When The Mask Comes Off

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Narcissists will conceal their intentions, their heart, and their actions to make sure things look good while still working toward their goal of self-exaltation and dominance.  However, while they may hide their intentions for awhile, once they feel they are in a position to truly “go for it” they will discard their mask and fully show their true colors.  They likely showed glimpses of their true nature before taking their mask off, but when given the opportunity they revealed themselves fully.  This is true of many prominent megalomaniacs in the past, but you likely also see examples much closer to home:

    • The “cooperative employee” that becomes a tyrant when he gets to be boss
    • The girlfriend who makes joking digs at her boyfriend, but “becomes” a contentious wife after she ties the knot
    • A congenial cooperative politician who becomes a dictator once in power

Proverbs hints at this phenomena of people showing their true colors when given the chance:

Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot endure:
Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a female servant when she dispossesses her mistress. 

Proverbs 30:23

Biblical examples might include

    • Satan gave a seemingly little temptation to Eve in the Garden of Eden, but showed his full true intention – to usurp God – when he told Jesus in the wilderness

Again, the devil *took Him along to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 

Matthew 4:8-9

    • The jealous Pharisees couched their opposition to Jesus in pious sounding questions, but when they saw the opportunity they orchestrated his death.

It IS a mask they wear, as narcissists are hypocrites.  The very definition of the word “hypocrite” is wearing a mask to cover intentions and behavior.

Proverbs says that charm is deceitful (Proverbs 31:30), and that scoffers (narcissists) are flatterers.  They will use those tactics to “win you over”, but after they have accomplished that the mask will come off and they will begin to reveal their true nature and agenda.

This underscores the importance of keen discernment in looking for the clues ahead of time, and avoiding the consequences

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A prudent person sees evil and hides himself, But the naive proceed, and pay the penalty. 
Proverbs 22:3

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Once N’s have their hooks in and feel they are in a position of power – whether personally or at a geopolitical level, they are much more difficult to deal with.  It is better to recognize the clues early, and take action early (like steering clear), than to wait until their mask comes off.

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Narcissists Will Never Celebrate Your Success (Because They’re Jealous)

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You may occasionally be surprised when a narcissistic “friend” fails to be happy for, or even acknowledge, some accomplishment in your life.  An exception might occur if they have already done the same thing before you, or at a higher level than you.  In that case, your accomplishment provides them with the opportunity to boast about what they did first or better.

Two examples from narcissists in the Bible illustrate this point:

The first came from Jesus’ parable of the “prodigal son”, where Jesus described the narcissistic brother of the lost son this way as the prodigal son returned:

 

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’

But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you never gave me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;

Luke 15:25-29

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The older brother – who owned the full remaining inheritance after his little brother squandered his portion – was focused on what he did not get instead of celebrating his brother’s return.

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Another prime example is the Pharisees’ unwillingness to acknowledge the Messiah – Jesus – when He came.  They were jealous of His success and chided each other for losing their status among the people,

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For this reason [the healing of Lazarus] also the people went to meet Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.  So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not accomplishing anything; look, the world has gone after Him!”

John 12:18-19

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in another instance, instead of being happy when a man was healed on a Sabbath (John 5:1-18), the Pharisees immediately began to criticize that it had happened on the Sabbath – looking for some spurious reason with which to undermine the miracle.

Failure to acknowledge another’s success – or going further to tear down or undermine it fits with the narcissistic modus operandi – in the insolent pride of their heart they must be first, best, top dog, ahead of you.  Everyone else’s purpose is to support their exaltation – and nothing less can be tolerated.

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In contrast to the Pharisees, John (the Baptist) – whom Jesus described as the greatest man who ever lived (Matthew 11:11) – readily deferred to Jesus when He came on the scene:

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And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing and all the people are coming to Him.”  John replied, “A person can receive not even one thing unless it has been given to him from heaven.  

You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’  He who has the bride is the groom; but the friend of the groom, who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly because of the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.  

He must increase, but I must decrease. 

