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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Narcissist Tactics – Flattery

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Jude 16-19

16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

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 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions…..

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Narcissists are big flatterers.  Many times it is obvious that they have something they are trying to get out of you through flattery and “buttering you up”, but sometimes it may not be so obvious.  Or they may be setting you up through flattery for something even worse than just trying to get something from you.  Either way, they they are using flattery in order to gain some kind of advantage over you in the pursuit of their desires, self-exaltation, or just plain winning.  They are doing it to entrap you into something that will hurt you and benefit them.  This flattery is not sincere, but instead is deceptive and manipulative.  The wise person will recognize the manipulation and insincere praise, and avoid them..

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Romans 16:17-18

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

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Proverbs 29:5

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

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Proverbs 26:28

28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.

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Psalm 5:9

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.

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Psalm 12:2

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N’s Prioritize Pride Over Principle

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Have you ever noticed how certain prominent people “switch sides”, or positions on something they previously adamantly defended?

There are times when these switches are reasonable based on newly acquired information or wisdom.  But often these pivots are based simply on personal pride rather than a moral foundation.  The person making the surprising switch does it because they found defending their pride more important than maintaining their (weak, at best) principles.   Consider these Biblical examples:

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Diotrephes was willing to throw people out of the church who dared go against him in welcoming others.  He sacrificed true pastoral ministry for being top dog in the church.

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“I [John] wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 

3 John 1:9-10

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Similarly, the Scribes and Pharisees rejected their pastoral responsibilities, preferring to excommunicate those who gave any credence to their prime competition, Jesus.

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His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”     John 9:22-23

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They also refused to help others into the Kingdom since they themselves didn’t want to go, but worked overtime to recruit others to follow them on the road to perdition.   They valued their personal agenda and status over the welfare of others.

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 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of `hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:13-15

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In each case, the narcissist made their own exaltation and agenda a priority over the moral principles which their roles required.

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Narcissist Traits – They Focus On Your Version Of Their Problem

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Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?   Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.      Matthew 7:3-5

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While the Bible does not say explicitly say that everyone who is a hypocrite is a narcissist (a narcissist is someone with insolent pride, or a “scoffer” – see here), it does make clear that narcissists are hypocrites (see here).   Jesus points out in Matthew 7 one characteristic of hypocrites – they will ignore or discount their own flaws, while at the same time focusing intently on your flaws which “really need to be fixed”.  This is consistent with narcissistic traits – superiority in their heart (see here and here) resulting in feeling the need to fix you, while thinking their own issues are “no big deal”, or too minor to even notice.

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This is also consistent with narcissistic trait of creating rules, but acting above those same rules (see here)

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One interesting part of this verse is that if you hold a toothpick up to your own eye, it looks very big – a “log”.  But if you hold that same toothpick up to your friend’s eye, it looks small – a “speck”.  But it’s the same toothpick.  The implication is that a narcissist could have the equivalent “flaw” in his life that he feels compelled to rid you of.

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This is similar to what is described in Romans 2

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Romans 2:1 

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

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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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Narcissist* Traits – Superiority And Contempt

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Luke 18:9-14

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

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

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

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

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

From Dictionary.com

Contempt

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

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

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

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A Narcissist’s Layers Of Defense

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As we have seen throughout this blog a scoffer is the Biblical analog of a narcissist.  The Bible outlines how, in his pride, a scoffer creates layers of defense to prevent being proven wrong – as that would be an affront to his position of superiority.

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The Scoffer Fights against Being Wrong

A scoffer (“luts”, aka narcissist) actively fights against anyone who attempts to criticize him, give him advice, or tell him that he is wrong in any way.  These actions may be based on their strong determination to get their own way, their belief that they are fundamentally always right, or a strong drive to refuse anyone else telling them what to do (resistance of any authority over them).

In fact, a scoffer will actively push back against anyone who attempts it – even going as far as trying to destroy at least the credibility, if not the reputation of anyone who dares to diminish him.  There are layers to the narcissist’s resistance.

First

First, the scoffer (narcissist) will not seek counsel from someone who might see through him (“the wise”) or might possibly tell him he is wrong.

A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. 

Proverbs 15:12

In my own experience, I can think of cases where a narcissistic, insolently proud scoffer was on a course of action that was both not helpful to them and damaging to someone else.  In each case, many people advised them that they were off-course and needed to change direction.  The narcissist refused to listen and refused to change course.  He thinks:

    • “I want what I want, and no one is going to get in my way.”
    • “My vision/faith/etc. is superior, and others just don’t get it.”
    • “Everyone talking to me is inferior/stupid/wrong/etc., so why should I listen to them?”

The result was that the narcissist pushed ahead and ran into a set of negative consequences – which, among other things, further isolated them.  Of course, even then, they were unable to learn from what happened.

Second

If the scoffer does receive a rebuke, he will not listen – out of a prideful self-delusion that he knows that he is right, and out of a total refusal to admit being wrong.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Proverbs 13:1

The scoffer not only refuses to listen but may even attempt to shut down even the slightest objection to their plans or actions.  This may include pushing back disproportionately hard against any hint that what they are saying or doing is not correct.  Or it could mean impulsively dismissing a suggestion out of hand, with a bit of a condescending tone (hence the term scoffer).  The phrase “will not listen” could be somewhat passive, but it could also take a very aggressive form.

Third

In his battle to never be wrong, the narcissist further escalates the fight by looking to take you down.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.

 Proverbs 9:7-8

In his prideful refusal to be wrong, the scoffer secretly hates anyone who challenges him and his image of self-perfection.  A narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory.”  He will look to take down or trash (i.e. – dishonor) the person challenging his image, because if he succeeds, he is able to maintain his superiority.

