According to the Bible, pride is when you think too highly of yourself. Sinful pride usually involves you thinking and acting in a way that shows you think you are better than God and/or the people around you.
Since not all pride is sin, let’s look at 25 important examples of pride in the Bible to learn exactly what sinful pride is so we can examine our own pride in our lives.
1. Jesus is Beat and Mocked by the Guards
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.” (Matthew 27:27-30 ESV)
C.S. Lewis said, “the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.” We see pride, the utmost evil, in action as the guards take the King of the Universe, Jesus Christ, and treat Him as if He were no better than dirt. They beat and mock Jesus before sending Him to the cross, treating Jesus as though He were inferior to them.
2. Naaman’s Refusal to Get into the Water
“And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, ‘Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.'” (2nd Kings 5:10-11 ESV)
Naaman had a severe disease called leprosy, which would eventually kill him if nothing was done about it. Elisha told Naaman that God would heal him if Naaman would go wash in the Jordan River, which was a very gross body of water. Naaman was too proud of a man to do so, but eventually, he changed his mind and was healed.
3. Simon the Magician Tries to Buy the Holy Spirit
“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 8:18-19 ESV)
Simon saw the Holy Spirit work through the Apostles, and he wanted the same gift. In an ultimate act of pride, Simon tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit with money. He tried to take a gift that came from God’s grace and buy it for his prideful pleasure.
4. The Pride in All of Our Hearts
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV)
There are points in all of our lives where we sin by doing what God does not want us to do. We choose to use the good things that God has given us for selfish pleasure. We are being prideful people by doing what we want instead of what the Creator has called us to do.
5. Adam and Eve Eat the Forbidden Fruit
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
When God made the universe, He gave the first humans, Adam and Eve, one rule. That was not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Due to their pride, they thought they knew more than God and ate the fruit anyway.
6. Saul Persecutes the Church
“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:1-3 ESV)
Saul, who would later become the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, persecuted the early church. Before Saul met Jesus, he was a prideful person who thought he was better than the Jewish Christians. Saul thought he had the right to beat, imprison, and kill them.
7. Goliath Judgment of David
“And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.” (1 Samuel 17:41-42 ESV)
The Philistine, who is Goliath, looks at the young man David and thinks David is not a worthy opponent to fight. Goliath’s sinful pride only allows him to look at the outside of David, not his heart. It is a good thing that God judges our hearts and not by our physical appearances.
8. The Golden Statue of Nebuchadnezzar
“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And the herald proclaimed aloud, ‘You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.'” (Daniel 3:1&4-5 ESV)
In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar makes a giant gold statue of himself and forces everyone to bow to it. The sin of pride is seen here by Nebuchadnezzar making much of himself instead of God. Later in the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar’s pride leads to him having a very hard time in his life.
9. The Pharisee Judges the Sinner Woman
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.'” (Luke 7:36-39 ESV)
The sinner woman, who was probably a prostitute, cleans Jesus’ feet and puts a lovely smelling perfume on Him. The Pharisee, instead of seeing a woman who needs the love of Christ Jesus, judges her and sees a woman who he thinks is the scum of society (as someone fulfilling mens’ lust of the flesh). This prideful person judges the woman because he views himself as better than her.
10. The Pride of the Haughty Spirit
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV)
The book of Proverbs is full of teaching on pride. “Haughty” means that you think you are superior or that you have an exalted sense of yourself. People who have a haughty spirit are full of pride because they believe they are better than those around them.
11. Opposition of the Proud
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” (James 4:6 ESV)
There is such a thing as good pride in the Bible. However, most of the time that pride is mentioned in Scripture, it is something we want to oppose. Often, people whose life is marked by this pride do not understand their need for grace or humility.
12. Judas Sells Jesus for 30 Pieces of Silver
“Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” (Matthew 26:14-17 ESV)
Even though Judas traveled with Jesus for three years, hearing Him teach God’s word, he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In a prideful moment of defiance, Judas thought he was better than Jesus and was willing to trade Jesus to those that wanted to kill Him.
13. The Pharisee Who Thinks He Is Better than a Tax Collector
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)
Pride can be seen in the Pharisee because he thinks he is better than the tax collector because of his good works. However, we see the tax collector crying out for God’s mercy because of his sin. Wise men boast in the Lord and not the good things they do.
14. Pride in Your Possessions
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1st John 2:16 ESV)
The world will teach us to find our worth in what we look like and own. However, this is the perspective of the proud person who is of this world. We have worth in God because He is the Creator of the world.
15. Pride in the Good Gifts God Has Gave Us
“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)
It would be easy for us to boast about the things that we are good at or have a lot of. However, that comes from pride because everything we have comes from God. Instead, we should boast in God because we get everything from Him!
16. Pride Prevents Us from Serving Others
“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)
Humility is the exact opposite of pride. Pride tells us to put ourselves at the center of the universe. However, humility actually calls us to love and serve the people around us by looking out for their interests.
