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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God’s Final Word On It All

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Many people like to read a book from front to back and wouldn’t think of starting at the end of the story. But when it comes to the Walk of Life knowing the end of the story is extremely helpful for persevering through the ups and downs.  For those who are downtrodden, especially at the hands of arrogant people, it’s especially good to know that God is completely aware and will have the final word on it all.

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To give an example from Isaiah 2,

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The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

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.  (Isaiah 2:11-12)

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The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,  (Isaiah 2:17)

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In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats
Their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
Which they made for themselves to worship,
21 In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs
Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.  (Isaiah 2:20-21)

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Isaiah’s conclusion is to stop worrying about what people think, since their true standing will be revealed in the end.

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Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?  (Isaiah 2:22)

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There are many similar passages, for example:

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“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  Malachi 4:1

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I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.  Isaiah 13:11

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In the middle of our day to day grind of dealing with people with insolent pride, it is occasionally helpful to step back and see the end of the story.  In the end, God will put every proud and haughty person into their proper place, and will show that He alone deserves to be exalted.

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Having a proper view now of that future state of affairs can give us the perspective needed to see the proud and haughty narcissist as they really are – and through that to give us a measure of freedom from the control they seek over us.

 

 

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The Ultimate Fact Check

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As we stated in a previous blog post, one way of dealing with narcissists is to fact check everything.

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The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.  Proverbs 18:17

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The ultimate fact-check will come on the day of judgment.   Jesus said

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

 “…Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:15-16, 21

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While this could apply to anyone trying to get into heaven through their “good deeds” (instead of through true repentance and faith in Christ), I can envision narcissists in particular trying to talk their way into heaven through an inflated opinion of what they did on Earth – trying to pass it off as an act of faith with good motives.

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We know why someone would try to do this – they’re desperate to get into heaven to avoid God’s judgement. But why would they think they can get away with this? One possibility is that they have an inflated view of what they accomplished.  As Proverbs says,

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Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.  Proverbs 25:14
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The other possibility is that they actually did what might be seen as good works by an outside observer, but did it out of self-centered motives and not from a heart of love.  1st Corinthians 13 says even if you do good works, if they’re not done from the right heart they are of no profit in the end.
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If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  I Corinthians 13:2-3
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Jesus said the same thing.
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“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  “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.  Matthew 6:1-2

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The hypocrites Jesus refers to in Matthew 6 are the Pharisees Jesus directly speaks to in Matthew 23.

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Claiming good works as the justification to get into heaven will be the narcissist’s typical but final move.  Jesus, in the ultimate fact-check, will see right through the N’s inflated view of themselves and their false boasting for why they deserve to be in Heaven.

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Don’t Let Them Suck You Into Their Drama

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Narcissists are notorious for engaging in self-focused drama, while attempting to suck every one else in.  It’s one of their go-to moves to attract attention.  It might look like this:

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Jesus was well aware of the danger of allowing His narcissists – the Pharisees – to throw Him off His mission.  He engaged with them when they approached Him with a test, but did not make them the focus of His ministry.  He expressed His overall view to His disciples,

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“Let them [the Pharisees] alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”  Matthew 15:14
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“Let them alone” could be considered a version of the pop-psychology concept of “low contact”.  [As stated earlier in this blog, “no contact” and “low contact” greatly depends on the nature of the relationship.]
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One reason that Jesus did not make the Pharisees a focus of His ministry is that they did not feel they had a need, and were not genuinely open to what He had to say (with a few exceptions).   When the Pharisees slyly criticized Jesus for ministering to tax collectors and sinners, He responded:
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Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.   Matthew 9:10-12
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Jesus correctly focused on His true ministry, and did not let the drama which His narcissists tried to stir up to sidetrack Him.
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Let your Narcissist have their drama on their own time and in their own space, and don’t let them waste your time and life by drawing you in.

 

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The Foundation of Freedom From Codependency

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How do you escape from “codependency”, or avoid it in the first place?  The first obvious step is to see that it’s happening.  Tragically, recognizing codependency is difficult for the naive, and especially the young.

