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

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

 

Luke 5:29-32

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 26:4-5

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

 

 

 

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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 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 – 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 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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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

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“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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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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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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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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