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. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
In this verse God is warning through the apostle Paul that a time would come when men would be riddled with all kinds of vice and immorality. I don’t think anyone listening to this message can deny that we’re living in a time and society in which all these shortcomings are rampant. In fact, they’ve become so rampant that they’ve almost become part of the backdrop of our lives and we barely recognize them for what they are.
All these issues lead to destructive behaviors and results. And that destruction is suffered by both the individual who’s embraced these habits and anyone with whom he comes in contact.
I could go through this verse and address each individual vice Paul names throughout it – and maybe one day I will – but for now I’d like to address a select handful of them which all too often go hand in hand. I think it’s important that Christians recognize these traits because it will be useful for them to help identify trouble before it arises, and, God willing, help them recognize those traits in themselves should they have them, and do something about it.
I’d like to take a look at II Timothy 3:1-5 again, but I want to you take note of the vices I read off, because those are the ones which we’ll be specifically discussing today.
– lovers of self
– revilers (false witnesses)
– malicious gossips (false witnesses)
– without self-control
– holding a form of godliness, though they have denied its power
The verse wraps up with a warning – “avoid such men as these”.
If I were to find a person with all these traits rolled up together and show him to a modern day psychologist, they would immediately identify this person as a narcissist.
The origin of the word “narcissist” is interesting. It comes from a Greek myth about a young man named Narcissus. Narcissus was a youth of exceptional good looks, and one day while he was walking through the forest he came across a pool of water. He saw his reflection in the pool and fell so deeply in love with it that he sat down and pined over it until he died.
It’s an absurd story, of course, but I think it does a good job serving as an illustration for the exceptionally high regard some people have for themselves. It’s people like this whom we’ll be discussing here, and I think it’s important because I’ve been amazed at the number of folks I’ve encountered who fall solidly into the classification of “narcissists”. Because there are so many of them, I feel it’s important to know how to identify them and how to deal with them. The first I think I’m honing down, and the second I’m still figuring out. So we’ll be learning together.
Scripture doesn’t call them narcissists, of course, but it does call them “proud” or “scoffers” or “scorners”, and even offers some fascinating historical illustrations of people who fit the description of narcissists, including the damage they caused and their final fates. We’re going to look into one of these illustrations as well because, not only is it history, but it’s also a warning to us in the present day.
Proverbs 3:34 – Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
This proverb is quoted in the New Testament in I Peter 4:6 and James 5:5, and there it’s worded a little differently, and at least in this case I think it’s worded a little more clearly:
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The narcissist thinks he, his opinions, his actions, and pretty much everything about him is better than everyone else. Sometimes it’s because he really thinks this, or deep down he’s extremely insecure and needs his arrogance in the same way a child afraid of the dark needs his blankie. Of course, this kind of security blanket is weak and meaningless.
God makes sure we understand that we are weak and meaningless. In II Corinthians 3:4-5, Paul says –
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God…
David says in Psalm 73:26-28 –
My flesh and my heart faileth [are weak]: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord YHWH, that I may declare all thy works.
When we recognize that we are weak and helpless, we have two options. We can either rely on the one true God for validation and strength and meaning, or we can surround ourselves with a fantasy world in which we are not only superior but preeminent, a world in which everything revolves around us and everyone is required to recognize our preeminence and kowtow to it.
This is the defining line between those whom God resists and those to whom God gives grace.
In the case of the one who leans on God for his strength, he is committing to an act of worship toward the one true Savior, the only one who can give him strength. When he does this he isn’t trying to hide from his weakness – rather, he sees it and goes to the one who can protect him and give him what he needs to survive. That is the humble man, and he receives grace.
In the case of the one who creates his own egocentric Matrix, not only is he deluding himself, but rather than leaning on God for strength he’s persuaded himself that he can provide his own strength. He might not say it in so many words, but his actions will announce it loudly. We’ll get into some of those actions in a bit. He is an idolater because he has raised himself to sit in a place in his own mind which should only be reserved for the One True God, and expects everyone around him to ascribe to his religion. This is the narcissist, and God will resist him.
