Narcissist Traits and Tactics – Psalm 12

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There are several Psalms that describe and address those with insolent pride (aka narcissists – see here).  Psalm 12 is one of those Psalms.   It describes them strutting about with the insolently prideful attitude that no one can tell them what to do (“who is lord over us”).  They flatter and speak lies , believing that they can get what they want through manipulating people and situations by what they say (“with our tongue we will prevail”).  Classic narcissistic approach.

But it also invites the Lord to cut them off, and describes how, ultimately, God will protect His people from these evil people.

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12 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”
“Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”

The words of the Lord are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
You, O Lord, will keep them;
You will preserve him from this generation forever.
The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

Psalm 12

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* Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible describes as “insolent pride” (see here)

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Narcissist Tactics – He Who Hates Disguises it With His Lips

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We have discussed previously how scoffers (narcissists, those with insolent pride) resist – to the point of hating – those who dare challenge their exalted self-image.
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Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you…… 
Proverbs 9:8
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While the N might immediately push-back against a reproof, they may also develop a hidden hatred concealed by gracious words.
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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 26:24-26

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When a narcissist flatters you, he is not lifting you up but instead laying a trap of some kind.  What you see and what is really happening are two completely different things.  In the same way, a scoffer (narcissist) who hates you will disguise that hate – for awhile.  He may speak graciously to you face-to-face, but in his heart is plotting to somehow “get you” .  When the opportunity presents itself to trash you publicly he will take it – “his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly”.

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Psalms for Healing – Psalm 42

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There are some Psalms that I “own”.  What I mean by that is that I have lived and felt a few Psalms to a depth far beyond reading and even memorizing, to a point where they truly became an expression of my crying out to God.  One of those is Psalm 42, coming to the forefront maybe four or five times throughout my life.  I memorized it over time, and have used it as a direct expression to God.

Psalms do not always give us “answers”, but almost always point us to the One with the answers.  While the Bible provides us with much wisdom for living successfully, life is ultimately about our drawing near to and personally knowing the God of the universe.  Crying out to Him is the often the first step in His process of working through a very difficult time – first emphasizing a relationship with our Heavenly Father, with answers to follow.  Here’s Psalm 42:

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As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

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Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

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I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

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Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. 

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Psalm 42

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Narcissistic* Traits Case Study – Acting As Judge (Pharisees)

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The Pharisees are a prominent example of Insolent Pride / Narcissism in the Bible (see here and here).  They were described as “scoffers” in Isaiah 28, and “scoffers” are one of the “names” given to those with insolent pride – [“‘Proud’, ‘haughty’, ‘scoffer’ are his names who acts with insolent pride” – Proverbs 21:24].  And insolent pride = narcissism (see here).

A prime characteristic of a scoffer is that they set themselves up as judge over others, based on an arbitrary standard of their own creation.   They will not try to keep their own standard, as they see themselves as above the rules.  And they will change the standard as necessary to suit their primary objective of being “above” others (that’s one of the reasons its an “arbitrary” standard).  The imperative of scoffers / insolent pride / narcissists is to maintain their superiority over others.

Here are some examples of the Pharisees acting as judge:

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When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 

Matthew 9:11

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The Pharisees set an implied arbitrary rule as to who “righteous” people should eat with, and then judged Jesus against that rule]

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Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 

Matthew 9:14

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The Pharisees took something they were doing (fasting), and turned it into a standard they could use with which to judge others]

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But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” 

Matthew 9:34

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Rather than carefully exploring how Jesus was able to cast out demons, the Pharisees jumped to the conclusion that since Jesus’ power could not be from God (based on the Pharisees’ own pre-determined view), it had to come from Satan.  Since falsely attributing Jesus’ miracles to Satan’s power would clearly undermine Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees were quick to take the opportunity to do this.

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But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” 

Matthew 12:2

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The Pharisees were interpreting the law according to their own opinion, and using their interpretation as the basis for judging Jesus]

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But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” 

Matthew 12:24

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Once again, rather than honestly exploring the true source Jesus’ ability to cast out demons, the Pharisees were quick to judge and condemn Him, based on an interpretation that would most fully demean and undermine Jesus.

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See here for initial steps on how to know God personally

* Narcissism is the colloquial secular term for what the Bible refers to as “insolent pride”.

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Avoid Them

Based on recent responses to the book – A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism – there seems to be confusion by some regarding the proper response to a narcissist.  Some believe that the book simply advocates “being a dormat and pray”, while others are disappointed that the book does not take a hard-line position of “no contact”.  Yet others believe that the book advocates for adult children of narcissistic parents to remain obedient.  None of these are a correct reading of the what the book says.  The proper response to narcissists is far more nuanced – depending on the relationship and bringing the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe into the middle of the equation.

