What All Christians Should Understand About “Pride Comes Before the Fall” Warning in Scripture
Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18
From a young age, I remember my Mom reminding me that when I get full of myself then comes my fall. At the time, I took her words as a sort of superstitious warning, like it’s “bad luck to brag,” just like it’s bad luck to pass a black cat on Friday the 13th.
If you think too highly of yourself, you’re bound to trip over your own two feet and make a fool of yourself (which in my case does seem to happen often).
As I’ve grown, I’ve realized this verse articulates a much more significant spiritual truth. The reality is that sin is a result of humankind’s hubris. We thought we knew best so we ate that apple from the tree. Abraham and Sarah thought they could control their infertility issues so they added Hagar to the mix. On and on the examples go…of people who turned to their own abilities rather than trusted God and His instructions.
Essentially, this simple verse summarizes the sin-cycle that we all battle. Pride blinds us to our need for God and then failure, disconnection, and destruction becomes the product of our lives. For us to know God and enjoy his blessings, we need a humble heart. James 4:10 describes the posture we should take as believers. It says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Humble is defined as “not proud or haughty” which is exactly the opposite of what Proverbs 16:18 warns will bring us bad results.
The Context around ‘Pride Goes before a Fall’
Pride is not a new problem. Even before the story of our humanity’s sin nature and consequent Fall from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the Bible records the account of prideful fallen angels. These angels felt they were better, more powerful than God, and rebelled from His ranks.
Jude 1:6 says, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.”
Life apart from God for celestial and human beings is a gloomy one. The stories of people who had a “haughty spirit” and then experienced a fall are numerous. In the book of Esther, we read about Haman. He was honored by the King and hatched a plan to convince the King to kill the Jewish people. His pride and evil scheme led to His eventual death as God’s plan was bigger than Haman’s. His “high spirit” (Esther 5:9) blinded Him to seeing God’s hand at work on behalf of the Jewish people. When we live with a “high spirit,” our focus is distracted and we are not able to see stumbling blocks in the way.
In Revelation 18, an angel announces the judgment of Babylon and describes what provokes God’s wrath on the world. Revelation 18:7 says: Babylon glorified herself and lived in luxury, so match it now with torment and sorrow. She boasted in her heart, ‘I am queen on my throne. I am no helpless widow, and I have no reason to mourn.’
Here we see pride is what Revelation describes as the antichrist. Pride says that we can trust in wealth and independence and have no need for God in our lives. As Believers, we are called to rely on the Lord for all that we need. Matthew Poole’s commentary summarizes the situation this way, “Pride goeth before destruction; it is commonly a forerunner and cause of men’s ruin, because it highly provokes both God and men.” There is a tension between the will of man and the will of God. For things to go well for us we must be willing to surrender our lives over to God. We are called to trust God with our hearts and believe God when He promises that He will take care of us (Proverbs 3:5-6).
How Can We Apply this Scripture about Pride Today?
This ancient and simple verse still is extraordinarily applicable to our lives today. We are living in a culture that does not accept God and His role in our lives. Our abilities to “make our own way” or “work hard enough to find success” are just a few obvious ways that our world has bought into the lie that we have the ability to control our destiny apart from a reliance on God.
More subtly, our pride is what causes fights in our marriage, gets in the way of us loving our neighbor well, and creates divides in our communities. When we live with the idea that “our way is best,” then there is no room for God or the people around us to influence our lives. Philippians 2:3 captures the posture we should take in our relationships. Philippians 2:3 says “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Yet, how hard is this to actually live by?
It is a daily challenge to not let our desire to “make it happen” blind us from the path God has for our lives. It takes faith over fear. It takes pausing to pray before acting. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, reminding us time and time again that God is in control.
The great news is that even when we experience those dreaded failures, God does not abandon us! Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” When we recognize that our pride has brought us to a dead end, all we have to do is ask for God’s forgiveness. He mercifully promises to be with us and guide us to more solid ground.
May God give you grace to see when your pride is blinding you from following Him. May God’s Spirit give you the ability to live with humility so that he may lift you up. Amen!
article by Amanda Idleman
full article available at https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/what-christians-should-know-about-pride-goes-before-the-fall.html