Sometimes, for whatever reason, we allow pride to get the best of us. Maybe we’re too proud to admit when we’re wrong. Maybe we’re too proud to confess to a loved one something we did, or didn’t do. Pride can cost a lot – it can ruin a relationship with a loved one.
I’ve been guilty of the sin of pride. I’m sure most of us, if not all of us, have at one time or another throughout the course of our lives.
What is Sinful Pride?
Figuring out if pride is a sin can be confusing. There’s nothing wrong in being proud of something we’ve accomplished or that a loved one has accomplished, assuming the accomplishment was within the will of God. After all, it feels good to accomplish something we’ve worked hard on.
A healthy sense of pride comes when we give God the glory for what was accomplished, along with crediting those who helped us along our journey, rather than patting ourselves on the back and taking all the credit for the completed project.
When pride causes us to have an inflated ego, pride becomes a sin. When we become so pleased with ourselves that we think we’re better or more important than we really are, that’s the wrong kind of pride. When we don’t give God the glory for a work done through us, that’s sinful pride. When we can’t admit to ourselves or loved ones that we’re wrong about something, that’s the wrong kind of pride.
Sinful pride says you can do everything on your own, that you don’t need any help from God or anyone else. The sin of pride says that you have no need for God in your life because you can do it all yourself.
Sinful pride tells us not to confess when we’re wrong, to keep going on like we’ve done no wrong. Pride can wreak havoc on relationships when we’re too proud to just say we’re wrong.
Bible Verses About the Sin of Pride
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. – Proverbs 29:23
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. – Romans 12:16
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. – Galatians 6:3
Prideful Bible Characters
Even though we often feel alone in our struggles, we can learn a lot about some characters of the Bible who wrestled with pride. King Nebuchadnezzar, Saul, the kings of Israel, King Herod, Pharaoh, along with Adam and Eve, just to name a few.
In the book of Daniel, we meet King Nebuchadnezzar who worships other gods and tosses Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace for refusing to bow to his massive gold statue. Daniel even prophesies to King Nebuchadnezzar that unless he recognizes the God of heaven and earth as the only real and true God, that God himself will bring destruction to him. Many months pass, and one day while Nebuchadnezzar is bragging about his spectacular kingdom, his time has expired. God sends him to the wilderness to have the mind of a wild animal.
Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden to become more like God and know the difference between good and evil. And this is the starting line for pride.
Both the Pharaoh of Egypt and King Herod during the time of Christ’s birth declared themselves of the highest rule, by initiating the execution of all baby boys. Ancient history tells us that both of these men deemed themselves god-like or in Pharaoh’s case the Egyptians believed Pharaoh himself was a god.
Christ Can Redeem
Thankfully, for those that are in Christ we have a way to overcome our sinful pride. Once we recognize that Jesus is Lord, that He alone has overcome the sin in our lives, that we can do nothing on our own, our boasting should come to a screeching halt.
But it often doesn’t. C.S. Lewis called pride the great sin. Because we are human, we still wrestle with the sins of the flesh. Pride is one of those sins.
Pride can overwhelm us greatly, but nothing is too great for God! The good news is that pride can be overcome with the help of Christ.
Here are four ways to go to battle with pride when it tries to take hold in your soul.
1. Remember Who God is
God is infinite. He created the Earth, space, time, and humanity. He is the creator. He has no beginning and no end. We are entirely dependent on him for everything.
Though it can feel wrong and aching sometimes (because of our sinful nature) to acknowledge God first as creator, sustainer, and an all-knowing being, during this process, we free ourselves. Our pride is slowly quenched, and God is better revealed. Praise is like medicine for our soul, given to us by the God of the universe!
Praise can take years of practice and most likely will not happen overnight! But taking steps to read scripture, know more about who God is and coming close to the person of Jesus, we can better affirm his goodness. And this is a beautiful thing.
The Bible is a perfect place to start when we’re confused about how to begin our praise. Here are some fantastic Bible verses that highlight the magnificence of God and his character:
Psalm 145:3 – Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
2 Timothy 2:13 – …if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Psalm 144:2 – He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
Isaiah 55:8-9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When you find yourself believing the best about yourself, thinking more highly of yourself than you should, pause to remember who God is. Start by memorizing a Bible verse and give Him praise. You are saved through grace by faith in Christ, from His sacrifice and love. Nothing we have done has earned us this favor. It’s merely God’s redeeming love for humanity.
The Bible says God draws near to us when we praise him (Psalm 22:3). Praising Him for who He is and for the specific things He’s done in your life, no matter how small, will help you remember how great He is!