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The general Biblical principle is to “avoid them”.

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But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Jesus said “leave them alone” (Matthew 15), and Paul said “do not become slaves of men” (I Corinthians 7:23).

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That is the general principle, but how you apply it depends on the relationship and circumstances.   David fled from King Saul, while Jesus engaged the Pharisees from time to time even while maintaining His own mission undeterred by their attempts to derail Him.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego left it to God to rescue them from the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar.

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For a current example, my youngest son currently works in a crew of only 2 people – with the other crewmate being a highly narcissistic co-worker who seeks to lord it over him and throw him under the bus whenever something goes wrong.  He could immediately quit, but he needs the job.  Yes, ultimately he needs to get away from that guy, but also needs God’s wisdom, guidance and help on how to wisely navigate the change.  In the meantime, son #3 needs to put on the “full armor of God” in dealing with his co-worker (Ephesians 6).

Another example would be if you recognize you have a narcissistic teenage son.  You would not immediately kick him out the house, right?  But you would need great wisdom in how to pray and manage the relationship.

In a clear case, if you have a highly toxic narcissistic best friend, it would be wise to avoid them.  In another example, if you are an adult child of a narcissistic parent you can “create space” (i.e. – avoid) as part of managing the relationship.  You have no obligation to obey them and “make them happy”, but you do need to show proper honor even while you live your own life.  In my own case, when I realized in my 20’s that I could not please my mom no matter what I did, I gave up bothering with it.  I still was kind and helpful as appropriate, but I stopped letting her expectations drive what I did – while managing my interface with her.

Each circumstance is different, but you can find ways to “create space” – sometimes permanently, but often using case-by-case wisdom as the circumstances require.  It is always appropriate to ask and trust God to help you create that space, whether small or large, frequently or infrequently.  The son of a family friend is married to the most toxic person I’ve ever become aware of.  She is absolutely destroying his self-worth, and controlling every communication he has with the outside world.  There is a lot to discuss about what needs to happen, but God gave him a break when she decided to go the UK with her mom on a trip.

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Each relationship in our lives comes with some level of responsibility.  From “little to no” responsibility in the case of a first time acquaintance or random passerby, to “total” responsibility in the case of a newborn child born to us.  Narcissists will try to make us feel more responsible than we should for their “happiness/success/well-being”.  In each case we need to wisely understand what our actual responsibility is in the relationship (not just what the N says it is), and “create space” (avoid) in ways consistent with our actual responsibilities.

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Most of us simply want relief, but God has a bigger picture in mind  Relief will ultimately come, and God will judge the narcissist – but He also wants us to grow into better people in and through the process.

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

 

 

 

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Narcissist* Traits – They Refuse To Listen

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A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” 
Proverbs 13;1
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A narcissist will often refuse to listen when someone is telling them they are doing something wrong.  I can immediately think of three cases where the narcissist (someone with insolent pride) was on a course of action that was 1.  not helpful to them, and 2.  damaging to someone else.    In each case, many people were telling them the same thing – admonishing that they were off-course and needed to change direction.   In each case, the narcissist refused to listen, and refused to change course.  This could have come from a combination of their thinking:
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  1. “I want what I want, and no one is going to get in the way”
  2. “My vision/faith/etc. is superior, and others just don’t get it”
  3. “Everyone  talking to me is inferior/stupid/wrong/etc., so why should I listen to them?”

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The end result in each case was the narcissist pushing ahead, and running into a set of consequences – which among other things further isolated them.  Of course, even then they were not able to learn from what happened (see “they never learn”)

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

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Dealing With Narcissists – Boundaries and Consequences, Not Rebukes

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He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. 

Proverbs 9:7-8

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Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And blows for the back of fools. 

Proverbs 19:29

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As we saw in a previous blog, if you rebuke a scoffer (aka narcissist) he will simply try to “trash” you in order to totally discount your validity and therefore the validity of what you’re saying.    They do this to make sure that they can stay on the pedestal which they have created for themselves.

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So what can you do?  Even though they may not respect you, they may respect (or alternatively, try to avoid) enforceable boundaries.   “Preparing Judgments” implies setting up consequences for violations of some clear standard.  So, rather than reproving a narcissist / scoffer, try the following:

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  1. Define a clear standard or boundary for the narcissist
  2. Explain to the narcissist a clear consequence (“judgment”) if the standard or boundary is violated
  3. Clearly and consistently execute the consequence if or when the standard is violated

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The narcissist will likely test this a few times to see if you’re serious.  But if you consistently apply it, and if the consequence or “judgment” is painful enough, the narcissist will learn over time to avoid triggering the consequence.

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It is important to understand this is one possible tool to use in dealing with narcissists, and how you apply it will depend on the situation and the relationship.