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The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.   
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Proverbs 22:3

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Awareness and admission of dependency requires a gut check.  On the one hand, am I over-reliant on someone for my needs, fulfillment, or happiness?  On the other hand, is someone over-reliant on me for his/her needs, fulfillment, happiness?  Is my controller’s apparent reliance on me genuine, or a cover to make themselves the center my world?  Am I constantly walking on eggshells around this person?

Everyone has legitimate needs – both physical and emotional – and God intends for people to help each other with those needs.   Galatians 6:2 says:

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Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ  ….. 

Galatians 6:2

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But right after this, Paul goes on to say that in the end we must assume responsibility for ourselves:

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…..  For each one will bear his own load.   

Galatians 6:5

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The controller will turn your God-given motivation to help others into enslavement and dominance.  He ignores the both/and balance discussed in Galatians 6 that while we are called to bear each other’s burdens, in the end every one carries their own load and must trust God. 

There are many things for which we must trust only God, instead of looking to others.  The simplest example is breathing.  We breathe for ourselves…. and every breath we take comes from God.  Paul told the Athenians….

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…. nor is He (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;     

Acts 17:25

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To break free of our controller’s emotional control, we need to make clear distinctions between legitimate needs and manipulative actions.  We can help them with legitimate needs, but should also give them space to take personal responsibility and look to God for the rest.  This is easier said than done.

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We also need to place the meeting of our own needs in God’s hands.  Breaking free requires that we transfer our hope and and source of strength from our controller to something or someone else – a better source that truly cares and has real strength themselves.  Yes, we can turn to human solutions …..

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    • Someone else.  For the the emotionally weak, they may once again gravitate toward a “strong personality”, controlling, narcissistic type, and simply repeat the same loop.  “Someone else” is the great illusory hope for many, but typically just substitutes one false hope for another.

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    • A “group” of some sort, such as
        • An affinity group – college alumni, sports teams, fishing, stamp collectors, Star Wars junkies, etc.
        • The “government” – the problem with this is that this can easily become simply a bigger “controller”, and does not provide any emotional support

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    • Ourselves – advocated by the self-help crowd.  It is not without merit, as it may help develop a mindset of personal responsibility.  However, total self-reliance is an illusion.  There are limits to our capacity for complete self-reliance.  God designed us most importantly to need Him – so that we would seek Him – and to also need others (to a point)

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…. but, while these solutions may help you break free from the emotional dominance of your current controller, they all have serious limitations.  The only true source of strength is God Himself (supplemented by those He brings into our life).  God has communicated this to us in many ways throughout the Bible.  He says,

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‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

Isaiah 41:10

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God invites us to look to Him, instead of our proud, unreliable, narcissistic controller

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

 

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.   

Psalm 40:1-4

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Once we realize that we need to switch our dependency from our controller to God, how do we actually do it?  Where do we start?  It starts with

    1. A commitment to breaking free
    2. Transferring your emotional dependence to God
    3. Developing a plan for establishing and maintaining boundaries
    4. Understanding that your N controller will not like the change and fight to keep it from happening through every means at his disposal

 

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Possible Paths To Codependency

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How does someone become “codependent”, a “slave of man”, subsumed to someone else?
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      • Was he born that way?
      • Did it start in childhood?
      • Did it appear later in life?
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For codependency to take place, two people are involved – the codependent, and the one who causes or allows the codependency – let’s call him/her the controller. Although not always the case, the controller could be a person with insolent pride – the narcissist – who seeks to have others in his orbit to put him on a pedestal and serve him.
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The prospective slave has a vulnerability that can be exploited or manipulated – often unconsciously. This could include:
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    1. the young
    2. sensitive or compliant personalities
    3. those carrying a previous wound that hasn’t healed
    4. those desiring affection to the extent that they will accept occasional crumbs of “love” from someone in exchange for whatever is asked of them
    5. those with no solid extrinsic foundation for their life
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The controller could use a variety of methods to achieve dominance over the vulnerable
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    • Outright bullying, either physically or verbally, ranging from cutting remarks to much more aggressive power moves
    • Lies and manipulation, ranging from charm (which is deceitful – Proverbs 31:30) to the current ill-defined popular phrase “gaslighting” (the attempt to make someone believe an alternate reality)
    • Some combo of the two – such as alternating “love”/abuse

