Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible

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Proverbs 21:24

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 speak to the subject.

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Narcissist* Case Studies – Satan’s Narcissistic Traits

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Satan is the original and most clear example of a Narcissist / One with insolent pride.   (See here for an explanation on why Satan was the original narcissist).  By understanding Satan’s insolent pride and his narcissistic traits, we can get another glimpse into the characteristics of narcissists.  Here is a partial list of Satan’s narcissistic traits:

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A Response To Those Who Say God Can’t Or Won’t Help You

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The challenge for those dealing with a narcissist who is “close” is to deal with the situation in a practical way while also walking in faith.  How do we allow God right into the middle of the situation?  On top of this, we are frequently told some form of “God can’t or won’t help you” – urging us to take things into our hands to solve it on our own apart from God.

David was in the same situation.   His son Absalom was a narcissist whom God raised up to chastise David for his sin with Bathsheba.

David was forced to flee for his life.  In the process, many said that God would not deliver him from the adversaries that were coming at him.  But David had a different view, which he declared in Psalm 3.

 

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah. 

Psalm 3

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David cried out to the Lord and then trusted God for help, allowing him to sleep peacefully even before the deliverance came.  David did not succumb to other’s lack of faith, and in the end God executed judgment on Absalom and rescued David.

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Narcissist Case Studies – Satan, The Original Narcissist

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 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!  “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.  ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’   

Isaiah 14:12-14

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The above passage is well-known as referring to satan, the devil, lucifer, beelzebub, or one of the other names used for one of God’s top angels who out of pride thought he could be be like God.  To be in such close proximity to God, to see His power and glory, and to think that you could be like God — and then attempt to do it – was the height of arrogance.   (See here for how according to the Bible, narcissism = insolent pride.)

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And the devil said to Him [Jesus], “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” 

Luke 4:6-8

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Satan also showed his true nature when one of the 3 temptations he presented to Jesus was designed to force Jesus to worship him.  Satan could have offered any other temptation, but was was so proud, arrogant, and haughty that he took the moment of Jesus’ physical weakness from fasting to take a shot at getting what he really wanted – to be the #1 being.  He wanted somehow to be above God.  Narcissists will NEVER stop trying to exalt themselves until they are #1 in “their world”, with some even attempting to be “king of the world”.  They will use whatever opportunities they are presented with to continue working toward that goal.

Notice in the above passage that Satan claimed the earth was his to give.  This was a deluded and arrogant lie, as the earth was definitely not his to give.  Satan knew Psalm 24:1 – that the earth and world belonged to God, not him.

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The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. 
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Psalm 24:1
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This is a classic Narcissist trait – to co-opt other’s work, authority, rights as their own – as part of their self-aggrandizement and self-exaltation.
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Further confirming that satan was the original narcissist – one with insolent pride – was the direct link Jesus made between the Big narcissist (Satan) and the earthly examples of narcissists in His time – the Pharisees.  (See here and here how we know that the Pharisees were narcissists / filled with insolent pride).
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You (Pharisees) are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He (satan, the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

John 8:44

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

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The Truth Will Come Out Eventually

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We all come across LOTS of things in today’s media environment.  I was just reading about a very public fairy-tale courtship, romance, and wedding – with people glowing about all the positives.  But a few people who knew the bride well said very early on that “she is not what she seems”.  And guess what, over time she revealed herself to be a big-time classic narcissist – everything is all about her, she’s always the victim, etc. etc.  She also undermined existing relationships the husband had with his family, and trashed his family in public.  The secular literature says that you cannot “diagnose” a narcissist from a distance, and there is probably some truth to that, but sometimes these public celebrities are so obvious you can’t help it.

Even though she hid her N traits at the beginning while she was trying to “seal the deal”, once married she began to reveal her true nature.  This reminded me of the following in Proverbs,

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He who hates disguises it with his lips,
But he lays up deceit in his heart.
When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
Though his hatred covers itself with guile,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. 

Proverbs 26:24-26

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What’s in people’s hearts ALWAYS reveals itself eventually.  One with insolent pride – a narcissist – will always ultimately reveal their true hearts.  Jesus said the same thing when he said,

 

the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 

Matthew 12:34b

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As a side note, the entire second half of Proverbs 26 is filled with descriptions of narcissistic traits.  Take a look.

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How Do We Know The Bible Is True?

