Why Is Pride A Sin in the Bible?

Why Is Pride A Sin in the Bible? April 12, 2014

What are the reasons that pride is sinful?  What is it about pride that God hates?

God is at War with the Proud

James 4:6 says that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  The Greek word for opposes or some translations say resist is literally “to range in battle against” and humble is “those of low degree”, or literally “not rising far from the ground” so this Bible verse should actually read that God is in battle with or at war with the proud but gives grace or favor to the those of lowly degree and are bowed to the ground. God cannot work with a prideful heart because there is no room for grace to enter as someone that is prideful often believes that they are superior to others and could not possibly learn from someone else, even God!  Peter says something very similar in 1 Peter 5:5b “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This theme is not just found in the New Testament but is prevalent throughout the Bible.  In Proverbs 3:34 Solomon wrote “Toward the scorners [God] is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor (or grace).”  A scornful person is hard to be around as they are by definition, contemptuous, feel disdain toward others, and has a feeling, attitude or an expression that looks down upon others.  It is no wonder that God is at war with such individuals and the fact is that prideful people are hard to be around.

Seven Deadly Sins

In what most people refer to as the “Seven Deadly Sins” in Proverbs 16:16-19, every single one of these sins are things that have their root in pride;

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” 

Haughty eyes are eyes that look down on others (pride), lying is almost always done to make someone look better or others inferior (pride), murder is done with the express intent on devaluing other’s lives and getting revenge or expressing hatred (pride), a deviser of evil does so out of hate (pride), feet that can’t wait to do evil do so for lustful reasons (pride) and false witness breathes (speaks lies with regularity, also pride-induced), and whoever sows division (discord) does so for selfish reasons (pride).

The Fall of Lucifer (Satan)

Pride caused Satan to want to take over the throne of God and to be ruler of the universe.  Satan lacked humility and great was his fall (Luke 10:18) and his pride disqualified him to rule, even on the earth (Rev 3:9). Satan said to himself “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north” (Isaiah 14:13).  The stars are believed to be the angels of God and he wanted to sit on the throne of God (the mount of the assembly) in heaven (the reaches of the north).

The Fall of Man

In the Garden, God clearly told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any of the trees in the Garden except for the “tree of life” but human pride was the cause of their disobedience. Satan lied to Eve by saying “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4b-5).  Here was the first temptation of mankind and they failed miserably. Notice how pride (as lust) was involved in all three of these desires; “the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (the pride of life), she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen 3:6; 1 John 2:16). Lust is caused by wanting something that someone else has for one’s own pleasure or to satisfy one’s own desires.  That is pride at its worst. This is the breaking of the 10th Commandment; coveting.  Wanting something that is not theirs and being thankful or grateful for what they do have.

Why God Hates Pride

Pride is a person’s overwhelming sense that they are superior to others and have no conscience about it.  Pride is a high satisfaction with one’s own self and a feeling of superiority which can lead to a haughty attitude by somebody that believes that they are better than others and so they often take without thought or care about others or the consequences of their actions.  A person that is full of pride needs nothing from anyone and is a self-contained, self-sufficient person and often breeds arrogance.  That pride is an egotistic pride that is full of vanity in one’s own abilities or achievements.  God resists such people because they don’t feel they need anyone and that anyone includes God.  For those who feel that they need God in their lives there is a humility where they highly esteem God and esteem others for that matter.  In Romans 12:3 Paul says “to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.”

Do you know someone that is full of pride?  Are they not hard to be around?  Do they ask for help or willingly acknowledge their need for others?  This is not usually the case.  God’s face is against the prideful (Psalm 10:4), He doesn’t hear them (Job 35:12), because they are arrogant (Prov 21:24), and it eventually brings ruin (Ezk 32:12). John writes that “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).  It’s as if John took this as a lesson from the Garden of Eden.


