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

Narcissist Case Study – Eliab, David’s Oldest Brother

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Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

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A “testimony of the Lord” is a Biblical account of God’s dealing with someone in accordance with His nature and His ways.  While those accounts often do not specifically outline the Biblical principles at play, they are excellent illustrations of truth gleaned in other parts of the Bible.  A “case study” or a “cautionary tale” might be modern ways of referring to these accounts.  And as Psalm 19:7 and I Corinthians 10:11 state, these accounts can provide wisdom to those who are naive (or simple).

One such account is that of Eliab, David’s oldest brother.

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1 Chronicles 2:13-15

13 and Jesse became the father of Eliab his firstborn, then Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, 14 Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh;

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Continue reading

A Biblical Perspective on “Narcissistic Projection”

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Those who have dealt with narcissists* most likely have experienced a situation where the narcissist accused you of a negative character trait or action, while at the same time they were far more guilty of the very same trait.  Yes, there may have been a speck of truth in what they said, as none of us are perfect and “we all stumble in many ways“.   But you may have been dumbfounded that someone who had the same issue in multiples would feel justified in attacking you for your little speck.

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Secular literature in the field of psychology has termed this behavior “projection”. Continue reading

Narcissist* Traits – They Do Not Think They Are In Need of Help (Pharisee Case Study)

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John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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The narcissistic Pharisees were in fact blind, even though they claimed that they could see.  They were blind to the true condition of their hearts, thinking themselves to be righteous teachers and spiritual leaders, when in fact their hearts were full of evil thoughts, desires, and motives.  Jesus later was very direct in pointing out to the Pharisees their blindness. Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – They Mock and Make Excuses (Pharisee Case Study)

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Luke 16:13-15

13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

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[Please see here and here for more on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists].

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This is one of the clearer examples of how narcissists work.  In their hearts, the Pharisees were focused on money and the “finer things of life” that it would bring.  But in their pride, they also wanted to be highly thought of by men for their piety (including the all-sufficiency of God).  Jesus called out their hypocrisy and created a dilemma for them with His statement that they could not make both God and money number one in their lives – with the clear implication that they had chosen money over God.

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The narcissistic Pharisees had two ways of dealing with this.

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First was to mock (or scoff at) the One telling them they could not have it both ways.  Their intent was to tear down, from a position of “superiority”, and discredit the one getting in way of their greed and pride.

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Proverbs 9:7-8

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

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Amos 5:10

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.

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Second was to make justification (in modern terms – making excuses), or to construct a clever series of reasons, for what they were doing for the purpose of making people around them agree with them and continue to think highly of them.

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But Jesus made it clear to them that even though they may get away with fooling men, they were not fooling God.  God could clearly see what was in their hearts, and would judge them based on that – and not based on what the Pharisees had gotten men to believe.

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They might get short term kudos from men for how wonderful they are, but they would ultimately have to answer to God for the evil in their hearts.

It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue

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1 John 2:16

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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According to I John 2:16, ultimately all “sin issues” that people have (“all that is in the world”) can be boiled down to one of three root causes

  1. Lust / sexual immorality (“the lust of the flesh”)
  2. The desire for things (“the lust of the eyes”)
  3. Pride and the desire to exalt oneself (“the boastful pride of life”).

It could also be a combination of one or more as illustrated by the Pharisees’ taking actions to fulfill desires (“lust of the eyes”) that they then covered up so that they would not look bad (“boastful pride of life”). Continue reading

Dealing With The Dread of Getting Through Another Day

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Matthew 6:34

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Many of you may think “how am I going to get through this one more day”?  Or possibly living in dread of an event coming up that you are pretty sure your N is going to spoil.  Or something similar.

There’s another way to look at it.  If you look at this through the lens of God’s goodness (i.e. – everything that happens to you is good – it is just a matter of HOW it is good), and if you believe that God’s grace is fully sufficient for every need and that He will provide it as it’s needed – then you can view the impending possible difficulty as an opportunity for God to show Himself strong on your behalf – either through working to shield you, or to give you the measure of internal grace needed to experience joy in the midst of trouble.  In other words, rather than dreading it, you could look forward with anticipation to seeing God work on your behalf.

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2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His……

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2 Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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But as Jesus taught His disciples to pray…..

Matthew 6:11

11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

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……He does not give us tomorrow’s provision today, He will give that tomorrow – and give today’s provision today, as it is needed.  This gives us the opportunity to rely on Him, to trust Him, to need Him just a little bit more.  And that daily need for Him further builds our relationship with Him.

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John Piper has a very helpful illustration in his book “Future Grace“.  Piper said to picture God’s promise that His provision of grace will be there when needed like a river flowing toward the edge of a waterfall.  The river illustrates the grace coming to us in the future, and the edge of the waterfall is “today” or “this minute”.  God is promising the river of grace to continue to flow toward us, while we experience this moment’s grace at the edge of the waterfall.  The river of grace continuing to flow can give us peace today that the grace needed tomorrow will be there tomorrow.  Therefore, we can simply focus on applying His grace at this moment, and trust Him for future moments.

