Is there any trait more deceptive? Is there any vice easier to see in others, but harder to see in ourselves? We despise its presence in them, but defend its presence in us. It is the ugly trait of pride, one of a number of traits for which God has a special disgust. In this series, we are looking at things God says he hates, he despises, or he considers an abomination. We have already seen that God hates idolatry, sexual immorality, injustice, hypocrisy, and deceit. Today we will look at God’s hatred for pride.
God Hates Pride
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.” So says wise old Solomon. And heading up the list of these seven deadly sins is “haughty eyes” (Proverbs 6:16-17). Haughty eyes are an arrogant man’s windows to the world. From the lofty perch of his own superiority, he uses them to look down upon others. From his self-made pedestal, he fancies he can see with greater clarity than his Creator.
Later, Solomon lowers his gaze from the eyes to the heart. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). Instead of harboring thoughts of love to others, the proud man harbors judgment and bitterness. Instead of expressing kindness and compassion, he expresses disparagement. He is convinced of his superiority in achievement, intellect, morality, or spirituality. He is self-obsessed.
Pride is first an attitude of independence from God. It is synonymous in Scripture with scoffing, arrogance, foolishness, evil, and wickedness. It is directly opposed to the humble, God-fearing, meek, lowly, trusting, faith-filled disposition that is pleasing to God. “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate,” he says (Proverbs 8:13). And no wonder. How could it be otherwise?
Why God Hates Pride
Pride appears first in the list of seven deadly sins because Solomon is scanning the body from head to toe, but also because no trait is more abominable than this one. No vice is more opposed to God. God hates pride because it is a manifestation of the deepest depravity, the root cause of all forms of sin. C.S. Lewis says, “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Pride is a state of mind or, more essentially, a condition of the heart in which a person has supplanted the rule of God over his life with the rule of his own will. Instead of depending entirely on God, as was God’s design, a proud heart now looks to itself to decide what is good and evil. This was exactly the folly of Adam and Eve when they determined to disobey God to become like God.
God’s Judgment on the Proud
Because pride is first an act of cosmic treason, an act of rebellion against God, it must be punished. And, indeed, the Bible often describes God acting in punishment against the proud. In Isaiah, God promises to punish the arrogant Assyrian ruler: “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes” (Isaiah 10:12). King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon cast his haughty eyes on his accomplishments and suffered the devastating consequences. “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” Immediately, he was reduced to an animal state until he had been sufficiently humbled (Daniel 4:20).
Speaking with the mind of God, King David says, “Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5). In Psalm 10, he declares that pride is practical atheism: “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4). James declares that God acts in special favor toward those who are humble, but in fierce judgment against those who are proud. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The proud person faces the fury of God’s just wrath.
Hope for the Proud
Yet, though pride is the chief of sins, it, too, can be forgiven. It can be forgiven by the humble Savior who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). God humbled himself by becoming man, by suffering the indignity of death, by bearing the sin of humanity. The humble substituted himself for the proud.
Christ humbled himself so he could rightly be exalted. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). He humbled himself so we, too, can be exalted. But our exaltation first requires humility. Reaching high first requires going low. “Humble yourselves before the Lord,” says James, “and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).
The hope of proud humanity is humble faith in the humble Savior. Confess your pride, receive his forgiveness, and live for his glory.
If you would like to engage in some further study, here are key verses about God’s hatred of pride.
- God hates haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:16-17)
- God hates a proud look (Proverbs 6:16-17)
- God hates the proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5, 8:13)
- Pride is practical atheism (Psalm 10:4)
- Christ models humility (Philippians 2:6-11)
- God humbles those who exalt themselves (Isaiah 10:12, Daniel 4:20)
- God exalts the humble (James 4:10)