Can God Speak Through a Narcissist? How to Tell and How to Safeguard Yourself Against Deception

Apr 13, 2024

Can God speak through a narcissist? Many believe that narcissists are so entrenched in their self-serving ways that they're beyond any connection with God. But is that truly the case?

The answer isn't straightforward. God can speak through anyone, even a narcissist. He even once spoke through a donkey in the Old Testament. However, we must tread carefully. When God uses someone who lives in sin to speak to us, there are dangers we should be aware of and safeguards we should have in place to discern the truth from distortions.

Before we dive into this issue, let’s get clear on what a narcissist is. The term “narcissist” is thrown around a lot. Still, it has a specific meaning: A narcissist is someone who habitually practices narcissism – demonstrating pride, grandiosity, superiority, a lack of empathy, deception, entitlement, selfishness, anger, an inability to accept criticism, a tendency to high conflict, exploitative behavior, and manipulation for their self-interest. Everyone can struggle with these from time to time, but a narcissist doesn’t have a struggle here or there; this is their lifestyle. They believe that other people are the cause of their issues and failures. Check out my ebook on how to spot a narcissist at the beginning of the relationship here

So, back to the question, "Can God speak through a narcissist?" First, let’s examine the ways and conditions under which God speaks through narcissists. Then, we’ll discuss the dangers you should know and the safeguards you need. Ensure you read all the way through to the end of this blog; this understanding can save your or someone else’s life. 

When God Speaks Through a Narcissist

Picture yourself at a conference, at a church service, or reading a book. The speaker or author delivers a message that resonates deeply with you. But imagine that later, you find out that this person is a narcissist, an abuser, or living an immoral lifestyle. And not only that, they’ve been that way for a long time. Does that nullify the message that blessed your heart? Were you wrong to think this message came from God? We can tell a tree from its fruit. So if a person’s life shows bad fruit, does that negate anything they ever say or teach in the name of God?

It’s not a simple question. To answer it, we need to look at how God operated at times throughout the Bible. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In the Bible and still today, He sometimes chooses to get His message across to an audience even if He does not condone the lifestyle of the messenger or the messenger is in sin.

Take the example of Balaam in the Old Testament, in Numbers 24 and 25. Balaam was involved in divination and the occult. He was an enemy of God’s people and sought their demise. God took issue with him and said in Revelation 2:14 that anyone who follows Balaam’s teachings will be judged. And yet God still chose to speak blessings through him to Israel. 

Another example is Saul. On his way to harm David, Saul prophesied under the Holy Spirit's influence for 24 hours. On the day-to-day, though, Saul was tormented by an evil spirit. The story of Saul in the bible is littered with rageful explosions, including his throwing spears at David and even a consultation with a medium. His life and walk with God were in shambles, yet God still chose to overtake Saul with the Holy Spirit, empowering him to prophesy to the point that people exclaimed, “Is Saul one of the prophets?” (1 Samuel 10:11).

And then there were the Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned and spoke against publicly. He called them hypocrites and accused them of not only not entering the Kingdom of God but also blocking those who were trying to get in (Matthew 23:13). And yet, despite all that, Jesus said about them, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3). So despite their hypocrisy, Jesus acknowledged that they could teach some doctrinally correct teachings. Does a sinful, immoral lifestyle cancel a correct teaching?  Not necessarily.  Two plus two will always equal four, whether a moral person teaches you this or a corrupt person.

God’s Heart for You

How often have you prayed to God, asking Him to speak to you or reveal or confirm something? God hears these prayers. He also knows the heart of the people around you, such as your mentors and pastors. In response to your cry, God may inspire your pastor to preach what you need to hear. Perhaps that pastor is a narcissist. God can still orchestrate a recognizable answer to your prayer because it is timely and relevant to your unique situation. Whether your leader has a good character or not, God may use them to answer your prayers if He knows you will hear their sermon or read their book.

God is often more concerned about who He wants to speak to than who He is speaking through. He will still speak through imperfect vessels to reach the people He wants to communicate with. God is a loving God, so in His love, He chooses various means to advance His kingdom. 

However, someone’s anointing, their ability to teach well, or God’s speaking through them is not a sign that they are right with God or that He endorses their ministry. God can even use those who do not know or love Jesus to answer your prayers. When this happens, it demonstrates God’s concern for the person he is speaking to rather than His validation of the messenger's character.

Recall what Jesus said will happen at the end of the age. Many will come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ' And then Jesus will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers'” (Matthew 7:21-23).” This is a sobering passage. In this passage, Jesus clarifies that it is possible for a person to preach, teach, prophesy, and do miraculous works all in the name of Jesus and even get results—while not knowing Him, living for Him, or bearing any of the fruit of the Spirit.

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus paints a vivid picture of those who claim to follow Him but are motivated by their own selfish agendas rather than advancing the Kingdom of God. This self-serving motivation sets apart false teachers from true ones. While a false teacher may occasionally teach truths, their underlying motives, often tainted by evil intentions, render them unfit to be followed.

Dangers To Watch For

While it's true that God can use anyone as a vessel for His message, regardless of their personal struggles or flaws, it's important to approach the teachings of individuals living in sin, such as narcissists or those with immoral behavior, with discernment and caution. There are key considerations to bear in mind when engaging with their teachings.

