Pride is a sin that God takes very seriously, as evidenced by the stern warning in 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.” This verse comes at the end of a narrative in Daniel 4, where King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had become arrogant and prideful, boasting about his power and achievements. As punishment, God humbled him by taking away his sanity and forcing him to live like an animal for seven years. After this humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar finally recognized God’s sovereignty and repented of his pride. The lesson is clear: those who continue to walk in pride will ultimately face God’s opposition and be brought low.
The Bible has a lot more to say about the dangers of pride and the fate of the proud. Here are some key points that emerge from looking at relevant passages:
1. Pride leads to destruction
Proverbs 16:18 warns that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” When we become proud and haughty, we are headed for a downfall. Pride blinds us to our own faults and shortcomings. It inflates our sense of self-importance and leads to reckless decisions. Several biblical characters illustrate this principle well. Haman in the book of Esther was hanged on the very gallows he had built to kill Mordecai (Esther 7:10). Belshazzar lost his life and kingdom because of his arrogance and pride (Daniel 5:22-31). Pride literally paves the path to one’s ruin.
2. God actively resists the proud
Pride does not just passively lead to negative consequences – God Himself actively opposes the proud. James 4:6 declares, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Similarly, 1 Peter 5:5 reads, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” This is a sobering reality for those who stubbornly walk in pride. They are putting themselves in opposition to the Almighty God. His grace, blessing and favor will be withdrawn from them, and they will find themselves constantly frustrated and defeated. Examples like Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling demonstrate that God will not tolerate perpetual pride, but will actively work to crush it.
3. Pride brings disgrace and humiliation
Proverbs 11:2 warns that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” When we walk in pride, it puts a target on our back – we can expect disgrace and public humiliation to follow. This is because pride leads to foolish behavior that backfires. Pride also blinds people to their own faults, making them oblivious to risks and dangers. The inevitable falls and failures invite shame and disgrace. In contrast, humility makes us wise and cautions. The humble are vigilant against stumbling and don’t insist on their own way at all costs. Consequently they are spared public disgrace.
4. The proud will be brought low
Isaiah 2:12 says “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and human pride brought low.” This reiterates a consistent theme – God will not tolerate perpetual pride, but has promised to eventually bring the proud low. No matter how high the proud may rise in power, prestige or accomplishments, they are pursuing an agenda opposed to God. He will topple them from their lofty positions. This happened with King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, and numerous other kings and rulers throughout the Bible. Pride inflates a person’s sense of self but sets them up for a greater fall when God acts against them.
5. Pride excludes people from God’s kingdom
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:3 emphasizes that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To enter God’s kingdom, we must be humble and “poor in spirit” – the opposite of proud or arrogant. Revelation 21:8 reveals the tragic end awaiting the proud, listing “the arrogant” first among those who will be excluded from the New Jerusalem and condemned. Pride is one of the main barriers preventing people from humbly submitting their lives to Jesus Christ. The proud trust in themselves and see no need for a Savior. Pride thus shuts them out of the kingdom.
6. The proud spawn quarrels and conflicts
Proverbs 13:10 observes that “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” There is a definite link between pride and strife. The proud insist on their own way; they spurn counsel and advice. This breeds all manner of conflicts – from interpersonal quarrels to full-blown wars between nations (James 4:1-2). In contrast, humble people are teachable and avoid unnecessary disputes. They understand the wisdom of working together peacefully.
7. The proud face God’s punishment
Jeremiah 50:31-32 issues a chilling warning to the proud: “‘See, I am against you, you arrogant one,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty …your proud power will stumble and fall. No one will raise you up.” Here God Himself declares His opposition against the haughty and arrogant. He promises to trip up and bring down those who stubbornly walk in pride. His punishment awaits them. We would do well to remember Nebuchadnezzar who lost his sanity and kingdom for seven years. If God did not spare the greatest king of that time, He will surely punish the proud today.
8. Pride often precedes a fall
Proverbs 16:18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Many times in Scripture, we see proud rulers and nations stumbling into disaster shortly after showing arrogance and haughtiness. Sennacherib’s massive Assyrian army was annihilated shortly after he taunted Hezekiah and mocked the God of Israel (2 Kings 18-19). Likewise, Babylon fell soon after Belshazzar’s proud sacrilege. Over and over again, arrogant boasting and lifting up oneself is followed swiftly by a humiliating disaster.
9. The proud corrupt themselves with sin
Obadiah 1:3 issues a warning about the proud: “The pride of your heart has deceived you.” When our hearts become filled with pride, it leads to deception and foggy thinking. We become blinded to sin and wrongdoing in our own lives. We justify and downplay our own faults. From there it leads further into all sorts of corruption. In contrast, the humble have clarity and are quick to repent when sin is revealed in their lives. Pride puts us on a slippery slope into wickedness.
10. Pride will be humbled on the day of judgment
Isaiah 2:12 reveals: “…The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” In the final day of reckoning, God will turn the tables on the proud and arrogant. Those who exalted themselves will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted and honored. No amount of power, riches or acclaim in one’s earthly life will help in that day. All proud boasting will turn to shame and dismay when people realize no one withstands the glory of God’s majesty.
In conclusion, the consistent message of Scripture is that pride leads to certain destruction. God actively opposes the proud in various ways, working to frustrate their schemes and eventually bring them low in humiliation and judgment. This serves as a sober warning to us – we are not to walk in pride and arrogance, trusting in our own abilities. Our only recourse is to humble ourselves before Almighty God, submitting our lives to His authority and grace.