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.
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.
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.
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. Psalm 44:21
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