Are we prone to self-deception?
We Christians think of ourselves as truthful people. We say we not only know the truth but we love it as well.
Being a Christian, I have a lot of Christian friends. Being a pastor, I have known a lot of Christians over the years, in good times and bad. I find the above statement very interesting because it does not exactly conform to my experience. Listen to sermon here.
I have noticed that when it comes to the truth, many Christians like it in some sort of abstract theological sense, but very few actually like it as it applies to themselves. My experience with my own reaction to the truth about myself jives with what I have observed in most of the Christians I have known as friends and have counseled over the years. We tend to fear hearing the truth about ourselves. In fact, we will go to great lengths to avoid hearing the truth about ourselves.
The Bible seems to agree. The Bible suggests we are susceptible to self deception. “In denial” is a very popular phrase we often use about other people. Avoiding the truth about ourselves seems to be a part of our nature. Being naturally curious I find myself wondering why. Why are we prone to self-deception?
In the next several blogs we are going to look at 6 reasons why self-deception is so attractive. Hang in with me through all six because the last one is the most interesting and pervasive. Here we go with the first 2 and then next week will continue to share the reason:
The Bible tells us that we are self deceived. Why would anyone want to deceive themselves?
- Sin is pleasurable and painful to give up.
We have this amazing thing we do when we are caught in sin and don’t want to give it up. It is called “rationalization”. The will decides to hold onto a particular sin and gets on the phone to the mind. “Hey, I need your help with a little problem we’ve got. I’ve got this sin we are all enjoying…. yah that one! Anyway, you are good at this reason stuff so how about you come up with some good sounding reasons why it’s not sin. Get back to me ASAP!”
“I know sex before marriage is normally wrong but we love each other and we are deeply committed to each other and since commitment is the definition of marriage then we are really already married so, since sex is a part of marriage, it would be wrong of us not to enjoy it.” I say, “Very interesting concept… since you are so committed why not just make a public statement of that commitment and get married?” “Well, we are not THAT committed!”
“I know it is wrong for me to be sleeping with my boyfriend but he is not a Christian and I am afraid that if I quit he will feel rejected by God. For the sake of his soul I have to keep doing it.”
The human intellect is a wonderful gift but it is fallen just like the rest of creation. When the will decides to protect a sin the mind [apart from God’s truth] becomes an enemy. When this happens the only solution is submitting our mind to the truth of God found in the bible. This is best done in submission to someone who loves you but who loves God’s word just as much[more?]. And it helps if he knows the bible well!
- Facing the truth will mean change.
Applied truth always brings change. You can have change without growth [it’s called “fashion”] but you can’t have growth without change. Growth = applied truth. Psychologists tell us that only a small percentage of us welcome change. The older we get the more resistant to change we become. This may explain why more than 80% of people who become Christians do so before they reach the age of 18.
Why do we fear change so much? I believe it is because underneath our fear of change is a fear of uncertainty. Change is uncertain. We don’t know what the change will look like, what it will feel like. Have you heard the folk wisdom that goes like this, “better the trouble you know than the trouble you don’t”.
Think about it; how many times in the middle of a crisis have you heard the person say, “I don’t know what I am going to do!” I have talked to so many spouses who just lost their mate and their biggest fear is their uncertainty for what the future holds. “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” This is of course a lie. In opposition to the fear of uncertainty we have the promises of God, but to claim the promises of God we must first face the lie.