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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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”.

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

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

Narcissistic Projection – Part 2, An Example

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Please see A Biblical Perspective On “Narcissistic Projection” for Part 1

To recap Part 1*, scoffers are hypocritical judges who accuse others of the very things of which they are guilty.  This action is the Biblical equivalent of what the secular world calls “projection”.  From Wikipedia:

“Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.”

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An example of this is in Mark 3: Continue reading

Can A Narcissist Be A Christian (& vice versa)?

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“Is this narcissist even a Christian?” is a question frequently asked about an obvious narcissist who claims to be a Christian. The narcissist’s claims may stand in stark contrast to how they treat you and others in private.  The answer to this question impacts our understanding of how God will deal with the narcissist, and how we should deal with them.

Jesus alluded to the inconsistency between insolent pride and genuine faith when he asked the narcissists of his day,

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

John 5:44

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Narcissist’s Create “Righteous” Reasons For Their Agenda

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He was also saying to them [the scribes and Pharisees], “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” 

Mark 7:9-13

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The Mosaic instruction for honoring parents was serious, as illustrated by the severe consequence for speaking evil of them.  The Pharisees were caught between a rock and a hard place – in their greed and selfishness they wanted to hoard the money designated to support their parents.  But they also did not want to be seen (by God, or by man) as violating the clear Mosaic law.

Their devious solution created a mechanism that projected an image of “righteousness” while giving them what they wanted.   They would give their money “to God”, but would still control the spending – they would be the recipient of their own “generosity” instead of their parents.

This was not just about the Pharisees giving to a “greater and more worthy cause” than their parents – although they certainly wanted it to look that way.  They were deceitfully hoarding the funds, shirking their responsibilities, and using false “piety” to further glorify themselves while masking their evil behavior.

It is a classic narcissist move – creating an excuse that cannot be criticized or questioned as a smokescreen for their self-centered and self-serving actions.  And, if the smokescreen itself is useful as the means of achieving their goal – all the better.

One Difference Between Secular and Biblical Perspectives

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One of the differences between the secular and Biblical approaches is that the secular psych world is “outside in” – observing characteristics, grouping them, and then labeling them – whereas the Biblical approach is “inside out.”  God alone knows the heart and character of a narcissistic person.  He gives the person with that kind of heart a name and then describes that type of person and the damage they leave in their wake in cascading detail.  Here’s a simple chart illustrating these approaches:

In a sense, the secular psych world is only observing and categorizing the characteristics which God through the Bible has already defined.

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There Is an Evil Underneath

While the descriptions are similar between the secular and Biblical world, God does not view “narcissism” as a mere personality disorder.  He sees narcissistic behavior as an evil that is driven by what is in a person’s heart.

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 

Matthew 15:18-19

The battle is between good and evil, and it is waged at the heart level.  We can see the outward results of this battle through actions and words, but God sees directly inside.

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“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7

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Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.   Psalm 44:21

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The problem’s source and solution start in the heart.  The mind simply serves the heart.  That’s one explanation for why a narcissist can appear to be self-contradictory by quickly taking the direct opposite position of something he just said.  His mixed signals display the mixed motives of his heart.

People who are casually around narcissists may only find them annoying.  However, those hurt by narcissists are quite aware there is something deeper – an underlying evil.  Call a spade, a spade – it helps when learning to deal with it.  Narcissists typically don’t see themselves as evil – in fact, they usually see the contrary in themselves – but their victims are eventually forced to see them for what they are.

[i] See also Mark 7:21, Luke 6:45

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Narcissist Case Studies – Haman

Haman – Xerxes’ Viceroy

Haman was an Amalekite who became viceroy in the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus’ (Xerxes I) after an assassination plot on the king was foiled (Esther 3:1). He was most likely a narcissist with insolent pride, which we will see shortly. Let’s look at his case study in the order that book of Esther tells it:

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All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage……When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage.  Esther 3:1-5

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Even though Haman had achieved “everything”, he was still obsessed with the one thing he didn’t have – Mordecai’s acknowledgement of his “glory”. So, Haman resolved to destroy Mordecai. Continue reading

The Book Is Here

After an 8 months endeavor, the book based on this blog has been released.

This book goes far beyond the existing contents of this blog – take a look at the table of contents below.  You can get the book at Amazon by clicking on the book image, or this link –>  Get the book

Contents

Let’s Begin.. 5

Who Should I Listen To?. 7

The Biblical Profile of a Narcissist.. 17

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Narcissist* v. Narcissist* – A Pure Power Play

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Many of the posts in this blog are about how narcissists (scoffers, haughty, those with insolent pride) relate to non-narcissists, whom they manipulate and push around in order to achieve their “rightful” place of superiority and/or dominance.  But what happens when narcissists come up against each other?