Psalm 1:1, the very first verse in the book of Psalm says,
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Now that we’re getting into whom the Bible identifies as the “scornful”, we can more easily identify “the seat of the scornful”. That seat is the pedestal on which the prideful man sits, his imaginary throne. The King of Tyre was guilty of this as well, as we read in Ezekiel 28:1-10 –
The word of YHWH came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord YHWH; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: herefore thus saith the Lord YHWH; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord YHWH.
All we have to do is rely on ourselves for strength and wisdom, and on the adulation of others, for our validation and meaning, and we immediately commit the idolatry and blasphemy of self-worship. The King of Tyre is said to be guilty of this, and just as the prophecy announced, Alexander the Great came along and literally scraped the entire city into the Mediterranean.
We also see from that that God, who is not mocked, will see to it that eventual destruction will come about as a result of such a mindset. When we look at others in the Biblical account we’ll find this to be a pattern – a man places himself in the seat of scoffers (ie, in the seat of God in his mind), and God ruins him.
I think probably the most in-depth example of a narcissist we can find in Scripture is that of King Saul, so I’m going to spend much of this message delving into his story, his character, and how it can be used to help us avoid the trap of becoming narcissists or of getting involved with them.
As I’m sure we all know from the book of I Samuel, Saul was the first King of Israel. God specifically chose Saul the son of Kish to be king, and the prophet Samuel had anointed him. So Saul knew he had been specifically selected by God to be King. And yet we read the following in I Samuel 10:17-23 –
And Samuel called the people together unto YHWH to Mizpeh; And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith YHWH God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you: And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before YHWH by your tribes, and by your thousands. And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they enquired of YHWH further, if the man should yet come thither. And YHWH answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff. And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
Now a lot of people will point this story out and say, “See, this shows how humble Saul was.” In a way they’re right, but it wasn’t a good humility. Remember, GOD HAD CHOSEN HIM AND SAUL KNEW IT. This is important. Not only had Samuel already anointed him, but now it had been confirmed by lot. Had Saul truly been meek in a godly sense, no matter what reservations he might have had he would have resolved to obey the calling of God and step forward when his lot was cast. Instead he hid.
This speaks of insecurity on Saul’s part. When I speak of “insecurity” I’m not talking about some kind of pride, but rather confidence. For example, I’ve seen many humble people stand up and speak in front of a crowd, not because of pride, but because they are confident. The pianist plays Mozart, the builder begins erecting a house, the farmer sets about raising crops, not because of pride, but because they know they are able. Saul had never been king before, but he did know God had chosen him for the role. This should have told him that, even if he didn’t know how to do it, God would have given him the ability. We can compare this to David’s son Solomon when he became King, as we read in I Kings 3:5-13:
In Gibeon YHWH appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O YHWH my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
We see a distinct difference between the attitudes of Saul and Solomon. In Saul’s case, when he couldn’t face his own inadequacies he tried to hide from God’s decision. He was so full of fear he had to be dragged out of hiding and in front of the people. Instead of focusing on God to make up for his deficits, he just ran.
Meanwhile, Solomon was also scared stiff of becoming king, but he approached it in an entirely different way. Instead of hiding from it, he faced his fears and insecurities and laid them before God, asking for help. And as we read, God was pleased with this approach and granted to Solomon all that and much, much more.
God gave grace to the humble Solomon.
As we read later, Saul didn’t get much grace whatsoever. Saul appears to have feared himself (his own weakness) more than he feared God, whereas Solomon, while he indeed feared his own inadequacies, feared and leaned on God all the more.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in YHWH shall be safe. – Proverbs 29:25
I don’t think many of us realize that our fears, and how we deal with them, can also indicate our pride. Pride is nothing more than looking to self for deliverance rather than to God. So when we encounter our fears, we can either look to self, and be terrified, or look to God, and be confident. A prideful person is very often a fearful person hiding behind a veneer of cockiness. Deep down they fear failure, what other people might think of them, and not being in control. They expect themselves to produce success, and others to honor them for it. On the other hand the humble person knows he is a failure without God, only cares about what God thinks of him, and knows he isn’t in control. He fears what will happen if God isn’t there to help him, but also finds confidence in God’s grace and promises. So I hope you can see how debilitating insecurity is in fact fear of man (fear of self and one’s own weakness) and trying to pretend one can overcome it on one’s own.
