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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See here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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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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See here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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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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The First Example Of Covert Narcissism In The Bible

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The lies, manipulation, and deceit of covert narcissism are in many ways far more destructive than the in-your-face approach of overt narcissists.  When a covert narcissist successfully portrays their lie as the truth, they change the life course of everyone who believes their lie. – as well as their intended target.  Most of us want to believe that what we are hearing from someone is the truth, and most of us start by believing the best of others – as this is a more positive way to live.  That makes us more vulnerable to believing the lies of a covert narcissist.

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The Bible illustrates this multiple times, starting with the original narcissist, Satan.  When he first appeared to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he did not say “I’m a big powerful angel – in fact the most beautiful angel.  I can do great things for you, so you should follow me and let me help you”.  Instead his tool for getting them to follow him started by very subtly and deceitfully undermining a constraint which God had established.

God clearly told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and outlined the consequences if they did….

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15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not [n]eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” 

Genesis 2:15-17

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Satan did not use the overt narcissist tactic of, “I’m great, follow me”.  Instead he first created doubt by asking a seemingly “innocent” question – “did God really say that?”

 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Genesis 2:3-5

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Satan’s first question was in fact not innocent because of his underlying intention to drive a wedge between Adam and Eve, and God.  In our interactions with our covert narcissist we might consider such an “innocent” question as simply a request to double back and confirm the truth.  In this case, since God had already clearly stated His boundary, questioning if God really said it was an invitation to disobedience.

After Eve’s not-quite-accurate answer to Satan’s setup question, Satan next directly lied in contradiction to God by saying, “you surely will not die!”  He followed the lie by undermining God’s goodness by implying that God was withholding something good from Adam and Eve through the boundary He had set – “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.

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Satan used the setup question, the follow-up lie,  and the questioning of God’s motive to turn the desires of Eve’s heart into successfully separating Adam and Eve from their Creator.  We all know the result of Adam and Eve naively falling for this covert narcissist’s (Satan) tactics.

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How can we avoid being duped by the covert narcissist?

We need to seek to replace our naivete with prudence.  God says twice in Proverbs

The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. 

Proverbs 22:3

A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty. 
Proverbs 27:12
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When God repeats something, pay attention.  Even though normal people want to take a constructive approach to others, it is important to understand that evil lurks in the heart of man, and not simply believe everything.

One way to do that is to fact check,

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The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.
Proverbs 18:17
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A covert narcissist will typically “go first” in his steps to manipulate a situation.  He is the one with the plan, the intention to get what he wants.  By going first he gets to set the agenda, to define the playing field, and to put his target on the defensive.  Those whom the covert narcissist is trying to manipulate for there agenda must realize that these people exist, and not accept everything we hear at face value.
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One other thing that we can do is to ask God to thwart the covert narcissist’s efforts.  Psalm 5 is one of several Psalms to use as a prayer guide
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For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
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Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes;
Make Your way straight before me.
There is nothing reliable in what they say;
Their inward part is destruction itself.
Their throat is an open grave;
They flatter with their tongue.
10 Hold them guilty, O God;
By their own devices let them fall!
In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
For they are rebellious against You.   
Psalm 5:4-6, 8-10
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I believe that most covert narcissists would be overt narcissists if they got the chance.  But in the meantime we should have a goal of becoming far more discerning to identify the covert narcissists in our midst and be alert to their tactics.
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How Do You Know There’s A Covert Narcissist In Your Midst?

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One subject we have not talked about much is the difference between overt and covert narcissism.  At its most basic:

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  • An overt narcissist is an in-your-face braggart and bully
  • A covert narcissist plays the victim, and uses manipulation and deceit to get what they want,

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There is not a clear line between the two – an overt narcissist may use manipulation and deceit, and a covert narcissist may be a bully if they get the chance.

As the covert narcissist is far more subtle, they are harder to spot.  How can you recognize one in your midst?  Look for non-stop drama and wide-spread conflict that you can’t quite identify nor be sure of the source.

