Warning, Warning:
Someone of far greater authority than the Surgeon General of the United States has declared that pride is poisonous. Poison is that which taints or destroys moral purity or health (Noah Webster 1828). [1] God Almighty has been very explicit in His written Word that pride is very damaging to mankind. [2] Yet today in our post-modern culture, especially in the United States, pride is epidemic. Even more sobering is the fact that the Body of Christ is not immune, but has indeed been infected with this serious problem. There are a number of reasons for this; however, as with most health threats, chief among them is ignorance (Hosea 4:6a). Pride is a posture of a person’s heart that lifts itself up to something other than God. Like poison in our system it is not always apparent but produces damaging results. The heart of man, the innermost part of our being, is complicated and difficult to understand on our own.

Jeremiah 17:9 and 10
(9) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
(10) “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

Complicating the issue of knowing our heart is that, in part, the nature of pride is deceptive (Oba. 1:3; Jer. 49:16). Matthew Henry, commenting on Proverbs 6:16 said, “There are seven things that God hates, and pride is the first, because it is at the bottom of much sin and gives rise to it.” [3] Indeed God goes as far as to call pride iniquity.

Ezekiel 16:49 (KJV)
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

Hosea 5:5 (KJV)
And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity: Judah also shall fall with them.

Many times identifying pride is difficult because it remains under the surface. Pride’s connection to iniquity is instructive.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The word “crushed” is a great key to understanding this submerged aspect of pride. Other versions of the Bible translate it as “bruised,” and rightly so. A bruise happens when there is an impact to the body that causes the capillaries to be crushed, allowing blood to seep into surrounding tissue. Jesus Christ was beaten very extensively and much bruising was a result. He bled internally for our iniquities, of which pride is certainly one.

Like some types of cholesterol which harden blood vessels, pride has a hardening effect on the heart. When speaking of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel records:

Daniel 5:20
But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.

Pride hardens the heart to the views or input of others. Interestingly, after Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled by God, Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had a similar experience due to pride.

2 Chronicles 36:11-13
(11) Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years.
(12) He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD.
(13) He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel.

It is recorded of Pharaoh, who is a type of the rulers of this world, that at least ten times his heart was hardened. Whenever our heart is lifted to what the world has to offer, it will harden due to pride.

1 John 2:16 KJV
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Another major way that pride shows up is in how it causes one to treat others. Pride is always about self and has no regard for the other. It is what is behind quarrels, strife and slander (Prov. 13:10; 28:25; Ps. 101:5). When unchecked it eventually leads to violence.

Psalm 73:6-9
(6) Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
(7) From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
(8) They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
(9) Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.

Like King Zedekiah, the proud of heart do not turn to God because their hearts are turned elsewhere, and as a result there is no room for God.

Psalm 10:2-4
(2) In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
(3) He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
(4) In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

In medical situations a doctor must be well acquainted with the healthy condition of the body or mind in order to be able to recognize what is aberrant. Spiritually, the righteous or healthy condition of the heart is a heart that is pure or uncontaminated by the world.

Psalm 24:1-4
(1) The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
(2) for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
(3) Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

The Old Testament Hebrew word most frequently translated “pride,” is ga’own, with its related forms. Strong’s (# 1347) defines this group of words as generally meaning “that which is high, exalted, lifted up, majestic, splendid, and excellent.”

Exodus 15:7
In the greatness of your majesty (ga’own) you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble.

Exodus 15:21
Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly (ga’ah) exalted (ga’ah). The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”

Deuteronomy 33:26
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty (ga’avah).

Yahweh and all He created is high, lifted up, excellent, and splendid. However, due to pride and the sin that resulted, the Father’s creation has been contaminated. The classic case study of pride involves Lucifer. Speaking metaphorically, Ezekiel refers to him as the King of Tyre.

Ezekiel 28:12-17
(12) “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “’You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
(13) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
(14) You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
(15) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness (avon, iniquity) was found in you.
(16) Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
(17) Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Pride, conceit, and arrogance always involve lifting up ourselves and the result is a falling down from the position God intended. Lucifer was invested with beauty, power, and position, however due to his unhealthy preoccupation with self, which is pride, he fell.

Isaiah 14:12-15
(12) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
(13) You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
(14) I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
(15) But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.

Every person is confronted with issues of pride as a result of our flesh and fallen nature. These challenges may show up in different ways for different people, but they will generally fall into one of two categories. To help remind myself and others of this I often say, “I am always in the middle of p.r.I.d.e.” The following acronym further clarifies these two categories;

P. personal
R. reputation
I. myself or me
D. devalued
E. estimation

I believe each person will be tempted to lean toward one side of this construct more than the other. However, at different times and situations one may find the other side as a challenge as well. The Personal Reputation portion is what we classically understand pride to be, where a person is elevated in their own eyes. The self talk that may accompany the PR side of pride could sound something like: “I’m the exception, I’m entitled, I want, I’m better…”

On the DE side, Devalued Estimation is what is many times called “false humility.” It is in fact the other side of pride because the focus is still on self. The DE self talk may go something like this: “I can’t do anything right, I’m not spiritual enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, or I’m not popular enough…”

In our culture self-esteem is a trendy topic which gets a lot of attention in many circles. The way someone thinks of himself or herself is an important issue. However, this subject has often been hijacked to convince people to be prideful. The Bible gives us healthy parameters for how we are to think of ourselves.

