What is pride? If you ask people that question, many will describe it as something that’s amoral. Google defines pride as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”
People say pride is about ego. Ego, being a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. It’s often said, “pride is OK—it’s necessary—but too much pride can be a problem.” Well, how much is too much?
We can’t go by the world’s definitions. While their definitions are partially true, a more accurate understanding of pride is found in God’s word. Pride, and all its variations (arrogance, haughtiness etc.), are mentioned over 133 times in the King James Bible. And pride is always negative. God never says a little pride is OK, or someone has too much pride. No. All pride is sin from the smallest ounce.
How God feels about pride
The word of God has much to say about pride. Let’s look at a few paraphrased verses of scripture. Feel free to look these up in context on your own.
- Pride is sin (Prov 21:4).
- Love is not proud (1 Cor 13:4).
- The proud are cursed (Psa 119:21).
- God resists proud people (James 4:6).
- The proud in heart are an abomination to the Lord (Prov 16:5).
- God hates even a proud look (Prov 6:16-17).
- The Lord will destroy the house of the proud (Prov 15:25).
These are serious statements about pride. It’s very clear that God hates pride and will destroy anyone who continues to practice it. In other words, the proud will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Given these serious consequences, I think there should be more talk on pride and humility in the Body of Christ, wouldn’t you agree? But we can’t talk against something we consistently practice, now, can we? But the fact remains that this is something we need to understand and overcome or else we won’t be accepted in the end.
While the scriptures above show how God clearly feels about pride, they don’t give much insight into what it actually is. We’ll have to dig deeper by examining the first known person found with pride in their heart, and that was Lucifer, who became Satan the devil. His origin story is key to understanding pride because that same pride lives in everyone born from Adam. If you know his origin story already, it’s time to take another look at it.
The origin of Satan, the origin of pride
The origin of Satan can be found in two books of the Old Testament: Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-17. In both passages of scripture they speak of earthly kings, but God is also addressing and prophesying the downfall of the spirit working through these men, which was Satan. Every ungodly empire of the earth from then until now, was and is, directed by the devil. He rules the world through men (Ephesians 2:2). Let’s look at Satan’s origin story:
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stonewasthy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
We see in Isaiah, Satan’s original name was Lucifer, which means “the morning star” (Strongs H1966: “hay-lale'”). We also see that because Lucifer was saying “he will be like God and be worshipped,” his end will be destruction. But what’s so wrong with that aspiration? We’ll find out later.
In Ezekiel 28:13 it says, “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God.” We know King Tyre wasn’t alive in the Garden of Eden, for he was just a man, so this refers to the devil because he was present during that time. In verse 14, God calls Lucifer “the anointed cherub that covereth.” A cherub is a type of angel of God, so this isn’t, again, referring to a man.
In verse 13 it says, “every precious stonewasthy covering… the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” God earlier said Satan was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (vs 12).
Lucifer is an awesome creature. Here’s a being who has actual light radiating from him—as bright as the morning sun! He had pipes and tabrets in him signifying musical instruments. This cherub could emit the most beautiful heavenly music beyond what any earthly artist could ever imagine; and directly from his body! On top of all that, he was the most beautiful thing to cast your eyes on, and if that’s not enough, he was full of the wisdom of God! That sounds like the greatest being under God himself! And he was and still is.
Some circles suggest that since the angels in heaven were constantly praising God (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8), and because Lucifer had music coming out of him, that he might’ve been a heavenly praise leader—the minister of music. Just like you see a singer get up before the Saints to lead the Church in worship to God, so did Lucifer.
The bottom line is: Satan had a job to do, but he got caught up in the awesomeness of who he was. In verse 15 it says, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” 1 Timothy 3:6 defines what that “iniquity” was and that was pride. Lucifer’s sin was pride. And he was proud because of his beauty (v 17).
Satan fixated on the excellence God created in him. Instead of giving God the glory, he got consumed with his own brilliance to the point that he took his eyes off the One who gave him the gift, and began to worship himself, and desire the worship of others (Matthew 4:9).
He forgot he was created for God’s glory and not his own (Isaiah 43:7). But his pride didn’t stop there, it led Satan to make these statements in his heart (Isa 14:13-14):
- I will ascend into heaven
- I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
- I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation
- I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
- I will be like the most High
Notice how everything is all about him and what he will do (or thinks he will do).
The next thing he did was disconnect from God; and this is crucial to note. He disconnected from the Most High because if Lucifer is now a god, why would he be relying on and praising another god?
The devil believed a lie about himself and refused to repent; and because Lucifer understood God more than anyone else (being second to the triune God), his rejection of God was very well informed and direct. This is why there is no forgiveness for Satan. He cannot be redeemed. He made his choice in full knowledge of who God is.
