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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Click here for initial steps to peace with God

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God’s Final Word On It All

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Many people like to read a book from front to back and wouldn’t think of starting at the end of the story. But when it comes to the Walk of Life knowing the end of the story is extremely helpful for persevering through the ups and downs.  For those who are downtrodden, especially at the hands of arrogant people, it’s especially good to know that God is completely aware and will have the final word on it all.

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To give an example from Isaiah 2,

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The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.  (Isaiah 2:11-12)

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The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,  (Isaiah 2:17)

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In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats
Their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
Which they made for themselves to worship,
21 In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs
Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.  (Isaiah 2:20-21)

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Isaiah’s conclusion is to stop worrying about what people think, since their true standing will be revealed in the end.

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Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?  (Isaiah 2:22)

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There are many similar passages, for example:

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“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  Malachi 4:1

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I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.  Isaiah 13:11

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In the middle of our day to day grind of dealing with people with insolent pride, it is occasionally helpful to step back and see the end of the story.  In the end, God will put every proud and haughty person into their proper place, and will show that He alone deserves to be exalted.

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Having a proper view now of that future state of affairs can give us the perspective needed to see the proud and haughty narcissist as they really are – and through that to give us a measure of freedom from the control they seek over us.

 

 

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The Ultimate Fact Check

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As we stated in a previous blog post, one way of dealing with narcissists is to fact check everything.

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The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.  Proverbs 18:17

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The ultimate fact-check will come on the day of judgment.   Jesus said

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“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits …

 “…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.’  Matthew 7:15-16, 21

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While this could apply to anyone trying to get into heaven through their “good deeds” (instead of through true repentance and faith in Christ), I can envision narcissists in particular trying to talk their way into heaven through an inflated opinion of what they did on Earth – trying to pass it off as an act of faith with good motives.

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We know why someone would try to do this – they’re desperate to get into heaven to avoid God’s judgement. But why would they think they can get away with this? One possibility is that they have an inflated view of what they accomplished.  As Proverbs says,

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Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.  Proverbs 25:14
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The other possibility is that they actually did what might be seen as good works by an outside observer, but did it out of self-centered motives and not from a heart of love.  1st Corinthians 13 says even if you do good works, if they’re not done from the right heart they are of no profit in the end.
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If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 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.  I Corinthians 13:2-3
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Jesus said the same thing.
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“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites 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.  Matthew 6:1-2

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The hypocrites Jesus refers to in Matthew 6 are the Pharisees Jesus directly speaks to in Matthew 23.

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Claiming good works as the justification to get into heaven will be the narcissist’s typical but final move.  Jesus, in the ultimate fact-check, will see right through the N’s inflated view of themselves and their false boasting for why they deserve to be in Heaven.

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Narcissism and Job Performance

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Proverbs 16:18

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

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We have seen in these pages that the Bible discusses consequences to insolent pride – but sometimes it is hard to see in real life since it appears that narcissists almost always “get away with it”.  One area where we would expect the consequences to be seen would be in the area of job performance.

People in many lines of work get their performance evaluated through the eyes of others – thus giving the narcissist the opportunity to manipulate situations to his own advantage.  However, in the field of money management the job performance is summarized in the simple final number of the investment return.  This means that the ultimate job performance is not based on what people think, but on actual results.

A study was done using the field of money management as the “hard number arbiter of job performance results” which shows that narcissists (embedded in a broader group of psycopaths) in fact do have lower job performance.  If you’re interested, here is the article which discusses this:

Psycopath Hedge Fund Managers Make Less Money

 

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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.

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All The Reward They Will Ever Get

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Matthew 6:1-18

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

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“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites 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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The Progression of Fools, p.s. – God Will Ultimately Lower The Boom

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There is a clear warning to those who continue down path of the progression of fools

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Proverbs 6:12-15

A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13 Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14 Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

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Proverbs 29:1 explains that this sudden calamity does not just happen at the first “mistake” the person made, but actually comes after the wicked person has repeatedly rejected God’s warnings to change his ways.

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Proverbs 29:1

29 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.

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One example of God’s gracious patience in giving many reproofs and even final “notice” was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 4.   God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream with a warning to change his ways.  Then God gave him an entire year to repent and change, but Nebuchadnezzar did not.  After the year God lowered the boom and took decisive action to humble him.

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One implication of this for those suffering at the hands of narcissists and fools is that while in our weariness of dealing with it we want it FIXED NOW, God also is gracious and patient with them while at the same time providing grace to us.  But, He will ultimately deal with them.

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For more on repentance see Steps To Peace With God, and Fake vs. Sincere Repentance

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There is No Defense Against God’s Humbling

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Obadiah 1-4

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom—

We have heard a report from the Lord,
And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying,
“Arise and let us go against her for battle”—
“Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
You are greatly despised.
“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of [b]the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘Who will bring me down to earth?’
“Though you build high like the eagle,
Though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.

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It is easy for a proud person to think that he can build a strong enough wall through his wealth or fame to prevent himself from being humbled by God.  Of course, a proud person does not consciously think in terms of being humbled by God (as he rarely acknowledges God), but in terms of “bad things happening” to him.  But as God demonstrated through Nebuchadnezzar, He is able to humble anyone.  And as He declares here with Edom (family line of Esau, another N), it does not matter how much an N tries to guard against it, if God decides to humble an N, He will make it happen.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
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Narcissist* Consequences – Nothing But Strife

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Proverbs 13:10 – Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.
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This one almost speaks for itself.   Narcissists / those with insolent pride are conflict creators.  Their focus on self-exaltation and getting what they want causes them to take actions that run people over in the pursuit of getting what they want – rather than “wasting their time and energy” on having peaceful relationships.
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The word for insolence in Proverbs 13:10 is the same word as that used in our “key” verse of Proverbs 21:24 – “Proud, haughty, scoffer are his names; who acts with insolent pride.”.

Proverbs 11:2
HEB: בָּֽא־ זָ֭דוֹן וַיָּבֹ֣א קָל֑וֹן
NAS: When pride comes, then comes
KJV: [When] pride cometh, then cometh
INT: comes pride comes dishonor

Proverbs 13:10
HEB: רַק־ בְּ֭זָדוֹן יִתֵּ֣ן מַצָּ֑ה
NAS: Through insolence comes nothing
KJV: Only by pride cometh contention:
INT: but insolence comes strife

Proverbs 21:24
HEB: ע֝וֹשֶׂ֗ה בְּעֶבְרַ֥ת זָדֽוֹן׃
NAS: Who acts with insolent pride.
KJV: who dealeth in proud wrath.
INT: acts wrath insolent

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Strong’s Concordance
zadon: insolence, presumptuousness

Original Word: זָדוֹן
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Transliteration: zadon
Phonetic Spelling: (zaw-done’)
Short Definition: arrogance

NAS Exhaustive Concordance

Word Origin
from zud
Definition
insolence, presumptuousness
NASB Translation
arrogance (3), arrogant (2), insolence (2), insolent pride (1), presumptuously (2), pride (1)..

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* Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here for more

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