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Jesus said that establishing our lives on the solid rock of hearing … and doing.. His word is the difference between being able to weather the storms of life or crumbling in the face of them

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“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” 

Matthew 7:24-27

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The big question that everyone must face is “how do we know that God’s Word is true”?

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One way is through the internal consistency of the Bible.  While we may get hung up on the interpretation of an individual verse or passage, the Book as a whole is amazingly consistent.  The inspired harmony of the Bible is displayed in the consistency of its messages across time, writers, and words. The interwoven nature and consistent message of the Bible – a book penned by 40 authors over a span of 1500 years – is one demonstration that this amazing book and its message of God’s plan and provision for mankind truly comes from one Divine mind.

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This can be illustrated through a computer visualization of how the Bible ties together among the many passages.

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Another way is through the historical tracking of the Bible as far back as possible to the original writings (manuscripts) and the archaelogical work tying real events to real documents.

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Yet another is through the testimony of God’s creation.  Romans 1 says,

 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

Romans 1:20

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However, I believe that the most solid foundation for confidence that God, the Bible, and it’s message are real is the documented historical fact of the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Look around you.  NO ONE comes back to life after they have been dead for three days.  The historically documented fact of Jesus’ resurrection is solid proof that it is all real.

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Consider the above as simply a starting point for your own exploration.  However, if Jesus and His Word are real and true, then it bodes us well to heed His message to build our lives on listening to His words, and following them.

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The Contentious Woman Changes

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You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. 

Psalm 16:11

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In the blog post Crying Out, Seeking God we discussed that sometimes the very first step on a road to healing is simply to cry out to God for help.  While you may not see an instant, dramatic change in your situation, you will often look back and see that time of crying out as the moment God put you on the path to His solution.

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I came across a blog entry by Dr. Linda Karges-Bone.  It is a broader discussion of her take on the “contentious woman”, but includes her testimony of asking God for help, which began a road of healing.  The entire blog entry is worth reading, but here is a key excerpt:

 

Now for the second round of reactions. It is quite possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I doubt it. Here’s why. I have done what researchers call a “double blind” test. I have tried it both ways. I lived the first decade of my marriage as a contentious woman. I pouted. I nagged. I saw myself as the unappreciated, overburdened, wife of a grumpy, difficult, selfish beast of a man. I have, at one point, been on the brink of losing my marriage. But two things saved me: God’s mercy and grace and my own decision to look for the good in my marriage instead of the bad.

I asked God to save my marriage. Continue reading

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It Is A Privilege To Be Heard By God

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Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:14-16

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I stumbled across this recently on Instagram.  Yes, God wants to do good for us and meet our genuine needs through answered prayer, but we should not forget that His kindness in hearing our requests – without rebuke – is also a privilege He extends.  Worth a listen…..

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Narcissist Traits – They Seek Admiration While Doing Evil

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In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”   

Mark 12:38-44

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“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites (i.e. the Pharisees) 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. 

Matthew 6:2

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[Note:  We know Jesus was referring to the scribes and Pharisees when He mentioned “hypocrites” in Matthew 6 because of what it says in Matthew 23 – “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…… linking the “hypocrite” label to the scribes and Pharisees.  The scribes and Pharisees were the narcissists of their day (see here and here and here and here) and are a good case study of narcissistic traits and tactics.]

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Jesus was seeking to protect those who were listening to Him through his cautionary “beware” about the hypocritical scribes (and Pharisees).  These narcissists

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  1. Coveted the admiration of men (“they like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets”), instead of the humility more appropriate for their position as “men of God”
  2. Acted in disingenous ways to seek the admiration of men (“wore long robes (to imply piety)” and “for appearance’s sake offer long prayers”), while
  3. At the same time – out of greed – were taking advantage of the most vulnerable people (“devour widows houses”) who could not resist the evil being done to them.

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Jesus’ listeners needed to be wary of these narcissists not only because of the potential harm they could do through their greedy actions, but also (and even more importantly) because of the terrible example of “faith” which these narcissists were setting.  Instead of humbling themselves before the God of the universe, and praying secretly, they were putting on a show for only the exaltation which they would receive from men.  Following this supposed spiritual leadership of the scribes would be the opposite of a genuine life of the kind of faith pleasing to God, and spiritually dangerous to any who would follow.  Hence Jesus’ warning to “beware”.

