Question: "What does the Bible say about hubris?"
Answer: Hubris is exaggerated pride or overinflated self-confidence. Pride is a sin, according to the Bible, and so hubris is also sinful.
Men in the Bible who were filled with hubris include King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), King Belshazzar (Daniel 5:20), Goliath (1 Samuel 17:41–44), the rich fool in Jesus’ parable (Luke 12:16–20), and King Herod (Acts 12:21–23). All of these men were judged by God for their sin of pride.
Probably the best example of hubris in the Bible is Satan’s sin that led to his downfall in Isaiah 14:12–14. Before his fall, Satan was known as Lucifer, a beautiful and powerful archangel. Yet his God-given, glorious position was not enough for him. Lucifer wanted the honor and worship that belonged to the Lord. His hubris was so excessive that he rebelled against God, and it destroyed his position and potential. When Lucifer sinned, he lost his place in heaven and took a third of the angels with him (Revelation 12:4). Lucifer became Satan, enemy of God, and he brought pride with him and has used it to corrupt humankind ever since. In his temptation of Eve, the serpent presented the forbidden fruit as “desirable for gaining wisdom”—i.e., he incited hubris in Eve’s heart.
God hates hubris and pride because it wrongly exalts itself and brings destruction upon those whom God loves (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18). At the root of all excessive pride is the belief that God is at fault. He is not enough or has not done enough. He is withholding something good from us, and we know better than He what we need. As the serpent falsely told Eve, God was selfish to forbid the fruit of that one tree, and the only reason for the withholding was that “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:6). Pride mushrooms into idolatry as our own egos supersede God’s rightful place in our hearts. Just as Lucifer insisted upon being treated like God, we also insist upon being our own gods when hubris rules our lives.
Hubris is met with opposition from God. James 4:6 says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. When excessive pride is our motivation, we cannot grow near to God (Psalm 138:6). He detests any word or action motivated by pride and the desire for self-exaltation. Proverbs 6:16–17 says that there are seven things the Lord hates; among them are “haughty eyes.” Psalm 101:5 says, “No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” Hubris in the heart is reflected in the face. We may not even realize the message we are conveying by our lifted brows, turned up noses, or critical looks. But God notices them and wants us to be honest with ourselves so that we can recognize hubris as sin.
Pride or hubris is a universal problem, affecting human beings regardless of skin color, physical appearance, or socioeconomic factors. The poorest of the poor can have excessive pride while a wealthy celebrity may walk in humility. Hubris is a heart condition we all must guard against (Proverbs 4:23), or it will destroy us as it destroyed Lucifer. To combat hubris, we must seek humility (1 Peter 5:6) by continually examining ourselves in light of Scripture (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must remain mindful of the grace God has shown us and how undeserving we are (Ephesians 2:8–9). We can practice the art of considering others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and seek to serve, rather than be served (Mark 10:44–45). Killing pride is a painful but necessary part of becoming more like Jesus (Matthew 11:29; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
At the end of his time of judgment, King Nebuchadnezzar had learned his lesson. His hubris was replaced with humility, and he published this in a public statement: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).