Pride: An Unseen Enemy

Editor’s note: During this month in which “pride” is in the spotlight, this guest post from Kelly Needham reminds us that pride is not something to be celebrated but a danger lurking deep within us all. —Laura Elliott

The danger of an iceberg is not its great strength, but that its strength is hidden. Had the ice monstrosity that sank the Titanic been above the water, it no doubt would have been seen and easily avoided. Pride—a desire to exalt oneself—is like an iceberg. It exists in the unseen realm of the heart and has many facets. Unlike the sins of adultery or addiction, pride cannot easily be spotted above the surface through actions. Because it infects our motives, any action, good or bad, can be contaminated with pride. In Scripture, we see this showcased in the Pharisees: doing good things but with self-exalting motives.

Pride’s Side Effect

Adding to its danger, the main side effect of pride is self-deceit. 

  • “Your arrogant heart has deceived you” (Obad. 3; Jer. 49:16).
  • “If anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3).

Think of it: pride deceives us. It misleads us into believing something that isn’t true. Unlike outright rebellion in which we know we’re wrong, the deception of pride convinces us of our innocence in the midst of our sinning. This is a dreadful reality.

No One Is Immune

There is no immunity from pride. Every one of us is susceptible.

  • David thought himself great enough to get away with adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11).
  • Moses arrogantly supposed he could take lightly the commands of God (Num. 20:9–13).
  • Paul was tormented by a messenger of Satan to prevent him from exalting himself (2 Cor. 12:7).

If such men were not immune to pride, what makes us think we would be?

Pride’s Many Forms

Because of the hidden nature of pride, it can take many forms. For one woman, bragging about her new Louis Vuitton purse is a form of pride. For another, pride manifests in celebrating her bargain dress from Ross. One wants you to know how wealthy she is, and one wants you to know how frugal she is. It all depends on the image of ourselves we’re trying to promote.

God Abhors Pride

As if we need any more convincing that pride is a great enemy to be avoided at all costs, I want to add the greatest reason of all: God abhors pride. Here is just a sampling of God’s view of pride:

  • “No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure” (Psalm 101:5 NASB95).
  • “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate” (Prov. 8:13 NASB95).
  • “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD” (Prov. 16:5 NASB95).
  • “God is opposed to the proud.” (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5 NASB95).

Ignoring the Problem

We’d be crazy to ignore this danger, right? Yet many do ignore it. In fact, I spent many years ignoring it. In striving to refrain from surface sins and look holy on the outside, I turned a blind eye to this unseen sin of the heart. I learned that if we aren’t fighting pride, we’re giving in to it. The more we focus on outward goodness alone, the more we become like the Pharisees, full of religious arrogance: I’m doing pretty good at this Christian thing. At least I’m not like those who sleep around and get drunk.

On more than one occasion, I have suggested to friends that pride is likely the cause of their current problem. Almost every time, they are offended: “How could you suggest I love myself or am trying to exalt myself? I’m offended you would think so little of me as a Christian!” Ironically, this defensive reaction is proof that pride lies within the heart. I know this because I used to respond this way.

When we become obsessed with our own ability to be good, instead of the righteousness that is gifted to us in Christ, any accusations of pride will be offensive. Why? Because they reveal that our efforts toward trying to be good are worthless. Pride can use any “good,” spiritual achievement to get a foot in the door by simply convincing us that we’re much better Christians than our friends.

Going beyond the Surface

I don’t want us to be like the captain who sails through iceberg-dense waters and only watches for other ships. That’s what we do when we only focus on outward sins alone. True, hitting another ship would sink us, but it’s foolish to be concerned with only the most avoidable danger while other threatening things lurk beneath the water, unseen.

In His public ministry, Jesus sought to convince His followers that the greatest threat is not found in actions, but in the unseen realm of the heart (Matt. 5:21–30; Mark 7:17–23). May we believe His words and recalibrate our minds to the reality of what poses the greatest threat to our spiritual vitality: pride. Have you turned a blind eye to the threat of pride?

Versions of his post were originally published on the former True Woman Blog and at Used by permission.

Did you appreciate this post by Kelly Needham? Then you’ll definitely want to sign up for her breakout session at True Woman ’22! Join Kelly and thousands of women from around the world in proclaiming that “Heaven Rules,” September 22–24, in Indianapolis. Get more information and register before prices go up on August 1 at

About the Author

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham teaches the Bible at her home church where she co-leads a Women’s Teaching Program, training women to accurately handle the word of truth. She is the author of Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion and … read more …

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