Narcissist Traits – They Seek Admiration While Doing Evil

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In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”   

Mark 12:38-44

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“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites (i.e. the Pharisees) do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 

Matthew 6:2

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[Note:  We know Jesus was referring to the scribes and Pharisees when He mentioned “hypocrites” in Matthew 6 because of what it says in Matthew 23 – “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…… linking the “hypocrite” label to the scribes and Pharisees.  The scribes and Pharisees were the narcissists of their day (see here and here and here and here) and are a good case study of narcissistic traits and tactics.]

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Jesus was seeking to protect those who were listening to Him through his cautionary “beware” about the hypocritical scribes (and Pharisees).  These narcissists

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  1. Coveted the admiration of men (“they like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets”), instead of the humility more appropriate for their position as “men of God”
  2. Acted in disingenous ways to seek the admiration of men (“wore long robes (to imply piety)” and “for appearance’s sake offer long prayers”), while
  3. At the same time – out of greed – were taking advantage of the most vulnerable people (“devour widows houses”) who could not resist the evil being done to them.

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Jesus’ listeners needed to be wary of these narcissists not only because of the potential harm they could do through their greedy actions, but also (and even more importantly) because of the terrible example of “faith” which these narcissists were setting.  Instead of humbling themselves before the God of the universe, and praying secretly, they were putting on a show for only the exaltation which they would receive from men.  Following this supposed spiritual leadership of the scribes would be the opposite of a genuine life of the kind of faith pleasing to God, and spiritually dangerous to any who would follow.  Hence Jesus’ warning to “beware”.

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While Jesus did not call out these scribes by name, He did something even better by providing a guideline by which His listeners could recognize these people and others like them – and to prudently be on guard against them and their destructively prideful and self-seeking ways.

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Narcissist Traits and Tactics – They Are Deceivers (and Liars)

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Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,

Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we have made a pact.
The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by,
For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”   

Therefore thus says the Lord God,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Isaiah 28:14-16

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Isaiah 28:14-16 refers to the Pharisees during Jesus’ time.  They “rule this people who are in Jerusalem”, and God’s response to them was to lay a “costly cornerstone” – referring to Jesus (Isaiah 28:16)
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By calling these people “scoffers”, the passage in Isaiah clearly indicates that they had “insolent pride”, which is the scriptural term for narcissism (Proverbs 21:24).    Verse 15 indicates that falsehood and deception were central to their mode of operating.  They make “falsehood our refuge and conceal themselves with deception”.
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Jesus confirmed this when He bluntly told 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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Why do narcissists lie?   In their personal imperative to be #1 and “lord” over everyone, lying is a simply a tool to achieve it.  They lie –
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  • To gain an advantage
  • To win you over – for the ultimate purpose of “using” you in some way
  • To make sure that they “win” – the argument, the promotion, the family squabble
  • To hide their real desires
  • To hide their real motives
  • To hide their real goals
  • To make themselves look better (and you worse in comparison)

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They cannot stand being wrong, and will twist facts and even lie to themselves to prove to themselves and others that they are right.  Their mental processes revolve around their self-exaltation, not around whether they are telling the truth.  They don’t think in terms of truth telling – they think in terms of exalting themselves.

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Narcissists live in a world of untruth – about themselves, their circumstances, others, …. and God.

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Narcissist Traits – Honoring Themselves Instead of Working

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Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant
Than he who honors himself and lacks bread. 

Proverbs 12:9

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The priority for a narcissist is self-exaltation.  If no one else is there to honor them, they won’t hesitate to honor themselves.  They will go around bragging about their “accomplishments” instead of actually going out and making them happen – talking instead of working.

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Narcissist Tactics – Sniping At Those of Whom They’re Jealous (Pharisee Case Study)

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29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.  The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” 

 

Luke 5:29-32

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The Pharisees were jealous that Jesus, instead of themselves, was getting the attention and honor from a great crowd at this reception organized especially for Him.  Rather than recognize their own jealously, they began to sneeringly condemn and criticize everyone else at the reception.  They took a condescending, judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude toward the entire crowd by labeling them all as sinners, and then arrogantly judged Jesus for not separating from the guests.  They showed their insincere cowardice by whispering against Jesus behind his back instead of directly addressing him with their concerns.   This was all an arrogant outflowing of their jealously – cloaked as “holiness”.

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Jesus knew about the Pharisees grumbling to His disciples.  He could have rebuked them for the jealously at the root of their comments, or for their insolent pride at looking down their nose at virtually everyone in the room.  However, instead of getting down in the mud with the Pharisees, He pointed them and anyone else listening to a much higher point – the need for everyone who was willing to recognize (by admitting they were spiritually “sick”) their need for repentance.  The Pharisees in their pride would, of course, not recognize their need, and therefore would not receive healing.

