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Pride in the Bible: What Scripture Says It is and Isn’t.

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Pride in the Bible is a very well-known and discussed topic among Christians, which is a great thing as breaking down pride is one of the largest steps in the justification and sanctification of a follower of Jesus. But because the term is so well known, and often thrown around, it is not understood to the point of its true depth. 

At the core of all evil things, man’s pride must be fully understood by the believer. To encourage you in your pursuit of this understanding, we will look at the definition of pride, why it is a sin, the four different types of pride, what is not sinful pride,  and lastly, the antidote to this attitude that the Lord hates. 

the word pride spelled on cardboard rectangles hanging from a rope with clothes pins with the text Pride in the Bible: What Scripture Says It is and Isn't.

What is Pride?

Pride, as defined by Britannica, is an “excessive love of one’s own excellence.” There are countless warnings against this love of self throughout the Bible, as it is one of the seven deadly sins. 

Not only is pride one of the seven deadly sins, it is known as the “root of all sin” or the root of all evil things. This is because when we sin, we are gratifying our fleshly desires, rather than the spirit, and therefore loving our own excellence over God; the essence of pride. It is the sin of pride that leads us to sin in other ways. 

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Galatians 5:17

In other words, pride is at the center of the ongoing spiritual battle between flesh and Spirit that every born again believer experiences as we walk in this world that we are not of. 

A C.S Lewis quote that sums it up better than I ever could is “The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility…According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Why is Pride a Sin?

“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.”

Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)

If pride is loving ourselves and our flesh over the Holy Spirit, a piece of God, then pride is loving ourself over God, and we are commanded to love God above all else. Loving ourselves over God also indicates a lack of fear of the Lord; a reverence for him that we are also commanded to walk in. 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV)

Because the sin of pride places ourselves over God, it causes a lot of problems in our relationships with him, others, and ourselves. Anything we do that goes against God’s original design for us causes these problems. 

Pride creates a rift between a Christian and God by fostering an attitude of “I don’t need you” in the heart of the believer. Our salvation is based entirely on the idea of a humble spirit where we accept that we are nothing apart from God, in dire need of his grace and mercy manifested in the justification given by the blood of Christ Jesus. But when we have a haughty spirit and a proud heart, we discount that whole entire thing because we in ourselves are just better than all of that. Absurdity! 

“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”

Proverbs 18:12 (ESV)

Second to loving God above all else, we are called to love our neighbors. When we act on selfish ambition, out of sinful pride, how are we to adequately love others? Loving others like Jesus Christ loved others means putting our wants and even our needs on the backburner in the interest of others, placing them above ourselves. This kind of Christ-like love has no room for the arrogant heart of man. We must lean into the Holy Spirit to exemplify it, which requires humbling ourselves and refusing to gratify the desires of the eyes. 

“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:39 (ESV)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

A confusing part of Matthew 22’s commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we aren’t supposed to love ourselves, then why does this say “as yourself?” Remember that the sin of pride is excessive love of oneself. We human beings should still value ourselves as we are God’s magnificent creation, just not to the point of elevating the creation above the creator. There will be more on this later. 

Pride ruins a person’s relationship with themselves by valuing ever so fleeting, earthly accomplishments, appearance, possessions, etc. above things of eternal value. The excessive love of oneself comes from a place of loving who you are on this earth; an image of the previously listed things, rather than the condition of the heart. All of the things of the earth are temporary, and placing your value and identity on those things will only lead to a major let down when they ultimately do not last. 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Additionally, pridefully loving oneself, a sinner, fosters and nurtures the evil heart of man which leads to nothing but destruction and depravity. 

“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 7:20-23 (ESV)

Lastly, pride is a sin because the Bible directly says so. 

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

Proverbs 8:13 (ESV)

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6 (ESV)

“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”

Proverbs 16:5 (ESV)

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

1 John 2:16 (ESV)

Pride is of the world, and God hates it. 

Four Types of Pride in the Bible

To look further into understanding pride in the Bible, let’s breakdown the four types of pride that can creep into the life of a Christian. The four types, as laid out by Kristen Van Uden at Live4More are pride of superiority/authority, pride of timidity, pride of sensitivity, and pride of complacency.

The first type of pride is pride of superiority/authority. This pride is more than likely what you think of whenever you imagine a prideful person. They have a demeanor that tells you that they see themselves as higher than others, belittling them and just being generally unkind to those around them. They seek power and value in their material possessions and status, holding it over the heads of others. 

It is so easy to see what is wrong with pride of superiority, as nobody likes to be around a person with these behaviors or attitudes, but it can still make its way into your own heart. If you find yourself seeking validation by raising yourself up above those around you, then this kind of pride might have found its way into your life. 

The form you have selected does not exist.

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Proverbs 26:12 (ESV)

The second kind of pride is pride of timidity, which is the complete opposite of the first. Pride of timidity actually comes out in a form of insecurity and hatred of self. Though putting yourself down can seem like humility on the outside, it stems from an inner attitude of valuing other’s opinions about you over God’s opinion, which brings it much closer to the pride of superiority. If you find yourself seeking after encouragement and compliments from others, worrying about how you are perceived, then you might just be a sneakily-proud person. 