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Moving-picture-Niagara-Fall-waterfall-animated-gif

 

Part of our peace today that grace will be there tomorrow is the anticipation of the opportunity to learn and grow, and to see God act (in big or little ways) on our behalf.  While for some, the particular trial may not last very long, for others it may last a lifetime.  But we can trust that God has His loving purposes in either case, and that the lesson of trusting Him today for the grace needed tomorrow will carry us throughout our entire lives.

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How Christ Conquered Bitterness (John Piper)

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How Christ Conquered Bitterness   by John Piper

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When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

No one was more grievously sinned against than Jesus. Every ounce of animosity against him was fully undeserved.

No one has ever lived who was more worthy of honor than Jesus; and no one has been dishonored more.

If anyone had a right to get angry and be bitter and vengeful, it was Jesus. How did he control himself when scoundrels, whose very lives he sustained, spit in his face? 1 Peter2:23 gives the answer.

What this verse means is that Jesus had faith in the future grace of God’s righteous judgment. He did not need to avenge himself for all the indignities he suffered, because he entrusted his cause to God. He left vengeance in God’s hands and prayed for his enemies’ repentance (Luke 23:34).

Peter gives this glimpse into Jesus’ faith so that we would learn how to live this way ourselves. He said, “You have been called [to endure harsh treatment patiently] . . . because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

If Christ conquered bitterness and vengeance by faith in future grace, how much more should we, since we have far less right to murmur for being mistreated than he did?

God Will Most Definitely Settle Accounts With The Proud and Lofty …….

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We discussed here that God will deal with the proud and haughty.  Isaiah makes it clear that, even though it is not obvious to people now, and even though it may seem slow in coming, a specific day of reckoning for the proud will come.  The proud will think everything is going well, until the tables are instantly turned.

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Isaiah 2:12-22

12 For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.
Continue reading

Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Motivate Us To Seek The Ultimate Answer

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2 Samuel 22:7 / Psalm 18:6 (the same verse in 2 places)

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

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Psalm 34:4-6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

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When things are going “well”, our natural inclination is to forget God, to not think that we need Him.  We naturally tend to take His goodness for granted.  An analogy would be teenagers that simply assume that their parents’ housing, food, access to a car, etc  will be there, without really having an interest in spending time with their parents – they just use their parents’ stuff to have a good time, without caring much about their relationship with their parents. Continue reading

Why God “Allows” N’s to Wreak Havoc – Using Them As Pre-Emptive Constraints

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2 Corinthians 12:7

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

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Sometimes, God uses His tools not for “corrective” or “refining” purposes, but for pre-emptive purposes.  In I Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul had done nothing wrong.  The “messenger of satan” was only for the purpose of preventing Paul from exalting himself due to his extraordinary experience.  We as normal humans tend to get puffed up at the slightest “success” we experience – just think of how puffed up we would be if we had had an experience that was many multiples higher than anyone else had ever had.

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Paul needed the revelations that God gave him as part of his ministry preparation, but he also needed to maintain humility for his ministry.  So, God gave Paul the revelations, but also provided via satan a pre-emptive means for staying humble – not out of spite, or meanness, but for Paul’s good and God’s glory. Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – Projecting An Image Of Success (While Covering Up Failure)

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Proverbs 13:7

There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

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Why would someone, especially someone who has nothing, pretend to be rich?  It likely comes down to self-exaltation.  This motive for self-exaltation in the midst of failure is highlighted in the second half of Proverbs 12:9.

Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – David’s Prayer To Save The Afflicted From The Proud and Wicked

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In the midst of our pain in dealing with the narcissist in our life, relevant Psalms are not only a source of insight and comfort into God’s ultimate dealing with them, but can at the same time be a great way to express what is in our heart.  Just expressing what we are feeling in a way that is in sync with God’s perspective can itself be a source of comfort.  Psalm 10 is one of those Psalms.

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Psalm 10

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Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
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In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted;
Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
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For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire,
And the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord.
The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.  All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
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Continue reading

Narcissist Traits – They Contradict Themselves

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Luke 6:45

45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

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We read in Psalms 5:9 of a narcissist (aka one with insolent pride*), that “there is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself.”   And we read in secular sources (and have experienced) that narcissists can say something in one sentence, and contradict themselves in the next sentence (or even in the very same sentence).  It seems crazy when they do this – they seem crazy when they do this – and they have no clue that they are even doing it.  What’s going on?  

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Ultimately, as Luke 6:45 indicates, it is our heart that drives our words and actions. Continue reading

Why? To Magnify The Grace Of God

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

[see here for a road map of the discussion on “Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc”}

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The sequence here is 1.  tendency to pride,  2.  thorn to keep self-exaltation,  3.  humbling 4.  sufficient grace from God,  5.  God’s strength / power / sufficiency demonstrated through Paul’s weakness

Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists* – David’s Prayer for Deliverance

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One of the questions frequently searched by people that find this blog is, “how do I pray about this situation with the narcissist in my life?”.  This would include, “how to pray for the narcissist”, “how to pray for ourselves in the situation”, and “how to pray for God’s intervention”.  We have already mentioned David’s Prayer for Justice, and David’s Prayer for Protection.  Here is a prayer from David for deliverance.  It is important to understand that effective praying has some requirements – we cannot reject God’s ways on the one hand and at the same time expect Him to “jump through hoops for us” on the other hand.

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Psalm 40:13-17

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
17 Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

Continue reading

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