So now we move forward to chapter 13 of I Samuel. Here we find Saul working in the capacity of King of Israel, and he’s at war with the Philistines. The Philistines have amassed in a huge army against the people of Israel, and they’re afraid. Samuel has promised to show up and make a sacrifice to God on behalf of the people, but when he decides Samuel is late, and sees his men abandoning the battlefield in the face of the overwhelming Philistine presence, Saul caves to his fear and decides to take care of the offering himself. We read starting in verse 10 –
And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto YHWH: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of YHWH thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would YHWH have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: YHWH hath sought him a man after his own heart, and YHWH hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which YHWH commanded thee.
Once again, rather than trusting in God and His prophet to do what needed to be done, Saul decided HE would supply the perceived deficit and perform the sacrifice. Furthermore, Saul tried to lay everything in the lap of Samuel (“thou camest not within the days appointed”). It’s a very common tactic for the narcissist to never take blame or apologize, but rather to make himself out to be the righteous victim and pass the blame off to others. This is exactly what happened in this case. Notice how Saul says, “I forced myself”. In other words, “I really didn’t want to, Samuel, but you gave me no choice. This is your fault.” He portrays himself as the righteous man forced into sin by others.
We all have a narcissistic streak in us. None of us really WANT to take blame for our mistakes. Adam tried to make Eve take all the blame, Cain pretended not to know where Abel was, Achan never voluntarily stepped forward and admitted his sin when Israel was defeated at Ai, and so forth. We’ve tried to avoid responsibility at some point in our lives. But even when faced with the undeniable evidence, and being called out for it, the narcissist still will do all in his power to pass the blame on to another, even if it’s to the one rebuking him. Of course, as we see, Samuel was having none of it, and through him God announced that the Kingdom was set to pass on to another.
Saul attempted the same stunt again later on when he defeated the Amelekites. God had commanded that Saul destroy all the Amalekites, including the animals. Saul went out and defeated them – but spared King Agag and the best of the livestock. God told Samuel, and when Samuel confronted him about it, Saul tried to pass the blame on to the people he commanded (I Samuel 15:20-21):
And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of YHWH, and have gone the way which YHWH sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto YHWH thy God in Gilgal.
The narcissist sees himself as blameless in any situation. Even when his guilt is obvious, he either cannot see or cannot accept it. A narcissist will seldom, if ever, apologize. It’s undeniable that something wrong was done, he will not accept any blame whatsoever, and therefore someone else must take responsibility. In this case, Saul didn’t just try to implicate Samuel, but tried to throw the entire people of Israel under the bus. The fact was, even though the people were indeed guilty, Saul himself was in command. He could have and should have stopped them. Instead, he was party to the crime. But Saul would not accept this. The people had to take the fall.
But once he realizes his excuses aren’t working, he breaks before the wrath of the prophet, and terrified of the declaration that he would lose the kingdom, he gives a more honest, but still weak excuse (verse 24):
I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of YHWH and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.
Narcissists are terrified moreso of their image in the eyes of their fellow man than they are of how they are perceived by Almighty God. If Saul was speaking truth here, he was admitting to sinning for fear of the people, trying to preserve his popularity as a ruler rather than trying to seek the face of God. Nothing terrifies a narcissist more than losing his pedestal among his peers. He will sacrifice anything in an attempt to make people think he’s all that and a bag of chips, including his dignity and reputation.
A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. – Proverbs 29:23
Later on we read in I Samuel 16:14 –
But the Spirit of YHWH departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from YHWH troubled him.
