Signs and Symptoms of Pride in the Bible

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This post identifies how pride is manifested in a person’s life and the ideal way to respond according to Scripture.

God hates pride. 

The Lord opposes the proud. 

These are strong statements that should cause us to tremble in response. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to embrace something the Lord hates. Nor do I want to entertain a sin that results in ugly consequences.

Every one of us will struggle with pride in different ways and degrees. Pride is ingrained in our flesh nature, and it’s our natural tendency to cater to the lust of the flesh.

In case you’re tempted to think this post doesn’t pertain to you, or you don’t need to read further, take heed of 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

The sin of pride is not a fun or easy topic to discuss, and our knee-jerk reaction when confronted on this subject is often to deny or justify our pride as “no big deal”, “part of my personality”, or “just the way I prefer to do things.” 

Satan is very crafty in his attacks, and pride is his most effective tool.

We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation of pride. In our own strength, we’re going to concede to the flesh.

I encourage you to stick with me to the end of the post…

Encouragement awaits on the other side of the uncomfortable exposing process as we learn how to change the trajectory of pride to humility which positions us in a posture inviting God’s grace and freedom!

What is the sin of pride?

Pride is an exaltation of self with a self-centered mindset that can manifest in a variety of ways. 

We commonly associate pride with an inflated ego preoccupied with our own greatness and ability, but we need to expand our definition to include self-preoccupation in other ways, including:

  • A self-loathing mindset that focuses on ourselves and our shortcomings.
  • A low self-worth that leads to destructive loops of obsessive thinking revolving around self.

Regardless if your thoughts are positive or negative, when they’re consumed with self, that’s a manifestation of pride. 

It’s very possible to struggle with low self-esteem and pride simultaneously!

How does God’s Word describe a proud heart?

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 16:5)

The late John Stott was a man of great humility who said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your biggest friend.” This statement seems to go to the root issue of our topic. Mr. Scott continues:

“Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin. For it is the stubborn refusal to let God be God, with the corresponding ambition to take his place. It is the attempt to dethrone God and enthrone ourselves. Sin is self-deification. But God says that, since he is God and he alone, he will not share his glory with any other. (See Isaiah 42:8, 48: 11)

Symptoms of Pride

Haughty Spirit

Haughty isn’t a word we use commonly in our vocabulary today, so let’s take a moment to define its meaning.  

Haughty means disdainfully proud; scornfully arrogant; snobbish; supercilious. 

In other words, intense pride with contempt.  

Take heed to this direct warning disclosed in a cause-and-effect relationship in the following verse:

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

We’re told that pride and a haughty spirit will precede destruction and a fall, so for us to proceed before the Lord with a prideful heart is a dangerous place. 

This verse makes me shake in my boots in a healthy fear of the Lord.

We would be wise to heed this warning at the first detection of pride in our lives to prevent its consequences in our own life. When I look at the examples in Scripture of people who fell in response to their sin of pride – it’s not a pretty sight. I want to learn from their examples! 

Selfish Ambition

This symptom can be characterized by self-centered pursuits to indulge selfish wants and desires. Goals are self-centered, and you may not let anyone – or anything interfere with what you want, how you want it, and when you want to achieve it. Proud people with this mentality set their goals with a determined mindset to stop at nothing until they achieve them. 

Their agenda may have little concern for the impact their decisions have on their loved ones and their needs or wants. These individuals may expect – or demand – others to sacrifice while they pursue their wants while not taking the interests of others into careful consideration.

I knew a woman who measured a person’s status and worth by whether or not they had a college degree. This woman never went to college herself, but believed if she did it would fix her problems and result in fulfillment and purpose. She decided to go to college later in life in an attempt to fill this void and determined not to let anything stand in her way. She sacrificed her marriage, her relationship with her children, her finances, and her health to make this happen. She did obtain her degree, but the cost was great. After she reached her goal, she found her pursuit for significance was in vain, as her degree did not equate to the self-worth she thought it would provide and her selfish ambition left a wake of destruction in its path.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”    Philippians 2:3

Stubborn Heart 

Sometimes referred to as “stiff-necked” in the Bible, to be stubborn means to resist instruction or a path that is not the one you prefer or chose.