His rejection of God is not like humans who have a limited understanding of God. We as human beings have to grow in our knowledge of God. As more truth is revealed about him, the more accountable we become. Lucifer understood God shares his glory with no one (Isaiah 42:8). So why would Satan do such a thing?
At this point in eternity, no one had ever rebelled or challenged God; and no one had seen him judge anyone for rebelling against him. As far as we know, God never issued a warning to the heavenly beings saying, “If you ever cross me, I will destroy you.” So, it’s perfectly understandable for someone to eventually challenge God.
The great part about this whole story is God knew Lucifer was going to do this in advance—and allowed him to pursue his will. With the destruction Satan has been causing in all creation, you would think God would have eliminated him as soon as he started to puff up; but no, he let it progress. Why? Because God wanted the whole universe to see what it looks like when someone chooses to pursue their own godhood.
Pride in a nutshell
Short definition: Pride is believing you’re a god (the god complex), while detaching from the true God.
While many people will say, “I know of some people who have an inflated ego and are truly arrogant, but this definition of pride doesn’t describe or apply to most people.” On the contrary, as you read on, I’ll show you how all people from their birth have this god complex.
Long definition: Pride is the failure to give God the glory for one’s god-given greatness, believing it is one’s own, and because of that greatness, one should be a god. Pride disconnects from the Creator, because a god doesn’t need God. Pride leaves a void in the soul where the Most High God is suppose to fill.
The god complex
There are significant problems with having a god complex. Let’s first look at some facts about the true God.
- God is righteousness (Psalm 145:17),
- God is the source of all truth (John 14:6).
- God is the source of all direction (Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 37:23; Jeremiah 29:11)
- God is self existent: He does not depend on anything for his existence.
- God is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, gentle, faithful, meek, self-controlled.
- God is the source of everything for all of his created beings (Genesis 22:14, Psalms 23:1, Psalms 107:9, Psalms 107:9, Matt 6:33, James 1:17).
God is all that!
When Lucifer disconnected from the Most High God, he retained his beauty, talents and knowledge (Romans 11:29), but he lost the essence of God, becoming the complete opposite of God.
- God is peace, Lucifer became the king of conflict, and agitation.
- God is truth, Lucifer became a liar and the father of lies.
- God possesses self-control, Lucifer can’t control himself.
- God is faithful, Lucifer is unreliable and untrustworthy.
- God is meek and gentle, Lucifer became a brutal tyrant.
- God is good, Lucifer became inept and plain ol’ bad.
- God is joy, Lucifer became full of misery.
- God gives people free will, Lucifer manipulates people.
- God is a giver. Lucifer is a selfish thief.
- God is a creator, Lucifer is a perverter of creation.
- God is authentic, Lucifer is counterfeit.
- God is patient, Lucifer is impatient.
- God is direct, Lucifer can be indirect.
- God is about life, Lucifer is about death.
Lucifer disconnected from the source of all substance leaving him void. With that void comes the need to be filled, which is why Satan is so selfish. While Satan wants to be a god, he has none of the qualities within himself to be so. He can’t create a universe of beings to worship him because he himself was created.
He has no internal power source of his own so he is not self-sufficient. Though rebellious, Satan still has to depend on his creator to existence. What kind of god is that? A false god. Therefore, being your own god is impossible and only causes disruption to the perfect order of the true God; this why the proud must be eventually destroyed.
Why he’s allowed to live
But why would a righteous God continue to have such madness exist? There are four reasons why God allows the devil to live:
- The devil makes accusations against God everyday. God wants to show humanity and the angelic hosts that these accusations are false.
- The devil lives to show what complete failure looks like as a result of being your own god apart from the true God.
- The devil is allowed to meddle in God’s creation to provide a choice to them; at the end of God’s grace and mercy, those who chose godhood are weeded out.
- The devil is allowed to live to be a tool of God’s chastisement and destruction against the nations. God does no evil, he allows Satan to do it for him.
Even though Satan says he God, he stays on a leash restrained by the real God (the book of Job shows us that); now he’s become a tool and an example.
You see, no one can be their own god. There will never be other beings running their own universes’ apart from the family of God. There will never be multiple gods all doing their own thing separate from one another. There’s only one true God and all the rest are just pretending (Isaiah 45:18; Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Timothy 1:17).
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, behonour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
With that said, let’s see how the pride of Satan got into man. Unlike Satan’s corruption, which I believe grew from zero to one thousand in an instant, humanity’s pride has a much slower growth rate; and thank God for that or none of us would be saved!