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5 (ESV)

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

The third type of pride is the pride of sensitivity. The pride of sensitivity is very similar to that of timidity, as it does not manifest as the typical pride on the outside, but reveals the pride of your heart with the inside intentions. Just as it sounds, this sinful pride is found in an over-sensitivity to the words and actions of others. If you struggle to laugh at yourself and are easily offended, then you may have found the pride of sensitivity in your life. 

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 (ESV)

The fourth and final kind of pride is pride of complacency, or vanity. This kind of pride is another one that is easier to notice, as it does manifest itself in the outward character. The person that struggles with the pride of complacency desires and seeks the respect of others, coming across as arrogant. If you feel the need to show off your appearance, abilities, accomplishments, etc. then you may too be a proud person. 

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:1 (ESV)

After learning about these 4 types of sinful pride, it can be tempting to brush them off because these are typically attitudes only seen in unbelievers, or attitudes you only saw in yourself before your salvation. However, salvation does not mean you will never have a proud heart, whether you are aware of it or not. Because of the flesh, there will always be a desire within us to revert back to a haughty spirit, and even using our faith to do so. 

prideful man sitting with hat for the post pride in the Bible

Matthew 6 goes on to say:

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:2-4 (ESV)

Of course, this principle does not apply only to giving to the needy, but to every step you take in your walk with Christ Jesus, as you shine his light before the unbelieving world. It is light coming from within you, but His reflecting off of you. 

What Pride is Not

 All of this talk about pride being secretly sneaky can lead to over-analyzing the entire thing, but rest assured, pride in the Bible does not encapsulate every instance of pride.

When we hear the term pride outside of churchy Christian culture, it is often in the context of “taking pride” in something. While there are things we should not take pride in, especially if it’s something sinful, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in our work or families.

The difference between the sinful pride in the Bible that we are warned against and a pride that can be a good thing, is that term “excessive” expressed in the beginning of this article. Whether your taking pride in your nine to five, in your cute and respectful kiddos, in your church body, or wherever else, it is a good thing to recognize and appreciate hard work and godliness in your life. As long as the glory is given to God, and not yourself, let yourself have those things! 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)


Only talking about sin in our lives and leaving out the Christ-like behaviors we are called to exhibit in its place hardly does anything to build up and edify the believer. So what is the antidote for pride? 

 Just as God, the king of Heaven, humbled himself by coming down to walk with us in the human form of Jesus Christ, we too are called to walk in a humble spirit, the opposite of a haughty spirit. It all starts whenever we recognize our helpless state without God, where we are dead in our sin, and therefore humble ourselves and submit to him with an attitude of “I cannot do this on my own.”

“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.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”

1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)

We then, in our renewed mind, heart, and spirit, are to walk humbly among others. We are to be servants of Christ, counting others more significant than ourselves, and putting their needs above our own. 

“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.”

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

Romans 12:16 (ESV)

Living in a manner free of pride, as a proud heart is at the core of a sinner, is not an easy, overnight accomplishment. It takes patience, hard work, and most importantly prayer, as we each embark on our individual journeys of sanctification as we wait for eternal life. Christ Jesus set the perfect example of what it means to be humble, so look towards and mimic that. 

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:29-30 (ESV)

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45 (ESV)

Pride in the Bible is not as simple and shallow as what it is given credit for. It is a deeply heavy topic for both the believer and the lost. Whether you are feeling convicted or just more equipped, I sincerely hope that this discussion on pride in the Bible has furthered your relationship with the heavenly Father and walk in faith. 

Further Study

Here are a few more Bible verses for further study on pride:

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”

Proverbs 29:23 (ESV)

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Psalm 10:4 (ESV)

“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

Galatians 6:3 (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.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV)

The form you have selected does not exist.

“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.”

Romans 12:3 (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.”

1 Timothy 6:17 (ESV)

In conclusion, it is clear that pride is a complex concept that is often misunderstood in our society and even in the Bible. While some may believe it to be a purely negative trait, we have seen that Scripture highlights the importance of having a healthy sense of self-worth and confidence in who we are as God’s creations. We have also learned that true pride is not rooted in arrogance or selfishness, but in humility and gratitude towards God.

As we continue to navigate through life, let us remember that pride is a multifaceted concept that requires careful examination and discernment. Let us strive to cultivate a balanced understanding of pride, one that celebrates our strengths and accomplishments while also recognizing our limitations and dependence on God.

So, let us embrace the wisdom of Proverbs 11:2, which reminds us that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Let us choose humility and wisdom over pride and disgrace.

As we move forward, let us keep an open mind and heart to further discussions on pride and its role in our lives. And may we always seek to approach this topic with the grace and understanding that it deserves. Remember, “pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.” (Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender)

You may enjoy this video 10 SUBTLE Ways We Can Struggle With Pride And Not Know It!

Or one of these recommended resources:

Pride and Humility at War: A Biblical Perspective by J. Lanier Burns 

Pride Versus Humility by Derek Prince 

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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