This sign of pride is manifested by wanting to follow one’s own heart, desires, wants, plans, and purpose they have established for themselves. They may resist the counsel of others, and even resist asking God for His direction because they’re fixated on following their way.

They may also be resistant to forgiving others.

Our society is enamored with following your heart. There are signs decorated for your home encouraging its readers to “Follow your heart”!

The counsel of Scripture is the exact opposite regarding this advice:

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

No way do I want to follow my own heart; it’s not worthy of my trust!

My heart can (and has) gotten me in a lot of trouble in the past, and I’ve learned from painful experiences!

Feeling of Superiority

This symptom is displayed in an individual with an inflated ego and may have a feeling of superiority compared to other people. In their high value of their self, they may talk condescendingly to others, or look down on them.

They admire themselves and love to impress others with how wonderful, intelligent, funny, charming, witty, beautiful, or whatever characteristics they boast about.

Prideful people with this symptom are arrogant, pompous, and cocky. Their egos are larger than life, and they may feel as though they are untouchable.

They may find themselves in a perpetual fight to be right because their opinion is the right opinion, and their way is the best way! Perhaps they fight for the last word because, after all, their word is the right one!

Daniel 4:37 comes to mind when I think of this frame of mind, “Now I, King 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.”

(That’s another verse that makes my knees knock!) 

Domineering / Controlling Behavior

Know someone who always feels the need to be in control? They need to be the ones making decisions, orchestrating events, and telling others what they should do, how and when they should do it! 

They may try to control their environment, circumstances, the people around them, the decisions their family makes – and even the outcome of those decisions, if possible! 

They may be bossy in their approach or passive-aggressive in their manipulation. 

I know someone who tries to control everyone in her extended family, and she justifies her behavior by saying she is “keeping everyone close”, and “doing it in love”. The tactics in her arsenal are varied – from guilt to bribery to accomplish what she desires and thinks is best.

Whether controlling behaviors are aggressive, or passively aggressive, it’s their way or the highway in their estimation. 


An insolent person is boldly rude and even insulting towards others. He or she may enjoy exerting dominance over others. They are brazen in their disrespect and display dishonor towards others. They are offensive, discourteous, and overbearing. 

An attitude of superiority characterizes the insolent individual. 

“The proud and arrogant person – mocker is his name – behaves with insolent fury.” Proverbs 21:24 

Boastful / Pretentious 

Boastful mindsets scream “Look at me”, and thrive on attention from others. 

Sinful pride is manifested in these individuals as they push themselves forward to be seen or heard, even if that means pushing someone else to the side, silencing them, or even hurting them in some way. 

They love to showcase what they have, do, or achieve in a way that brings them accolades and favor. 

They may be showy with their things and/or accomplishments and extravagant in their display. 

“But, let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10: 17-18


An individual with this manifestation of pride resists help and insists on doing things independently. They may not only resist other people, but God Himself. 

“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4

Attitude of Entitlement

At the core of the gospel message is the truth that we are not entitled to anything “good”. In fact,  We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. That’s what we deserve. (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23). 

These truths go against the grain of our pride which deceives us into thinking we deserve better and more. We’re deceived into thinking we deserve God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and favor. Society strokes this mentality by telling us we deserve comfort, success, and all good things while refuting any suffering, heartbreaks, setbacks, or discipline.

Sometimes the younger generation gets a bad rap for being a generation of entitlement, but this is not merely a generational issue! This attitude is centuries old – remember the disciples and their argument among themselves regarding who would sit next to Jesus in glory? (Mk. 10:37)

Entitlement isn’t an issue of age or due to societal changes – it’s a posture of heart. It’s a sign of pride, and we all struggle with it on occasion if we’re honest.


A prideful person will be evidenced by resistance to God’s Word. 

Pride exalts self and resists submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  

Critical and Judgemental Attitude

A proud person may be quick to find fault in others or have a very critical eye toward other people who make different lifestyle choices or have different preferences. This can be anything from parenting styles to wardrobe choices. 

Someone who manifests this symptom of pride may observe and be critical of things in others while neglecting to address any of their own issues. In other words, addressing the speck in another person’s eye while neglecting the log in their own. 

This individual may listen to a sermon and all the while thinking, “Boy I hope Mary is taking good notes, this message is perfect for her!” while neglecting inward introspection.

