Narcissist Traits – Religious, But Not Truly Moral or Righteous

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Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

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Narcissist Traits – Deceitfully Seeking The Admiration Of Men While Doing Evil

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Mark 12:38-44

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

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Matthew 6:2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narcissist Traits – They Stumble A Lot

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Proverbs 16:18

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

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Narcissists seem to frequently step into “holes” and stumble – constantly creating difficulties for themselves which result in their scrambling around in order to extricate themselves.   There are several practical reasons for this: Continue reading

Narcissist* Traits – They Deceive Themselves

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Obadiah 1:3

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’

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Narcissists / Those With Insolent Pride / Scoffers focus are naturally deceptive as to who they really are, what is really in their heart, and the nature of their real intentions.  But one of the people they deceive the most is themselves. Continue reading

“The People Of The Lie”

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John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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One of the primary traits of the narcissistic Pharisees was their attitude of moral superiority and refusal to acknowledge that they had any sin – even though their inward lives were full of sin.  In this they deceived and lied to both themselves and others.  This can also be seen in Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 23:25-28, and Matthew 9:10-13.

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M Scott Peck was a psychiatrist whose personal journey ultimately led him to commit to Christianity.  By observation and analysis, through the lens of Christianity, he reached the same conclusion that Jesus had already made clear above.

Following are excerpts from a book he wrote on the subject

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Narcissist* Traits – They Lack Perspective On What’s Important

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Matthew 23:23-24

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin [see note], and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

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God Makes Clear What He Thinks About N’s

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In case you have any doubt about what God thinks of those who have the heart and actions of narcissists, Proverbs 6 makes it very clear

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Proverbs 6:16-19

16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.

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Several characteristics in the above list stand out as narcissistic traits

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  1. Haughty eyes
  2. Lying tongue
  3. Heart that devises wicked plans
  4. False witness who utters lies
  5. One who spreads strife among brothers

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The bottom line is that God HATES insolent pride.  It results in much harm to others, and is the single biggest barrier to the prideful person experiencing His true love and goodness.

Narcissistic Traits – Inflated View, No Follow-Through

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Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

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Rain was considered a good thing in the Bible – especially in the region in which the Bible was written (the arid Middle East).  It was a source of the most  important physical component of life.  So, when clouds and wind kicked up, it was anticipated for rain to follow – as a good thing.  As a result, clouds and wind without rain without the resulting rain would be a significant disappointment.
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Out of their inflated view of themselves, narcissists will boast about how good they are at _____________ (fill in the blank – basically, whatever they’re trying to impress others with at that particular moment).   But more often than not, their boasts are not supported by reality.   So anyone who relies on a narcissist’s inflated claims is going to get hurt in some way.
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When dealing with people that focus on telling you how great they are, you might be dealing with a narcissist – make sure you get outside verification of their claims, rather than just accepting the (possible) narcissist’s claims.

Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Continued

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In part 1 of “Narcissism and the Progression of Fools” we discussed the basic sequence of how a person can progressively harden their hearts as they wander away from God’s path.   A scoffer (one of the Biblical terms for a narcissist), is one stop along that path.

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For your further study, following is a list of all the verses which include the Hebrew words which were used in the previous post.  I have made a rough attempt at grouping them by subject matter in order to make it easier to digest the large number of verses, but the groupings and their headings are simply a guide.  I encourage you to study them for yourselves.

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Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Introduction

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We have until now focused this biblical study of what the secular world calls “narcissism” primarily on the term “scoffer”, as one of the labels applied to those with insolent pride – the Biblical analog to the secular term.

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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While not specifically called by the English term “fool”, the scoffer is part of a progression of foolishness described in Proverbs, starting with the “simple fool” (or “naive”), and moving all the way to the “committed fool”.  Each is a progressively greater degree of turning away from God’s wisdom, and walking an increasingly proud and self-seeking path which is independent from God.   Pride is a primary root to this self-seeking path independent from God, with increasing insolence up to the level of “insolent pride” (aka “scoffer”) and beyond.   Knowing this progression is helpful in identifying at least one of the ways in which someone can become a narcissist.

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The progression is as follows:

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(Types of Fool)     naive  ->  perverse ->  scoffing  ->   stubborn ->   committed

(Hebrew word)     pthiy  ->     ewil       ->     luts       ->      kecil      ->      nabal Continue reading

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

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Luke 5:29-32

29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”31 And Jesus answered and said to them, It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

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

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

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

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Proverbs 26:4-5

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

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

 

 

 

Narcissist Traits – Setting 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

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* Traits – They Do Not Think They Are In Need of Help (Pharisee Case Study)

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John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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The narcissistic Pharisees were in fact blind, even though they claimed that they could see.  They were blind to the true condition of their hearts, thinking themselves to be righteous teachers and spiritual leaders, when in fact their hearts were full of evil thoughts, desires, and motives.  Jesus later was very direct in pointing out to the Pharisees their blindness. Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – Projecting An Image Of Success (While Covering Up Failure)

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Proverbs 13:7

There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

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Why would someone, especially someone who has nothing, pretend to be rich?  It likely comes down to self-exaltation.  This motive for self-exaltation in the midst of failure is highlighted in the second half of Proverbs 12:9.

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