2. Remember Others
While praising God is vital to puncture our pride, recognizing the value others have comes in second. Everyone is made in the image of God and the Bible tells us that God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11). When we believe that we’re worth more than others, or look down on them because we think we’re better, we are hurting God and people.
As Christians, we’re meant to glorify God. And if self comes first, we do a tremendously terrible job of showcasing who God is to non-believers. We don’t stand out as serving one another or dying to self that Jesus spoke about in the New Testament.
Instead of listening to those we love, we dominate the conversation. Instead of asking, “What do you need?”, we say, “How does this benefit or inconvenience me?” Instead of saying, “I messed up, I was wrong, please forgive me,” we finger-point, blame, or sweep it under the rug. Instead of thinking, “How will this help others?”, we think, “Will this make me look good?”
Pride is the opposite of love (1 Corinthians 13:4). It looks inward instead of listening to the needs of others, as we are called to serve one another in humility, considering others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).
Paul also tells us in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God -this is your true and proper worship.” This is what Jesus did. We should be concerning ourselves with the needs of others, and continually looking outward instead of inward and sacrificing our wants for those that we think are less deserving.
Not only does pride break relationships with others, but it’s harmful to ourselves and our walk with God. Our pride causes us to miss God and what he wants for us.
3. Remember That God Desires to Help Us
God showed his ultimate love for us by sending Christ, but his love doesn’t stop there.
In Genesis, the beginning of creation, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A perfect world, free from the taint of sin. This was God’s ultimate plan – perfection, joy, peace. And yet it was all brought down by one bite.
When Christ died on the cross, he didn’t just save us from our sin. 1 Corinthians 5:17 says once we are saved, “…the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here.” We are free from the bondage of sin! While we can stand righteous before God, our sanctification, or becoming more like Christ, takes a little more time, but be patient with yourself. It’s definitely not an overnight process!
Isaiah writes that God speaks to Israel: “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations…” (Isaiah 65:2) Though God made this promise to Israel, he also is there when we need him, reaching out, ready to rescue us. We are never too far out of God’s reach.
God’s desire and will for us is to become more like Christ, and this is why he’s so desperate to help us overcome pride.
When we’re not wholly devoted to God, we ignore how he wants to use us. We miss opportunities to serve in his kingdom because we’re so absorbed with ourselves. Ultimately, all nations except his will fall. And when they do, where will we be rooted?
If you find yourself scrolling through social media, searching for ‘Likes’ on your status to feed a need (I just had to put MY phone down!), or thinking you don’t need to ask your spouses’ thoughts or opinions, take a moment to pray and grab God’s hand. He can gladly pull you out of that moment and make himself the focal point.
4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Facing our sinful pride is difficult. God knows this. He knows how difficult it can be to come face to face with our sins. However, when we complain about how awful we are, we’re not doing any good at all. We’re merely bringing more attention to ourselves.
Sometimes we can become so focused on our sin, and we forget whose we are. But, being obsessed with our sin is STILL taking our eyes off Jesus.
In Romans 8:28, Paul declared there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. There’s no condemnation in Christ – we have freedom! We can come to Jesus boldly and in humility and ask for help. Remember the woman in the gospel of John who was stoned as an adulteress? Jesus did not throw one stone or harsh word. Instead, He calmly dispersed her accusers, helped the woman up, and told her to go and sin no more. He is God reaching down His hand to us.
How do you view yourself? Do you concentrate on all the bad things you’ve done? Because your sin can grieve you, and while it should, we must remember that for those that are in Christ there is no condemnation. But it’s your response to the sin that makes a difference.
Scripture says much about the sin of pride. Pride will poison, infect, rot, and bring about the destruction of people and relationships. It’s dangerously powerful and if left uncontrolled it will destroy. God warns us continually throughout scripture about the dangers of pride.
Pride is crouching at our door. It desires us. But it does not have the last word. God is always victorious, and He has already won the battle! When we lean into His goodness and realize His sovereignty and His love for us, we respond with praise, which takes our eyes off us and onto Him.
Begin by praying today and asking God to help you see areas of your life which tend to be prideful. Asking God for help is already an act of humility, so consider yourself on the right track!
Reach out to others closest to you and reveal your struggles while asking for prayer. This may be hard at first, but James 5:16 tells us to confess to each other. When we have others praying for us, we’re coming up armed against an enemy to destroy the things that keep us separated from our loving Creator.
Lastly, remember we have no condemnation when we are in Christ. Repeat this truth to yourself daily – because it reminds us that Christ alone is responsible for our salvation, and it is he whom we desire to be like.
Pride is a liar, but God is the truth. Conquering the sin of pride is possible with God, and if we acknowledge and confess, in His great mercy and compassion, He will rescue us.