Preoccupation with External Appearance

Pride can lead to a preoccupation with our physical appearance or reputation. 

A person struggling with pride in this way may seek to impress others with their physical beauty, by wanting to catch the attention of others because of their attractiveness, body shape, or by being popular.

A preoccupation with the number on the scale or reflection in the mirror may accompany this sign of pride. 

An insatiable appetite for things could accompany this struggle, such as items in a wardrobe, your home, and/or its furnishings, your jewelry, and even driving the right car may be of great importance.

Remember our definition of pride at the onset of this post; it is a self-absorbed mindset and attitude that exalts self. Therefore, we can be preoccupied with how much we admire our muscles, shape, face, figure, or sun tan… Or we could be mentally preoccupied with how much we do not like those things about ourselves, and become fixated on our desire for them to be different. In both cases, self is takes center stage.

Taking this perspective into consideration means we become preoccupied with how unsatisfied we are with our external appearance, and this can lead to an ungrateful, complaining heart where enough is never enough. 

How does the Bible tell us to respond to pride?

Identify and Confess 

Did any manifestations of pride resonate with you from this list? If so, which ones? I encourage you to take these issues to the Lord in prayer – name them, and agree with what His Word says regarding that sin. 

Ask the Lord to reveal to you any areas of undetected pride in your life that you’re unaware of. There are some sneaky symptoms of the infection of pride that permeate our mindsets and attitudes in socially acceptable ways that we may not easily see that there is a root of pride in those behaviors.

What does it mean to humble yourself?

The opposite of pride is humility, and the Lord responds to a humble heart with grace, blessings, and favor.

To humble yourself does not mean to devalue yourself, it means to see yourself in a proper relationship with God and position yourself accordingly. 

That does NOT mean you view yourself as with little worth or in a lowly position! If you are rightly related to Christ Jesus then you are a dearly loved child of God – His masterpiece, an heir of God and co-heir of Christ! Your value and worth are immense and His love for you is fierce and unparalleled n nature.

Our God is holy, however. Completely set apart. We enter His presence by Jesus Christ alone. 

We must approach Him confidently, yet humbly. 


After confessing your sin you must repent. Repentance means you actually turn away from that particular sin you confessed, having a change of heart toward it which results in changed behavior. 

C.S. Lewis referred to pride as “the great sin” for good reason. This profound quote is from his book, Mere Christianity, 

“According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites 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… It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.” 

What is a humble heart?

Want to invite God’s blessing and favor? Ask Him for the grace to humble yourself before Him.

Seek to consistently humble yourself before Him, and expect to experience an outpouring of His grace and blessing as you do. That is, after all, exactly what He’s promised:

“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2

Tremendous hope and blessing pour out to us in the above two verses, and it actually encourages and motivates me to be very intentional to position myself in humility before our God.

Characteristics of a humility

  • Declares any good thing you are, have, or achieve is directly from God and is all to His glory.
  • Chooses to yield to the Holy Spirit and His authority rather than the lust of the eyes and gratifying desires of the flesh.
  • Seeks the will of God above their own self-centered desires.
  • Does not occupy the center of attention, that place of honor is reserved for the Lord.
  • Humility submits to the authority of the Holy Spirit and not relying on his or her own strength as they navigate through their day, striving to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.
  • Acknowledge that God alone is holy. He has an unparalleled place that is worthy of honor – He alone is worthy of our praise and worship.

Soon after I began to seriously study Scripture the Lord was merciful to me in that He opened my eyes to see how grievous the sin of pride is, and how costly its consequences can be. 

I actually developed a healthy fear of the Lord with respect to pride and was determined to try and keep short accounts with Him regarding this sin in my life. 

I’m intentional to confess and repent from the sin of pride in my life almost daily because I sincerely do not want this sin to creep into my life, and I know it can happen easily and subtly.

I encourage you to consider integrating frequent pride checks during your times of prayer to position yourself in a posture of humility rather than pride.

pin 12 symptoms of pride how to humble yourself before God

Final thoughts on a prideful heart

Now that we’ve identified the signs of pride and how to respond to them, be encouraged by the blessings that await as you apply what you learned from this post!

If any (or all) of the above pride symptoms resonate with you today, I urge you not to move on with your day without first doing business with the Lord. Pour out your heart to Him – His grace and blessing await.

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