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While Jesus did not call out these scribes by name, He did something even better by providing a guideline by which His listeners could recognize these people and others like them – and to prudently be on guard against them and their destructively prideful and self-seeking ways.

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Pray Strong In Your N Situation – Part 2

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Note:  The phrase “pray strong” may give the wrong impression, as of course it is GOD’s strength that matters.  The point is that we can ask the God of the universe for His help in specific ways that can make a huge difference. 

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When we are in a difficult situation with a narcissist we are sometimes given the prescription to “pray about it”.  This might be given with good intentions, but often without real understanding of what’s going on.  It’s always appropriate to bring God right into the middle of our problems.  But how we pray makes all the difference.

There are a few ways we can pray through our N challenge.  One is how we pray for ourselves.  Another is how we pray about specific ways of navigating our interface with them, or dealing with the fallout of the turmoil they create.  And yet another is how we pray for them.  This Part 2  gives an introduction of how to pray through the situation.

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God designed “need” to motivate us to seek Him, and walk with Him in a moment by moment manner.  “Need” started even in the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the world.  Adam and Eve were dependent on God.  Man has always sought to escape need.  For example, we want to have a  bank account big enough (although it’s never big enough) that we don’t need to worry.  I have a phrase I am praying for myself and my family that we would turn every need into prayer.

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This part 2 of “praying strong” is about praying for practical solutions in our situation with our narcissist.  The theme scripture for this post is:

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The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. 

James 5:16a-18

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There are times when we can “avoid” a narcissist, but other times when we cannot.  What do we do then?  I will illustrate my point with a situation from one of my sons (early 20’s) which has happened over this past year.

“J” took a new job last September working for someone who he considers to be a great (i.e. – easy to work for) boss in a tiny company.  However, that boss needed a second worker, and one month into J’s job the boss hired what proved to be a classic, big-time narcissist, “R”.  I will not go into the attitudes, traits, and actions that demonstrate the extent of “R’s” narcissism, but let’s just say that “R” would rank high on anyone’s scale.  “J” is aware of the traits of narcissists, but even with that it took a couple of months for “R’s” full colors to reveal themselves.  What was “J” to do?  Quit his job to get away?  Complain to the boss?

In a large company you might be able to change departments to get away from a toxic co-worker, but in a tiny company that is not possible.  The path chosen was to ask God for for day-to-day practical solutions, while at the same time praying about a longer term fix.

We tend to be lazy in our praying, and also tend to NOT want to seek God.  That results in us praying feebly for a monolithic, magic-bullet, single solution that solves EVERYTHING with the least amount prayer and work on our part.  (And many times we do not pray at all, and simply  think about how we can take things into our own hands to save ourselves from a situation).

We pray something like “God, deliver me from this situation”.  There is nothing wrong with that kind of prayer.  But God may also want us to walk hand-in-hand with Him THROUGH the situation, praying specific prayers for God’s specific help in situations created by our toxic narcissist.

The list of what this might be is endless.  Every difficulty – even the most minor – in our lives is an opportunity for God to show His goodness and power, further revealing facets of His glory.  Each is similar to the common trouble we all face…..

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No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 
1 Corinthians 10:13
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…. but like the endless variety of snowflakes, each difficulty is a unique opportunity for God to show Himself strong on our behalf
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For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 
2 Chronicles 16:9
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You can identify the specific NEEDS and difficulties which have been created through the N’s self-centered actions, and ask God for specific solutions to meet those needs and solve those difficulties.  God is bigger than your narcissist and your situation, and irrespective of your N’s intent, HE is able to thwart and counter.  Why not give God a chance to show what He can do?
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Back to our example, during this past year, “J” and his prayer support base asked God to intervene in specific ways to thwart, to shield, to counter, to make up for, and to protect against specific circumstances created by “R”, the big-time narcissist.  We also prayed that God would reveal to the kind but oblivious boss “R’s” true nature, character, and horrible work ethic, so that he could replace “R” with a decent employee.  Over the course of the year, God answered in many specific and clear ways on “J’s” behalf, even though “R” did not change his nature one bit.  In addition, while “J” persevered in his current trial, God also in the end also provided a new job opportunity where he could take his lessons learned and move forward into his adult career path.