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This was a subtle rebuke to the Pharisees’s self-centered blind jealously, and in the process, Jesus communicated to His listening disciples His willingness to engage with people for their benefit.  And in the process, He demonstrated Proverbs 26:4-5:

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Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes. 

 

Proverbs 26:4-5

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Click here for steps on how to know GOD personally

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

 

 

 

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Can A Narcissist Be A Christian? It’s All About Fruit vs. No Fruit

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“Can A Narcissist Be A Christian”? is one of the frequent search terms for people finding their way to this blog.  It is a very understandable question, along the lines of “How can X be a Christian and act like THAT?”, or “How can X claim to follow Jesus and treat people in the opposite way to how Jesus might”?

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear that the answer to this question is all about whether or not the person demonstrates any (and, as we shall see later, genuine) fruit.  It is not the fruit that saves, but is the outward evidence of the relationship with Him.

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John 15:1-14

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Continue reading

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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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Obsessing About The One Thing He Doesn’t Have

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Continuing in our case study of Haman.  Even though Haman had achieved “everything”, he was obsessed with the one thing he didn’t have – Mordecai’s recognition of Haman’s “glory”.   That is typical of narcissists* – they can have everything going “right” in their world, but in the middle of that will obsess about one little slight that they think they have received from someone.

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After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him.  All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage……….When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. 

Esther 3:1-5

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This happened more than once.

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9 Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate and that he did not stand up or[tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.  Haman controlled himsef, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. 

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.

 Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” 

Esther 5:9-13

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By his own words, even though the king promoted Haman to 2nd in command in the kingdom, Haman said, “yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate”.

One prime characteristic of one with insolent pride (narcissists) is that they want it ALL, they are never completely satisfied, they want to be unquestionably #1 with no exceptions, they want everyone’s love and admiration.  This drive is so entrenched in their hearts that they obsess over any “slight” that challenges it.

A story circulated a years ago about a famous, obviously narcissistic politician who could be in a room of admirers, but would spend an entire evening trying to win over the one person in the room whom he sensed had less than complete admiration.  He could not tolerate less than complete admiration.

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When they are slighted it can lead to anger, and even retribution, as Haman’s case study shows.

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

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Narcissist Tactics – They Conceal Their Hatred

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One reason dealing with Narcissists is tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.

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N-Laying Up Deceit In Their Heart

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A Narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory”.  (Yes, hate is a strong word, but if you consider things on a spectrum of love vs. hate, they are on the hate side of the spectrum.)   While they may respond with an immediate full frontal assault, they might also keep their feelings hidden until such time that they can do the most damage.    They will try to disguise their hatred with their lips, by speaking graciously even while they hate you in their heart.  But don’t believe them.  They still fully intend to “trash” you (Proverbs 9:7 – “he who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself”), or undermine you – they’re just waiting for a better time or opportunity. Continue reading

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Narcissist Traits – They Avoid Accountability (Pharisee Case Study)

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Narcissists (the secular term for scoffers or those with insolent pride) act to achieve their self-exalting, self-centered goals, but then aggressively avoid blame when called to account for their actions.  The Pharisees provide a prominent case study.  They stirred up the crowds against Jesus…..

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20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”  Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “Crucify Him!”  And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”

When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”   

Matthew 27:20-25

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But when Peter and other apostles publicly shared the gospel, the religious leaders objected greatly to being accused of their complicity in the death of Jesus.

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27 When they had brought them [Peter and others], they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 

Acts 5:27-28

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We know from here that Pharisees were examples of narcissists / those with insolent pride.  The very people who stirred up the crowds to ask Pilate to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus were the same ones who later tried to avoid being pegged with responsibility for Jesus’ death.  This is a classic narcissist move – seeking to be above accountability for their actions.  Even when there is clear evidence to the contrary.
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While our encounter with the narcissist in our life is far less prominent and far less dramatic, his drive to never be wrong is the same – even in the smallest of things.  He (or she) will blame, deflect, defend, and accuse you of meanness in attacking him – but he will not acknowledge what he’s done or admit to being wrong.
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Note:  The point of this entry is not to say “the Jews killed Jesus”, but to illustrate the narcissistic tendency to avoid accountability for the very actions for which the narcissist is responsible.  The Pharisees were not all narcissists, and the actions of Matthew 27 and Acts 5 were ultimately done by individuals.   See here for an additional discussion on calling the Pharisees “narcissists”.
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Also, there is additional reading on the various Jewish theological schools of thought and practice @ http://www.centralcal.com/crist2.htm
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*Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here for more
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