An Alternative To The Secular Approach

[The following is a excerpt from early pages of the book, The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism]

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Common Descriptions, Different Terms

While there is a degree of common ground between the secular and Biblical approaches to narcissism – mostly in the description of narcissists and how they behave, i.e. narcissistic traits – the approaches diverge substantially in the areas of root causes, possible solutions, and ways in which “victims” should deal with these troubling people.

To simply illustrate the overlap and divergence between the different approaches, the overlapping areas in the following Venn diagram below are primarily descriptive (how do narcissists behave), and the non-overlapping areas tend toward the causal (why are narcissists the way they are) and the prescriptive (what to do about it).

Human nature has been the same since the beginning of humankind.  Since the Bible speaks about the nature of man and interpersonal relationships, we should see the kind of people the secular world refers to as “narcissists” in the Bible.  By accurately identifying the terms the Bible uses to describe the people which the secular world calls narcissists, we can then study those terms for a comprehensive look at what the Bible says about narcissism. Continue reading

Narcissists Create Conflict & Add Fuel To Fires

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Scoffers are not only naturally defensive, they are also naturally contentious creators of conflict.

Through insolence[i] comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.  Proverbs 13:10

When pride [insolence[ii]] comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

This makes sense, since narcissists are typically “fighting” or “contending” for supremacy and to get what they want.  They’re routinely irritated and angry at everyone and everything when things do not go their way.  They take actions that run people over rather than “wasting their time and energy” on having peaceful relationships.  So, if you see considerable drama or conflict, look around to see if a narcissist is involved. Continue reading

Narcissistic Projection – Part 2, An Example

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Please see A Biblical Perspective On “Narcissistic Projection” for Part 1

To recap Part 1*, scoffers are hypocritical judges who accuse others of the very things of which they are guilty.  This action is the Biblical equivalent of what the secular world calls “projection”.  From Wikipedia:

“Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.”

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An example of this is in Mark 3: Continue reading

Can A Narcissist Be A Christian (& vice versa)?

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“Is this narcissist even a Christian?” is a question frequently asked about an obvious narcissist who claims to be a Christian. The narcissist’s claims may stand in stark contrast to how they treat you and others in private.  The answer to this question impacts our understanding of how God will deal with the narcissist, and how we should deal with them.

Jesus alluded to the inconsistency between insolent pride and genuine faith when he asked the narcissists of his day,

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

John 5:44

Continue reading

Narcissist’s Create “Righteous” Reasons For Their Agenda

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He was also saying to them [the scribes and Pharisees], “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” 

Mark 7:9-13

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The Mosaic instruction for honoring parents was serious, as illustrated by the severe consequence for speaking evil of them.  The Pharisees were caught between a rock and a hard place – in their greed and selfishness they wanted to hoard the money designated to support their parents.  But they also did not want to be seen (by God, or by man) as violating the clear Mosaic law.

Their devious solution created a mechanism that projected an image of “righteousness” while giving them what they wanted.   They would give their money “to God”, but would still control the spending – they would be the recipient of their own “generosity” instead of their parents.

This was not just about the Pharisees giving to a “greater and more worthy cause” than their parents – although they certainly wanted it to look that way.  They were deceitfully hoarding the funds, shirking their responsibilities, and using false “piety” to further glorify themselves while masking their evil behavior.

It is a classic narcissist move – creating an excuse that cannot be criticized or questioned as a smokescreen for their self-centered and self-serving actions.  And, if the smokescreen itself is useful as the means of achieving their goal – all the better.

Narcissist* v. Narcissist* – A Pure Power Play

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Many of the posts in this blog are about how narcissists (scoffers, haughty, those with insolent pride) relate to non-narcissists, whom they manipulate and push around in order to achieve their “rightful” place of superiority and/or dominance.  But what happens when narcissists come up against each other?

The following can take place:

1 – Initially they play a game of flattery with each other.  At this point, they’re not really engaging in a contest for dominance, although in the middle of their flattery each narcissist is likely dropping hints to the other narcissist about their “greatness”.  Even though each N may know that the flattery is fake and a possible trap, they accept it because it appeals to their pride.

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Psalm 12:2-4 –

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?”

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Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.

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Proverbs 26:28
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
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The N’s are (most likely) knowingly allowing themselves to be baited, probably thinking they are smart enough to escape any consequences.
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2 – They may attempt to use their standard tactics, but this is not likely since they both know the game each other is playing.  Therefore, since their normal schemes won’t work to gain an advantage, they would either

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2A – Avoid each other, and avoid an outright conflict – based on both N’s not seeing much value in winning that particular power play (see below) vs. the effort required.  In other words, their greatness means they have bigger fish to fry, and this “little” skirmish is not worth bothering with

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2B – Engage in a pure power play.  In this case both of the N’s feel compelled that their position is inherently right either based on its merits or their personal “worthiness”.   Therefore, in their mind and heart it is correct and right for them and their position/goals to prevail.  As it is right for them to win/achieve dominance, they are unwilling to cede any ground to anyone.  And, since to an N anything goes in the pursuit of their superiority, its a fight with no “rules” .   A pure power play means a fight until one of the two N’s comes out victorious.  It could be a simple fight where the N with the strongest position easily prevails and vanquishes his opponent, or it could be a protracted contest of equal power that focuses on tactics.

