Ladies Corner

Ladies Corner

The Blindness of Self-Deception

Throughout the scriptures God warned His children about the dangers of self-deceit and self-delusion. Notice a few passages that mention the problem of deception:

Deuteronomy 11:16 – “Take care lest your hearts be deceived…”

Job 15:31 – “Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself …” 

Proverbs 14:8 – “… but the folly of fools is deceiving.”

Isaiah 44:20 – “… a deluded heart has led him astray…”

Isaiah 47:10 – “… your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, ...”

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful above all things…”

Jeremiah 37:9 – “Thus says the Lord, Do not deceive yourselves …”

Jeremiah 49:16 – “The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart…”

Mark 7:21-22 – “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, … wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride…”

I Corinthians 3:18 – “Let no one deceive himself …”

Galatians 6:3 – “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked…”

James 1:16 – “Be not deceived my beloved brothers…”

James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

James 1:26 – “If anyone thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

I John 1:8 – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Self-deception involves believing something about oneself that is not true. Embracing beliefs that one feels or wants to be true instead embracing beliefs that one thinks are true leads one down the path of self-deception and delusion. By definition, self-deception is when an individual takes part in an act or believes in an idea that results in a false view of his situation. This is blindness to the truth. Blindness to the truth includes two aspects: (1) seeing the truth falsely, and (2) being blind to the fact that one’s own actions have contributed to the false view. With this type of blindness, a person cannot see the truth and will ignore anyone who attempts to show him/her that he/she is in error. 

Self-deception is a powerful tool of Satan that impacts every relationship in our lives: husband-wife, parent-child, friendship, co-worker, and most of all, the relationship with our Heavenly Father. For example, problems between husbands and wives usually revolve around selfishness; because of their self-centeredness, they cannot ‘see’ the problem within themselves because they are self-deluded. Often, husbands and wives do not admit the problem, which leads to neither party asking for forgiveness. Additionally, there is no humbling of oneself before God.  

The very nature of self-deception implies a lack of introspection on behalf of the individual leading to incorrect conclusions regarding the condition of a person’s character. Some people develop the ability to turn off their conscience, turn a blind eye, or deceive themselves, which often hinders their mental and physical health and prevents further growth. In fact, individuals that do “turn off their conscience” often decry others for being judgmental; however, in reality individuals that “turn off their conscience” only want to be judged by those that approve of their behavior. Put another way, those that are under the bondage of self-deception are doing precisely what Paul states in II Corinthians 10:12, which is that “...unwise people measure and compare themselves by themselves.” 

However, we can also fool ourselves because our hearts are deceitful as Jeremiah states in chapter 17:9. Obadiah says the pride of our hearts can deceive us. Human pride always blinds us to truth and will eventually lead to a fall (Proverbs 16:18). As such, the fallibility of our heart is precisely the reason that those who are older are told to instruct those that are younger; “youthful passions” usually need to be corrected rather than followed. Isaiah 44:20 explains that an idolater is often misled by his own deluded heart. Pride is at work in all of areas of life and is difficult to identify if one isn’t carefully examining his heart. Pride and self-deception are difficult to identify within oneself; however, introspection and self-honesty are habits and muscles that have to be developed and trained over time. Self-deception can be evident in any or all of the categories of sin: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life.

Awareness of self-deception comes through confession of one’s sinfulness, personal submission and obedience to God with diligent, fervent prayer. If we examine ourselves honestly using The Christ “who is the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3) as the standard, our knee will be bent at the foot of the Cross. We will voluntarily submit to God’s will rather than continuing our own selfish desires. In order to examine ourselves, we must acknowledge our sinfulness and be completely willing to die unto ourselves. This within itself is extremely challenging and requires much soul-searching. In II Corinthians 7:10-11, Paul says “godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation.” The examining of ourselves, the indignation, the fear, and the avenging leads to becoming pure in heart. David’s broken and contrite heart in Psalm 51 is a moving example of repentance. 

Galatians 5:19-21 lists the works of the flesh which we strive to put off, and verses 22-24 detail the fruit of the Spirit that produces Christ likeness in our lives. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me….” (Galatians 2:20). James 1:22-26 warns about self-deception and gives another look at the reformation in order to abandon our self-seeking life. We cannot merely listen to the word without doing what it says or simply look at ourselves in a mirror and walk away. The Word of God is meant to change our character. We can now carefully behold the perfect law not forgetting what we see, but transforming ourselves into a full-grown man in Christ. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Nothing can deceive unless it bears a plausible resemblance to reality. C. S. Lewis