Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible

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Proverbs 21:24 – “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names, Who acts with insolent pride.

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You may have found this blog because you have a “narcissist” in your life, or  in the life of someone you care about.   At first, you may not have known that you were dealing with a narcissist, but the pain and damage this selfish, arrogant, condescending, domineering person caused might have driven you to search for answers on what was going on, and on how to deal with this difficult person.  As you went online or to books on  Amazon, you read more about who this person is, and how he operates.  And you likely read some explanations as to how he got this way, or advice regarding how to deal with this “narcissist”.  In the process of trying to learn everything possible in your search for answers, you may have decided to explore what the Bible has to say on the subject.

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While the Bible does not specifically refer to “narcissism” –  which takes its name from Greek mythology – it does have a lot of wisdom on the subject.   Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists* – Healing Their Victims

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There is much to learn from how Jesus dealt with the narcissists of His day, the Pharisees (see here and here on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists/scoffers filled with insolent pride).  It is instructive as to what He did and said in His dealings with them, but also what did not do, and did not say.   It is very interesting that in some cases, rather than trying to defend against the narcissists’ actions, He put His focus on ministering to those whom the narcissists “hurt”. Here are a couple of examples: . Continue reading

Your Narcissist Cannot Interfere With God’s Love For You

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Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

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31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Case Study on “Let Them Alone”

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How Jesus handled His encounters with the narcissistic* Pharisees are very instructive.  The following encounter is a case in point.

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Matthew 15

15 Then some Pharisees and scribes* came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

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This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

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10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

12 Then the disciples *came and *said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement? 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

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There are several things to consider here:
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  1. The narcissistic* Pharisees (see here and here) were doing a classic indirect attack on Jesus – criticizing Jesus by criticizing His disciples.  The Pharisees’ goal was to weaken their competition (Jesus).
  2. The Pharisees were using another classic narcissistic* move of setting up a standard of their choosing (the tradition of the elders) as the basis for acting as judge over someone else (see here for more on this classic narcissistic tactic)
  3. Jesus decided to challenge the narcissists* (scoffers)  in this instance.  It could be that (as discussed here) He took them on in order to defend His disciples.
  4. His challenge to the Pharisees was not a direct defense of the Pharisees’ accusation.  That would have imputed some credibility to their accusation.  Instead His challenge went straight to the heart of the Pharisees’ real issues
    1. They transgressed God’s law in order to uphold their “own law” (the traditions of men)
    2. They were being hypocrites (see here for more on that), saying the right things (“honor Me with their lips”), but with evil in their hearts (“their heart is far from Me”) (see here and here and here for how narcissists are outwardly righteous but inwardly rebellious)
  5. Jesus did not respond to the Pharisees regarding their accusation, but He did make sure that the other listener’s were not deceived or confused by what the Pharisees had said.  So, HE did provide them with the clear truth (defilement comes from the heart, not from what you eat), in contrast to the Pharisees’ self-centered “doctrine”.
  6. The result of the narcissistic* Pharisees being actually challenged by Jesus was that they were offended.  No surprise with that.  Narcissists hate being reproved (see here).  “Normal” people would have cowered in fear over the Pharisees’ displeasure, but Jesus did not.
  7. Jesus used the Pharisees’ offense at his statement to make 3 points to the disciples
    1. The Pharisees were not of God, and as a result would ultimately be uprooted
    2. The Pharisees were “blind guides” – they were not qualified to point the way for others.  (The “blindness” of narcissists is discussed here)
    3. Those who followed the Pharisees were also blind
    4. As a result, the best course of action is to “leave them alone” – ie – don’t try to fight them, but also don’t seek to follow them.  Jesus was saying “get on with doing the right things yourselves, and don’t worry about what the Pharisees are or are not doing”

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So, one key way of dealing with narcissists is to “leave them alone” to live in their own little world, knowing that God will sort it all out in the end.  (See here for other discussions on the how “avoiding” is one way of dealing with narcissists.)

* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”  please see here for an explanation

The Four Pillars Of Trust

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Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
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This is one of those almost-too-familiar passages that we can often gloss over and say “yes, yes, I already know that one”.  But digging deeper it offers some clear guidance on dealing with the situations in our lives – including the situation with our difficult N.

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Proverbs 3:5-8 describes a very positive outcome, as well as three conditions for that outcome to take place.

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An Illustration of The Impact of Crying Out To Jesus For Help

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I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, who told me a moving story that underscores the importance of simply crying out to the Lord in times of trouble.

The friend’s mother was a serial “marry-er”, who was also on a quest for “power”.  When he was young she was involved in witchcraft as a means of experiencing more power.  He did not know his father at all.   At one point he threw out all of his toys, because they were “talking to him” (demonic activity in his room).

His mom did occasionally go to church, so my friend had some awareness of Jesus.  At one point sometime before age 8 he was so desperate he cried out “Jesus, SAVE ME!”.  He believes that not only did he become a genuine Christian then, but the Lord took that cry for help and did much more.

At age eight his mom took him to a particular church down the street just one time in order to impress her current boyfriend.  She did not go back, but he continued to go.  After awhile a lady in the church noticed that he was always there by himself, and took him under her wing, picking him up for events, paying for him to go to camp, and more.  At age 18, the pastor of the church started mentoring him further.  Even though he had no earthly prospects for proper guidance in his life, Jesus provided.  Later, God has blessed him further through having his own family and a prosperous business.

In response to my friend’s cry, Jesus saved him on several levels – not only for eternity, but also out of his seemingly impossible circumstances.

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For more on the importance of looking to the Lord for help, please see Dealing With Narcissists – Crying Out Seeking God and Dealing With Narcissists – Crying Out Seeking God Continued

 

 

Narcissist Tactics – Creating Rules , But Acting Above Those Same Rules

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Matthew 23:4

They (the Pharisees) tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

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(See here and here and here on how we know that “The Pharisees” were narcissists).

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The Pharisees used their limited co-opted authority as an opportunity to lord it over those whom they could.  One means they used to do this, as well as to prove their superiority, was to create performance requirements which they could then hang on people.  Of course, due to their own exceptionalism, the Pharisees did not bind themselves by those same rules.  That’s for the little people.

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This is a typical narcissist approach – constantly maneuvering, manipulating, and creating situations where they can exercise their rightful position (in their own mind) as top dog – both by creating requirements for others, and by hypocritically and arrogantly thinking they are above those same requirements.

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Please see https://biblicalperspectivesonnarcissism.com/2013/10/21/narcissist-case-studies-in-the-bible/  for an introduction to narcissism case studies in the Bible.

How Does Someone Become A Narcissist? Five Possible Ways

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I prefer to have blog entries “locked down” before publishing, but in this case I felt it best to go with my work in progress of analyzing the difficult question of how someone might become a narcissist.  This is an extra special case of “Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective“, where this post should be taken simply as a fellow searcher sharing some thoughts and analysis which you could possibly use as a starting point for your own study rather than looking to it for “the answer”.  Some of the following adds a bit of Biblical perspective to what is already discussed in secular literature.

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How does someone become a narcissist?  In It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue, narcissism is discussed as a heart issue, but how does this happen?  I am currently working through five possible reasons someone can become a narcissist.  The following has to be considered in light of God’s ultimate Sovereignty as described in Proverbs 16:4, as well as the sin nature and pride inherent in every man.  I want to emphasize again that this post is a work in progress, and should just be taken as food for thought.

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The five causes we’re considering are:

  1. Internal response to childhood wounding
  2. Internal response to childhood indulgence
  3. The result of the “Progression of Fools”
  4. A consequence of the “sins of the fathers”
  5. Cultural-driven narcissism

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These causes are likely interconnected in many cases.  Let’s look at each of the five in a bit more detail.