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

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See here for initial steps on how to know God personally

 

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Consequences of Being A Narcissist – In the End, People Do Not Want To Be Around You

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The devising of folly is sin, And the scoffer is an abomination to men
Proverbs 24:9
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“Scoffer” is one of the names given to people with insolent pride…….
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“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names, Who acts with insolent pride. 
Proverbs 21:24
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…….And insolent pride is the Biblical term for narcissism (see here).  So, “scoffer” is one of the descriptive names the Bible gives to what we today call a “narcissist”.
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Narcissists (those with insolent pride) want (or even demand) to be exalted, but the things they do in their drive to be exalted ultimately turns people off – to the point that people can’t stand being around them.  Of course, their charm may allow them to get away with it for a little while, but at some point their lifting themselves “up” (and simultaneously putting those around them “down”) catches up with them.  Its not a matter of “if”, but “when”.
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The result is that the narcissist gets the opposite of what he is seeking.  He is seeking to be admired, and instead in his selfish pursuit becomes despised.  Jesus made this very clear when describing the Narcissists of His day – the Pharisees.  In the middle of describing their insolent pride, He explained how things really work:
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Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. 
Matthew 23:12
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In his pursuit of exaltation, the narcissist winds up being humbled.
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* “Narcissist” is the current colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” (see here)
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Narcissist Traits – Discarding The Tools of Their Treachery

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Narcissists (or those with insolent pride, see here), frequently “use” others as tools to achieve their goals.  Once the narcissists have gotten what they want, they easily discard the people they used without any further consideration.  An example is how the narcissistic Pharisees (see here and here) treated Judas after Judas had betrayed Jesus.

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Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

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Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He [Jesus] had been condemned, he [Judas] felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 

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The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; 10 and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.” 

Matthew 27:1-10

In this case, after the Pharisees (chief priests and elders) were more than happy to use Judas as a tool to get what they wanted (the destruction of Jesus), they did not care the slightest about what happened to Judas.  He was just someone to be used as means to their end.  This is consistent with insolent pride – looking down on others as of much less importance, and therefore merely to be used and then easily discarded with no further consideration of their needs.

This principle has a second application in this case.  Judas was not only a tool of the Pharisees, but was also a tool of Satan in Satan’s quest to destroy Jesus.  Satan (a “narcissist” filled with insolent pride, see here) also uses people for his evil purposes, and then drives them to their destruction.

 

* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  Please see here for an explanation.

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Be Wise As Serpents, Innocent as Doves

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There are many opinions on how to navigate relationships with narcissists.  Typical “conventional wisdom” might include
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  1. “Fight fire with fire”
  2. “Don’t let people run all over you”
  3. “I deserve to be happy”
  4. “I don’t get mad, I get even”
  5. “I’ll make him pay for what he’s done to me”
  6. [Fill in your own version]
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One of the most popular books on the subject of dealing with narcissists on Amazon is called
Needless to say, that sounds more like a narcissist vs. narcissist underhanded power play – and not a pursuit of the kind of love to which God calls His people.  “Winning” against a narcissist who is torturing you might seem right, but Proverbs warns:
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There  is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. 
Proverbs 14:12
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God emphasizes this by repeating it
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 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. 
Proverbs 16:25
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Things which may seem like the right course to take – in the absence of Biblical wisdom – can lead to our own demise.
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Dealing with narcissists is not about doing what seems right,  but about actually being right – having true (Biblical) wisdom and understanding about the narcissist, the situation, and how to respond in the right way.  Toward this end, Jesus gave a particular instruction very appropriate for dealing with the world around us, particularly narcissists:
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“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men…… “
Matthew 10:16
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 Jesus had earlier used the term “wolves”, specifically referring to narcissists.
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 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Matthew 7:15
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It might “seem right” to treat a narcissist the same way that they treat us.  But if we act like them, we are no longer “innocent as doves”.   It is important that we maintain our integrity in order to honor God in the process of dealing with our narcissist.  In this context “innocence” means “pure” (maintaining integrity).  It does not mean “naive”.   On the contrary, we are to be the opposite of naive in our dealings with the narcissist – extra wise, extra alert, and extra shrewd.  But we are to do it with a pure heart and with integrity.
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* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  See here.
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Narcissist Case Studies – Cain, The First Human Narcissist

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While it may not be obvious through a cursory look, Cain was likely the first human narcissist (Satan was the very first narcissist, see here).   Let’s go through the Biblical evidence:

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The first clue that Cain was a narcissist with insolent pride is found here:

