17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
While not everyone who has this list of traits is automatically a narcissist, narcissists tend to have this list of traits. Therefore, if we apply to people with the following traits the instruction which is given, we will automatically be responding appropriately to those people who are narcissists.
- they cause dissension
- they teach in ways contrary to sound doctrine
- they are slaves of their own appetites
- they deceive people with smooth and flattering speech
The instructions for dealing with them are:
- Keep an eye on them (in other words, be on the alert for these kinds of people), and
- Turn away from them
- individually – avoid them
- collectively – do not let them influence your church
The reasons it is important to deal with these people in this way are:
- It will allow us to avoid the consequences that surrounds and turmoil that surrounds these people. But, more importantly …
- They “deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting”. In other words, if we do not recognize them and avoid them, we put ourselves at risk of becoming deceived – living according to false ways of thinking which will be disastrous for our lives.
14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
In other words, if you allow yourselves to be led by a (blind) narcissist (the Pharisees to which Jesus referred or the deceivers to which Paul referred), you are blind and will fall into the same pit as the narcissist. (See here for more)
It is important to understand the context within which this instruction was given – that of relating to other church “members”. As discussed here, how we deal with narcissists greatly depends upon the nature of the relationship with them. We need to use the response that is appropriate for the situation.
*narcissist is the current secular term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”. See here for more.