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What does it mean that God resists the proud (1 Peter 5:5)?

God resists the proud
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First Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble’” (NKJV). Here, Peter draws from Proverbs 3:34 to motivate Christians to adopt an attitude of humility. Scripture extols humility as a virtue and identifies pride as a vice. In fact, God resists, or opposes, the proud (cf. James 4:6).

The imagery presented is of God actively opposing the proud, akin to a government thwarting the advances of terrorists or a tide resisting a boat moving against its current. God sets up resistance to proud people. Pride, a grave sin in Scripture, is the foundation of other sinful actions. Lucifer exemplified pride when he raged against God (Isaiah 14:12–15), and the first humans displayed pride by disregarding God’s explicit command (Genesis 3:1–7). The Israelites’ persistent struggles with God were often rooted in their pride and unbelief (see Exodus 32:1–6; Hosea 13:6; Amos 4:1–5). Whenever humans sin, their actions can be traced back to a rejection of God and His commands, which is a manifestation of pride.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 states, “God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path” (NLT). This is true of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and all of humanity following them. In our pride we incline toward self-rule, and we turn away from God and His standards. As Paul articulated, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:22).

The antidote to pride is humility, which entails acknowledging our status as sinners and turning to the Savior who sacrificed His life for our reconciliation with the Father. True humility involves laying down our arms, ceasing to do battle against the Lord, and pledging loyalty to the Father. Humility requires us to steer our boat to flow with God’s tide, not against it. God gives grace to the humble.

Scripture provides numerous instances of God actively resisting the proud. King Nebuchadnezzar, for example, suffered a period of insanity after pridefully attempting to claim the glory for Babylon’s achievements (Daniel 4:28–33). King Herod faced a tragic fate when he sought to be exalted as a god (Acts 12:20–23). Various nations were judged for their pride, including Moab (Zephaniah 2:9–10), Judah (Jeremiah 13:9), Israel (Isaiah 9:9), Philistia (Zechariah 9:6), Assyria (Zechariah 3:11), and Edom (Obadiah 1:2–4).

Isaiah 2:11–12, 17 has a warning for all who would think more highly of themselves than they ought to think:
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled
and human pride brought low;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The Lord Almighty has a day in store
for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted
(and they will be humbled). . . .
The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Pride is a dead-end street full of resistance from God: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). We must avoid pride and embrace humility. That journey begins with acknowledging our need for a Savior.

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What does it mean that God resists the proud (1 Peter 5:5)?
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This page last updated: January 18, 2023