Continue reading

How Much God Wants to Bless You – By John Piper

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“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

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“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

“God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

“God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.

“This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.

“We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.

“That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.”

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Devotional excerpted from John Piper’s book, “The Pleasures of God”

All The Reward They Will Ever Get

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Matthew 6:1-18

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

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“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Continue reading

Narcissism Case Studies – Diotrephes

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3 John 1:9-10

9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

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The tip-off to Diotrephes’ narcissism / insolent pride was his “love to be first among them”.   His insolent pride resulted in

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  • Not accepting what the apostle John was saying.
  • Accusing John with wicked words
  • Not receiving (ie – providing the opportunity) others who might challenge him
  • Getting rid of those who might possibly side with others

Classic narcissist behavior.

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Tragically, there are too many pastors and leaders of ministries who have the “Diotrephes Syndrome”.  Their core purpose is self-exaltation instead of shepherding the flock of God.  They construct their “ministries” and message around what will best serve their delusions of grandeur.  These are some of the false prophets whom Jesus warned us about

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Matthew 7:15-16

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.

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God will ultimately deal with these guys.  One way of protecting against them is to use a Biblically-based church leadership model of shared leadership.
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Boundlessly Good, Continued

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As I mentioned previously, the book “Boundlessly Good” is a modernized version of Stephen Charnock’s classic chapter on the goodness of God.  As this blog has publishing rights to that book, I have created a second blog that gives small excerpts from the book every few days.  It is a way to read the key excerpts from Boundlessly Good in bite size chunks, and thus rather painlessly read a Christian classic over time.

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The blog is called “Boundlessly Good”.  I invite you to take a look.

Narcissist Case Study – Self-Justification Through Technical Loopholes

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Luke 10:25-37

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

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As was made clear by his answer, the lawyer already knew the Biblical answer to his question, implying that his question was not a sincere inquiry.  Luke called it a “test” – the lawyer was simply asking the question to see what kind of response he would get, with the chance perhaps that Jesus would say something that the lawyer could use against him – or possibly to show that he was somehow better than Jesus.  This is a typical narcissist tactic. Continue reading

Narcissistic Traits – Inflated View, No Follow-Through

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Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

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Rain was considered a good thing in the Bible – especially in the region in which the Bible was written (the arid Middle East).  It was a source of the most  important physical component of life.  So, when clouds and wind kicked up, it was anticipated for rain to follow – as a good thing.  As a result, clouds and wind without rain without the resulting rain would be a significant disappointment.
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Out of their inflated view of themselves, narcissists will boast about how good they are at _____________ (fill in the blank – basically, whatever they’re trying to impress others with at that particular moment).   But more often than not, their boasts are not supported by reality.   So anyone who relies on a narcissist’s inflated claims is going to get hurt in some way.
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When dealing with people that focus on telling you how great they are, you might be dealing with a narcissist – make sure you get outside verification of their claims, rather than just accepting the (possible) narcissist’s claims.

Why? A Series of In-Depth Studies On Suffering

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Having a solid theological foundation for God’s purposes for suffering (as well as a close relationship with Him) is key to successfully ultimately joyfully navigating the rough waters of life.  For those interested in digging more deeply into The Book on the subject of suffering, I call your attention to the following:

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Desiring God’s “Look At The Book” on “Suffering”

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(Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective)

 

 

 

Can A Narcissist Be A Christian? It’s All About Fruit vs. No Fruit

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“Can A Narcissist Be A Christian”? is one of the frequent search terms for people finding their way to this blog.  It is a very understandable question, along the lines of “How can X be a Christian and act like THAT?”, or “How can X claim to follow Jesus and treat people in the opposite way to how Jesus might”?

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear that the answer to this question is all about whether or not the person demonstrates any (and, as we shall see later, genuine) fruit.

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John 15:1-14

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. Continue reading

Be Loved, To Love

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Boundlessly Good

God's Motive For All That He Does