What does the Bible say about pride?
The first and worst example of pride in the Bible is from Lucifer.
He was created to be the most beautiful and powerful of all the angels. God had a very special job for Lucifer in his exalted position.
He was so far above all the other angels that he aspired to be God himself. His pride led to his downfall.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! (Isaiah 14:12 ESV)
Ezekiel tells us he was proud:
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. (Ezekiel 28:17 ESV)
Pride wasn’t just dangerous for Lucifer.
What is Pride According to the Bible?
The Living Word of God describes pride as the thing that precedes destruction, just as a haughty spirit goes before fall (Proverbs 16:18 ESV).
However, note that self-directed pride that stems from conceit and outward pride pointed at the efforts or accomplishments of others are two completely different things from the Lord’s perspective.
We already know that self-centered pride is cast in a very negative light in the Bible, especially in the book Proverbs due to one obvious reason – God hates it.
But we have to consider examples of outward pride such as 2 Corinthians 7:4 ESV, where Apostle Paul writes “I have great pride in you” in regards to being encouraged by good news from the church in Corinth.
Notice that Paul’s pride or reason to be boastful in this case is not himself but someone else, in this case the Corinthian Christians.
This Bible verse indicates that God specifically hates sinful pride that’s self-righteous in nature and all about exalting yourself above others.
Scripture doesn’t condemn being proud of someone else’s accomplishments, we can also be proud to be part of God’s Kingdom and we can even take pride in the good works of the Lord.
Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:17 ESV:
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The One Who created everything is our reason to boast because “apart from Jesus we can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
However, the line is drawn when pride becomes self-oriented i.e. all about me and only me.
It’s interesting to note that in Proverbs 8:13 ESV pride is accompanied by a few additional traits that the Lord hates and they are: “arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech”.
Additional truths about the sinful nature of pride come from Proverbs 29:23 ESV: “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
This goes hand-in-hand with what Jesus says to the crowds in Matthew 23:12 ESV: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
We are called to be humble, so don’t think that you are more significant than other people, including fellow believers:
“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3 ESV
What is the Root Cause of Pride?
The root cause of pride is sin – our sinful nature that we inherited from the initial sinners Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3 describes humanity’s fall in great detail and how pride first overtook Eve and then the first man Adam.
But Eve didn’t succumb to the self-centered pride and “do whatever you want” mentatility out of nowhere.
She was tempted by that serpent the devil a.k.a. Satan himself:
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 ESV
Eve’s pride made her turn her back on God’s command to NOT eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
She didn’t obey the Lord’s command, she didn’t trust Him and she simply let her pride take over, because she thought she’d be better off with the wisdom that this tree provides.
We can only imagine how quickly popular sayings such as “nobody can tell me what to do” and “you can do whatever you want to do” came about once humanity succumbed to sin.
Both Adam and Eve knew all too well that God warned them that they’d surely die if they ate from the forbidden fruit.
Yet, led by inward self-oriented pride they committed the initial sin that led to the eventual downfall of humanity who wouldn’t be able to compensate for their sins, no matter how many animal offerings they’d burn.
However, the self-centered pride that overwhelmed the first two humans originally took place in the unseen realm.
Lucifer committed sin and became Satan by displaying pride that’s explained in where God says, concerning Satan:
“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” Ezekiel 28:17 ESV
This magnificent angel was so in-love with his own beauty and splendor that it wanted to be like God the Lord.
Satan’s sin stemming from his pride that led to the rebellion that took place in heaven is further described in Isaiah 14:13-14.
These verses from the Old Testament reveal that -unsurprisingly- Satan’s sin was conceived in his prideful heart as he ultimately sought to make himself like the Most High.
It’s no wonder that the New Age movement deceives people exactly by going after their self-centered pride and promising that they can become their own gods, just like the serpent did in the Garden of Eden.
Hello, Genesis 3:5 anyone?
What Does the Bible Say About Overcoming Pride?
The Bible has plenty to say about dealing with pride and here are several very powerful verses to help you overcome this sin:
All of Our Gifts are God-Given
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
Think about it, have you attained any of your gifts, mercies and blessings by yourself?
Let me help you – no, because only our Creator is capable of blessing us both physically and spiritually.
We have absolutely no reason to be boastful, no matter how physically beautiful or spiritually mature we might be.
The Lord Has Supreme Authority Over Everyone
“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?” Isaiah 29:16 ESV
God is ultimately sovereign and all creation belongs to Him, because He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible.
God knows everything about you, what you do, your heart and He even knows you better than you know yourself. Psalm 139:1-6 ESV
It sure helps me to let that sink in to humble myself before the Alpha and the Omega!
Justification by Faith Eliminates Boastfulness
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
We’re saved by grace through faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, period.
And salvation doesn’t come from us.
It’s not our own doing because God knows our hearts, He knows that we’re prideful and boastful.
So stay away from fleshly manifestations such as pride and focus on forming a personal relationship with Jesus.
God will Always be Infinitely Superior to Men
Job 25:4–6 ESV: “How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”
The Creator is perfect in every possible way, while we are likened to maggots.
Indeed, none of us is pure as we all inherit sin at birth.
Knowing this, how can you continue to be prideful about yourself?
We Are Likened to Tools in God’s Hands
“Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” Isaiah 10:15 ESV
We’re like mere axes, saws and staffs in the hands of the Lord.
We don’t have any right to be boastful and prideful by trying to take credit for anything.
Does your axe have any reason to be prideful just because you’re using it to cut down wood?
Bible Verses on Pride and Humility
Scripture literally contains dozens and dozens of verses that specifically focus on pride and humility.
You can’t claim to have humility if you operate from a self-centered prideful position so make sure to dive deep into these Bible verses and ask the Lord to give you wisdom to understand His Living Word:
1 Peter 5:5 ESV: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 11:2 ESV: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
Proverbs 18:12 ESV: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
Romans 12:16 ESV: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
Philippians 2:5-8 ESV: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV: “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Proverbs 16:19 ESV: “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
2 Samuel 22:28 ESV: “You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.”
Daniel 4:37 ESV: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Matthew 23:10-12 ESV: “Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
James 1:9-10 ESV: “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV: “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
James 4:14-16 ESV: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
Romans 12:3 ESV: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Psalm 138:6 ESV: “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.”
Luke 1:52 ESV: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”
Proverbs 12:9 ESV: “Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV: “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
1 Timothy 6:17 ESV: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
Self-centered pride is one of the many sinful manifestations of the flesh and it’s what initially corrupted humanity when Eve and Adam succumbed to pride and ate from the forbidden fruit.
Satan who fell from heaven due to his own inward pride is the one who deceived the first two human beings and everything went downhill from there.
That is, until God sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins and give us the ultimate gift that we don’t even deserve.
The gift of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.