Pride is a complex topic that the Bible explores in great depth. At its core, pride refers to an inflated sense of self and a focus on self-glorification rather than glorifying God. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: According to the Bible, pride is sinful and displeasing to God because it represents self-idolatry and self-sufficiency apart from God.
Scripture encourages humility rather than pride.
In this comprehensive article, we will dive deep into the Bible’s teachings on pride. We will explore relevant passages, analyze what constitutes sinful pride versus proper Godly confidence, and unpack why pride is so displeasing to God.
By the end, you will have a thorough understanding of the nuances of pride according to the full counsel of Scripture.
Pride is a complex concept that is viewed both positively and negatively in society. However, the Bible has strong words about the dangers of pride and self-focus. Let’s explore the key aspects of pride according to Scripture.
The main marker of pride according to the Bible is an unhealthy self-focus and desire for recognition. Pride places the self at the center instead of God and others (Philippians 2:3). This self-absorption is viewed in direct opposition to the call to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
This self-focus also separates our perceived righteousness from the true righteousness that comes from God. As Isaiah 64:6 states, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Any good acts or virtues we may have stem from God, not ourselves.
So pride distorts our self-perception and diminishes God.
Pride can also manifest as self-sufficiency – feeling we have no need for God or others. However, Scripture emphasizes relying on God rather than our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Pride convinces us that we are the source of our talents and achievements rather than seeing them as gifts from God to use for His purposes.
This self-sufficiency separates us from community and accountability. We start to believe the “myth of self-made man” instead of acknowledging the help and support we have received from others by God’s grace.
So pride can often lead to isolation and conflict when we feel threatened by other people’s perspectives or input.
The most dangerous manifestation of pride is self-exaltation – viewing ourselves as superior and seeking to increase our status and glory. This tendency is described as the original sin that led to Lucifer’s downfall due to setting his throne above God (Isaiah 14:12–15).
His prideful claim “I will make myself like the Most High” (v. 14) led to his being cast out of heaven.
Human examples of destructive pride and arrogance also litter Scripture, such as Nebuchadnezzar claiming glory for his accomplishments instead of acknowledging God (Daniel 4:30). His pride literally drove him insane for a period of time as judgment until he recognized God’s sovereignty (v. 34).
So the Bible strongly warns against exalting ourselves in God’s place.
Examples of Sinful Pride
Lucifer’s Rebellion (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28)
Lucifer was an angel created by God who became prideful and rebelled against God’s authority. Isaiah 14:12-15 describes Lucifer’s desire to elevate himself above God and Ezekiel 28:12-19 describes his pride leading to corruption and being cast out of heaven.
Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil, tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden through prideful disobedience against God’s command (Genesis 3).
Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)
The people of Babel were proud and arrogant, building a tower to make a name for themselves and avoid being scattered over the earth as God had commanded (Genesis 11:4). God confused their languages and scattered them over the earth to humble their pride and rebellion against Him.
The Pharaoh of Egypt proudly refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt despite Moses’ demand from God to let His people go (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh exalted himself as a god and his heart was hardened with pride.
After 10 plagues, Pharaoh’s army was destroyed by God at the Red Sea for exalting himself against God’s authority (Exodus 14).
King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4)
King Nebuchadnezzar became arrogant and prideful, believing his kingdom’s power came from himself rather than God (Daniel 4:30). God humbled him by making him live like an animal for 7 years until Nebuchadnezzar recognized God’s sovereignty.
This prideful king was restored when he praised and honored God (Daniel 4:34-37).
King Herod (Acts 12)
King Herod accepted the people’s worship as a god and did not give glory to God, becoming prideful like Pharaoh. He killed the Apostle James and imprisoned Peter. An angel of the Lord struck him down and Herod was eaten by worms and died because he did not give glory to God (Acts 12:21-23).
Consequences of Pride
Resisting God (James 4:6)
Pride leads people to resist and reject God’s will. The Bible says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). When people become prideful and self-sufficient, they no longer see the need to submit to God. This resistance places them in direct opposition to God’s plans.
Throughout history, many individuals and nations have faced God’s judgment because of pride and stubbornness. King Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson when he was humbled and spent time living like an animal (Daniel 4:28-37).
Striving and Conflict (Proverbs 13:10)
Pride causes strife and conflict with others. Proverbs 13:10 warns that “where there is strife, there is pride.” The proud person insists on having their own way and refuses to back down or compromise. This causes arguments and broken relationships.
Even Christians can get caught up in prideful disputes over secondary doctrinal issues, forgetting that unity and love are paramount (1 Corinthians 13:2). Humility seeks peace and values others above selfish desires.
