises against arrogance. But by faith in the Son of God who graciously put arrogance to death in his own flesh and blood. The Christian is now allowed to believe the whole truth about arrogance - its diabolical wickedness and its radical remedy in death - and as the Christian practices this believing, this Gospel-receiving, at each showing of arrogance then the Spirit of the Most High God cuts away and creates a new heart.

Arrogance is not a mild social nuisance. It is an evil that is only challenged and corrected in Christ crucified, the one and only God.