Entrapment To Destroy

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The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.  So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 

They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  

But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

Luke 20:19-26

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The Pharisees here were clear examples of narcissists.  There are several lessons on how narcissists operate from the above narrative:

  • The scoffers (narcissists) tried to eliminate the threat to their supremacy.
  • They attempted to entrap Jesus by presenting a no-win situation, on a subject that could get Him in deep trouble with the authorities if He answered wrong.
  • They sent others to do their dirty work (this time).

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Notice the flattery these Pharisees used as part of their work to ruin Jesus.   In verse 21, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.”  This is what is discussed in Proverbs:

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

Proverbs 26:28

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They Snipe At Those Of Whom They Are Jealous

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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 of the attention and honor Jesus was receiving 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 approaching 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 upon virtually everyone in the room.  However, lowering himself to their level, He pointed them and anyone else listening to a much higher point – the need for the willing to recognize their spiritual sickness.  The proud Pharisees naturally would not recognize their need and would not receive healing.

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This was both a subtle rebuke to the Pharisees’ self-centered blind jealously, a demonstration of His willingness to confront others’ error for the disciples’ benefit.  And in the process, He demonstrated Proverbs 26:4-5:

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

Proverbs 26:4-5

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective…

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This blog started as part of a personal journey when God responded to my cry to Him for help during a particularly difficult period with a narcissist.  While we spend most of the time here exploring the depths of the Bible for solutions, I occasionally remind myself of three underlying purposes for this blog: Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – Using “Faith” As Justification For Personal Ambition

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Among narcissists* in the Christian community, there are sometimes those who will use “faith” as justification or cover for their personal ambitions.  And they will quickly accuse those who oppose their plans as having “a lack of faith”, or possibly use other manipulative means to clear out the opposition and continue with their plans.  One such other manipulative method would be for the narcissist to say “I heard this straight from God”…..who can question “God’s leading”?  (Actually it is still possible to question based on scripture, the counsel of others, etc., but the narcissist will fight very hard to not be challenged in any way or by any means).

These narcissistic actions are consistent with narcissist’s tendency to use any means available to them to achieve their goals – including religious means.  This was discussed in the following blog entries:

“Narcissistic* Traits – Outwardly Righteous, Inwardly Rebellious

“Narcissist* Tactics – Saying Whatever They Have To, To Get What They Want” 

“Narcissistic* Traits – Religious, But Not Truly Moral or Righteous”

 

The narcissist’s way is not God’s way.  In fact, the narcissist’s way of pride and self-exaltation is the exact opposite of God’s way of humbly serving others.  Narcissist’s actions give unbelievers an excuse to hate Jesus.  But God will ultimately deal with these narcissists.

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Matthew 7:15-19

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will[know them by their fruits. [Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

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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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Narcissistic Traits – Outwardly “Righteous”, Inwardly Rebellious

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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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As we discussed here and here, the scribes and Pharisees are a particularly robust case study of narcissists.   They were experts at putting on a righteous act – partly for show, and partly because they actually believed it (see here) – while in reality being rebellious in their hearts toward God.

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This same trait of appearing godly outwardly, but being the opposite inwardly, will also be true of the narcissists that appear in the “last days”, as discussed here.
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2 Timothy 3:5 – holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

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The key to detecting this is to

  1. watch what they do, and compare it to what they say,  and
  2. watch what they do in public vs. what they do in private.

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Matthew 23:1-5

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

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

 

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Narcissist Tactics – Saying Whatever They Have To, To Get What They Want

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John 19:15

So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

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As we saw in

Narcissism Case Studies – The Pharisees, Overview

Narcissist Case Studies – Pharisees – How We Know They Were Narcissists, Part I

Narcissist Case Studies – How We Know “The Pharisees” Were Narcissists, Part 2

Additional Perspectives on The Pharisees

 

the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were classic Narcissists.   A careful analysis of their actions can give some clues as to how narcissists approach things.  In this case, there was no way that the chief priests really wanted Caesar to be their king – the whole nation of Israel was chafing at Roman rule and would have loved to cast it off.  And they were actively looking for a Jewish king.  So when the chief priests, said “we have no king but Caesar”, they were blatantly lying simply to make sure that Pilate did not let Jesus go.

As discussed in other posts, some of the Messianic Psalms clearly lay out the characteristics of the narcissistic / insolent pride Pharisees.  And a key tactic was speaking falsehood to get what they wanted.   That is a prime tactic of all narcissists.

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 Psalm 12

12 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”

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Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”

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

 

 

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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 Case Study – Deflecting Responsibility Through Technical Loopholes

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Luke 10:25-37

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

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As was made clear by his answer, the lawyer already knew the Biblical answer to his question, implying that his question was not a sincere inquiry.  Luke called it a “test” – the lawyer was simply asking the question to see what kind of response he would get, with the chance perhaps that Jesus would say something that the lawyer could use against him – or possibly to show that he was somehow better than Jesus.  This is a typical narcissist tactic. Continue reading

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The Proof Of Everything

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Let’s take a little side trip here for a small discussion on the biggest of topics.  You will soon see it is very relevant to our discussion on insolent pride and narcissism.

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Every of life’s deepest challenges drives us to three most basic of questions:

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  1. Is there a God?
  2. Who is He (His nature, and attributes)?
  3. Does He have the wisdom, power, and love to care and help with things in my life?

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As we go about our daily lives, commuting to work, going to the grocery store, watching the game, or planning our next vacation, as we look out the window at gray skies, as we read the mostly awful and contentious news, it is difficult to relate God to our stress-filled and sometimes tedious lives.

