Narcissism = Insolent Pride in the Bible

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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You may have found this blog because you have a “narcissist” in your life, or  in the life of someone you care about.   At first, you may not have known that you were dealing with a narcissist, but the pain and damage this selfish, arrogant, condescending, domineering person caused might have driven you to search for answers on what was going on, and on how to deal with this difficult person.  As you went online or to books on  Amazon, you read more about who this person is, and how he operates.  And you likely read some explanations as to how he got this way, or advice regarding how to deal with this “narcissist”.  In the process of trying to learn everything possible in your search for answers, you may have decided to explore what the Bible has to say on the subject.

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While the Bible does not specifically refer to “narcissism” –  which takes its name from Greek mythology – it does speak to the subject.

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Narcissist Traits – No Limit To Their Kingdom Building

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One characteristic of true narcissists / those with insolent pride is that there is no limit to their desire for being exalted by others.   They are the ultimate “kingdom builders”, with the goal of showing their “greatness”.  The only thing limiting them is their opportunity.  That is why classic narcissists like Hitler and Napoleon would could be relatively obscure, but when given the opportunity would move quickly to create the biggest kingdom possible – at the expense of many other people, of course.

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Habakkuk 2:4-5

“Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.
“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
So that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
And he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations
And collects to himself all peoples.

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As the ultimate narcissist, this very much applies to Satan.  Satan’s goal is to gather to himself all nations, and collect to himself all people – to himself and away from God – even though Satan knows full well that those people will be utterly destroyed as a result.   (See here for the first step in not falling into Satan’s trap)

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Click here for a short discussion of the first steps to know God personally

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
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Narcissist Traits – They Focus On Your Version Of Their Problem

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Matthew 7:3-5

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?   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 7:3-5

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While the Bible does not say explicitly say that everyone who is a hypocrite is a narcissist (a narcissist is someone with insolent pride, or a “scoffer” – see here), it does make clear that narcissists are hypocrites (see here).   Jesus points out in Matthew 7 one characteristic of hypocrites – they will ignore or discount their own flaws, while at the same time focusing intently on your flaws which “really need to be fixed”.  This is consistent with narcissistic traits – superiority in their heart (see here and here) resulting in feeling the need to fix you, while thinking their own issues are “no big deal”, or too minor to even notice.

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This is also consistent with narcissistic trait of creating rules, but acting above those same rules (see here)

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One interesting part of this verse is that if you hold a toothpick up to your own eye, it looks very big – a “log”.  But if you hold that same toothpick up to your friend’s eye, it looks small – a “speck”.  But it’s the same toothpick.  The implication is that a narcissist could have the equivalent “flaw” in his life that he feels compelled to rid you of.

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This is similar to what is described in Romans 2

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Romans 2:1 

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

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*narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  See here for more.

Click here for the initial steps you can take to find peace with God

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Book Announcements

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Davidson Trust Publishing is announcing the following books:

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“Lot’s Choice” – just released in print and on Kindle.

“Lot’s Choice” is a short book triggered by a discussion our church home group had a few months ago on the chapter “He Hesitated” from JC Ryle’s book  “Holiness”.  “Lot’s Choice” discusses the essential criteria for making decisions good for our lives, while avoiding the unforeseen outcomes of trying to have it both ways.  It is a straightforward case study – easily used for personal Bible study or for group discussions from youth to adults.

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In the works are two additional books.

  • “Do Not Worry About Tomorrow:  A Biblical Perspective On God’s Provision”
    • Release date – February 28, 2020

 

  • “Signposts:  On The Road To The End of History”  (working title)
    •  Expected release date – June 2020
    • A book that outlines
      • the prophetic signposts we are currently witnessing,
      • what they mean
      • how to prepare for what is to come

 

 

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Narcissist* Traits – Superiority And Contempt

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Luke 18:9-14

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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This is one of Jesus’ key stories to illustrate the difference between how a narcissist (one with insolent pride) approaches things in contrast to how one without insolent pride approaches it……. and very importantly also telling us the end result of the two approaches.  (See here and here on how we know that some Pharisees were narcissists.)   Some key phrases in the story match the definition given in Proverbs 21:24 – “”Proud”, “haughty”, “scoffer” are his names who acts with insolent pride”.