Destruction and Downfall (Proverbs 16:18)
Ultimately, pride leads to destruction. Proverbs 16:18 solemnly states, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” When pride takes root in a person’s heart, it sets them up for a colossal downfall.
There are many examples of prominent leaders who were humbled after becoming arrogant and self-reliant, including King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. God will not share His glory with another and opposes the proud in order to draw them into humility (Isaiah 42:8, James 4:6).
God’s Judgment and Discipline (1 Peter 5:5)
The Bible warns that God actively resists and disciplines those who walk in pride. 1 Peter 5:5 declares, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Throughout Scripture, God brings consequences on individuals and nations who become inflated with pride and forget their dependence on Him.
God may use natural disasters, enemies, sickness, financial loss, or other means to discipline the arrogant and bring them to repentance. His loving discipline is meant to draw people into greater humility, like a father who lovingly disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:5-7).
God Opposes the Proud
Pride as an Abomination (Proverbs 16:5)
The book of Proverbs clearly states that God detests pride and considers it an abomination. Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” This shows that pride is strongly opposed by God.
Those who are prideful and arrogant will face consequences for their sinful attitude.
Humility Brings Favor (Proverbs 29:23)
In contrast to pride, the Bible promotes humility and meekness as virtues that are pleasing to God. Proverbs 29:23 states, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Being humble and recognizing one’s weaknesses leads to God’s blessing and favor.
A humble person acknowledges their faults and relies on God rather than their own abilities.
God Desires Humility (Micah 6:8)
The prophet Micah also emphasized the importance of humility in one’s walk with God. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
God looks favorably on those who humbly submit to His will rather than asserting their own pride and independence.
Humbles the Proud (Matthew 23:12)
Jesus often warned against pride and taught the value of humility. In Matthew 23:12 he said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” This reminds us that God will bring down the proud and arrogant who exalt themselves.
But he will lift up those who humble themselves before Him. The way up is down in God’s economy.
Cultivating Godly Humility
Self-Examination and Repentance of Pride
The first step in cultivating godly humility is to examine our own hearts and lives to identify areas where pride may have taken root. The Bible tells us that pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
We must ask God to search our hearts and reveal any pride that causes us to elevate ourselves above others or take credit for achievements that are ultimately from Him. As God reveals pride in our lives, we must repent and ask Him to replace that pride with humility that comes from recognizing our dependence on Him.
Some questions we can ask in self-examination include:
- Do I tend to look down on others or think of myself as better in some way?
- Do I have an inflated view of my own abilities and achievements?
- Am I overly concerned about receiving recognition and praise?
- Do I find it difficult to admit when I’m wrong?
Honestly answering questions like these can unveil hidden pride that prevents us from walking in true, biblical humility.
Recognizing Pride Comes Before the Fall
The Bible sternly warns that pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). There are many examples of this principle in Scripture. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride caused him to lose his sanity before he humbled himself and acknowledged God’s sovereignty (Daniel 4:28-34).
Haman’s pride led to his downfall after he plotted to kill Mordecai (Esther 3-7). Over and over again, we see that pride blinds people and leads them to make decisions that end in disaster.
Recognizing the danger of pride motivates us to cultivate humility. When we are tempted to become prideful or self-promoting, we would do well to recall how pride has led to downfall for many throughout history. This should inspire greater caution and humility in our own lives.
Submitting Fully to God
The antidote to pride is wholehearted submission to God. Pride elevates self, but humility submits the self fully to the lordship of Christ. As James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This demonstrates that as we submit to God, we can resist the devil’s temptation to pride and self-exaltation.
Practically, submission means laying down our own agendas, plans, desires, and self-will in order to pick up Christ’s values, priorities, and will for our lives. It means seeking His kingdom and righteousness first, rather than pursuing our own glory and renown (Matthew 6:33).
As we submit the entirety of our lives to His authority, we cultivate humility before both God and others.
Esteeming Others Above Yourself
The ultimate expression of humility is esteeming others as more significant than ourselves, just as Philippians 2:3-4 instructs. This goes directly against our human tendency to prioritize self and seek positions of superiority over other people.
But Scripture commands us to adopt a radically different attitude.
Practically, esteeming others involves showing honor, celebrating accomplishments, listening attentively, and considering others’ needs and interests first. It means seeing people as God sees them – as bearing His image and worthy of great value and respect.
As we choose to live out this biblical view of esteeming others, humility flows out of us naturally by God’s grace at work within.
In closing, Scripture has much to say about the sinfulness of pride which exalts self rather than God. True humility acknowledges our dependence on God and focuses on building others up rather than self. As James 4:10 (NIV) summarizes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
May we reflect deeply on pride versus humility and allow God’s Spirit to shape us into humble servants who walk faithfully with Him each day.