The following can take place:

1 – Initially they play a game of flattery with each other.  At this point, they’re not really engaging in a contest for dominance, although in the middle of their flattery each narcissist is likely dropping hints to the other narcissist about their “greatness”.  Even though each N may know that the flattery is fake and a possible trap, they accept it because it appeals to their pride.

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Psalm 12:2-4 –

They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.  May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”

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Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.

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Proverbs 26:28
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
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The N’s are (most likely) knowingly allowing themselves to be baited, probably thinking they are smart enough to escape any consequences.
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2 – They may attempt to use their standard tactics, but this is not likely since they both know the game each other is playing.  Therefore, since their normal schemes won’t work to gain an advantage, they would either

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2A – Avoid each other, and avoid an outright conflict – based on both N’s not seeing much value in winning that particular power play (see below) vs. the effort required.  In other words, their greatness means they have bigger fish to fry, and this “little” skirmish is not worth bothering with

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2B – Engage in a pure power play.  In this case both of the N’s feel compelled that their position is inherently right either based on its merits or their personal “worthiness”.   Therefore, in their mind and heart it is correct and right for them and their position/goals to prevail.  As it is right for them to win/achieve dominance, they are unwilling to cede any ground to anyone.  And, since to an N anything goes in the pursuit of their superiority, its a fight with no “rules” .   A pure power play means a fight until one of the two N’s comes out victorious.  It could be a simple fight where the N with the strongest position easily prevails and vanquishes his opponent, or it could be a protracted contest of equal power that focuses on tactics.

There may be a lot of collateral damage in the fight (ie – others getting hurt in the process), but the N’s absolutely do not care about that.  The only thing that counts is their winning.  If you see 2 N’s in a fight, get out of the way so that you do not become part of the collateral damage.

You’ve heard of “power politics” – it’s one example of a pure power play.

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Even though we need to understand scoffers and their tactics, we are not to be like them

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Matthew 10:16 –
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
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God has a different way of dealing with N’s than merely engage in a human vs human power play.  HE is in the equation with us, which changes everything.    We will dig much deeper into this in the upcoming book, as well as future blog posts.
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Narcissistic Traits – They’re Impossible To Please

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Matthew 11:16-19

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

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The linkages between these verses and narcissism are a bit more difficult, but “this generation” is epitomized by the Pharisees.  And as we discuss in other posts, Pharisees as a whole (there were individual exceptions) were classic narcissists (those with insolent pride).

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Narcissists are never happy with how others do things.  They “sit in the seat of scoffers”, sitting in judgment over others (see Sitting In The Seat Of Scoffers / Narcissists As Judge) – and their standard is based on whatever standard they decide at the moment.   Because their main goal is being superior, not achieving justice.  They often set their standards in such a way that they can declare those they are judging to be in the wrong.  So, you can jump through their hoop to meet the standard they set for you, only to find them change the standard so that they can still criticize you.  That is behavior Jesus described for “this generation” in the words above.

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There are various permutations of how this trait can be described:

  • Narcissists want everything both ways
  • Narcissists are never happy with what you do and/or how you do it
  • You “can’t win” in your dealings with a narcissist (you can rarely even “win/win”)
  • Narcissists consistently complain

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How do you deal with people who are impossible to please?   As Jesus said, “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”.   In other words, put your focus more on “doing the right thing” than on pleasing the person who is impossible to please.   That way, whether the narcissist is happy with you or not, at least you can stand before God as having acted with integrity.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here

Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 2

Please see here for part 1

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Jesus further highlighted the link between hypocrisy and judging others in Matthew 7:1-5:

 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5

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The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 has the same root “krino”[1] as in the word hypocrite.  The hypocrite has a “log in his eye” – a euphemism for a “big problem” or “big character flaw”.  But, out of pride the hypocrite minimizes his own log to be “nothing” – saying to himself “I’m OK”.  He then pretends helpfulness by offering to take the speck (a little problem) out of his brother’s eye, but in fact is acting as a proud judge, setting himself up as superior.

His judgment is proof that he has a problem in the same life area in which he is trying to “help” his brother.

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Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge[2] another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  Romans 2:1

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Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1

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Jesus called the narcissistic scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” seven times in Matthew 23.  There was a reason He emphasized it – He was making clear to them that even though they may have fooled people with their outward appearance of faux-righteousness, He clearly saw through to their proud, greedy hearts.  Hypocrisy is a prime trait of a scoffer/narcissist.

“The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.”[1] Continue reading

Narcissist Case Study – Eliab, David’s Oldest Brother

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Psalm 19:7

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

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

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

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1 Chronicles 2:13-15

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

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A Biblical Perspective on “Narcissistic Projection”

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

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