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  1. Proud – “told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous”, “was praying this to himself”, “I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (proud of his accomplishments)
  2. Haughty – “God, I thank you that I am not like other people”
  3. Scoffer – “Viewed others with contempt”

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In the above verse we see that one characteristic of their narcissism was to view others with contempt.

From Dictionary.com

Contempt

Noun –  The feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile or worthless; disdain; scorn

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Synonyms – Contempt, disdain, scorn — implies that [narcissists* have] strong feelings of disapproval and aversion toward what seems base, mean, or worthless.  Contempt is disapproval tinged with disgust;  ie – to feel contempt for a weakling.  Disdain is a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one’s [a narcissist’s*] dignity and unworthy of one’s notice, respect or concern

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The narcissistic Pharisee viewed himself as better than “others” (as represented by the guy standing next to him).    But Jesus made it clear that ultimately “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled”.   As we have previously discussed here and here, even though narcissists appear to be “getting away with it” (in the short term, at least), they ultimately do not get away with their actions.

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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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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?

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The Four Pillars Of Trust

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Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
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This is one of those almost-too-familiar passages that we can often gloss over and say “yes, yes, I already know that one”.  But digging deeper it offers some clear guidance on dealing with the situations in our lives – including the situation with our difficult N.

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Proverbs 3:5-8 describes a very positive outcome, as well as three conditions for that outcome to take place.

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Narcissist* Tactics – “I Was Just Kidding”

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Proverbs 26:18-19

Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “Was I not joking?”

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A classic narcissist tactic is that when they are caught in a deception or some other maneuver, they quickly try to deflect blame back to the victim.  (Deception is one of the prime tools in the narcissists’ toolkit (see here)).  Often the deceiver will tell their victim, “you misunderstood me” – in effect blaming the victim for the problem (it’s YOUR fault).  But, in the above Proverb, the person caught in his deception has an even worse “defense” – trying to get out of it by saying “I was just kidding”.

If he had not gotten caught, he would have simply kept silent because he was “getting away with it”.  But he got caught, possibly in a way where he could not the blame back on the victim.   In this case his escape is to pretend it was a joke.  The reason he is like a madman who just hurls destruction (firebrands, arrows, death) is that he not only hurts someone (through deception) but adds “insult to injury” by trying through a transparent attempt to pretend it was not intentional.

How can someone who intentionally deceives someone close to them (neighbor), and gets caught in the deception, possibly think that he can get out of the trouble he is in simply by saying “just kidding”?  It’s not rational – a bit insane, like a “madman” – for him to think he can escape with such a lame excuse.

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Click here for the initial steps to establish a correct relationship with God.

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*Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible describes as “insolent pride”.  See here for a further explanation.

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Narcissists Are Masters Of Fake, Incomplete Repentance

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From Cain, the very first narcissist, narcissists have used incomplete and fake repentance as a tool to avoid the consequences of their actions, while not actually giving up their quest for what they want.  It is a tactic for taking off the immediate heat while avoiding any genuine heart change.  King Saul and Pharaoh were two examples.

When Saul told Samuel “I have sinned” after he demonstrated remorse, he “repented” to Samuel merely to retain power and gain honor:

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“Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. … Then he said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.”  1 Samuel 15:24,30

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And twice Saul “repented” to David to make himself look good in front of his soldiers (I Samuel 24:16-21 and I Samuel 26:21) Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – They “Put On A Show” Of Their Deeds

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Matthew 23:5

But they (scribes and Pharisees) do all their deeds to be noticed by men…..

As we mentioned here, here, and here, the scribes and Pharisees are a case study in narcissism / insolent pride.

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In the Narcissists’* drive to be exalted by others, their focus is completely on what other people think of them, rather than on the genuine substance of things.  In fact, they will go out of their way to even suffer some pain – such as with fasting – if the end result is the praise and recognition of man.  To a narcissist, wickedness in their heart does not matter as long as things look good to others.  They particularly will focus on “putting on a show” of their “goodness” so that others will see it and think well of them.

Some examples are:

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Narcissist* Traits – “Good Deeds” That Exalt Themselves and Hurt Others

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Philippians 1:12-18

12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

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Paul’s statement on “some” (a minority) that were preaching was incredible:  They were doing a “good work” (preaching Christ) for the following reasons:

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  1. Jealously
  2. Strife
  3. Selfish ambition
  4. Wanting to cause Paul distress, with no consideration of the fact that he was already in distress by being imprisoned!

