What Does "Pride Comes Before the Fall" Mean?

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published: Nov 04, 2022
What Does "Pride Comes Before the Fall" Mean?

There is no such thing as pride that brings glory to God.

The saying “pride comes before the fall” stems from a passage in Proverbs. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Many of us are familiar with this phrase, yet we don’t know the full meaning behind the words. This is why it is crucial to understand what “pride comes before the fall” means by looking at the background context.

Understanding the Context

Understanding the context of this passage helps us understand its meaning. The original foundation of the saying “pride comes before the fall” goes back to the original sin. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they chose to disobey God, and the fall of mankind was the result. Instead of listening to God, they chose to follow their own ideas and the temptation from the serpent. The serpent spoke to Eve and said, “‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4).

Notice the serpent’s words of “you will be like God.” In other words, the serpent tempts Adam and Eve to be their own “god.” This offer was extremely appealing to Adam and Eve. The Bible tells us Eve’s actions that immediately followed the serpent’s temptation, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7). Therefore, she ate the fruit, her husband ate the fruit, and in so doing, the fall of man resulted.

When we look back at the reasoning behind the original fall, it was because of pride. Because of their pride, they disobeyed God and fell. In this way, we can see why pride comes before the fall. It is plausible the writer of Proverbs was connecting the passage written in Proverbs 16:18 back to the original fall of man. 

However, this saying doesn’t simply apply to the pride associated with the original fall of man as it also applies to us in the modern day. 

Pride Comes Before the Fall

Whenever we become too prideful in ourselves, there will eventually be a fall. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, it will come. Pride is a sin as the Bible tells us, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13). Scripture tells us God hates pride. This means that all pride is rooted in sin. There is no such thing as pride that brings glory to God. 

Instead of being prideful, we need to be humble and give glory to God. Paul tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4). As believers, we need to live in accordance with humility and follow the Lord with our whole hearts. There is no room for pride in the believer’s life as it will only separate us from God and impair our relationship with Him.

Pride comes before the fall because pride will ultimately cause us to fall. Similar to the original sin, if we are prideful, we will fall. We need to choose to cultivate a heart of humility—not a heart of pride. The Bible says this truth, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). As we can see from this passage as well as from numerous passages throughout Scripture, God wants us to be humble and to cultivate a heart of humility. While this can be hard, God can help us if we turn to Him and ask for His help. 

In the modern 21st century, pride has become the norm. Social media has caused many to become prideful in their appearance, accomplishments, or their number of followers. Having pride will only lead to a fall, which means the individual will be brought down to humbleness. Pride causes us to look away from Christ and to, instead, look at ourselves. As we can see, looking to ourselves will only result in emptiness and destruction. 

If we look to ourselves, we cannot find fulfillment, joy, or peace. Pride causes us to lose sight of Christ and distorts our vision of contentment. True fulfillment, joy, and peace can only be found in Christ. By choosing to follow our own sinful flesh, we will become more distanced from the Lord. Pride is found within the sinful flesh, and it is something we need to abstain from in our lives. If we allow pride to creep into our hearts, it will eventually rot our bones and cause our hearts to be calloused to the Lord.

Psalm 10:4 says, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” From this passage of Psalms, we know that the wicked man is filled with pride, and he has no room for God. This shows that pride is dangerous and causes us to stray from our Creator. Living a life of sin, such as a life of pride, will eventually cause us to fall because God uses the fall to turn us back to Him. Similar to the original sin of mankind, God used the fall to cause mankind to seek Him out. God didn’t cause the fall, yet He repaired the situation for us to once again be restored to Him.

Thus, “pride comes before the fall” means that pride will cause us to lose our grip and fall, similar to the original sin as shown in Genesis 3 and Proverbs 16:18. A fall comes after pride because it causes us to turn away from God. The moment we turn away from God is the moment we think we don’t need Him. This is what pride does—it causes us to think we don’t need God when God is truly all we need. If you struggle with pride, turn to God and ask for His help. He will help you with your struggle against pride.

All of us have been prideful at some point because it’s in our sinful nature. Even though the world has normalized pride to be acceptable and even a “good thing,” it is not. Pride is a sin, and we need to treat it as such. As we know, pride comes before the fall, which entails the promise that only bad will result from pride. God will humble us when we live in a state of pride. Since we are believers, we don’t need to live a life of pride but rather a life of humility. We should strive to follow Jesus because He is the ultimate model of humility. As Christians, may we always follow the Lord and strive to live following His humbleness. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ilkercelik

Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.