Proverbs 22:10 makes clear that scoffers – a Biblical term for narcissist – are a source of contentiousness:

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Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease. 
Proverbs 22:10
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The fact that if you drive them out, contention leaves as well means that narcissists are a source of contention.  Proverbs 26:20 indicates that this contention can be very subtle.
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For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. 
Proverbs 26:20
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The Hebrew word for whisperer means “talebearer” or “slanderer”.
Covert narcissists will “whisper” as part of their toolbox to spread rumors, lies, and even true things that undermine others as part of their manipulation of a situation to achieve their own ends.  The “whispering” is a source of contention and conflict, but they do it subtly and quietly so that they seem “innocent” even while they are wreaking destruction.
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So, if you are in a group that is roiling in conflict, look around and see if you can identify a covert narcissist who is subtly undermining others in order to achieve some goal of self-exaltation or dominance over one or more people.
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Narcissist Tactics – A Story Of Manipulation

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I am currently dealing with a counseling situation, elements of which I have seen before in a missions context.  The short version is that a narcissist has subtly manipulated a group of people in her (I would call it evil) attempt to undermine and dominate her husband.  Her insolent pride arose from growing up in a tough situation, resulting in deep underlying fear which has resulted in an ongoing attempt to control her world in insolent pride.  The book The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism explains this more fully.  While we can be empathetic to her root causes, and pray for healing, she is also responsible for her own responses to her early trauma.

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Like in other cases, the narcissist has spread lies and half-truths to turn everyone against the husband.  And as usual, he in this case is not perfect or blameless. In addition, he responded to the manipulation against him in frustration and and anger.  Both of these helped the N more easily succeed in painting herself as a saint and her husband as the bad guy.

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Most people, especially in a Christian context, expect those they are talking with to be truthful.  As a result, we naively tend to believe what we’re being told without fact-checking it.  This is contrary to what God warns us in Proverbs

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The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.
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Proverbs 18:17
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This has made it far easier for the narcissist to manipulate the situation.
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There are examples in Scripture of narcissists manipulating others to become tools in reaching their goals.  The primary one is how the Pharisees (Biblical examples of narcissists, see here) manipulated Pilate to do their dirty work.  John 19:1-16 describes the entire sequence, but the following statements by the Pharisees demonstrate how they manipulated and bullied Pilate to accomplish their goals
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Jesus answered, “You [Pilate] would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” 
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John 19:11-12
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and
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And he [Pilate] *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”  So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. 

John 19:14-16

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The chief priests did not truly see Caesar as their king.  They said that to manipulate and force Pilate into doing their bidding.  Pilate did not take the time nor had the courage to dig into what they were really doing, with the serious consequence of becoming complicit in the death of Christ.  As we saw earlier, Jesus said that the chief priests had the greater sin, but He did not let Pilate off the hook.

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Back to our counseling situation – what is the husband to do if the narcissistic wife successfully recruits others against him?  Lies against you are virtually impossible to fight on your own.  We must always remember that we can have the God of the Universe as our defender if we are righteous before Him.  The husband first must look to himself and own his mistakes, and yield to God.
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Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin”? 
Proverbs 20:9
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The process starts with looking internally, and rather than defending yourself admit that there is some measure of sin in your own heart.  If you have done something wrong confess and ask forgiveness, even if the N will use that against you.
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But once that is done, boldly ask God to work on your behalf to protect and defend you
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  1. Ask God to humble the N
  2. Ask God to expose the N’s lies and manipulations
  3. Ask God to defend your reputation (to the extent He sees it is necessary)
  4. Ask God to thwart or counteract specific moves the N makes …
  5. Ask God to bring you specific encouragement and blessing

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Psalm 17 illustrates this:

Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look with equity.
You have tried my heart;
You have visited me by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent.
My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My feet have not slipped.

I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed their unfeeling heart,
With their mouth they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

13 Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword…

Psalm 17:1-13

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On top of this is to pray that God would “enlighten the eyes of the heart” of the narcissist (Ephesians 1), so that they would have a radical revelation of who God really is, and see themselves clearly in comparison to God’s greatness and glory.  This is the foundation to their healing.  This discussion is way beyond the scope of this blog post, but outlined in the book, “The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism“.

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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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

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