Pride—What does the Bible say?

Pride, as discussed here, refers to a sinful, arrogant, haughty, insolent, self-reliant attitude or spirit that causes a person to have an inflated or puffed up view of themselves (Proverbs 21:4). This is different from "taking pride" in a job well done. Those who are proud think of themselves as better than others and look down on others with contempt and derision. The proud do not have a correct or sober estimation of themselves, their abilities or their positions (Romans 12:3). They see themselves as over and above others and believe themselves to be pre-eminent. In the minds of the proud, they are the most important people in the world.

The clearest and most pronounced example of pride in Scripture is Satan himself. A former angel, he was not content with his status or station. Instead of submitting to the rule of the Almighty, Satan opposes God and God's people. Scripture refers to Satan as the adversary (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1—2; Zechariah 3:1–2). Not content with his own rebellion, Satan went on to tempt mankind as well (Genesis 3:1–5; Revelation 12:9). Pride was the main temptation Satan used to get mankind on his side. The temptation to "be like God" was not to be in the "image of God" for man and woman were already made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Satan's temptation was for man to be independent of God, self-reliant (Genesis 3:5). Instead of relying on and trusting in God and His Word, Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan's lies and sinned against God (Genesis 3:6). Instead of acknowledging God's authority through grateful worship, mankind sought to exalt themselves to a status of equality with God Himself. To make themselves the measure of all things.

The result of pride is contention, shame, death, and destruction. We can see all of these disastrous consequences in both of the examples previously mentioned, Satan and mankind. Satan's pride resulted in his opposition to God and in his seduction of the pinnacle of God's creation, mankind. Even though God has allowed Satan to roam the world for now, his end is certain (Matthew 25:41). Likewise, the result of mankind's pride was enmity between man and God, shame, guilt, and death (Colossians 1:21; Genesis 3:8; Romans 5:12; 6:23). These examples prove the truth of Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." The repercussions of that fall are recorded in the first chapter of Romans verses 18–32. Mankind has brought a curse on both the world and themselves through both Adam's fall and our own prideful disobedience (Romans 5:19; 8:20–21).

So, is there any hope? There is no hope for Satan and the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). However, there is hope for mankind and that hope comes to us in the incarnation, the God-man, Jesus Christ. In direct opposition to the spirit of pride, Jesus came to earth in humble circumstances and humility of spirit (Luke 2:11–12). Although being God Himself, He took on the form of a servant and sacrificed His very life in order to reconcile us to God (Philippians 2:5–11; Romans 5:10). For those who believe in Him, Jesus Christ has reversed the effects of mankind's fall and given them eternal life (John 3:15). As mediator between God and man, He has brought peace where there was separation, love where there was hatred, approval where there was shame, forgiveness where there was guilt, and life where there was death (1 Timothy 2:5–6; Ephesians 2:13; Romans 8:1, 38–39; John 10:10). Through the perfect obedience of Christ we are counted as righteous before God (Romans 3:21–26; 2 Corinthians 5:17–21); through the humiliation and sacrifice of Christ our sin is atoned for (Ephesians 5:2); through His resurrection we are granted eternal life (Romans 6:5) and exalted to sit in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Our pride resulted in our disgrace and death. Christ's humility and obedience results in our honor and exaltation.

However, conversion alone is not a guarantee against the temptation to pride. Even the apostle Paul was given a mysterious thorn in his side to keep him from becoming proud (2 Corinthians 12:7). God had to teach Paul, as He teaches us, that we are both saved by God's grace and are being sanctified by God's grace (1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 2:13). We must be reliant and dependent on God for our strength if we are to make any progress at all in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). As we grow in knowledge and good deeds, we will be tempted to glory in ourselves. This continues to be the trap Satan sets for us. Therefore, we must be constantly alert and on guard against the temptation to pride, self-reliance, and self-righteousness (1 Peter 5:8; Romans 12:16). It is not by our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us that we are able to imitate Christ's humility and thereby love and serve God, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even our enemies (Zechariah 4:6; Matthew 5:44; 22:37–39; Galatians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 13:1–3). Whereas pride is focused inward on loving and serving oneself, Spirit-filled love is directed outward toward loving and serving God and others.

Related Truth:

Does the Bible talk about self-love / loving self?

What does the Bible say about self-esteem?

Does the Bible say anything about empathy?

What is a biblical definition of success? What does the Bible say about success?

How can I walk in the Spirit?

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