What Does The Bible Say About Pretenders

The Bible is a source of divine wisdom and understanding that speaks to believers of all faiths. It contains valuable lessons that remain relevant to this day. One aspect of the Bible that often sparks debate is what it says about pretenders. In this article, we will explore references to such behaviour in detail and draw some useful conclusions.

At the outset, it is important to note that the Bible does not specify a single unified definition of ‘pretender’. Nevertheless, the concept is used in a variety of settings. Generally speaking, a pretender is someone who presents themselves as being more than they are, or who takes on an identity that is not truly their own.

The Bible is packed with references to behaviour which can be considered ‘pretentious’. In Proverbs 18:13, for example, ‘He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.’ This verse goes on to warn of people who think they are clever or wise even when they are not.

In other verses, pretension is presented as something to be avoided at all costs. Proverbs 26:12 states that, ‘Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him.’ In this case, a person who pretends to be wise may be more deceived than the fool, since they are unaware of their own ignorance.

On a more personal level, pretension can also lead to sin and wrongdoing. The Book of James warns us not to be like those who ‘boast and lie’ (4:16). By puffing ourselves up and claiming superiority, we become susceptible to pride, a deadly sin which the Bible condemns.

Overall, the Bible’s attitude towards pretension is clear. Those who attempt to pass themselves off as something they are not will inevitably be exposed. True wisdom can only come from an honest and humble appraisal of our own capabilities. We should strive to be genuine and humble at all times, rather than seeking to pretend that we are something we are not.

What About Those Who Feign Ignorance?

Interestingly, the Bible also has a few things to say about those who feign ignorance, or deliberately pretend to be less knowledgeable than they actually are. In Proverbs 12:15, wisdom is praised and foolishness is derided: ‘The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.’

Elsewhere, Proverbs 15:5 notes that ‘A fool despiseth his father’s instruction’. Here, the fool’s disregard for their father’s guidance can be seen as a form of pretention. By playing dumb, the fool is assuming a false identity in an attempt to avoid having to take responsibility for their actions.

The Bible also speaks of a situation where a person’s pretensions may prove to be the source of their own downfall. In Proverbs 14:15, we read, ‘The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.’ This suggests that those who are easily deceived by pretence may find themselves out of their depth, as they may not be able to discern the truth from falsehood.

Ingredients of Pretence

The Bible also outlines certain elements that are necessary for pretence. To begin with, pretence requires a certain degree of dishonesty, which the Bible explicitly condemns. Proverbs 12:22, for example, warns us to ‘Leave off lying’ and to pursue truth instead. Similarly, Proverbs 16:30 exhorts us to choose integrity over fraud: ‘He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known’.

Lack of wisdom is also a key ingredient of pretence. As Proverbs 16:2 shows, ‘All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits’. By bowing to their own ignorance, pretenders are unable to see their faults or the consequences of their actions.

Finally, pretence also requires some degree of arrogance. The Book of Job warns us against exalting ourselves above our capabilities, cautioning us to ‘look upon every one that is proud, and bring him low’ (36:5). Those who are overly proud of themselves are more likely to attempt to feign a false identity.

Pretence and Spiritual Growth

Ultimately, the Bible warns against pretence as a means of avoiding personal growth and development. Proverbs 16:18-19 reminds us that,‘Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.’ In other words, a false identity can lead to spiritual death, while humility will bring life.

We can also learn from pretenders that failure can be a valuable lesson. Proverbs 19:1 and Psalm 73:20 both urge us not to fall into a trap and be ‘taken in by their frivolity.’ When we see someone who is trying to play God, we should learn from their mistakes and reject their false teachings. By focusing on our own growth and spiritual development, we will be able to find true wisdom.

What Does The Bible Actually Say?

In summary, the Bible has a very clear and concise opinion on the matter of pretenders. Pretence is condemned as a way of shirking responsibility, avoiding truth and cultivating a dangerous degree of pride. Those who seek to take on a false identity will find themselves exposed, and must turn to honesty and humility in order to gain true wisdom.

Ultimately, the Bible speaks of humble living as the basis for true spiritual growth and development. By avoiding pretence and seeking humility in our interactions, we can avoid the foolishness that comes with pride. Only then can we reach our full potential, as the Bible rightly proclaims.

What Are The Causes Of Pretence?

There are a number of possible causes of pretence. To begin with, it may stem from a desire to fit in or impress others. In such cases, people may adopt a false persona in order to be accepted by those around them, or to draw attention and admiration.

Another potential source of pretence is a lack of self-esteem. By attempting to take on a new identity, those who lack confidence may be trying to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy. They may perceive themselves to be inadequate in comparison to other people, and feel compelled to fabricate a more attractive image.

Finally, pretences can also arise from a fear of failure. By presenting themselves as something they are not, people can shield themselves from criticism. This allows them to feel less anxious about their prospects of success.

Dangers of Pretence

The dangers of pretence can be severe. Firstly, adopting a false identity can lead to disappointment, when others discover the truth. As Proverbs 15:13 tells us, ‘A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.’ Pretence can also lead to more serious repercussions, such as being fired from a job or expelled from school.

Moreover, engaging in pretence can also be damaging to our own mental and emotional wellbeing. By fabricating a false self, we may be inadvertently fooling ourselves. This can lead to a feeling of discontentment or even depression.

Finally, pretending to be someone we are not can also prevent us from learning and growing. The Bible’s warning against pride is testament to this. By pretending to know more than we actually do, we may be stunting our spiritual growth, and thus missing out on the blessings that come with true humility.

Advice From the Bible

The Bible provides us with a number of valuable lessons on the topic of pretenders. Proverbs 20:4 states, ‘The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.’ This verse reminds us that if we attempt to pass ourselves off as something we are not, then at the end of the day, we will receive nothing.

Similarly, Proverbs 22:3 tells us, ‘A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.’ At its core, this verse is a reminder that pretense is a dangerous game to be playing. Those who try to pass themselves off as something they are not are setting themselves up for ultimate failure.

The Book of Proverbs encourages us to be honest and humble, rather than attempting to take on a false identity or boast of our knowledge. As Proverbs 18:17 reminds us, ‘He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.’ By presenting ourselves honestly, rather than assuming a false identity, we can expect a more favourable outcome.


In conclusion, the Bible has a clear stance on the topic of pretenders. Pretence is strongly discouraged, as it is seen as a form of arrogance and dishonesty. The Bible also offers valuable advice on the causes and dangers of such behaviour. According to the Bible, honesty and humility are the key to true wisdom. We should strive to be genuine in our interactions, and always reject the temptation to take on a false identity.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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