What Is The Biblical Definition Of Pride?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Here is a biblical definition of pride in the hopes that we will humble ourselves before God.

What is Pride?

If you ask someone off the street what they thought pride was, you might be told that its conceit, self-esteem, egotism, vanity, and some say the rich are proud by flaunting their advantages, achievements, wealth, or possessions.  Some would even say it’s a good thing to have.  A parent can have pride in the accomplishments of their child cant’ they? Is being proud of someone considered sin, since pride is a sin?  Pride can be tied to wealth, but it doesn’t mean that just because they’re rich, they’re full of pride.  Only God can see into that person’s heart (1 Sam 16:7).  I’ve got my own heart issues (Jer 17:9).

What Is The Biblical Definition Of Pride

Is All Pride Sin?

Some believe that if someone says “They’re proud of their child” or “their team” or whatever else it might be, then that is considered sin, but I would ask them, “Who is their proudness focused on?” Is it inwardly, self-directed or outwardly, toward another and their accomplishment or effort?  I grant that I am biased if I am proud of my own child but I can be proud of someone else’s effort without even knowing them, can’t I?   When God condemns pride, I don’t think He had in mind us being proud of someone else’s accomplishment or heroic effort, even in failure.  I believe it is when “I” is capitalized in “prIde” that it becomes sin.  Do we have anything to brag about?  Let’s ask the Apostle Paul; “Paul, do you think we can brag or boast, at least a little?”  Paul answers with a question; “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 Cor 4:7)?  By my count, I came up with a big, fat zero!  I agree with Paul, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17) because dead men don’t resurrect themselves (Eph 2:1).

How God Feels About Pride

The Bible has a lot to say about pride, and none of it is good. Include Solomon in that category as he wrote “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov 8:13).  What I see in the ways of evil, perverted speech, and arrogance is that they are all centered in pride.  Little do they heed the biblical warning that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Experience is a good teacher, but she is a hard teacher.  The truth is, “One’s pride will bring him low” (Prov 29:23).  The list of historical figures to prove that is too numerous to count and impossible to miss. From the beginning of Adam and Eve, men and women have come crashing down from their pedestal of pride.   I have!  The higher they are exalted, the farther they have to fall…and the harder they land.  Jesus warned that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:12).  You and I can either voluntarily humble ourselves before God or He may have to do it for us; you can guess which one is more painful.

A Biblical Definition of Pride

We already know that pride is a sin (Prov 8:13) but how would you define it from Scriptures?  Pride causes the wicked to lie about the righteous (Psalm 31:18) and “For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride” (Psalm 59:12). So a person who is proud will lie about others and even about themselves but in time, they will “be trapped in their pride” and get caught in their own lies. A person will usually lie to make themselves look better and others look worse. There is also the bent toward violence, and because “pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment” (Psalm 73:6).  Jesus gave us a list of the depravity of man when He mentioned its source: “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 7:21-23).  Pride is mentioned in the same breath as is sexual immorality, adultery, deceit, sensuality, and slander.  So pride can be defined as someone who customarily lies, and the list Jesus gave us that come out of the human heart in Mark 7:21-23.

Seven Things God Hates

In the so-called “seven things God hates,” which is found in Proverbs 6:16-19, maybe you’ll notice that every single one of these sins that God detests have pride in them. Think about this; “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 full of pride and look down upon others.  A lying tongue assassinates other people’s character by lies or gossip and that is pride centered.  Those who shed innocent blood don’t always do it just because they feel like it. Home and business burglaries and Internet hacking of website data and emails are all about “me, myself,” and “I,” aren’t they? Those who are quick to run to evil and bear false witness (lie) about others are only thinking of themselves. Did you notice this list includes lying, twice!? And finally, whoever is sowing discord is like someone sowing seeds in a field, but these are weeds and the sower of discord only wants to look better than others.


I believe that pride is at the root of all sin.  It caused Lucifer’s fall from heaven and it can cause our fall too if we’re not careful and don’t remain humble.  Pride caused the fall in the Garden (Gen 3:2-7) as the Apostle John seems to indicate, “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).  The desires of the flesh are self-centered, pride-filled passions.  The desires of the eyes, through pornography for example, is causing many to commit adultery in their heart and wreck marriages (Matt 5:27-30) and that is all about filling one’s own personal gratification of the flesh; and finally, the pride of life needs no explanation does it?  Isn’t it just as obvious as the creation itself?   Looking as this “unholy trinity,” or three-fold threat facing us, we need to stay humble and crush the pride or our pride may just crush us.

Read more here: What Does the Bible Say About Pride?

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

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