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We do not see Him, we see the mess around and in us, and yet we are supposed to place Him at the center of how we operate?  We are supposed to respond in kindness to crummy people?  It would sure be nice to know that what we base our lives on is actually real, and not a figment of our imagination – as many people seem to think.  Some reliable proof of the existence and character of God would be nice.

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In fact, God has given us proof.  The first, general proof is in nature, or Creation.  While there are non-stop efforts to explain away often obvious facts, the creativity and detail of the world above and around us screams that there is a Creator.  The night sky in the Rocky Mountains reveals this small corner the Milky Way galaxy.

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How can you consider the hundreds of billions of  these galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars – suns like ours, and not wonder where it all came from?  Scientists have tried to explain it all, apart from God, with a big bang theory, but still cannot get to the ultimate origin.  What came before the Big Bang?  Theories always hit a limit of understanding with respect to everything we see.  The more we know about eyes, cells, everything visible and even invisible – the more difficult it is to believe that it happened by chance.  This discussion is far beyond the scope of this blog.

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But there is an even more inescapable proof of the reality, love and power of God.  The sad fact is that everyone dies – a final and irreversible death.  Do you personally know anyone who was dead for multiple days, and then came back to life?  The ultimate proof that God is real is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His death.   The importance of Jesus’ resurrection as a proof of the reality of God is one reason God made sure it was a well-documented fact.  There are several sources that discuss this proof, such as here

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If Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is proof of God’s existence – and power – then the events that led to Jesus death are proof of His love.

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But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

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He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?   Romans 8:32

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And this love is intimate and personal.

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O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.    Psalm 139:1-10

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For everyone struggling with a narcissist in their lives, the reality of a wise, infinitely powerful, and personally loving God changes everything.

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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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It Hurts Worse When Its A “Friend”

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Psalm 55

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,
Then I could bear it;
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,
Then I could hide myself from him.
13 But it is you, a man my equal,
My companion and my familiar friend;
14 We who had sweet fellowship together

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Our most painful encounter with a narcissist will very likely be with someone close to us.  And especially with someone we thought was a friend.  One reason is that when we expected someone to act like a friend and in exchange were stabbed in the back, it is a painful betrayal.  The other reason, as David said in verse 12, is that when we are more entangled in a relationship it is harder to avoid them – bringing us painful reminders more frequently.

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David goes on to describe their smooth words which disguise the evil in their hearts

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19 God will hear and answer them—
Even the one who sits enthroned from of old— Selah.
With whom there is no change,
And who do not fear God.
20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;
He has violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smoother than butter,
But his heart was war;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords.

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But as David reminds himself and says to the Lord at the end of Psalm 55

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22 Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
23 But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction;
Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.

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You can read the entire Psalm here

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Narcissistic Traits of the Man of Lawlessness

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A previous post  “The Most Narcissistic Person Ever” describes a person on his way whom the book of Daniel calls a despicable person and Jesus calls the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24.  The person is described as a beast in Revelation and is also commonly known as the anti-christ.   He is sometimes called the “man of sin”, although New Testament scholar Bruce M. Metzger argues that “man of lawlessness” is the original reading even though 94% of manuscripts have “man of sin”.[1]

This person will be the embodiment of insolently proud rebellion against God and the ultimate seeker of dominance over man – having the ultimate goal of people worshiping him (as a proxy for Satan) instead of God.  He will be far worse than any despot who has ever lived – including modern examples like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc..  In ancient times there were many more.  Daniel 9:27 describes him briefly this way,

and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate

What does this mean?  He will come on the scene acting abominably in every way, leaving destruction in his wake.  This sounds like how a narcissist rolls, and brings to mind one of our previous descriptions.

The scoffer [aka narcissist] is an abomination to men  Proverbs 24:9

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What other narcissistic traits and tactics does this despicable man show?  He:

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  • Is insolent (8:23)
  • Is skilled in intrigue (8:23)
  • He leverages other power bases, especially Satan (8:24) 
  • Is shrewd and causes “deceit to succeed by his influence”  (8:25)
  • Magnifies himself in his heart,  (8:25)
  • Destroys many while they are at ease.  (8:25)
  • Is a despicable person (11:21)
  • Takes control through manipulation (11:21)
  • Practices deception (11:23)
  • Speaks lies at the negotiating table (11:27)
  • Becomes disheartened at opposition (11:30)
  • Gets angry at opposition (11:30)
  • Recruits others against his opposition (11:30)
  • Uses smooth words to recruit others (11:32)
  • Magnifies himself above everything else (11:36)
  • Speaks monstrous things about and against God (11:36)
  • Honors those who acknowledge his position and greatness (11:39)
  • Gives high positions to his acolytes (11:39)
  • Turns part of his conquests into cash (11:39)
  • Lashes out against any possible challenge (11:44)

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The good news is that even though man cannot defeat this guy, God can and will – suddenly and completely

And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.   Daniel 8:25

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[He will destroy] even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  Daniel 9:27

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but it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.   Daniel 11:27

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he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.  Daniel 11:36

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yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.  Daniel 11:39

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This insolently proud person, this narcissist of all narcissists will appear to succeed (as they all do), but God will step in with the last word, judge, and completely destroy him.  As we see storm clouds rising, it is important to know what’s coming – but that, in the end, God and those who love Him, prevail.

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Click here if you want to know the initial steps for how to know God personally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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