Self-deception

<<fallacy, delusion>>

While deception (being misled and so believing the false is true) normally comes from others, it can also be self-inflicted, through having a misconception (wrong idea) about ourselves. As the cause is not knowing or following the truth, it is important to discover that and act upon it, whether or not it is favourable to us. God’s Word if applied to our

Turning a ‘blind eye’ can lead to                                 deceiving oneself

lives bring change (Ps 119:11; Jn 17:17). Its teachings should not just be intellectual knowledge to which we give mental assent, rather we should allow the Holy Spirit to effect a lifestyle and character transformation so we are thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16,17). By only hearing the Word of God and not doing what it tells us to do is how self-deception manifests (Jas 1:22). Our hearts are deceitful, with pride being a major contributor (Isa 44:20; Jer 17:9; Ob 1:3). Human pride blinds us to truth; the warning is given, “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov 16:18). This is one reason we are to “Guard our heart more than any treasure” (Prov 4:23). Failing to keep our tongues under tight control is another way we can deceive ourselves (Jas 1:26).

Many people are deceived by trusting in what is worthless; this includes, fame, wealth, beauty, self-importance and gaining much in the world but overlooking the real prize – eternal life (Job 15:31; Prov 31:30; Lk 12:15; Gal 6:3). Worldly wisdom and philosophy that ignores God are also ways people deceive themselves; by believing a lie they fail to get to know Jesus the truth and "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (Jn 14:6; 1 Cor 3:18; 1 Jn 1:8).

Goliath was self-deceived; he considered his size and military armour far superior to that the much smaller, younger and poorly protected David. However, David’s response to Goliaths contempt summed up the real situation, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…” (1 Sam 17:45). King Nebuchadnezzar in pride declared, “Is this not the great Babylon I have built…by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty.” Immediately he was humbled “until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the Kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Dan 4:30-37). Jesus told of a rich fool who decided his hard efforts on the farm now entitled him to put his feet up and relax for years to come, yet died that night! He had the mistaken belief of thinking life revolved around him and had plenty of time to enjoy himself (Lk 12:16-21). Pilate had a false understanding of his position and authority when he said to Jesus, “Don’t you realise I have power to free you or to crucify you.” In response Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (Jn 19:10,11).

The powerful influence of self-deception can affect a whole church. The lukewarm Laodicean church had convinced itself that everything was all right. Their attitude was “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing” yet their true condition is described as, “You do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). What a contrast between the false opinions they believed and the reality of truth.

Increasingly an ‘easy gospel’ that doesn’t demand a break from sinful lifestyles is being propagated in today’s world.  “Itching ears” would rather hear something less demanding than the truth of God’s Word which brings a conviction of sin, because then a life transformation is the matter to be dealt with (Rom 6:4; 2 Tim 4:3,4). Unfortunately, many people are also lulled into a false sense of eternal security because at some stage in the past they said the sinner’s prayer and so they consider they are guaranteed a place in heaven but continue to live a lifestyle of sin (Mt 7:21; Rom 6:1).

To avoid being self-deceived we need to constantly evaluate ourselves by the standard of God’s Word and take any necessary corrective measures.  The illustration is made of

Do what the mirror indicates

looking in a mirror for the purpose of adjusting or putting right of anything not acceptable, otherwise when seeing what is wrong but not correcting it is a total waste of effort (Jas 1:23-25). 

See also: deception, discernment, cheap gospel, eternal security, presumption, pride, tongue, truth.

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