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The controller’s intent is to make the target dependent upon them, so that the target will exalt and be subservient as they seek to get their emotional or physical needs met. The fickleness of the controller may cause the target to cling even tighter as the controller appears to be the only available foundation of strength and source of need fulfillment.

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These seeds of dependency are likely planted in childhood, through a parent or other authority who makes the child in some way fearful of disappointing the authority. The (narcissistic) parent in some way forces the child to take undue responsibility for meeting the parent’s needs as the means to get their own needs met.

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If the dependency is not resolved before early adulthood – if the target does not learn to have their own rock solid foundation for life, they will tend to look for “strong people” who provide that foundation. In milder forms the target may become a “people-pleaser” – constantly going beyond what is necessary or appropriate to make sure others are not disappointed in them. They will tend to respond in the same way as childhood with too much reliance on the approval of others. They have a warped view of healthy relationships.

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While the target may desire a romantic relationship with someone who is kind to them, they might easily gravitate toward someone like their childhood controller. This would be compounded by the fact that narcissists with a bent toward dominance will be attracted to them as a potential “planet” revolving around them. In his pursuit, the N might deceive the target through initial kindness, before they reveal their true colors.

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The special vulnerability of children brings a particularly strong judgment on those who would damage them. That is why Jesus said…

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….. to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:1-2

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Next Up: The Foundation For Freedom From Codependency

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Dependency – Do Not Become Slaves Of Men

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As we discussed in an earlier post, co-dependency is a fuzzy pop-psychology term.  The more precise Biblical concept is that of someone becoming a “slave of men” (I Corinthians 7:23) by subsuming their inner self to another person, rather than to God.  But we will use the term codependent interchangeably as shorthand.

How do we know that this phrase did not refer to the physical slavery of the day?  We know it because Paul made several other clear statements that while it is better to be free, it was also ok to be a slave.

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Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.   For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.    I Corinthians 7:22-23

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In fact, slaves were to not just chafe under their masters, but seek to honor the Lord in the situation.

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All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.   I Timothy 6:1
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Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.   Colossians 3:22
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Paul could make these statements, because slavery was a feature of his era’s economic system, not focused on the control of people’s inward selves but their outward performance.  In fact, in Christ everyone was equal irrespective of their socio-economic status.
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a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.    Colossians 3:11
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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28
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Therefore, Paul’s admonition to “not become slaves of men” referred to who we are as a person, who we are on the inside, how we live our lives before God and with others.  We are not to subsume who we are on the inside to someone else.
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All scripture taken in isolation is subject to misinterpretation and abuse.  “Do not become slaves of men” could easily be twisted to mean, “no one will rule over me” (including God-given authority), leading to “I can do whatever I want”, or “I should exit any relationship that restricts my freedom”.  This does not mean that.  We are referring to an inward freedom to be yourself and the person God wants you to be, regardless of the circumstances.
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There are different tactics a “slave master” might use to make someone their slave (codependent).  For example,
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  1. Bullying
  2. Manipulation
  3. Use of fake authority
  4. Abuse of true authority
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Underneath the success of all of these is an element of the fear of man on the part of the codependent person – worried about what the other person thinks of you or can do to you, rather than what God thinks of you or can do to you.  Proverbs says,
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The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.  Proverbs 29:25

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and Jesus said
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 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!   Luke 12:4-5
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As narcissists have an inner drive to be the unquestioned #1 around which others’ lives orbit, they are particularly driven to make others their emotional or physical slaves.  It is difficult for them to achieve that with “hard targets” (those who are on to them or not afraid of them), so they focus on available “soft targets”.  And one of the easiest of soft targets are their own children.
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Next up:  Possible paths to co-dependency

 

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Dependency – My Story

Like narcissism, dependency runs on a spectrum.  It can range from totally reliant on the high end to simple people-pleasing.  As the son of an insolently proud “N” mother (see “Barry” in the book, and Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissistic Adult Mother in this blog), I have personally experienced the warping of healthy relationships which N’s drive.