It’s an interesting study to take a close look at the nature of this “evil spirit” and compare it to what we know about narcissists. I believe the “evil spirit” mentioned in this verse is not unique to Saul’s experience, but rather is the common divine punishment sent on everyone who exalts themselves above their fellow man and above God himself.
Likely unknown to Saul, Samuel anointed the youth David to become the next king. Doubtless by divine guidance, David found himself serving before Saul, and Saul unwittingly came to love David as a son. However, David displayed the opposite character of Saul. While Saul was riddled with fear and denial of his sinfulness, David fearlessly faced Goliath while Saul and his army watched trembling from afar. He went on to become a deadly foe to the Philistines and essentially became an all-star celebrity in Israel, so much so that the women composed songs about him, as we read in I Samuel 18:5-9 –
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Here we see Saul feeling threatened by David’s popularity. Rather than embracing David’s great achievements as an asset to Israel and raising him up to be a mighty man in his retinue, Saul focused on the fact that David eclipsed him as a hero in the eyes of the people. Just as a narcissist cannot abide losing his place on a pedestal, Saul could not abide being compared to David and losing the contest. Immediately Saul’s love for David become resentment, which quickly evolved into deadly hatred. As we read later, Saul begins trying to kill David. Failing killing him with his own hand, Saul assigns David as a commander in the campaigns against the Philistines, probably hoping David would be killed in battle. Instead, David rose even further in popularity as he added to his list of achievements.
Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
Or, as the NASB puts it –
When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them.
Later, we read of Saul offering his daughter Michal to David as a wife. Saul thinks Michal will be a snare to David. We aren’t told exactly why Saul thought this, but it’s possible that Saul thought Michal would lead David after other gods, since we read that Michal had idols in I Samuel 19:13. His plan was probably to lure David into idolatry so God would remove his favor from him. But when David objected, saying the bride price would be too steep, Saul came up with another idea (I Samuel 18:25):
And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
Of course, as we know, David brought back twice the required bride price, and Saul became even more fearful of David, going so far as to tell his servants and his son Jonathan to kill him (I Samuel 19:1).
At this point we see Saul’s insecurity translating into madness, an “evil spirit”. This insanity is not unique to Saul. It has been displayed to varying degrees, in different ways, by various people in history, as we shall see. But the point is that, unchecked, the narcissist’s fears and egoism can lead to erratic behavior, unsound judgment, and even downright evil decisions. The “evil spirit” which God laid on Saul pointed him down the road of self-destruction.
I’ve encountered many different narcissists in my life, and in each case this has eventually proven true – often the narcissist’s life ends in shambles, and sometimes it even ends altogether. I’ve even seen it end at the hands of the narcissist himself.
Before we get to that aspect of Saul’s history, I want to point out the stark difference between Saul and David in their attitudes toward each other. While Saul was seeking to kill David, David never once raised a hand against Saul. David twice had the opportunity to destroy Saul, but didn’t take it. We read about the first opportunity in I Samuel 24, when David says to his men in verse 6 –
YHWH forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, YHWH’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of YHWH.
Again David, at the moment of his second opportunity in Chapter 26, says to his man Abashai (verse 9) –
Destroy him (Saul) not: for who can stretch forth his hand against YHWH’s anointed, and be guiltless?
Here we see the completely opposing characters of Saul and David. Both David and Saul were God’s anointed. While Saul, desperate to remove one whom he thought to be a threat to his position of power in Israel, had no qualms about destroying God’s anointed, David did not dare kill God’s anointed, even though his life appeared to be in danger. Surely David would have been justified in the eyes of Israel! But David’s faith in God (his security), and his humility in recognizing God’s sovereignty in the matter, prevented him from taking action. Even preservation of life was not a good enough reason in his eyes to kill Saul, “YHWH’s anointed”.
