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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Narcissistic Traits – They Want To Be The Center of Attention

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Matthew 23:1-7

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

3 John 1:9

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.
As mentioned above, Narcissists / those with insolent pride want to be the center of attention.  While they would prefer to have it come by being exalted – as with the Pharisees and Diotrophes – sometimes they will “play the victim” in order to be the center of attention.  A narcissist’s victim status can take the form of  “woe is me”, or “my (usually little) problems are far worse than your (usually much bigger) problems”.
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Please see here and here for background on why the Pharisees can be called Narcissists, and here for background on why Diotrophes can be called a Narcissist.

Psalm 17 – David’s Prayer For Protection Against Oppressors

Psalm 17

Prayer for Protection against Oppressors.

A Prayer of David.

17 Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look with equity.

 

You have tried my heart;
You have visited me by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent.
My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My feet have not slipped.

 

I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.

 

10 They have closed their unfeeling heart,
With their mouth they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

 

13 Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,
14 From men with Your hand, O Lord,
From men of the world, whose portion is in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.
15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

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When Narcissists Ruin Our Plans

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Narcissists (aka those with insolent pride) in our lives may sometimes interfere with our plans.  It can be frustrating and maddening.  We must deal with N’s wisely.   However, it is also helpful to know that God is sovereign even over mangled plans – even if those plans were mangled to due to things beyond our control.  John Piper briefly discusses this in God’s Sovereign Plan Behind Your Most Unproductive Days.  It’s worth a quick look.

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Romans 8:28-29

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

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A blog update:  I am working on an extensive review on how Jesus dealt with the narcissists of His day (the Pharisees).  If you would like a sneak peek at my raw incomplete notes you can see them at How Jesus Dealt With The N’s.

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For an overview of what this blog is about, please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective.

Narcissist Tactics – They Conceal Their Hatred

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One reason dealing with Narcissists is tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.

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N-Laying Up Deceit In Their Heart

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A Narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory”.  (Yes, hate is a strong word, but if you consider things on a spectrum of love vs. hate, they are on the hate side of the spectrum.)   While they may respond with an immediate full frontal assault, they might also keep their feelings hidden until such time that they can do the most damage.    They will try to disguise their hatred with their lips, by speaking graciously even while they hate you in their heart.  But don’t believe them.  They still fully intend to “trash” you (Proverbs 9:7 – “he who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself”), or undermine you – they’re just waiting for a better time or opportunity. Continue reading

Narcissist* Traits – Big Time Hypocrites

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Matthew 23

vs 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites……..

vs 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites……….

vs 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites……..

vs 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites……….

vs 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites………

vs 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites………

vs 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites………

##Insolent Pride------------Proverbs 21-24-Proud-, -Haughty-, -Scoffer-are his nameswho acts with insolent pride.(Insolent Pride Narcissism) (1)

In one sense, we can all be called “hypocrites” because we often do not live according to the values we profess.  But for many people, it may not be actual hypocrisy, but rather a moral inconsistency of some sort.

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In Whom Are Hidden All The Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

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Colossians 2:2-3

that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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Healing From Narcissist Abuse* – Turning Tears Into A Life-giving Spring

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Psalm 84:5-7

5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
7 They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

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The “valley of Baca” is most often understood to be the “Valley of Weeping”. There are times in our lives when we do go through a period of sorrow and weeping – and suffering at the hands of a narcissist in our life is typically one of those times.

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Psalm 84 says that it is actually possible during those times for us to

  • “Make it (our weeping) a spring” – to turn our hurt and sorrow into a source of life and vitality for ourselves and those around us
  • “Go from strength to strength” – to remain strong and even gain additional strength
  • “Appear before God in Zion” – to not lose our faith in God and in His love and goodness.

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The keys for doing this are found in verse 4 –

  • “Whose strength is in You (God)” – Rather than primarily relying on other sources – which will most likely fail us at some point – looking to God and relying on His strength to uphold us
  • “In whose heart are the highways to Zion” – consistently seeking God, His wisdom, His ways

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Our natural instinct is to attempt to scratch out small human solutions to our hurts……but God says that the real key to transforming our hurts into something good is to make Him the heart of the solution.