There may be a lot of collateral damage in the fight (ie – others getting hurt in the process), but the N’s absolutely do not care about that.  The only thing that counts is their winning.  If you see 2 N’s in a fight, get out of the way so that you do not become part of the collateral damage.

You’ve heard of “power politics” – it’s one example of a pure power play.

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Even though we need to understand scoffers and their tactics, we are not to be like them

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Matthew 10:16 –
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
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God has a different way of dealing with N’s than merely engage in a human vs human power play.  HE is in the equation with us, which changes everything.    We will dig much deeper into this in the upcoming book, as well as future blog posts.
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Narcissistic Traits – They’re Impossible To Please

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Matthew 11:16-19

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

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The linkages between these verses and narcissism are a bit more difficult, but “this generation” is epitomized by the Pharisees.  And as we discuss in other posts, Pharisees as a whole (there were individual exceptions) were classic narcissists (those with insolent pride).

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Narcissists are never happy with how others do things.  They “sit in the seat of scoffers”, sitting in judgment over others (see Sitting In The Seat Of Scoffers / Narcissists As Judge) – and their standard is based on whatever standard they decide at the moment.   Because their main goal is being superior, not achieving justice.  They often set their standards in such a way that they can declare those they are judging to be in the wrong.  So, you can jump through their hoop to meet the standard they set for you, only to find them change the standard so that they can still criticize you.  That is behavior Jesus described for “this generation” in the words above.

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There are various permutations of how this trait can be described:

  • Narcissists want everything both ways
  • Narcissists are never happy with what you do and/or how you do it
  • You “can’t win” in your dealings with a narcissist (you can rarely even “win/win”)
  • Narcissists consistently complain

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How do you deal with people who are impossible to please?   As Jesus said, “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”.   In other words, put your focus more on “doing the right thing” than on pleasing the person who is impossible to please.   That way, whether the narcissist is happy with you or not, at least you can stand before God as having acted with integrity.

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

Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 2

Please see here for part 1

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Jesus further highlighted the link between hypocrisy and judging others in Matthew 7:1-5:

 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5

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The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 has the same root “krino”[1] as in the word hypocrite.  The hypocrite has a “log in his eye” – a euphemism for a “big problem” or “big character flaw”.  But, out of pride the hypocrite minimizes his own log to be “nothing” – saying to himself “I’m OK”.  He then pretends helpfulness by offering to take the speck (a little problem) out of his brother’s eye, but in fact is acting as a proud judge, setting himself up as superior.

His judgment is proof that he has a problem in the same life area in which he is trying to “help” his brother.

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Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge[2] another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  Romans 2:1

Continue reading

Hypocrisy & Judgmentalism – Two Unmistakable Marks Of Narcissism – Part 1

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Jesus called the narcissistic scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” seven times in Matthew 23.  There was a reason He emphasized it – He was making clear to them that even though they may have fooled people with their outward appearance of faux-righteousness, He clearly saw through to their proud, greedy hearts.  Hypocrisy is a prime trait of a scoffer/narcissist.

“The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.”[1] Continue reading

A Biblical Perspective on “Narcissistic Projection”

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Those who have dealt with narcissists* most likely have experienced a situation where the narcissist accused you of a negative character trait or action, while at the same time they were far more guilty of the very same trait.  Yes, there may have been a speck of truth in what they said, as none of us are perfect and “we all stumble in many ways“.   But you may have been dumbfounded that someone who had the same issue in multiples would feel justified in attacking you for your little speck.

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Secular literature in the field of psychology has termed this behavior “projection”. Continue reading

Narcissist* Case Studies – Satan’s Narcissistic Traits

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Satan is the original and most clear example of a Narcissist / One with insolent pride.   (See here for an explanation on why Satan was the original narcissist).  By understanding Satan’s insolent pride and his narcissistic traits, we can get another glimpse into the characteristics of narcissists.  Here is a partial list of Satan’s narcissistic traits:

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Narcissist* Traits – Superiority And Contempt

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Luke 18:9-14

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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This is one of Jesus’ key stories to illustrate the difference between how a narcissist (one with insolent pride) approaches things in contrast to how one without insolent pride approaches it……. and very importantly also telling us the end result of the two approaches.  (See here and here on how we know that some Pharisees were narcissists.)   Some key phrases in the story match the definition given in Proverbs 21:24 – “”Proud”, “haughty”, “scoffer” are his names who acts with insolent pride”.

