The Contentious Woman Changes

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Psalm 16:11

11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

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In the blog post Crying Out, Seeking God we discussed that sometimes the very first step on a road to healing is simply to cry out to God for help.  While you may not see an instant, dramatic change in your situation, you will often look back and see that time of crying out as the moment God put you on the path to His solution.

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I came across a blog entry by Dr. Linda Karges-Bone.  It is a broader discussion of her take on the “contentious woman”, but includes her testimony of asking God for help, which began a road of healing.  The entire blog entry is worth reading, but here is a key excerpt:

 

Now for the second round of reactions. It is quite possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I doubt it. Here’s why. I have done what researchers call a “double blind” test. I have tried it both ways. I lived the first decade of my marriage as a contentious woman. I pouted. I nagged. I saw myself as the unappreciated, overburdened, wife of a grumpy, difficult, selfish beast of a man. I have, at one point, been on the brink of losing my marriage. But two things saved me: God’s mercy and grace and my own decision to look for the good in my marriage instead of the bad.

I asked God to save my marriage. Continue reading

God Heals By Humbling – John Piper

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A devotional by John Piper, excerpted from his message “The Lofty One Whose Name is Holy

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“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD, “and I will heal him.” (Isaiah 57:18–19)

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“In spite of the severity of man’s disease of rebellion and willfulness, God will heal. How will he heal? Isaiah 57:15 says that God dwells with the crushed and humble. Yet the people of Isaiah 57:17 are brazenly pursuing their own proud way. What will a healing be?

It can only be one thing. God will heal them by humbling them. He will cure the patient by crushing his pride. If only the crushed and humble enjoy God’s fellowship (Isaiah 57:15), and if Israel’s sickness is a proud and willful rebellion (Isaiah 57:17), and if God promises to heal them (Isaiah 57:18), then his healing must be humbling and his cure must be a crushed spirit.

Isn’t this Isaiah’s way of prophesying what Jeremiah called the new covenant and Jeremiah called a new heart? He said, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33).

Isaiah and Jeremiah both see a time coming when a sick, disobedient, hard-hearted people will be supernaturally changed. Isaiah speaks of healing. Jeremiah speaks of writing the law on their hearts.

So the healing of Isaiah 57:18 is a major heart transplant — the old hardened, proud, willful heart is taken out and a new soft, tender heart is put in which is easily humbled and crushed by the memory of sin and the sin that remains.

This is a heart that the lofty One whose name is Holy can dwell with and give life to.”

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue

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1 John 2:16

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

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

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

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

Narcissist Traits – They Contradict Themselves

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Luke 6:45

45 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.

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We read in Psalms 5:9 of a narcissist (aka one with insolent pride*), that “there is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself.”   And we read in secular sources (and have experienced) that narcissists can say something in one sentence, and contradict themselves in the next sentence (or even in the very same sentence).  It seems crazy when they do this – they seem crazy when they do this – and they have no clue that they are even doing it.  What’s going on?  

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Ultimately, as Luke 6:45 indicates, it is our heart that drives our words and actions. Continue reading

Anxiety Is A Form Of Pride

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[A daily devotional by John Piper originally published by BibleGateway.com.  Reprinted under permission]

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God Cares for You    by John Piper

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)

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Why is anxiety about the future a form of pride?

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God’s answer would sound something like this:

I — the Lord, your Maker — I am he who comforts you, who promises to take care of you; and those who threaten you are mere men who die. So your fear must mean that you do not trust me — and even though you are not sure that your own resources will take care of you, yet you opt for fragile self-reliance, rather than faith in my future grace. So all your trembling — weak as it is — reveals pride.

The remedy? Turn from self-reliance to God-reliance, and put your faith in the all-sufficient power of future grace.

We see anxiety as a form of pride in 1 Peter 5:6–7. Notice the grammatical connection between the verses. “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God . . . [verse 7] casting all your anxieties on him.” Verse 7 is not a new sentence. It’s a subordinate clause. “Humble yourselves . . . [by]casting all your anxieties on him.”

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This means that casting your anxieties Continue reading

A Remedy For Pride

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As I come across particularly helpful Biblical perspectives provided by others in my quest for God’s wisdom on the subject of narcissism, I will pass them along.  Today’s daily devotional from John Piper is one of those.  The entire piece is below, including a link to the original.

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From John Piper’s Daily Devotional

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The Remedy for Pride

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13–16)

When you take three categories of temptation to self-reliance — wisdom, might, and riches — they form a powerful inducement toward the ultimate form of pride, namely, atheism. The safest way to stay supreme in our own estimation is to deny anything above us.