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Narcissist Traits – Religious, But Not Truly Moral or Righteous

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Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

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While I’ve Been Gone

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In my “Who Am I” post at the start this journey, I explained that one reason I am doing this blog anonymously is that I have been involved (for more than a decade now) in a missions work in a sensitive part of the world.  That “sensitive area” is North Korea.  I was recently invited to submit an article on North Korea to a prominent Christian publication, and felt a strong burden to share the conclusion of some key lessons learned along my particular journey.   The article is below.  If and when it comes out, my actual name will not be attached because doing so would put some other people at risk .

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I am sharing it on this blog for two reasons.  One is t0 partially make up for my absence while I was pressing to get this article done (writing does not come easy for me).  The second is that the North Korean culture has certain narcissistic tendencies, so some of the following lessons provide a bit of broader context in that respect.

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Here’s a draft of the article:

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A Manifesto For North Korean Missions

A Call to Grace Through Faith

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A Summary On How To Live With A Contentious Woman (And Still Be A Real Man)

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[Note:  This blog entry is intended for men.  It was a difficult blog post to write, and I’m still working through it.  But it was far enough along to push the “publish” button and provide you with a launch point for your own search into the subject.  It may seem as though I am just focusing on narcissistic women, with men as victims, but I hope to write a similar post on the reverse relationship – a wife living with a narcissistic husband – in the near future.

Underneath this entire blog post is the view that marriage is a human illustration of a divine relationship]

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Romans 12:18

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

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1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

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How is it possible to be peacefully married to a a contentious woman and still be a real man?  A tough question.  Her modus operandi is to dominate you, which leaves you the seemingly impossible choices of either fighting back and creating a war at home, or submitting, neither of which is appealing (or correct).  This post summarizes a range of things to consider for dealing with the situation.  Your contentious woman could range from one who is merely annoying to one who is “impossible to live with”.

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Narcissist Traits – Deceitfully Seeking The Admiration Of Men While Doing Evil

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Mark 12:38-44

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.”

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Matthew 6:2

“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.  

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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 – they 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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The 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 at the hands of 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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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview of this blog.

Psalm 91 – Security Of The One Who Trusts In The Lord

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Psalm 91

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91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”

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For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

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You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

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A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.

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For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

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11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

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14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”

Counseling Seemingly Impossible Situations

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2 Timothy 3:16-17

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.

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I am reading an excellent book called “Counseling the Hard Cases:  True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture“.  This book provides case studies on how Biblically based counselors successfully counseled seemingly impossible counseling situations – including situations which secular-counselors had previously been unable to resolve.

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The book starts with a discussion on whether the Bible is sufficient to help people with their problems….

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“Is Scripture sufficient to inform all the possible counseling situations in this fallen world? The implications of such a question are massive. Continue reading

Narcissist Traits – They Stumble A Lot

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Proverbs 16:18

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

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Narcissists seem to frequently step into “holes” and stumble – constantly creating difficulties for themselves which result in their scrambling around in order to extricate themselves.   There are several practical reasons for this: Continue reading

Is Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible?

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One underlying premise of this blog is that what is defined as “narcissism” in the secular world of psychology is equivalent to what is called “insolent pride” in the Bible.   The basis for making this assertion is the substantial, but not necessarily  1:1, overlap of traits.

 

TheBibleOnNarcissists

 

As Narcissistic Personality Disorder is still being researched in the formal field of psychology, and is only generally defined in the world of pop psychology, it does not have a clear, official definition  (see here).   Therefore, it stands to reason that there cannot be a complete 1:1 match between the terms “narcissism” and “insolent pride”, when one of the terms is not precisely defined.   But, there is enough overlap of traits that we can use the term “narcissism” as an approximation for “insolent pride”.

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The reason we are even using the term “narcissism” is that many people who are searching for answers on how to deal with these troublesome people will likely search using the term “narcissism”, as that is the term with which they are most familiar.  But the most precise and real answers will come from the Biblical understanding of “insolent pride”.  That is why we are using the terms synonymously, even though there is not a precise match-up between terms.

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Please see also

Best Match Between Secular and Biblical Definitions of Narcissism

The Divergence of Secular and Biblical Approaches To Narcissism

Secular Definitions – Narcissism Was Formerly Called Megalomania

 

 

 

 

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