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 – Outwardly “Righteous”, Inwardly Rebellious

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Matthew 23:27-28

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

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As we discussed here and here, the scribes and Pharisees are a particularly robust case study of narcissists.   They were experts at putting on a righteous act – partly for show, and partly because they actually believed it (see here) – while in reality being rebellious in their hearts toward God.

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This same trait of appearing godly outwardly, but being the opposite inwardly, will also be true of the narcissists that appear in the “last days”, as discussed here.
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2 Timothy 3:5 – holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

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The key to detecting this is to 1.  watch what they do, and compare it to what they say,  and 2.  watch what they do in public vs. what they do in private.

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Matthew 23:1-5

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.

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

 

The Proper Perspective Of God

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Psalm 8:3-5

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

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When you think about it, both narcissists and their victims underestimate God.  Narcissists, in their overvaluation of themselves and undervaluation of God’s majesty, attempt to take His place.  Their victims underestimate the power and ability of God to act on their behalf and in their defense.

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Begin to gain perspective by getting outside to look up at God’s handiwork in the heavens.  I have been doing it frequently, and it has been very good.

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The following clip may also help.

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Narcissist Traits – They Will Trash You If You Reprove Them

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As we have discussed previously, “scoffer” is one name to describe those who act with “insolent pride” – the Biblical term for what the secular world calls narcissism.  Therefore, we can learn more about the characteristics of narcissists by looking deeper at what the Bible says about scoffers.

The following table focuses on the fact that narcissists absolutely hate to be told that they are wrong.

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Level

Scoffer (Insolent Pride) Trait

Narcissism Trait

1

Proverbs 15:2 – A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise

A narcissist will first avoid situations where he may be told he is doing something wrong…..no matter how wise the “reprover” might be

2

Proverbs 13:1 – “…A scoffer does not listen to rebuke”

But if a narcissist somehow does find himself in position of being rebuked, he will refuse to listen.  Have you ever tried to rebuke a narcissist?  He will ignore you, verbally fight you, tell you why you are the one who is wrong – anything to keep from admitting that they may be wrong.

3

Proverbs 9:8 – “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..”

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Proverbs 26:24-26 – “He who hates disguise 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.”

Not only will a narcissist refuse to listen, but he will also hate you for reproving him.

 

He will disguise his hatred, and even speak graciously to you, but when he has the chance to trash you publicly he will take it.

4

Proverbs 9:7 – “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself…”

This results in a narcissist trashing your reputation.  A narcissist will not hesitate to trash the reputation of those who try to correct them – resulting in dishonor to you for daring to correct them.

Please see “Putting Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism Into Perspective” for background on what this blog is about.

Dealing With N’s – Abandon A Quarrel

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Proverbs 17:14

14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

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This verse brings to mind pin-pricking a balloon filled with water.  It does not just spring a little leak when pricked, but immediately gushes out all the water.  You cannot hold it back once it starts.

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A narcissist is constantly striving to exalt themselves in their hearts – battling anything that gets in the way.  Their pride makes them unable to admit that they are wrong.  Therefore, whenever a fact is in dispute (i.e. – who said what, who did what, etc.) it is impossible for them to concede that you were right and they were wrong.  This is true even if they made up the “fact” in question out of thin air.

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If you directly engage the N in trying to get the record straight, you are walking straight into a conflict.  If you do succeed in proving your point, the N will be angry that you proved them wrong.  They will then attack you on how you approached the issue with statements like:  “Why do you always have to pick on me”, “You pick at every little thing I say”, “I try so hard”, “I can’t do anything right in your eyes”, etc.  Because there is probably a little grain of truth to what they are saying, it will be impossible to defend yourself without continuing the strife.  So they’ve still got you.

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In many cases, the issue about which you are trying to correct the record does not really matter, and you are likely arguing the point simply out of your own pride.  Maybe make your point once.  If the N pushes back out of their own drive to be correct, drop the issue without any final passive-aggressive digs at the N.  Then trust the Lord.  It may not seem right that you have to “concede”, but God will ultimately have the last say.

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This in fact is one application of the general admonition to “avoid them”.

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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective to better understand what this blog is about.

 

Narcissist* Traits – Sitting in the Seat of Scoffers / Narcissists as Judge

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Narcissists will frequently set themselves up as others’ judge.  And not in the sense of being a fair, balanced evaluator of things – more in the sense of “I am superior in mind and values, and whatever I think is right.  And all of the inferior people around me who think or act differently than me deserve to be mocked.”

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Psalm 1:1 – How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

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“Sitting in the seat of scoffers” is a word picture that describes someone who is sitting down while bossing others around them – looking down on them and mocking them as they perform their duties.  They sit in judgment as someone who is the only one qualified (in their own minds) to evaluate others due to their inherent superiority.

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Scoffers / narcissists are ones who believe that they should set the rules, not follow the rules.  They believe that they are inherently better able to judge who is doing something “right” – according to the standards which they themselves have set (of course).  They believe that this one of their God-given roles and duties (not true).   They are the people who believe that they should be the boss or leader because of their superiority  – and should command others to work while they command and monitor them.  Narcissists will “sit”, and not lift a finger to actually work unless they are forced, or unless it somehow gives them an opportunity to do it “for show”.  Actual work is for inferior people.

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An example of this is shown by the classic Narcissists, the Pharisees (see here and here), in Matthew 23:4 –

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Matthew 23:4

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.

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The Pharisees created extra-Biblical rules for others to follow, but were unwilling to follow the rules themselves.  This is a classic example of a narcissist “sitting in the seat of scoffers”.

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

Strengthen Yourself In The Lord

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1 Samuel 30:6

Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

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I received a small bit of news yesterday that was a bit discouraging.  It was not a big deal, and it did not affect me directly, but rather someone close to me.  The person affected was not bothered much, but I hurt on his  behalf.

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As I was discouraged this morning, I remembered David’s example in I Samuel 30:6.  Things were completely falling apart for David and his crew, and to top it the people loyal to him were distressed to the point of contemplating getting rid of him.  Rather than giving up or thrashing around for a human solution, David started by “strengthening himself in the Lord”.

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How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord?  First would be to get a little quiet space and begin talking directly with Him.  We can complain about how we feel, but need to do it respectfully and in light of His Sovereignty.  Second might be to find a Psalm that reflects the state of our heart.  And third might be to reflect on God’s unlimited love and goodness, His unlimited power, His unlimited knowledge and wisdom, and His consistent faithfulness to those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Finally, we can cry out to Him for HELP!.  There is no magic formula, but you will know when your heart has been strengthened in Him.

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After he was strengthened in the Lord, David was able to then see clearly enough to ask God what he was supposed to do about the situation.  God gave David the answer, and David charged forward with God providing the practical victory and ultimate solution.

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Take a look at all of I Samuel 30 to get the whole story.

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Psalm 73:25-28

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

 

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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