My mother’s dominance created an unspoken but real requirement on me and my siblings to keep her happy at all costs.  It did not rise to the extreme of dependency, but created in me an over-concern with pleasing people.  Involvement in my 20’s in a legalistic ministry focused on conformance to man’s expectations rather than living in God’s love did not help.  I was trapped by the  fear of what man thought, rather than what God thought.

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The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. 
  
Proverbs 29:25

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Dependency

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Throughout this blog we have seen how narcissists  – those with insolent pride – seek to exert their will over others.  They want to be #1, with others serving them.  They want others to be subject to their wishes, not the other way around.  They seek to subjugate others to their “rule”.

This can be situational, such as in work place power plays.  But it can also be relational, where the N seeks full-time, permanent rule over someone – a child, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, long serving staff, etc.  In the N’s drive and continued action to achieve this, they may subjugate their target’s will to their own.  The ultimate expression of this is for the target to become dependent on the N, allowing the N massive control.

Of course, this is not Biblical.  Paul said,

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

I Corinthians 7:23

Just as the term “narcissism” is ill-defined and inconsistently applied, so are the concepts and terminology around dependency.

For example, Wikipedia calls codependency

A codependent is someone who cannot function on their own and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, process, or substance.  Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.

This is a bad thing, right?  On the other hand, my parents were also considered codependent in living together on their own into their early 90’s.  They were able to compensate for each other’s capability gaps.  In this case, codependent was a good thing.

Because dependency is a real issue for those whose lives have been strongly influenced by narcissists, we are going to take a look at it in future blog posts.  This holds personal relevance for me as well, as result of my upbringing.

We will focus on the Biblical perspective of narcissist-driven dependency, looking at causes and solutions.  In particular, we will look at how to recognize it, what it can do to us, and how to go from becoming non-Biblical people-pleasers to showing genuine strength with love.

 

 

 

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A Narcissist’s Layers Of Defense

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As we have seen throughout this blog a scoffer is the Biblical analog of a narcissist.  The Bible outlines how, in his pride, a scoffer creates layers of defense to prevent being proven wrong – as that would be an affront to his position of superiority.

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The Scoffer Fights against Being Wrong

A scoffer (“luts”, aka narcissist) actively fights against anyone who attempts to criticize him, give him advice, or tell him that he is wrong in any way.  These actions may be based on their strong determination to get their own way, their belief that they are fundamentally always right, or a strong drive to refuse anyone else telling them what to do (resistance of any authority over them).

In fact, a scoffer will actively push back against anyone who attempts it – even going as far as trying to destroy at least the credibility, if not the reputation of anyone who dares to diminish him.  There are layers to the narcissist’s resistance.

First

First, the scoffer (narcissist) will not seek counsel from someone who might see through him (“the wise”) or might possibly tell him he is wrong.

A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. 

Proverbs 15:12

In my own experience, I can think of cases where a narcissistic, insolently proud scoffer was on a course of action that was both not helpful to them and damaging to someone else.  In each case, many people advised them that they were off-course and needed to change direction.  The narcissist refused to listen and refused to change course.  He thinks:

    • “I want what I want, and no one is going to get in my way.”
    • “My vision/faith/etc. is superior, and others just don’t get it.”
    • “Everyone talking to me is inferior/stupid/wrong/etc., so why should I listen to them?”

The result was that the narcissist pushed ahead and ran into a set of negative consequences – which, among other things, further isolated them.  Of course, even then, they were unable to learn from what happened.