Saul, as we know, repented of trying to kill David in chapter 24, then repented of repenting, if you will, in chapter 26. Once David spared his life a second time, Saul repented again – but David, knowing Saul’s imbalanced mind, knew Saul could very well come after him again and retreated to Philistia until Saul’s death. In other words, while Saul repented outwardly, it was disingenuous – short-lived at best.
Saul’s death is one final examination of the narcissist mind.
As we read in I Samuel 31, Saul’s army is routed before the Philistines, and the wounded king, rather than be killed by his enemies, killed himself. As we read Scripture, we see that the wicked, not the righteous, are ever said to have committed suicide, as we read about in the cases of King Hazael in II Kings 8:15 or Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27:5. In an attempt to preserve his own honor in the moment, Saul never considered the long-term consequences of his action – that he would be recorded in history as having died the ignominious death of self-murder.
All too often, the narcissist, desperate to preserve whatever honor or dignity he imagines himself to have, actually ruins it utterly through his behavior. He destroys himself either figuratively or literally. The narcissist rarely thinks about the long-term effects of his self-centeredness on himself and others, but rather is so focused on himself in the moment that he ends up doing extraordinarily foolish things. Saul is but one case of this.
There are other instances of “scoffers” or “scorners” or narcisssists in Scripture, such as Nebuchadnezzar, the Pharisees, and others, and all of them can teach us lessons on the topic. So can cases such as Cambyses, the Caesars, Adolf Hitler, and many others. I don’t have enough time here to cover them, so I encourage you to make it a point to study them and notice the similarities in their attitudes and life choices.
What we can take away from this is an understanding of how to identify the prideful narcissist through his actions. He thinks highly of himself and expects others to think highly of him as well. He is very insecure, and will do anything to keep his place on the pedestal on which he imagines he sits, even if that means betraying others. The narcissist will devolve into erratic and sometimes even insane behavior once he feels he is losing his high position, eventually ruining any respect he might have had with those who watch him. The narcissist will eventually ruin himself – all because he was so afraid of ruin in the first place.
In light of the eventual mental breakdown – the “evil spirit”, as Scripture calls it – we can determine that such an end is the divinely decreed punishment for such arrogance. Remember what happened to Nebuchadnezzar? One moment he was walking on the rooftop, congratulating himself on his fine work in creating the great empire Babylon – and the next God had him grazing in the pasture with the cattle. I’ve seen enough narcissism to see that this is a consistent result. Madness of some form has eventually overtaken each narcissist I’ve ever encountered. Therefore, it is my conclusion that we should actually fear pride – not only because of the sin it is, but because of the consequences it entails. The prayer “Lord keep me humble” is also a cry of “Lord, keep me sane”.
We can’t handle being gods, even gods in our own estimation. And we certainly can’t handle the just punishment the One True God sends on us as a result.
Isaiah 2:10-22 – Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of YHWH, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of YHWH of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of YHWH, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of YHWH, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
So when Paul warns us in I Timothy 3:5 to “avoid such men as these”, we’re being told to avoid the havoc they wreak, and to avoid being pulled into the madness and final judgment they bring onto themselves. These people are troublemakers at heart. While Christ’s gospel reaches out to others with a desire to save, the narcissist reaches out to others in an attempt to pull them in and stand on them in an attempt to elevate himself. No good can come of the latter. The narcissist is an idolater and blasphemer. Christians should have no truck with people such as these. The humble cannot share common goals with the proud and arrogant. It doesn’t matter how much the arrogant man spouts Scripture or prays or teaches – in the end it’s his attitude that determines why he does what he does, whether for the approval of God, or the approbation of man. His attitude determines whether Christ knows him, or tells him to depart as a worker of iniquity. His attitude determines whether what he does is out of love, or done out of vanity. The narcissist who preaches and teaches and puts on a front of righteousness is a fraud, one of those who “draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” (Isaiah 29:13) They live their “Chistian” walk as a form of virtue signaling, seeking their own glory rather than the kingdom of God. These scoffers are idolatrous self-worshipers.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of YHWH; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For YHWH knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. – Psalm 1