 

We may say, “why do I have to go through this, and go to all this work?”  Or, we may say, “I tried that, and it did not work”.  Yes, our nature is to NOT persevere – we do not want the hassle.  The alternative is to leave God out of it, take things into our hands, and find our own solutions – but that path will include consequences.  God is constantly working for us to seek Him, to know Him, and to trust Him.  HE is not going to give up on that.  It is up to us how we respond.  We can seek His help or not – it’s up to us.  But we should remember that we are ignoring the help of the One who knows everything, who is all-wise, who has our good in mind – and has the power to create the universe.

This practice of praying specific “tactical” prayers in dealing with evil has application beyond individual situations with a narc.  It sure appears that evil is on the increase in our society.  We cannot avoid it.  The lessons we can learn in praying practically through situations with a narcissist can be very useful as we navigate this present evil world.

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Pray Strong In Your N Situation – Part 1

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Note:  there are times when the prescription for dealing with an N is to avoid them.  This post is for those times when we cannot do that. 

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When we are in a difficult situation with a narcissist we might be given the prescription to “pray about it”.  This might be given with good intentions, but often without real understanding of what’s going on.  It’s always appropriate to bring God right into the middle of our problems.  But how we pray makes all the difference.

There are a few ways we can pray through our N challenge.  One is how we pray for ourselves.  Another is how we pray about specific ways of navigating our interface with them, or dealing with the fallout of the turmoil they create.  And yet another is how we pray for them.  This Part 1  gives an introduction of how we pray for them.

Jesus made the following difficult statement:

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:43-45

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Some people have criticized the Biblical approach to dealing with narcissists by suggesting that it’s  simply a posture of passively allowing ourselves to be beaten up.  Jesus’s statement above and his statement just prior to “turn the other cheek” might be construed as advocating just that.  However, this critique looks at things on simply a human “me vs. them” plane, and leaves out the fact that we can invite the God who has the power to create and hold together the entire universe right into the middle of our struggle.

Jesus’ admonition to “pray for those who persecute you” did not describe “how” to pray.  How we pray makes all the difference.  For example, David prayed for his enemies like this in Psalm 35,

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Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of buckler and shield
And rise up for my help.

Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.

 

Let them be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the Lord driving them on.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
For without cause they hid their net for me;
Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.

 

Let destruction come upon him unawares,
And let the net which he hid catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall. 

Psalm 35:1-8

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I suggest you read the entire Psalm 35.  God says in Romans 12:19 (quoting Deuteronomy 32:35) that “vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”  Our job is to do good, God’s job is to defend us and execute justice – as only He can do with complete wisdom.  David focused on doing right, and prayed that God would deal with his enemies.

Can we also pray in a strong way for our narcissist, that does them good?  The answer is yes.

The narcissist’s greatest need is to humble themselves before the almighty God of the universe.  Their insolent pride torments us, but you can be sure that God feels more strongly about it than we do.  God demonstrated His ability to humble those who walk in pride by humbling the greatest man in the world of the time – King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar over a period of 30 years, continuing to reveal Himself and help Nebuchadnezzar understand his place before God.  In the end, God took very strong action for Nebuchadnezzar to finally recognize God as the Lord, by making Nebuchadnezzar insane and living like an animal for 7 years until he finally submitted.  The result was this amazing statement by Nebuchadnezzar:

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34 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

36 At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just,

and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Daniel 4

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Part of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling process was God’s persistent revelation of His greatness and glory, as discussed in Ephesians 1.

Jesus tells us to pray for our narcissist, but why not pray stronglyFirst pray that God would protect us from them and that their attempts to harm us would fail.  Second, pray that God would humble them and enlighten their eyes to see God’s greatness and themselves in light of that greatness.  And third, to make sure our hearts are right and to act as “sons of light”, we can also pray for a specific need they may have – either for their salvation, or some practical need.

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If you are married to someone who is a genuine Christian, but still has the residual narcissistic blind spots from their “old man” (Romans 6), ask God to reveal it to them, convict them of it, and bring them to genuine repentance.

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Pray for your narcissist – but pray strongly.

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He Stretched Out His Hand With Scoffers

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For those suffering at the hands of narcissists – scoffers with insolent pride – a common question is “why”?  Why is God allowing this in my life?

There are many things to consider, but one answer is that it could be part of His discipline.  Those that are struggling to overcome a view of God as a big “punisher”, or who do not like the idea that God allows any pain into a person’s life, will struggle with this.  To be clear, God is a God of love and acts out of His fundamental goodness.  But sometimes that goodness means discipline (Hebrews 12), and He uses various means as part of the process.