This is why the proud preoccupy themselves with looking down on others. “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

But to preserve pride, it may be simpler to proclaim that there is nothing above to look at. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4). Ultimately, the proud must persuade themselves that there is no God.

One reason for this is that God’s reality is overwhelmingly intrusive in all the details of life. Pride cannot tolerate the intimate involvement of God in running even the ordinary affairs of life.

Pride does not like the sovereignty of God. Therefore pride does not like the existence of God, because God is sovereign. It might express this by saying, “There is no God.” Or it might express it by saying, “I am driving to Atlanta for Christmas.”

James says, “Don’t be so sure.” Instead, say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall get to Atlanta for Christmas.” James’s point is that God rules over whether we get to Atlanta, and whether you live to the end of this devotional. This is extremely offensive to the self-sufficiency of pride — not even to have control over whether you get to the end of the devotional without having a stroke!

James says that not believing in the sovereign rights of God to manage the details of your future is arrogance.

The way to battle this arrogance is to yield to the sovereignty of God in all the details of life, and rest in his infallible promises to show himself mighty on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9), to pursue us with goodness and mercy every day (Psalm 23:6), to work for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4), and to equip us with all we need to live for his glory (Hebrews 13:21).

In other words, the remedy for pride is unwavering faith in God’s future grace.

Why? – Family Patterns of Narcissism*

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Exodus 20:5-6

You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

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Secular literature discusses the tendency for narcissism* to run in families – you may have seen it in families that you know.  The secular hypothesis is that narcissistic parents set up the conditions for their own children to develop narcissism.  And the pattern continues.  This hypothesis is based on the aging nature vs nurture argument (see here or here).
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God makes it clear that narcissisim (insolent pride) running in families is not just a natural phenomenon, but is one of His principles on how He governs life.  He is sovereignly involved.  The importance of this is that to truly break a pattern of narcissism in a family, the “generational sin” referred to in Exodus 20:5-6 needs to be accounted for and dealt with.
Continue reading

God Warns Narcissists To Change…..

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In addition to the fact that nothing is impossible with God, one clue that it is possible for narcissists (those with insolent pride) to change is that God warns them to change.  Why would He warn them if change is impossible?  God warns scoffers / those with insolent pride to give up their scoffing, accept His reproof and allow Him to transform them through His Spirit.

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Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom Warns

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

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If the narcissist refuses the wisdom that leads to change, it will ultimately result in calamity for him…..

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24 “Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.

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……and he will eat the fruit of the choice he is making.

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28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

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Scoffers is one of the names the Bible gives to those with insolent pride, which is the Biblical description for narcissists.

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In a difficult prophetic passage God warns the Pharisees of Jesus’ day (see here and here) to give up their scoffing / insolent pride / narcissism….

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Isaiah 28:14 – Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, ………..
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Isaiah 28:22 – ……..And now do not carry on as scoffers, Or your fetters will be made stronger; For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts Of decisive destruction on all the earth.
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More on the Isaiah 28 passage in a future post.

“How Can I Change”? – Introduction

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The secular literature generally states that narcissists* don’t change.  And it is true that narcissists’ pride is a big hindrance to their actually changing.  The following Proverbs discuss how much a narcissist resists being told he might be wrong.  (See here on how narcissism is “insolent pride” in the Bible, and here for a discussion on how “scoffer” is one of the biblical terms for narcissist*)

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Proverbs 9:7 – He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
 
Proverbs 13:1 – A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
 
Proverbs 14:6 – A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding.
 
Proverbs 15:12 – A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, He will not go to the wise.
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On the other hand the Bible says
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Luke 1:37 – For nothing will be impossible with God.”
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and
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Daniel 4:37 – He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

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Therefore, even though it might be rare and difficult, it is not impossible (and therefore possible) for narcissists to change to a level of greater humility.  (Of course, none of us is ever completely humble).

In fact, God warns narcissists (scoffers) to give up their narcissism (scoffing).  So it is not just that narcissists can change, they are instructed by God to change.

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Isaiah 28:22 – And now do not carry on as scoffers, Or your fetters will be made stronger;

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Proverbs 1:22 – “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?

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 There are significant consequences to being a narcissist* (see Proverbs 19:29).  But to those who are willing, change is possible.   We will begin to walk down the road of what the Bible says about what it takes for a narcissist / one with insolent pride to truly change.

Be Loved, To Love

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Boundlessly Good

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