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“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”
I John 3:12
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Being “of the evil one (Satan)” is similar to the way Jesus described the Pharisees…..
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You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”   
John 8:44
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Since the Pharisees were narcissists (see here and here) just like their father, Satan (see here and here), describing Cain in the same way as the Pharisees puts him in the same category.
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The other clues on Cain’s narcissism and insolent pride come from his actions and reactions.  There was a clear sequence……
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……..Evil was in Cain’s heart (repeating I John 3:12)
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not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 
I John 3:12
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…….But Cain still expected God to “like” the offering he made.  However, God views obedience as much more important than the sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22).  When Cain did not get the positive response from God that he wanted, instead of repentance he 1.  became very angry, and 2.  began to mope
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but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 
Genesis 4:5
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……God then told Cain what he needed to do to fix things
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If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 
Genesis 4:7
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Note:  God’s instructions to the first narcissist (Cain) provides a clue to narcissists (scoffers with insolent pride) on how to deal with what is in their heart.
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Cain had a decision.  He could take God’s instruction to “master” the sin inside him.  But instead of repenting and seeking God, he decided to accept what was in his heart and get rid of the competition who was “making him look bad”.
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Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.   Genesis 4:8
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Then he lied about it
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Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 
Genesis 4:9
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When he got caught in this 3rd infraction (evil heart, murder, lying about the murder) and was going to receive final judgment from the Lord, he instead of repenting continued to whine, complain, and fight against his judgment – twisting what God said.
Cain first twisted what God had said in Genesis 4:11-12,
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Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear!   14 Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground (NOT true)
Then he lied about what God had said
“and from Your face I will be hidden” (NOT true)
Then he made a “drama king” kind of statement
and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”  (a grossly overstated fear)
 Genesis 4:13
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Cain’s response to his judgment was a classic narcissistic response to the consequences of his actions.
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The Good Kind Of Boasting

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I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice. 

Psalm 34:1-2

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Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord

Jeremiah 9:23-24

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Narcissists boast, and if you listen long enough, even covert narcissists will boast.  They frequently boast about what they have done, but might also boast about what others have done in a way that still gives them credit – that they influenced or caused it to happen in some way.

Because narcissists have a self-centered rather than God-centered view of everything, what narcissists will not do is give God the credit He deserves.  They do not realize that everything that anyone is able to do ultimately has God’s enablement as the foundation.

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36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

Romans 11:36

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It is virtually impossible for someone with strong narcissist tendencies to boast in God and give Him credit for an accomplishment. It’s quite normal to NOT hear others give God credit for things, even in church, but when someone overtly and consistently gives themselves credit for everything, they are giving you a clue that they may be a narcissist.

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A Little Anecdote On Dealing With Narcissists

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Many years ago I hosted a business colleague from another country.  While driving to visit a company facility he told me a little story that illustrated a way to deal with narcissists.  The colleague was from a little country next to a big country that spoke the same language.  The larger  mother country was known for being very prideful and while in decline still envisioned themselves as great.  Other countries around this big country used to describe them as having a “prestige imperative”.  In other words decisions the big country made were based on whether it made them appear to be a great country or not.

The colleague from the little country told me that the way the little country – who was looked down on by the big country – used to treat people from the big country was to “tell them they’re the king and then take their money”.  The people from the big country would be so wrapped up in the exaltation that they would be blind to everything else.

The point of this story is that many times a narcissist will put so much emphasis on their self-exaltation that they are oblivious to the prudent steps in their lives which actually make for successful living.

This is one application of the Proverb

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Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor. 
Proverbs 18:12
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Narcissist Traits – Creating Rules That Become “Doctrine”……

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You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” 

Matthew 15:7-9

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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:

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Narcissist* Traits – They Never Learn

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I was walking down the street pondering Proverb 14:6 – “A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none…”.   A scoffer is someone who acts with insolent pride.  Somehow their pride gets in the way of actually gaining wisdom (refer to the blog post Narcissism = Insolent Pride).  While I was thinking about that, the verse “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” came to me.  That phrase is actually in 3 separate verses:

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; 

Psalm 111:10

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Proverbs 1:7

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 

Proverbs 9:10

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We know that wisdom is a great thing:

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She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 

Proverbs 3:15

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He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.   

Proverbs 19:8

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Narcissists (people with insolent pride) may look to become “wise”, but as long as they seek to be the “center of the universe” rather than “allowing” God to be God, they will just not “get” what they are reading.  I personally know of a famous end-of-the-world predictor (famously wrong).  His family attested to the fact that he studied the Bible all the time, but also lived in a way obviously full of insolent pride.  He was “always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”

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Another example is when an unrepentant narcissist reads Jesus’ words that “he who wishes to be great among you must be the servant of all”, and cannot bring himself to accept that statement for himself while applying it others.  Any desire he has for wisdom, is thwarted by his own self-centeredness and pride.

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See here for initial steps on how 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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