The Biblical foundation for this is Hosea 7:5, which says that “….He stretched out his hand with scoffers”.  Just like in everything else, God can use scoffers as tools for His purposes.

We saw this in the case of David and Absalom.  When David sinned with Bathsheba, God told David through the prophet Nathan.

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Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.   Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 

Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” 

2 Samuel 12:9-12

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This happened.  David’s son Absalom was narcissistic, to the point that he even weighed his cut hair to show how lush it was (2 Samuel 14:26).  2 Samuel describes other examples of Absalom’s narcissistic traits.  Absalom’s narcissism led him to seek to overthrow David to become king, resulting in David fleeing Jerusalem to escape.  God ultimately delivered David out of Absalom’s hand, but not before God had used Absalom – to discipline David for his sin.

This was a Biblical case study.  I also know of two cases close to home.  I am by no means saying that every narcissist in our life is God’s punishment for something we’ve done in the past.  Absolutely not.  But it is possible.

How do we respond to this?  The normal tools for dealing with narcissists (addressed in this blog and in the book “A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism”) are appropriate.  In addition we should consider the admonition in Hebrews:

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For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are punished by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He punishes every son whom He accepts.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems not to be pleasant, but painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is impaired may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

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Pay particular attention to the last phrase in Hebrews 12:13.  How do we respond?  “Make straight paths for your feet” – live a life of righteousness – “so that the limb which is impaired (lame) may not be dislocated (permanently injured), but rather be healed.”

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See here for initial steps to peace with God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David and Absalom

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Building A Biblical Perspective On Insolent Pride – Psalm 119

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Let’s do a little exercise on how to increase your Biblical perspective on a subject – it could be any subject – using “insolent pride” (the Biblical term for narcissism) as the example.

If you are starting from zero, it is impossible to immediately have the entire Biblical perspective right at the beginning.  You can only start with one piece, add another piece, and another piece, until a picture forms.  Consider it like building a wall brick by brick, or a painting brush-stroke by brush-stroke, or even a Lego figure lego-brick by lego-brick.  You analyze and interpret each brick, but also compare how it fits in with the next brick.  If you do not understand where a particular brick fits, you may have to set it aside until you see how it fits into the emerging figure.

Are there any guideposts that keep you on track at the very beginning?  You could use a picture of the finished work.  In the case of a Biblical perspective on something, the ultimate finished work is the nature and character of God, especially as shown through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Key verses like I John 4:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:8, and John 3:16 provide foundational guideposts.

Let’s take a shot at how this brick building might work, using Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 talks about those with insolent pride.  How do we know this?  While the English word is “pride”, the Hebrew word (found through resources like http://www.biblehub.com) “zed” is the word for “insolent pride”.

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Strong’s Concordance
zed: insolent, presumptuous

Original Word: זֵד
Definition: insolent, presumptuous
from zud
Definition:  insolent, presumptuous
NASB Translation:  arrogant (9), arrogant men (1), presumptuous (1), proud (2).

KJV Translation: proud

Looking at each instance where “zed” is used in Psalm 119, we find the following verses – and what they tell us about 1.  narcissists, 2.  how God deals with them, and/or 3.  how we should we respond.

Here we go.  Remember that each use of the word “proud” below is “zed” – or insolent pride.  The following is from the King James Version.

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Psalm 119:21 – Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.  

    • God rebukes narcissists
    • They are “cursed” – either in this life (God opposes the proud) through failure, and/or in the next life through spending eternity in hell
    • Narcissists do NOT do what God says (even though they may claim or pretend to)

Psalm 119:51 – The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

    • Narcissists heavily scorned, mocked, looked down on, and criticized David (Hebrew word is  “lits” – the same as scoffer, one of the other terms for narcissists) – BUT
    • David did not use that attack from the narcissists as an excuse to walk away from God and his instructions for life
Psalm 119:69 – The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
    • Narcissists created (“forged”) lies against David – BUT
    • Rather than focus on fighting the lies, David put his attention on wholeheartedly following God and doing what He said
Psalm 119:78 – Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
    • Because narcissists twisted the truth and undermined David – even though he was innocent – David asked God to cause them fail in a humbling way that embarrassed and humiliated them – BUT
    • While GOD was dealing with narcissists in response to his prayer, David focused his attention in meditation on God’s word and how HE wanted David to live
Psalm 119:85 – The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
    • This one is a little unclear in the KJV – the NASB says it this way “The arrogant have dug pits for me, people who are not in accord with Your Law.”
    • Narcissists do not walk according to God’s ways (although they may say that they do – ie they are hypocrites).
    • They dig pits (create traps, try to undermine) others
Psalm 119:122 – Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
    • David asked God to promise good for him, backed by His own Person – (reputation, glory, blood if needed) – AND
    • Part of that promise would be for God to prevent narcissists from oppressing him.  He looked to God in specific prayer for HIS protection.
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There we are.  How many things did we learn about dealing with narcissists just from Psalm 119?  I count 14 – maybe you count a couple more or a few less.  Anyway, this is how a Biblical perspective is developed, line upon line.