Watch for Impure Teachings

Someone who does not live rightly before God is bound to have distortions that permeate all their teachings. When this happens, their teachings are not 100% pure; they typically comprise a blend of elements inspired by the Spirit, those of the flesh, and even some that are demonically influenced. If someone has persisted in their sin long enough and held to lies, God eventually gives them over to their delusions (2 Thessalonians 2:11, Romans 1:24). These delusions will affect their teachings in some way or another.

To navigate this, pursue discernment. When you encounter impure teachings, do what Paul instructed in Romans 12:29: “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Hold onto the truths that come from God, and reject what is not of God. Filter what you hear through Scripture. What does not line up with the Scripture, reject. Accept what lines up with the sum of Scripture and the character of God. This filtering isn’t necessarily an easy task. It can take time and energy. It also requires knowledge of the scriptures and some level of spiritual maturity. Even though it is laborious, it is vital.

Beware of Impure Intents

People who lack guidance from the Holy Spirit might convey truths, yet their actions stem from a different source—a spirit of manipulation or even witchcraft. Religious narcissists are especially prone to this, as they are deeply self-centered and do not show the fruits of the Spirit in their private lives. Their motivation to teach or to be involved in ministry at all may not be Holy Spirit-inspired. In cases like this, be discerning. The prevalence of individuals like these aligns with biblical warnings that in the last days, there will be many false teachers and false Christs, and deception will be everywhere (Matthew 7:~5, 24:24).

If you don’t feel you have the gift of discernment, ask God to make you a lover of truth and to give you spiritual discernment.

Resist Someone Who Tries to Substitute God

God will never allow another person to be His substitute. You may find that unsanctified leaders or narcissistic authorities believe they are God's voice in your life. Although God may speak through them, He never appoints someone else to act as God in your life.

Safeguard Yourself

Here are three things you need to do to safeguard yourself and to discern when God is speaking through an impure person, and when it is not God’s voice. 

Know the Scripture

Know the Word. I cannot emphasize this enough. You need a comprehensive grasp of scripture, not just fragments. 

Immerse yourself in the Word; it serves as your strongest defense, your most effective filter, and the wellspring of discernment. Without a solid understanding of scripture in its entirety, distinguishing truth from falsehood becomes impossible. It's not just about individual verses; it's about comprehending the entire narrative of scripture. Contextualize verses and maintain balance with other passages. With a firm foundation in the Word, you can discern between genuine teaching and distortion. Armed with this knowledge, you can discerningly accept certain aspects of a teaching while rejecting others. You no longer need to discard an entire teaching simply because you uncover sin in the teacher's life.

Test Every Spirit

Beware of false prophets and false teachers–people who are not aligned with Christ but have their own selfish ambitions for why they do the works of Jesus. We should not follow such people. They undoubtedly have distortions mixed into truths. Often, they use distortions to justify their evil motives. 

The solution here isn’t cancel culture–throwing away all their teachings because some parts are impure. When we do that, we reject our God-given responsibility to discern the truth for ourselves. The Bible puts the onus on each of us to “test every spirit to see if it is from God” (1 John 4). There are no shortcuts to doing this.

Cultivate Your Relationship with God

Another way to safeguard yourself is to have your own relationship with God. In some toxic churches or environments where the leader is narcissistic and controlling, they may not allow people to hear God for themselves. These leaders end up substituting themselves for your real relationship with God. They may never say it or admit to it, but their systems are set up to make themselves like god in their followers’ lives. The Bible teaches that there is wisdom in the circle of counselors (Proverbs 11:14). Still, a circle of counselors should never replace God being first. Your priority should be centered on Him, before any other human person speaks into your life.

In fact, even good leadership can accidentally detract from your dependency on your relationship with God. In environments where leadership is gifted, and can teach the Bible well, where there are many programs to help you in your spiritual development, it can be easy to relax and allow the momentum around you to replace your personal relationship with God. This leaves you exposed and vulnerable if your environment changes or if your leaders can no longer sustain your expectations.

It’s vital to cultivate a dynamic relationship with God. Through this relationship, you learn to hear Him and recognize His voice. Jesus says about those who belong to Him, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). 

Conclusion

Can God speak through a Narcissist? Yes, God can. However, God will never make you dependent on a narcissist to hear His voice, and a narcissist’s teachings are not completely trustworthy. You have to do your due diligence to test the spirit behind a teacher and filter it through God’s word. 

I hope this blog was helpful. I’ll see you in next week’s blog!

Related Resources

Watch the video version of this blog here.

  • Signs of Spiritual Abuse or Cultish Environments Checklist [Download]
  • A Religious Narcissist’s War with God; How They Claim to Love God but Covet His Position. [Read] [Watch]
  • The Addiction of Religious Narcissists: How They Pursue Narcissistic Supply Through Religious Camouflage [Read] [Watch]
  • Three Unforgettable Things Jesus Said You Should Do When You Encounter Religious Narcissists. [Watch]
  • Malignant Narcissists in Ministry: How to Spot Their Covert Tactics [Watch] [Read]
  • 5 Things You Must Do When There Is Spiritual Abuse in Your Church [Read] [Watch]

Find more resources in our topic-based catalog.

Downloadable Resources 

 

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