Pride is one of the most dangerous sins that can plague a Christian’s walk with God. Scripture warns us repeatedly about the dangers of pride and urges believers to walk in humility. This blog post will examine 10 key signs that may indicate the presence of pride in a Christian’s life. Christians must be on guard against pride infecting their hearts so that they can walk humbly before God and others.
Pride was the original sin that caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven and become Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15). It is at the root of all other sins and something that God says He opposes (James 4:6). As born again believers, we still struggle with our sinful flesh (Romans 7:14-25). Without vigilance, we can easily fall into pride, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3).
Proverbs 16:18 warns that “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” As Christians, we must remember that every good thing in our lives is only by God’s grace. We can take no credit for our own salvation or spiritual growth. The moment we start becoming prideful, we begin down a dangerous path that leads only to our harm.
In this blog post, we will examine 10 potential signs that pride may be present in a Christian’s life. This is not meant to condemn, but to exhort each of us to prayerfully inspect our hearts before God. The goal is to grow in humility and avoid the inevitable destruction that comes with unchecked pride.
- Pride was the original sin that caused Satan’s downfall
- God opposes pride and commands believers to walk in humility
- Pride leads only to harm and destruction in a believer’s life
- Examining our hearts and being aware of pride’s symptoms can help us avoid it
- Growing in humility requires diligence and daily dependence on God
1. Being ‘Puffed Up’ in Knowledge
In 1 Corinthians 8:1, Paul warned that “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” As Christians, we can easily fall into intellectual pride if we are not careful. We may feel superior to other believers because of biblical knowledge we have attained or look down on those we deem less “enlightened.”
When our learning does not produce genuine love for other Christians, we can become arrogant and “puffed up” in pride over our knowledge. This is a dangerous place spiritually, and we must guard our hearts against it through humility and love. As 1 Corinthians 13:2 reminds us, even with all knowledge, we are nothing without love.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NKJV)
2. Being ‘Puffed Up’ in Spiritual Experiences
We can also become prideful over intense spiritual experiences. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes a mighty vision he had of heaven. But he says that “lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me…” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Paul was humbled by this “thorn” to keep him dependent on God’s grace, lest the heavenly vision make him prideful. We too must guard our hearts against spiritual pride. Experiences like visions, healings, miracles or intense encounters with God’s presence can easily make us “puffed up” if we are not careful to stay humble. Any spiritual experience that does not produce deeper love and humility should be suspect.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)
3. Looking Down on Other Christians
When we begin seeing ourselves as better than other believers, pride has taken root. The Pharisees were experts at looking down on others while exalting themselves before God. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable against “those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). We must guard against feeling that we are a ‘cut above’ other Christians.
Paul warns in Romans 12:3 that we should not “think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Looking down on other believers or thinking we are more spiritual than others is a clear sign of pride in our hearts. We must remember that any righteousness we have is only by God’s grace, not our own effort. This should produce humble gratitude rather than pride.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3, NKJV)
4. Becoming Impatient or Irritated with Others
Pride can also manifest as impatience or irritation with others, especially those we deem less mature. In Galatians 6:1, Paul urges believers who are walking in obedience to “restore” any brothers overtaken in sin “in a spirit of gentleness.” The moment we become impatient or harsh toward struggling Christians, pride is evident.
An impatient, irritated spirit comes when we think others ‘should know better’ and we place ourselves above them. But Jesus was patient and gracious with His disciples despite their immaturity. As His followers, He calls us to clothe ourselves in tender mercy, kindness and humility toward others (Colossians 3:12). Impatience and irritation have no place in the heart of one walking in Christian humility.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1, NKJV)
5. Becoming Defensive When Corrected
Many believers can give correction or advice freely to others. Yet pride can rear its head when roles are reversed. A sure sign of pride in our hearts is defensiveness, irritation or blame-shifting when confronted with our own sin or need for growth.
In Proverbs 12:1, Scripture tells us that “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.” When we refuse correction or become defensive, we are essentially hating instruction. A wise, humble believer embraces correction, knowing that it leads to growth in godliness. The foolish and prideful scorn discipline.
“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1, NKJV)
6. A Lack of Remorse Over Sin
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul speaks about godly sorrow producing repentance: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” As believers, sin is unbearable because it grieves God’s Spirit in us. A cavalier attitude toward sin indicates pride is blinding our hearts.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV)
7. A Lack of Private Disciplines
Pride can sometimes manifest itself in the form of neglecting private spiritual disciplines. When prayer, Bible study, fasting and other practices are forsaken – especially if we believe we have ‘advanced beyond them’ – pride may be infecting our hearts.
Jesus Himself made time to pray and commune with the Father, even rising early or going to desolate places (Mark 1:35). If Christ Himself needed undistracted time with God, how much more do we? Neglecting private spiritual disciplines can quench the Spirit’s work in our lives and evidence the presence of pride.
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35, NKJV)
8. Becoming Desensitized to Sin
Pride can slowly desensitize our consciences, so sin that once grieved us no longer does. In Ephesians 4:19, Paul speaks of those who, having become callous, gave themselves over to sinful sensuality. The Greek word for ‘callous’ means ‘having become insensitive to feeling.’
When Christians can indulge in or expose themselves to worldly sensuality with barely a twinge of conscience, pride has desensitized their hearts. Continuing in sin inevitably makes us indifferent to its impact. Watching for a lack of sensitivity to sinful things is key in protecting ourselves from pride.
“…who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:19, NKJV)
9. Practicing Deception Habitually
The practice of habitually deceiving and covering up sin is a sure sign that pride has taken root in the heart. In Proverbs 26:24-26, the writer vividly describes those given over to deceitful pride:
“He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.” (Proverbs 26:24-26)
This portrait is of one so full of prideful self-protection that he instinctively operates in secrecy and deceit. As followers of Christ called to live in the light, habitual hiding and deceit should be renounced and repented of immediately.
“He who hates, disguises it with his lips…Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.” (Proverbs 26:24, 26 NKJV)
10. Being Overly Consumed by Outward Appearance
Finally, inordinate concern over outward appearance can signal pride in the heart. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being overly consumed with looking righteous externally while neglecting internal transformation.
In Matthew 23:25, He chided them: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.” An obsession over outward appearance at the expense of the heart is tragically empty religion.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25, NKJV)
These 10 signs are not meant to discourage, but to exhort us. Scripture warns repeatedly of the danger of pride in the heart of believers. But God exposes pride in us not to condemn, but to restore! His desire is to heal and strengthen His children and conform us to His Son. As James says, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
The wise believer stays humble and teachable before God, receiving His corrections not as punishment, but discipline born of love. We must purpose to walk before Him in humility all the days of our lives, always mindful that every good gift is only by His grace (1 Corinthians 4:7). Though pride seeks to rise up in our hearts, by God’s strength we can walk the path of humility. May we pursue gentleness, patience, mercy and grace toward others on this journey, spurring each other on to Christlikeness.