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  1. Proud – “told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous”, “was praying this to himself”, “I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (proud of his accomplishments)
  2. Haughty – “God, I thank you that I am not like other people”
  3. Scoffer – “Viewed others with contempt”

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In the above verse we see that one characteristic of their narcissism was to view others with contempt.

From Dictionary.com

Contempt

Noun –  The feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile or worthless; disdain; scorn

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Synonyms – Contempt, disdain, scorn — implies that [narcissists* have] strong feelings of disapproval and aversion toward what seems base, mean, or worthless.  Contempt is disapproval tinged with disgust;  ie – to feel contempt for a weakling.  Disdain is a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one’s [a narcissist’s*] dignity and unworthy of one’s notice, respect or concern

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The narcissistic Pharisee viewed himself as better than “others” (as represented by the guy standing next to him).    But Jesus made it clear that ultimately “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled”.   As we have previously discussed here and here, even though narcissists appear to be “getting away with it” (in the short term, at least), they ultimately do not get away with their actions.

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

Narcissistic Traits – Outwardly “Righteous”, Inwardly Rebellious

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Matthew 23:27-28

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

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As we discussed here and here, the scribes and Pharisees are a particularly robust case study of narcissists.   They were experts at putting on a righteous act – partly for show, and partly because they actually believed it (see here) – while in reality being rebellious in their hearts toward God.

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This same trait of appearing godly outwardly, but being the opposite inwardly, will also be true of the narcissists that appear in the “last days”, as discussed here.
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2 Timothy 3:5 – holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

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The key to detecting this is to 1.  watch what they do, and compare it to what they say,  and 2.  watch what they do in public vs. what they do in private.

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Matthew 23:1-5

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

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

 

Narcissist Traits – They Will Trash You If You Reprove Them

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As we have discussed previously, “scoffer” is one name to describe those who act with “insolent pride” – the Biblical term for what the secular world calls narcissism.  Therefore, we can learn more about the characteristics of narcissists by looking deeper at what the Bible says about scoffers.

The following table focuses on the fact that narcissists absolutely hate to be told that they are wrong.

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Level

Scoffer (Insolent Pride) Trait

Narcissism Trait

1

Proverbs 15:2 – A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise

A narcissist will first avoid situations where he may be told he is doing something wrong…..no matter how wise the “reprover” might be

2

Proverbs 13:1 – “…A scoffer does not listen to rebuke”

But if a narcissist somehow does find himself in position of being rebuked, he will refuse to listen.  Have you ever tried to rebuke a narcissist?  He will ignore you, verbally fight you, tell you why you are the one who is wrong – anything to keep from admitting that they may be wrong.

3

Proverbs 9:8 – “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you..”

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Proverbs 26:24-26 – “He who hates disguise 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.”

Not only will a narcissist refuse to listen, but he will also hate you for reproving him.

 

He will disguise his hatred, and even speak graciously to you, but when he has the chance to trash you publicly he will take it.

4

Proverbs 9:7 – “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself…”

This results in a narcissist trashing your reputation.  A narcissist will not hesitate to trash the reputation of those who try to correct them – resulting in dishonor to you for daring to correct them.

Please see “Putting Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism Into Perspective” for background on what this blog is about.

Narcissist* Traits – Sitting in the Seat of Scoffers / Narcissists as Judge

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Narcissists will frequently set themselves up as others’ judge.  And not in the sense of being a fair, balanced evaluator of things – more in the sense of “I am superior in mind and values, and whatever I think is right.  And all of the inferior people around me who think or act differently than me deserve to be mocked.”

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Psalm 1:1 – How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

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“Sitting in the seat of scoffers” is a word picture that describes someone who is sitting down while bossing others around them – looking down on them and mocking them as they perform their duties.  They sit in judgment as someone who is the only one qualified (in their own minds) to evaluate others due to their inherent superiority.

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Scoffers / narcissists are ones who believe that they should set the rules, not follow the rules.  They believe that they are inherently better able to judge who is doing something “right” – according to the standards which they themselves have set (of course).  They believe that this one of their God-given roles and duties (not true).   They are the people who believe that they should be the boss or leader because of their superiority  – and should command others to work while they command and monitor them.  Narcissists will “sit”, and not lift a finger to actually work unless they are forced, or unless it somehow gives them an opportunity to do it “for show”.  Actual work is for inferior people.

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An example of this is shown by the classic Narcissists, the Pharisees (see here and here), in Matthew 23:4 –

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Matthew 23:4

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

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The Pharisees created extra-Biblical rules for others to follow, but were unwilling to follow the rules themselves.  This is a classic example of a narcissist “sitting in the seat of scoffers”.

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