What is in the middle of pride?  “I” is in the middle of pride but instead seek to be humble, because God resists the proud but gives grace only to those who are humble and of a contrite spirit.  A prideful person should know that their pride comes just before a fall and that fall can be a big one (Prov 16:18). God cannot save the proud because they do not seek Him but the lowly He does save (Job 2:29). Anyone that is full of pride is going to eventually be brought low and humbled (Isaiah 2:17) but those who humble themselves now will be exalted by God someday (Matt 23:12; Luke 14:11) and will receive God’s blessings (Matt 5:5).   Today, if you will humble yourself before God, He will exalt you someday but if you refuse to do so because of your pride, you will be humbled anyway so why not choose now to humble yourself before the mighty hand of God because there is wisdom in true humility and people tend to gravitate toward humble people.  So too does God.  As Peter concludes with his writing to

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Pet 5:5b-6).

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • Ray Butler

    Pride is associated with the Superiority Complex, not quite the same as being proud of your kids or work, much more about treating others as less or exclusion, it causes conflict, usually so indulgence can be horded.

    • Jack Wellman

      Agreed Mr. Butler. You are so right sir.

      • Ray Butler

        A big issue is that Moral Superiority in itself is an expression of Pride, people can confuse Judgementality for Righteousness. Jesus associate with Sinners, when the Pharisee confronted him about it he said the healthy do not need a doctor, he knew that was the only answer the Pharisee would accept.

        But Jesus was actually saying the Pharisee were sick, not the Sinners, the Sinners were not obsessed with the Law so they were easier to teach in putting Love before Law, the Pharisee were incapable of putting Love before Law, they were Judgemental not Righteous.

        The ultimate theme of Jesus would be that not one article of Faith nor one letter of the Law can be approached without Love foremost in Heart and Mind. As per “By this all will know that you are my Disciples” and “L ove your God” and “Love thy neighbor” Love being common, “the whole of the Law depends”

      • Ray Butler

        Also “Did we not prophesize in your name?” I will say “Get away from me, I do not know you”

      • Ray Butler

        A similar theme of the Bible itself would be in neglect of duty, a person must not forego deeds of righteousness for the sake of indulgence, as Hedonism and Homosexuality are examples of this. The issue would not be Hedonism and Homosexuality themselves but indulgence before duty.

        If anything Hedonism is more abominable than Homosexuality because Hedonism includes Homosexuality, but when duty is served and time is your own then as long as you are not hurting others or behaving without consent of the affected then indulgence is largely benign, it is a matter of priority.

      • Ray Butler

        The Book of Job is an allegory for power, with God in the role of Leader or King, the challenge posed by Satan that Job is only loyal because of the Hedge placed around him. God seeks to Lead because his followers Love him, not by fear of punishment or blessing of reward.

        So human Leaders are also held to the standard, the role deserving not imposed or bought.

        Jesus also set the standard on Leadership as he subjected himself to voluntary poverty while returning all excess back into public service. These not being standards expected to match but principles that require observation in Spirit, and so the mind and flesh be willing if needed.

        • J.D.

          So to win a cosmic grudge match, a prideful and jealous God allowed his faithful follower to be abused, made destitute, sickened and injured, and his family flat out murdered…for gamesmanship. And when it was all over it’s said he restored to Job twice as much of the worldly goods as he had before and other sons and daughters were given to him. I’m sure that was a great comfort to the ones who’d been murdered and were NOT restored. Interesting to see how disposable and fungible people are in that tradition as long as God gets to rub Satan’s nose in it at the end.

      • Ray Butler

        The idea of Creation versus Evolution is not a contradiction, God has Commanded that we overcome circumstances, evolution is adapting to circumstances, eventually humans will have overcome all circumstances and in essence be Creators, but by physical science or philosophy and psychology, Substance and Form, body and mind.

        Physical science, substance and body will be far in the future but by understanding we can rise above circumstances by willingness of our minds.

        With the Inheritance of Sin and Death from Adam, as the first man Adam was aware of the concepts of Morality and Mortality, we inherited concepts from Adam, an animal has instinct for self-preservation but not an understanding of what death is. Another symbol of conceptual reason is “They hid their nakedness” they had shame for disobedience and modesty or self-consciousness. Ignorance is said to be bliss, as Eden, but awareness of reality is expulsion from the garden into the unforgiving world.