John 3:26-30

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To those who have experienced this – we need not worry.  God sees and rewards actions which flow out of a right heart of love, and even if a narcissist ignores, discounts, or destroys your accomplishment in the eyes of man, God will have the last say – as He always does.

We do not need to defend ourselves or make sure we are acknowledged or recognized – God will take care of that in His way and in His time.  Ultimately God wants others to see that the true accomplishment was Him working in our lives – demonstrating it in a way that points people to Him, so that they can also experience His love and goodness for them.

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Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:16

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Narcissist Traits – They Set Themselves Up As Lawgiver

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James 4:11-12

11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

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Someone who “speaks against a brother” is doing something far more serious than may appear on the surface.  James says that he is actually setting himself up (in his mind) higher than God as the law-setter and judge of what is right and wrong.  He then uses the standard he has created as the basis for passing judgment on others for not matching up to his standard.  This is exactly how a scoffer (aka narcissist) operates. Continue reading

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Is God Narcissistic? (No)

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I receive the occasional comment from haters saying something to the effect that “your God is the biggest narcissist of all”.  I erase those immediately so as to not let blaspheme continue, but let’s address it.

People may make such a comment for a variety of reasons, but let’s assume they mean that God is narcissistic because He wants worship and obedience.  Yes, He does – but the “why” is where they get things backwards, and is the starting point of their blasphemous error. Continue reading

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They Think They’re Indispensable

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Narcissists tend to consider themselves indispensable, the “key” to the success of the enterprise at hand, whether it’s running the operation to handing out pencils.  Their insolent pride starts with their own importance, and then imputes that to the importance of their role and also to  the larger enterprise.

It is (proud) human nature to think our _____ is best, but N’s take this to an extreme.  This inflated view of themselves assumes they are more important than others and even God.

Paul told the Athenians at the Areopagus,

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The God who made the world and everything that is in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 

Acts 17:24-25

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N’s tend toward work and professions that allow themselves to “play God” (politics, etc.), but they can pursue their superiority no matter what venue they find themselves – even as simple as how to arrange the tables and chairs for the church social function.

It is one thing to have a healthy sense of responsibility and value the task at hand.  But, feeling as though our enterprise is the most important and that we are indispensable to it opens the door to all kinds of unkind and abusive behavior.  It can result in the N treating people with a haughty, superior attitude –

  • criticizing others for not doing things the way they would have
  • demanding that everyone around make their piece of the work the top priority
  • making sure that everyone is there to serve them and their needs
  • praising those who fall in line with their self-serving plans, and snubbing those who don’t
  • feeling justified in lashing out when things don’t go their way

As Paul told the Athenians, if we truly understand that  1.  it is God’s priorities that really matter – to love Him and others,  2.  that He is the source of all accomplishment and  3.  that He does not “need” our service, it would put ourselves and our service (even if it is “secular work”) in the right perspective – humbly and kindly serving in collaboration with others, with God and not ourselves at the center.

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It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue

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1 John 2:16

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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According to I John 2:16, ultimately all “sin issues” that people have (“all that is in the world”) can be boiled down to one of three root causes

  1. Lust / sexual immorality (“the lust of the flesh”)
  2. The desire for things (“the lust of the eyes”)
  3. Pride and the desire to exalt oneself (“the boastful pride of life”).

It could also be a combination of one or more as illustrated by the Pharisees’ taking actions to fulfill desires (“lust of the eyes”) that they then covered up so that they would not look bad (“boastful pride of life”). Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – Don’t Rely On Their Inflated, False Claims

 

Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.
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 “Clouds and wind without rain” may not mean much to today’s urbanites – its a word picture from an agrian time.  But to a farmer looking for the crucial rain needed for a successful crop, clouds and wind are signs that the necessary rain should be coming soon.  Then, if does not come, the farmer is let down that the promise of rain did not result in actual rain.
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The Pharisee and the Publican

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Jesus illustrated how a scoffer operates through a story of a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the temple:

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And He (Jesus) also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  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.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

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!’.  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.”