He might do it by direct confrontation, in an aggressive attempt to get you to say you were wrong – making him correct and leaving his image intact.  While he may on occasion respond with an immediate full-frontal assault, he might also keep his feelings hidden until such a time that he can do the most damage.  In this case, he will try to disguise his hatred, speaking graciously even while hating you in his heart.  But don’t believe him.  He still fully intends to “trash” you or undermine you – waiting for a better time or opportunity to maybe even thrust the proverbial knife into your back in front of an audience of his choosing.

Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart.  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 26:23-26

One reason that dealing with narcissists is so tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.  But, as Jesus said, what is in their heart must ultimately reveal itself.  Jesus said,

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” 

Luke 6:45

The following illustrates the layers of protection which the scoffer puts in place, driven by his proud heart at the core.

 

 

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Narcissist* v. Narcissist* – A Pure Power Play

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

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Narcissist* Tactics – “I Was Just Kidding”

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Proverbs 26:18-19

Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “Was I not joking?”

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A classic narcissist tactic is that when they are caught in a deception or some other maneuver, they quickly try to deflect blame back to the victim.  (Deception is one of the prime tools in the narcissists’ toolkit (see here)).  Often the deceiver will tell their victim, “you misunderstood me” – in effect blaming the victim for the problem (it’s YOUR fault).  But, in the above Proverb, the person caught in his deception has an even worse “defense” – trying to get out of it by saying “I was just kidding”.

If he had not gotten caught, he would have simply kept silent because he was “getting away with it”.  But he got caught, possibly in a way where he could not the blame back on the victim.   In this case his escape is to pretend it was a joke.  The reason he is like a madman who just hurls destruction (firebrands, arrows, death) is that he not only hurts someone (through deception) but adds “insult to injury” by trying through a transparent attempt to pretend it was not intentional.

How can someone who intentionally deceives someone close to them (neighbor), and gets caught in the deception, possibly think that he can get out of the trouble he is in simply by saying “just kidding”?  It’s not rational – a bit insane, like a “madman” – for him to think he can escape with such a lame excuse.

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*Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible describes as “insolent pride”.  See here for a further explanation.

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Narcissists Are Masters Of Fake, Incomplete Repentance

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From Cain, the very first narcissist, narcissists have used incomplete and fake repentance as a tool to avoid the consequences of their actions, while not actually giving up their quest for what they want.  It is a tactic for taking off the immediate heat while avoiding any genuine heart change.  King Saul and Pharaoh were two examples.

When Saul told Samuel “I have sinned” after he demonstrated remorse, he “repented” to Samuel merely to retain power and gain honor:

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“Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. … Then he said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.”  1 Samuel 15:24,30

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And twice Saul “repented” to David to make himself look good in front of his soldiers (I Samuel 24:16-21 and I Samuel 26:21) Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – They “Put On A Show” Of Their Deeds

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Matthew 23:5

But they (scribes and Pharisees) do all their deeds to be noticed by men…..

As we mentioned here, here, and here, the scribes and Pharisees are a case study in narcissism / insolent pride.

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In the Narcissists’* drive to be exalted by others, their focus is completely on what other people think of them, rather than on the genuine substance of things.  In fact, they will go out of their way to even suffer some pain – such as with fasting – if the end result is the praise and recognition of man.  To a narcissist, wickedness in their heart does not matter as long as things look good to others.  They particularly will focus on “putting on a show” of their “goodness” so that others will see it and think well of them.

Some examples are:

Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – “Good Deeds” That Exalt Themselves and Hurt Others

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Philippians 1:12-18

12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

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Paul’s statement on “some” (a minority) that were preaching was incredible:  They were doing a “good work” (preaching Christ) for the following reasons:

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  1. Jealously
  2. Strife
  3. Selfish ambition
  4. Wanting to cause Paul distress, with no consideration of the fact that he was already in distress by being imprisoned!

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Their good work was nothing at all about doing a good thing out of love for others…….they were doing what looked good (so they couldn’t be criticized) for the sole purpose of exalting themselves (selfish ambition) and hurting Paul.  They could be sure that they would have zero eternal reward for their “good work” of preaching:

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1 Corinthians 13:1-4

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

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These may even be some of those of which Jesus spoke:

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Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

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And, even more incredible was Paul’s response…… rather than focusing on how this minority were “hurting him”, he was happy that the gospel was being advanced by whatever means possible.  He knew that God would judge the jealous, selfish (narcissistic) people , and that God would deal with them properly while he continued to focus on his goal.

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Colossians 3:25

For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

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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 – Creating “Righteous-Sounding” Excuses To Get What They Want

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Mark 7:9-13

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

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Jesus was speaking here to the “Pharisees and some of the scribes”  [See herehere, and here for discussions on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists*].

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

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The devious solution they came up with created a mechanism that projected an image of “righteousness” while at the same time giving them what they wanted.   They would give their money “to God”, but it would still be under their control as to how it would be spent – they would the recipient of their own “generosity” instead of their parents.

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This was not just about the Pharisees giving to a “greater and more worthy cause” than their parents – although they certainly wanted it to look that way.  This was a deceitful move  – ignoring the requirement to take care of their parents by acting pious while simultaneously being the recipient.  They were keeping the money for themselves, shirking their responsibilities, and using the false “piety” to further glorify themselves while covering for their evil behavior.

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This is a classic narcissist move – they create an excuse that cannot be criticized or questioned as a smokescreen and cover for their self-centered and selfish action to get what they want.  And, if they can use the smokescreen itself as the very means of getting what they want – all the better.

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