        • Ray Butler

          God Commanded we overcome circumstances as per “Fill the Earth and subdue it” not about doing whatever we want, about overcoming circumstances and certainly about making the planet Eden.

      • Ray Butler

        “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have ordained strength” very simplistic at face value but referring to Democracy and Peer Review. Answers may spring from an unlikely source, but may stand to scrutiny and prove to be divinely inspired wisdom.

        The Republic originally as Plato recommended being Judges, highest officials proven competent in Law and proven dedicated to public service by trust of We the People.

        Separation of Church and State, originally Church being defined as “The gathering together of people” it refers to organisations, including but not exclusively religion, organisations of all kinds including economic are technically Churches, a majority and society itself are a gathering together of people, so separation would apply. Democracy being individuality, answers sourced always of an individual or collaboration of individuals, a government administering said answers.

        The Bible touches on all these things if not directly then by theme.

      • Ray Butler

        Secularism as defined by Freedom of Religion, including freedom from religion such as Agnosticism, Atheism and non practice, respected in example of Gentiles, previously considered heathens or infidels, henceforth granted neutral title of Gentile.

        That the Word spread to the four winds or four corners of the world, except that Love and its enemy Hate are already known to all, that to we are gifted insight but others may not even encounter the Word, but can still know Love and Hate and can choose between, a choice of Love vindicating His sovereignty while a choice of Hate by ones own hand damnation follows.

      • Ray Butler

        “The Kingdom of God is within you and all around you” our senses and sensibilities, if you look up Love in the dictionary you are already lost, Love already holds meaning in our heart. You know pain and joy when you see them (sense) and you know pain and joy when you feel them (sensibility) these things are not discovered nor revealed, they are not learned nor taught, they are Gifted by birthright.

        We seek to overcome problems because we care, but on the hard journey we may stop caring, purpose is lost. If we forget our original motive we either die or find another, but all other motives only lead to disaster.

  • Donald Grahame

    One of the most intriguing things about pride as a sin is the basic moral conundrum it represents. And that “conundrum” is that being arrogant enough to claim to know what “sin” is, is in itself a potentially egregious act of immense pride.

    Taking a more general, secular and humanitarian approach, rather than a view simply based on religious dogma, you could argue that a deeper look at what sin actually is should be part of the responsibility of anybody claiming to know what it is.

    “Sin” defined by various religions differs in detail, but there are some general ideas of common ground, and the resolution and understanding of that common ground is very much needed I think, and missing in “denominational” discussions like I see here.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mr. Grahame. I thought, where you said, “, you could argue that a deeper look at what sin actually is should be part of the responsibility of anybody claiming to know what it is” is spot on the mark. I do know that God will not work mightily thru a person full of themselves.

    • Truth first

      It’s simple: sin is disobedience towards God.
      And we’re born sinners. Christians know what sin is because God told them so in the Bible. It is anything but arrogance to claim that. It’s a viewpoint based on knowing your Bible and your love for God’s word. Christianity is the only faith that tells us that you are not a sinner on account of what you DO, but because of the mere fact that we are born, and are naturally born rebels against God.

      We are born separate from God and thus inclined to do the wrong things. Pride reinforces that existential “shortcoming”. Jesus offers us reconciliation with God through the acceptance of himself as your Lord and Saviour. He regenerates our hearts, minds and souls if we believe in Him, so that we stop being slaves to sin but become slaves to righteousness. So there you have it, the Gospel in a nutshell!

  • ravitchn

    Trump doesn’t think pride is a problem with God. He said he didn’t need to pray for forgiveness.

    • Chari McCauley

      Honestly, there are many comments made on Patheos that don’t think pride (I believe Satan to be the official name given to that disease. It infected 1/3 of Father’s Angellic children. That broke His heart. (Genesis 6:6) I also believe that His Son watched His Father’s heart break.) is a problem.

  • Truth first

    Pride is keeping us away from God. It is arguably THE biggest most widespread sin, all the more so since the world considers pride a virtue. Yet in order to be credible ambassadors of God’s Kingdom we have to be humble.