Luke 18:9-14

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Key phrases in the story match the definition of a narcissist given in Proverbs 21:24 (“proud, haughty, scoffer are his names who acts with insolent pride”).

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The Pharisee was

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

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The Pharisee viewed himself as better than “others” (as represented by the guy standing next to him).  And Jesus specifically says that he “exalted himself” and “viewed others with contempt.”  The Biblical word for contempt here is eksouthenéō[i].

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eksouthenéō[ii]:  to cast out as nothing; “to count as nothing, to treat with utter contempt, i.e. as zero”; “despise utterly”; to regard something as lacking any standing (value).

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Contempt[iii] is disapproval tinged with disgust; i.e. – 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.  Noun – The feeling with which a person regards anything considered worthless

The Pharisee’s self-exaltation left no room in his heart for the man next to him, whom he considered to be not even be worthy of his consideration.

The term “Pharisee” was shorthand for this character type, but not all Pharisees were this way.  For example, Nicodemus (John 3) was a secret believer, and Gamaliel (Acts 5), the grandson of Hillel the Elder, was genuinely open to God’s purposes.  Also, John 12:42 says that “many even of the rulers were believing in Him”.

The above example is derived from a comparison of traits pointing to this Pharisee as a case study on the Biblical equivalent of narcissism, but we have an even more direct connection.  The Bible called out the Pharisees in general as scoffers hundreds of years before they appeared.  They provide a particularly robust case study.

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[i] https://biblehub.com/greek/1848.htm

[ii] From HELPS Word Studies

[iii] From dictionary.com

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Narcissistic Traits – “I would never have done it that way”

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Matthew 23:29-30 –  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

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The Pharisees were saying in effect, “I would never have done it the way they did it.”  This is a classic statement from a narcissist / scoffer (see here and here how the Pharisees were narcissists / scoffers with insolent pride).   In this situation these narcissists were doing two things at the same time

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  1. They were setting themselves up as judge of other’s actions (see here for Scoffers – Narcissists as Judge)
  2. They were setting themselves up as superior to the other person.  But as typical of the Narcissist, the superiority was only in their own minds – not in reality – and didn’t actually have to be demonstrated.  It is very easy to say after the fact “I would never have done that”, when you don’t have to actually prove it through your actions.

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To top it off, they were so arrogant that they were willing to trash their own ancestors in order to exalt themselves.

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But Jesus turned the tables and called them on it:

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Matthew 23:31-32 – So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

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Narcissist* Traits – Using “Faith” As Justification For Personal Ambition

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Among narcissists* in the Christian community, there are sometimes those who will use “faith” as justification or cover for their personal ambitions.  And they will quickly accuse those who oppose their plans as having “a lack of faith”, or possibly use other manipulative means to clear out the opposition and continue with their plans.  One such other manipulative method would be for the narcissist to say “I heard this straight from God”…..who can question “God’s leading”?  (Actually it is still possible to question based on scripture, the counsel of others, etc., but the narcissist will fight very hard to not be challenged in any way or by any means).

These narcissistic actions are consistent with narcissist’s tendency to use any means available to them to achieve their goals – including religious means.  This was discussed in the following blog entries:

“Narcissistic* Traits – Outwardly Righteous, Inwardly Rebellious

“Narcissist* Tactics – Saying Whatever They Have To, To Get What They Want” 

“Narcissistic* Traits – Religious, But Not Truly Moral or Righteous”

 

The narcissist’s way is not God’s way.  In fact, the narcissist’s way of pride and self-exaltation is the exact opposite of God’s way of humbly serving others.  Narcissist’s actions give unbelievers an excuse to hate Jesus.  But God will ultimately deal with these narcissists.

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Matthew 7:15-19

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will[know them by their fruits. [Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

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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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Narcissistic Traits – Outwardly “Righteous”, Inwardly Rebellious

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Matthew 23:27-28

“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. 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

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

 

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Narcissist Tactics – Saying Whatever They Have To, To Get What They Want

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John 19:15

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.”

