7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
In the above statement, Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 as he spoke to the hypocritical, narcissistic Pharisees (see here and here about how we know that the Pharisees were narcissists / those with insolent pride). The Pharisees are a good case study on the behavior of religious leaders who are narcissists:
- The narcissists say all the right things, about God and their love for Him (“honors Me with their lips:”)
- But down deep in their hearts, they are pursuing something selfish – self-exaltation, material luxuries, or sexual indulgences (“heart is far away from Me”)
- In God’s eyes their “good words” about Him are worthless (“in vain do they worship me”)
- They create and teach their own rules (“precepts of men”) as if they were from God (“doctrines”)
The logical sequence for these narcissists would be that they start with a (somehow self-serving or self-exalting) view on a particular matter. In their ever-present pride that they are the only ones who are right, and out of their tendency to want to control others, they would try to turn their own opinions into rules (“precepts”) for others to follow. In their further pride and drive for control, to ensure others’ submission they might then move toward claiming that those rules are divinely inspired and from God (“doctrine”) – equal to or higher than even God’s Word. Or that those rules have some higher “moral authority”, based on their definition of what constitutes the proper moral authority. In today’s world that “moral authority” could even be evil which the narcissist is claiming to be good.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
This could happen in a friendship or family, all the way up to the level of creating a cult or some kind of political movement built around themselves and their own system of thinking.
These people are particularly dangerous. That is why Jesus warned His disciples
Matthew 7:15-16a – “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits……
This will be even more prevalent in what the Bible calls “the last days”. So, be very alert to these kinds of people.
3 ……. He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. ……………...
11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.,,,
24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance.
*Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here