Our hearts are to be undivided and lifted only to God. This requires constant vigilance by guarding our hearts so as not to let anything take up residence that would contaminate the heart. In the future, as the prophet has foretold, we will all have undivided hearts. However, that is what God wants from us now.

Ezekiel 11:19
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

When things enter our hearts that divide them and replace God, they are idols.

Ezekiel 14:2 and 3
(2) Then the word of the LORD came to me:
(3) “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?

Either side of pride, Personal Reputation or Devalued Estimation, is harmful to relationships. The Lord has provided ample warning of this in the Church epistles. Romans and Ephesians both have sections devoted primarily to practical application. Romans starts its practical section with a warning about pride, while Ephesians has a command to be humble.

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Ephesians 4:1 and 2
(1) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
(2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Humility is the only remedy or antidote to pride and the idols that attend it. Pride is a choice to lift one’s heart and to set up idols that pacify it. Conversely, humility is a choice we make to submit ourselves to God and not allow anything between our heart and the Father. Jesus Christ has set the standard for all who desire a healthy heart.

Philippians 2: 5-9 REV [4]
(5) Have this mind in you that was also in Christ Jesus,
(6) who, existing in the form of God, did not regard being equal with God a thing to be grasped,
(7) but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.
(8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even to death, yes, the death of the cross.
(9) Therefore also God highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name,

Great care is required if we are to keep pride at bay. Our flesh is weak and naturally defaults to pride. While the love of God always gives to others what they need, pride always takes from others what it thinks it needs to placate the flesh. Note the giving and the interest in others in the verses below. God, and thus those like Him, always give, and are not prideful.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6
(4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(5) It is not rude, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
(6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Humility is the polar opposite of pride. One of the most damaging lies the Enemy has foisted upon the mind of man in this context is that pride has to do with strength, while humility is weakness. This is upside-down thinking. Due to our fallen nature, pride is the easiest path to take. Elevating ourselves is the course our fallen nature follows when confronted with our own weakness and sin. A coward often puffs himself up to appear strong. However, putting ourselves under another, submitting to another, takes great strength of character and this requires humility. When the entire scope of Scripture on the subject of pride is considered, it becomes strikingly apparent that pride equates to disobedience to God, while humility requires that one obey and is prerequisite to godliness. The consequences and benefits of each are profound.

James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Proverbs 18:12
Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

Daniel 4:37
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

There is a day coming when every knee will bow. Those who willingly humble themselves now will be honored; not so for the proud.


[1] Webster, Noah; American Dictionary Of The English Language, 1828; Foundation For American Christian Education, San Francisco, CA, Ninth Edition, 1996.
[2] In newer versions of Scripture, some occurrences of Greek words render “pride” as a virtue. This is the case in the New Testament with kauchaomai, Strong’s #2744. The New International Version is an example of this, translating kauchaomai as “pride” five times. However, kauchaomai and its related words, (kauchema, G2745; kauchesis, G2746), are always a declaration or something spoken and mean to exalt, boast, or commend. They appear a total of 64 times in the Greek New Testament, of which R.C.H. Lenski, commenting on Romans 5:2 and 3, defines as “to speak with high exultation,” ( p. 335), and “to speak in lofty, exultant language,” (p.336). Translating these words “pride” or “proud” is drawing a conclusion. This is therefore an interpretation, which onfuses the issue, since pride is a posture of one’s heart, not something spoken.
[3] Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 3, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, Fourth Printing, 1996.
[4] John W. Schoenheit, Revised English Version® (REV®) and The REV Commentary of the New Testament (Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, Inc., Martinsville, IN, 2009). Available online for free at STFonline.org/rev

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  1. Haiii…
    First i wanna thank u for sharing this article. i’m blessed with this. 🙂
    But i wonder why you rever to KJV bible but sometimes you did’nt?
    Isaiah 14:12 this article quoted said that moning star is lucifer, but in KJV, said

    “and How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! Isaiah:14:12”

    Morning star is the title of Jesus
    “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.Revelation:22:16”

    We all know that KJV bible is the first bible transleted in english and of course the most trusted bible, so i’m personally using KJV bible, and i hope it can help you to 🙂
    You can check the history of KJV bible and why we must using KJV bible in google.

    1. Hi Jessy, Thanks for the comment. Actually, you are mistaken about the first English Bible. It was not the KJV but instead was the Tyndale Bible, translated by William Tyndale in 1526, many decades before the KJV. Also, just because a translation is one of the first does not make it “more accurate.” Instead, later translations are actually more accurate because we now have thousands of more texts to refer to than the translators did in those early days. ANd the more reference source material means the more we can compare and determine more closely what was actually written. Unfortunately, the KJV myth persists.

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