Second

If the scoffer does receive a rebuke, he will not listen – out of a prideful self-delusion that he knows that he is right, and out of a total refusal to admit being wrong.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Proverbs 13:1

The scoffer not only refuses to listen but may even attempt to shut down even the slightest objection to their plans or actions.  This may include pushing back disproportionately hard against any hint that what they are saying or doing is not correct.  Or it could mean impulsively dismissing a suggestion out of hand, with a bit of a condescending tone (hence the term scoffer).  The phrase “will not listen” could be somewhat passive, but it could also take a very aggressive form.

Third

In his battle to never be wrong, the narcissist further escalates the fight by looking to take you down.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.

 Proverbs 9:7-8

In his prideful refusal to be wrong, the scoffer secretly hates anyone who challenges him and his image of self-perfection.  A narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory.”  He will look to take down or trash (i.e. – dishonor) the person challenging his image, because if he succeeds, he is able to maintain his superiority.

He might do it by direct confrontation, in an aggressive attempt to get you to say you were wrong – making him correct and leaving his image intact.  While he may on occasion respond with an immediate full-frontal assault, he might also keep his feelings hidden until such a time that he can do the most damage.  In this case, he will try to disguise his hatred, speaking graciously even while hating you in his heart.  But don’t believe him.  He still fully intends to “trash” you or undermine you – waiting for a better time or opportunity to maybe even thrust the proverbial knife into your back in front of an audience of his choosing.

Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart.  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 26:23-26

One reason that dealing with narcissists is so tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.  But, as Jesus said, what is in their heart must ultimately reveal itself.  Jesus said,

“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.” 

Luke 6:45

The following illustrates the layers of protection which the scoffer puts in place, driven by his proud heart at the core.

 

 

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An Alternative To The Secular Approach

[The following is a excerpt from early pages of the book, The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism]

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Common Descriptions, Different Terms

While there is a degree of common ground between the secular and Biblical approaches to narcissism – mostly in the description of narcissists and how they behave, i.e. narcissistic traits – the approaches diverge substantially in the areas of root causes, possible solutions, and ways in which “victims” should deal with these troubling people.

To simply illustrate the overlap and divergence between the different approaches, the overlapping areas in the following Venn diagram below are primarily descriptive (how do narcissists behave), and the non-overlapping areas tend toward the causal (why are narcissists the way they are) and the prescriptive (what to do about it).

Human nature has been the same since the beginning of humankind.  Since the Bible speaks about the nature of man and interpersonal relationships, we should see the kind of people the secular world refers to as “narcissists” in the Bible.  By accurately identifying the terms the Bible uses to describe the people which the secular world calls narcissists, we can then study those terms for a comprehensive look at what the Bible says about narcissism. Continue reading

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The Range Of Perspectives On Narcissism

If you’ve found this blog, there is a good chance you – or someone you care about – has experienced some of the more damaging consequences of genuine narcissism.

Maybe you didn’t realize you were dealing with a narcissist at first, but the pain and damage this selfish, arrogant, condescending, and domineering person caused might have driven you to search for answers about what was going on, and how to deal with them.  As you searched online or in books, perhaps you read more about who this type of person is, and how he or she operates.  You likely have read explanations on causes, and advice on how to deal with this “narcissist.”

Those looking for help with understanding and dealing with a narcissist have typically turned to the following five sources:

    • Professional psychologists or psychiatrists
    • The pop-psychology world of books, blogs, self-help forums, etc.
    • Christian psychologists
    • Biblical counselors[i]
    • A shoulder to cry on (i.e. – a caring friend)

Of the above, by far the most commonly sought sources have been the world of pop-psychology and caring friends.  My own journey of discovery started with asking God for “help!”, but my first stop on the road was the world of pop-psychology.  However, God soon showed me that He has something to say on the subject. Continue reading

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From Bad To Worse

My brother recently told me of two incidents of blatant selfishness and disregard for others which he observed in the space of a one week.  Both incidents were from the type of people who 20 or 30 years ago would be expected to show at least some consideration for others.  Insolent pride appears to be increasing, everywhere you turn.  Paul said to Timothy.