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But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little  ‘

Isaiah 28:13

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Once again, when starting out do not come to a locked-in conclusion, until you have many pieces which make sense together.  If something does not make sense, set it aside until God further reveals it.  Do NOT develop your theology based on just a couple of verses.  We interpret every part of the Bible through consistency with the WHOLE Bible.  This takes a lifetime, but the effort and journey is worth it.

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Click here for the initial steps on how to know God personally

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About The Book And This Blog …..

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Reviews of the book, “A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism” show up on Amazon, Good Reads, Audible, and Facebook, etc.  They are all interesting and helpful in their own way.  Some people take the book for what it is, while others approach it looking for the answers they want to hear – and express disappointment and even anger when the book does not give them the justification they are looking for.  Some people do not actually read it carefully, and claim the book says or doesn’t say what was actually written.  That’s pretty normal – people tend to interpret life through the lens of their experiences and wishes.

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There was a recent review that pretty accurately reflects what the book is really about – and by extension what this blog is about.  Even though the review is public, I’ll let the author remain anonymous.  Here’s the review.

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If you’re living with a narcissist, and you want a biblical way to handle it, please read this book! This is the eighth book I have read on narcissism. The others helped me understand what it is, how to spot a narcissist and how to set boundaries. But this book is the first to give me a way to deal with it and live with narcissists, instead of just avoiding or divorcing them.   Instead of just calling narcissism a problem or mental disorder, the author goes to the heart of the matter. Narcissism is an insolently proud heart in competition with God to be God. A narcissist acts charming and good, but seeks self-exaltation and is a deceiving liar at the core. Scriptures say when someone rejects God their foolish heart will be darkened. The author says that rejecting God and His truth is the beginning of narcissistic pride.

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This book provides actionable wisdom on how a narcissist thinks and behaves and how we can protect our hearts with God’s word and truth. Go to God first. Let Him confirm your worth. Put on the full armor of God. Speak truth to yourself to counter narcissistic lies. See the narcissist as they are: unreliable, lacking in judgment and contentious. Fight evil with good, don’t rebuke but pray for wisdom in this warfare.

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Other books validated my experience of narcissists, but this is the first time my responses such as finding a safe corner to go to when narcissistic contention gets overwhelming were validated. Or knowing that God allowed this experience to bring good for me and good character from me.

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In living with narcissists, turning to God is key, or as the author states, the experience will just remain a series of hurts in our lives (PG 273). God has used my narcissists to heal me, show me my pride and other sins, and teach me to forgive. I have failed to love my narcissistic enemies, but that’s the next step.

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After finishing this book, for the first time since realizing that I was living with a narcissist, I have hope. God’s word works in all situations. My narcissists don’t define me. God is my strength and my shield. He is the strength of my heart Psalm 73:26. I can overcome this suffering by going to God first in prayer, standing against lies with truth, returning good for evil, relying on scriptural wisdom for action steps, and guarding my heart with God’s armor during this warfare. Remember this: Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous, fear not and do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave nor forsake you.

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This book is definitely one that I will read again. The author made the narrative flow easily from one point to the next. And the points came from scriptures. I was reading another bible study at the same time, and the contrast caught my attention. This book let’s scriptures speak first and the narrative flow from what they say. The other book wrote the narrative first then found a verse to fit what they wanted to say. I thought about writing about my experiences with narcissists, but this book started what I was thinking and more.

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I have said before and want to say again that this book was the result of my own personal search for God’s perspective in dealing with these difficult people (I am “Barry” in the introduction to the book).  It is by no means perfect or the final answer, but rather a starting point and framework for further digging and seeking God’s grace.  I continue to dig and learn, and I’m sure you as well.

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