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Their good work was nothing at all about doing a good thing out of love for others…….they were doing what looked good (so they couldn’t be criticized) for the sole purpose of exalting themselves (selfish ambition) and hurting Paul.  They could be sure that they would have zero eternal reward for their “good work” of preaching:

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1 Corinthians 13:1-4

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.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

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These may even be some of those of which Jesus spoke:

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Matthew 7:21-23

“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.’

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And, even more incredible was Paul’s response…… rather than focusing on how this minority were “hurting him”, he was happy that the gospel was being advanced by whatever means possible.  He knew that God would judge the jealous, selfish (narcissistic) people , and that God would deal with them properly while he continued to focus on his goal.

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Colossians 3:25

For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

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Click here for steps to peace with God.

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

 

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Narcissist* Traits – Creating “Righteous-Sounding” Excuses To Get What They Want

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Mark 7:9-13

He [Jesus] was also saying to them, “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.”

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Jesus was speaking here to the “Pharisees and some of the scribes”  [See herehere, and here for discussions on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists*].

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

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The devious solution they came up with created a mechanism that projected an image of “righteousness” while at the same time giving them what they wanted.   They would give their money “to God”, but it would still be under their control as to how it would be spent – they would the recipient of their own “generosity” instead of their parents.

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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.  This was a deceitful move  – ignoring the requirement to take care of their parents by acting pious while simultaneously being the recipient.  They were keeping the money for themselves, shirking their responsibilities, and using the false “piety” to further glorify themselves while covering for their evil behavior.

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This is a classic narcissist move – they create an excuse that cannot be criticized or questioned as a smokescreen and cover for their self-centered and selfish action to get what they want.  And, if they can use the smokescreen itself as the very means of getting what they want – all the better.

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

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Narcissistic Traits – They’re Impossible To Please

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This blog post is a cousin to the previous post on narcissists’ tendency to complain a lot.

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Matthew 11:16-19

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’  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.”   Matthew 11:16-19

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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

…. Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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The Most Narcissistic Person Ever

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This blog post is provocative, but true.  The original Narcissist is Satan (see here).  A person is coming who will be the human protege of Satan, and an obvious candidate for the most narcissistic person ever.  When you consider all of the top N’s in the history of the world, that’s saying something.  The book of Daniel calls him a despicable person, and goes on to describe him this way:

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Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land.  It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down.  It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host;

“In the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run their course,
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue…..

“….”And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify himself in his heart,
And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
but he will be broken without human agency.   Daniel 8:9-26

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This description which the angel Gabriel (same angel who announced Jesus’ birth) gave to Daniel declares him full of insolent pride, the Biblical analog of the secular term narcissism.  Self-exaltation will be at the core of everything he does.  The book of Daniel also describes him this way:

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“Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.  He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.      Daniel 11:36-37

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Paul describes him this way:

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Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish,      2 Thessalonians 2:8-10a

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This is not someone you want to be around.  But, the good news is that God will deal with him directly and suddenly – in the same way He will ultimately deal with all those who have unrepentant insolent pride.

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See here for the first steps on how to know God personally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Narcissists Are Delusional

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Narcissists frequently appear delusional to normal people.  Their delusion shows up in many ways, including a warped and inflated view of accomplishments, and dreaming up grandiose plans that will somehow magically happen.  N’s believe they deserve accolades for their grand plans (rather than true results) – common phrases like “delusions of grandeur” or “legends in their own minds” fits these people.

Haman, a Biblical case study on narcissism in the Old Testament, was a prime example

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Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.  Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king.      Esther 5:11-12

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Haman automatically assumed that his invitation from Esther was due to his greatness, with no clue that Esther was actually trying to counter the wicked plan he had put into motion.

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Jesus highlighted another example of delusion, when he admonished the “hypocrites” to not attempt to take a speck out of their brother’s eye while they had a log in their own.

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“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  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?  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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These “helpful” (but actually judgmental) narcissists (see here, here, and here) are delusional in two ways.  First, they do not believe that they have a log in their own eye.  Second, they believe they’re qualified to take the speck out of their brother’s eye.  Their insolent pride, and hypocrisy, blinds them to both.

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In both of the above instances, the narcissist’s delusion is in direct contrast to God’s intention for us to have a sound and true view of ourselves.

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For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.      Romans 12:3
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While narcissists in delusion can think more highly of themselves than they ought to think, be sound-minded and see them for what they really are.

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Please see here for the starting point for peace with God.  

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