17. Hidden Pride in the Disciples
“An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, ‘”Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”‘ (Luke 9:46-48 ESV)
People often have pride and do not even know it is hiding in their hearts. For example, when the disciples are fighting over who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus shows them that those who are greatest have nothing to do with position but has to do with those who are willing to serve.
Jonathan Edwards, who was one of America’s most important theologians and died in 1758, wrote an essay called Undetected Spiritual Pride. He listed seven sneaky (or subtle) symptoms of pride. They are:
- Price: the Great Fault-Finder
- This is when we criticize other people or note how they don’t measure up.
- Pride: Ministering in a Harsh Spirit
- This is when we are unkind to others, even other Christians, and do not treat them as Christ treats them.
- Pride: Putting on Pretenses
- This is when we act differently than we are, because we want to please others.
- Pride: Takes Offense Easily
- This is when we act mean or bitterly when we have been offended, instead of being quiet and letting God be the Judge.
- Pride: Presumption Before God and Man
- This is when we are too bold or confident before God, instead of treating him with the awe and reverence He deserves.
- Pride: Hungry for Attention
- This is when we do things because we want to be noticed, or we think everyone needs our help.
- Pride: Neglecting Others
- This is when we avoid others, especially those who we view to be sinful or unteachable. Instead, as Christ came down to our level, so should we with others who need spiritual guidance.
Reading and understanding these symptoms of spiritual pride show us “the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ.” (Jonathan Edwards) He says that spiritual pride is so important because from it comes all the other bad behaviors that lead us astray.
18. Pride in Building a Tower to Reach God
“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'” (Genesis 11:4 ESV)
At this point in history, there was one language. In this Bible verse, the proud people think that they can build a tower to God and be better than Him. Since God hates pride, He humbles the people by changing their languages and spreading them worldwide.
19. Herod Tries to Be God
“On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” (Acts 12:21-23 ESV)
Herod puts himself in the place of God by allowing people to worship him as a god. The ultimate sign of pride is thinking and allowing others to believe that you are God.
20. Pharaoh Refuses to Listen to God
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me’…But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 8:1 & 15 ESV)
God tells Pharoah by the mouth of Moses to let His people, the Israelites, go from slavery under the Egyptians so that they may serve the Lord. In a sign of his pride, Pharaoh tells God “no” multiple times, is plagued, repents, and then tells God “no” again.
God plagued Pharoah a total of ten different times:
- Water turned to blood
- Frogs from the Nile River
- Lice arising out of dust
- Swarms of flies
- Death of the livestock
- Boils and sores
- Hail of fire
- Three days of darkness
- Death of all firstborn
God continued to give Pharoah chances to obey Him, and began the plagues with the least harm to increasing harm as Pharoah continued to renege on his promises in his displays of self-righteous pride.
21. The Pride of Haughty Eyes
“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” (Proverbs 21:4 ESV)
Haughty eyes are often associated with looking down at others. This shows that your heart is full of pride because you think you are better than others. Instead of looking down on others, we should be looking up to God and praying to Him for humble hearts because God gives grace to the humble.
Jesus did not look down on people based on intellect, wealthy, social status, education, criminal background, or based on any of the ways we so often sadly see in this world today. We are called to love and walk in the image of Christ.
22. The Deception of Pride
“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3 ESV)
Prideful people think that they are something special, when none of us can compare to God. The good news is that even though we are not something, our God is. We get to know the one who created it all.
23. Uzziah’s Pride Leads to Death of Many
“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (2nd Chronicles 26:16 ESV)
Uzziah is leading Israel successfully as their king, which leads him to go into the temple and give an offering that was not his job. While this may seem like a little thing, he did not listen to the rules God put in place. The consequences of pride led to the death of many.
24. Jonah Flees From God
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:1-3 ESV)
The Lord tells Jonah to go and preach about His grace in Nineveh, but Jonah does not want to because he does not want those in Nineveh to get a second chance. Jonah’s pride led him to run in the opposite direction from God. He had so much pride that he thought he could outrun God.
25. Loving Yourself More Than God
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2nd Timothy 3:1-4 ESV)
The last days are the period of time from the resurrection of Jesus to His second coming. During these last times, people will choose to love themselves over loving God by giving in to all the sin mentioned in these Bible verses. They will be swollen with conceit (pride) because they will put other people and things above their love for God.
The Hebrew word for “pride” can literally be translated as “high.” The Hebrew word for “pride” can also be translated as “haughtiness,” “boastfulness,” “arrogance,” or “conceit.” As we see from every one of these 25 great examples above, sinful pride is when you choose to love yourself more than God and the people around you.
Pride is the opposite of humility or being a humble person with a humble spirit and a humble heart. People full of pride choose to use God and others to lift themselves up. Where do you see yourself lifting up yourself or making yourself the center of attention over God and other people?
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.