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As we saw in

Narcissism Case Studies – The Pharisees, Overview

Narcissist Case Studies – Pharisees – How We Know They Were Narcissists, Part I

Narcissist Case Studies – How We Know “The Pharisees” Were Narcissists, Part 2

Additional Perspectives on The Pharisees

 

the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were classic Narcissists.   A careful analysis of their actions can give some clues as to how narcissists approach things.  In this case, there was no way that the chief priests really wanted Caesar to be their king – the whole nation of Israel was chafing at Roman rule and would have loved to cast it off.  And they were actively looking for a Jewish king.  So when the chief priests, said “we have no king but Caesar”, they were blatantly lying simply to make sure that Pilate did not let Jesus go.

As discussed in other posts, some of the Messianic Psalms clearly lay out the characteristics of the narcissistic / insolent pride Pharisees.  And a key tactic was speaking falsehood to get what they wanted.   That is a prime tactic of all narcissists.

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 Psalm 12

12 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”

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Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”

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

 

 

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Narcissism Will Increase In “The Last Days”

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2 Timothy 3:1-7

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.  For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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Narcissism “feels” like it is on the increase, doesn’t it?  The drive for some groups to absolutely dominate other groups or individuals, and the general Me-Ness of people seems to be dramatically on the rise.  While not every characteristic listed here applies directly, two reasons indicate that this list is about narcissists / scoffers / those with insolent pride

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  • First are the key words that these people are “lovers of self”, “boastful”, “arrogant”, “conceited”
  • Second are parallels to other descriptions in the Bible of narcissists / scoffers / those with insolent pride

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For one example

2 Timothy 3:7 – always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

is a parallel to

Proverbs 14:6 – A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none,  (see here and here and here and here for an explanation on how scoffers are narcissists)

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For a second example

2 Timothy 3:5 – holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

is a parallel to

Matthew 23:27-28 – “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.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

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Are we in the last days?  It feels like it, and there are early warning signs – but other generations in various places have felt the same.  At any rate, with the apparent rise of these people, we need to take Jesus’ admonition to heart

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“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.    Matthew 10:16

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(see here and here on how we know Pharisees were Narcissists)

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Narcissists Whisper To Fan The Flames of Conflict

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Narcissists create strife in their pursuit of dominance, winning, or getting what they want, but may also throw fuel on fires that are already burning.

Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.   Proverbs 26:21

The Hebrew term in this verse is translated “kindling” – throwing a lit match onto fuel – but in Jeremiah, it’s translated with an image of a bellows – blowing air on a lit fire to make it hotter[i].   So, a contentious person will either take the “seeds” of conflict and turn it into a real conflict or take an existing small conflict and turn it into a full-blown conflict.  Narcissists can be agents of chaos.

How does this play out?  One example may be when someone is criticizing someone else, the narcissist “piles on” and tries to top the story already being told – with a statement like “that’s nothing, you should’ve seen what he did to me last week.”  But sometimes the narcissist will whisper a criticism that stirs up a negative spark deep in someone else’s heart.

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.   Proverbs 26:20

The reason the tactic of whispering gossip works to stir up contention and strife is that most people love to hear dirt on someone else.

The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.   Proverbs 18:8 (& 26:22)

The narcissist takes advantage of people’s natural desire to hear dirt on others (“dainty morsels”) to create the doubts/controversy that in the end puts them in the lead or controlling position.  It is a common move on the narcissist’s part to stir up strife in a way that is not readily visible to others.

This process can expand to infect an entire group or organization.  Proverbs describes this metaphorically when it says:

Scorners[ii] set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger.   Proverbs 29:8

This is also what James meant when he said:

So also, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell…….

….. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.   For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing……

……What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?   You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.  

James 3:5-6, 13-16, 4:1-2

[i] See http://biblehub.com/hebrew/2787.htm  for a more complete discussion.

[ii] Same root word as scoffer, see https://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_3944.htm

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