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But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Many of these descriptions apply to narcissists, implying that in “the last days” narcissism around us will get worse, not better.  Not a pleasant message.  It is presumptuous to declare that we are in the last days, as many over the past centuries have believed it as well, yet we’re still here.  However, it sure feels that we are.

The good news is that “it is darkest right before the dawn”, and those with sincere faith in Jesus are that much closer to a magnificent future.

How do we handle even more difficulty than we already have?  Paul went on to tell Timothy how to respond:

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12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:12-17

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Paul told Timothy

  1. Avoid them
  2. Expect to be persecuted (God tells us elsewhere in the Bible not to fear it.  He will give us the grace needed and reward us in the end)
  3. Expect people to go from bad to worse
  4. Expect people to try to deceive us
  5. Expect people to be easily deceived by others
  6. Continue in the truth you have learned and know
  7. Remember the faith and walk with God of those from whom you learned truth
  8. Remember that it is God’s written word (“sacred writings”) which provide true wisdom and true faith, and everything we need to effectively minister to those around us

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We all desire lives of peace and prosperity.  That will come in far greater measure than we can imagine – in Heaven.  But God knows and informs us that the road between here and there will be bumpy.  If we walk hand-in-hand with Him, He will see us through to that fantastic future.

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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of what this blog is about

 

 

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The Cornerstone of Trust

It is easy to be filled with doubts of all kinds.  If we trace those doubts to their roots, they are doubts of whether God really loves us, doubts on God’s knowledge of our situation, doubts on God’s wisdom in allowing our situations, or doubts on His power to control absolutely everything for our good (and His glory).

In these times, it is important to place our feet firmly on the ultimate solid ground, the Rock, Jesus.  His resurrection is the ultimate proof of God’s existence – through demonstration of His power to raise someone from the dead.  Man in all his haughtiness and self-achievement is absolutely unable to do what only God can do.

Because of this, acceptance of Jesus’ resurrection as a fact, and not merely a “belief”, is an important foundation stone of our ability to trust God.  The Desiring God website has a good article on the proof of the resurrection.

If in fact God went to the ultimate extreme to solve our biggest need – reconciliation with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus – why would He not be “for us” in everything else?  It wouldn’t make sense.

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Romans 8:31-39

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? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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His death is the ultimate proof of His love, and His resurrection is the ultimate proof of His existence and power.  If He is with us in our biggest need, He will surely be with us in life’s daily needs.  Because of this, we can “overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us”.

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Can A Narcissist Change? Nebuchadnezzar Case Study

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One of the most frequently asked questions is whether a narcissist can change.  To answer this properly we need to know what kind of change we are talking about.

It is possible for people to modify their behavior for a period to accomplish a short-term goal.  And it is possible for people to moderate how they handle certain situations to avoid consequences.  However, in both cases, when under stress the narcissist will revert to “type” and reveal what is really in his heart.

While a narcissist’s short-term tactical behavior modification may provide temporary relief for those suffering at his hands, the narcissist has not truly changed.  Since the source of his thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions is the insolent pride residing in his heart, true and lasting change can only come from his heart.

The conventional wisdom is that narcissists rarely, if ever, truly change.  However, that does not mean it is not possible.  Continue reading

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Narcissists Create Conflict & Add Fuel To Fires

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Scoffers are not only naturally defensive, they are also naturally contentious creators of conflict.

Through insolence[i] comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.  Proverbs 13:10

When pride [insolence[ii]] comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

This makes sense, since narcissists are typically “fighting” or “contending” for supremacy and to get what they want.  They’re routinely irritated and angry at everyone and everything when things do not go their way.  They take actions that run people over rather than “wasting their time and energy” on having peaceful relationships.  So, if you see considerable drama or conflict, look around to see if a narcissist is involved. Continue reading

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