Self-Deceit

It is altogether possible to be tricked or misled by another and to recover from it some time afterwards. In fact it happens all the time. Many forms of deception exist and from different quarters. Hardly a day goes by that “not to be missed reductions” or “slashed to the bone” sale events are splashed on T.V. screens, broadcast on radios, or found in material left on your doorstep. These are not harmful in themselves when met with sound judgement. Sometimes though, we fall for something that looks just too good to pass up but later we come to regret our decision to buy that particular product, especially after finding out that the same thing was either cheaper somewhere else or that we really did not need it. Under such circumstances, the term “caveat emptor”, let the buyer beware, comes to mind. The caveat in the Scriptures instructs us to be continually on guard against ploys and deceptions from false teachers and charlatans. Seeing that they still exist today is good reason to continue to be vigilante.

But the Bible speaks of a different fraud than that which can be foisted upon us from external influences. It is a fraud that originates from within. Self-deceit is something that we do to ourselves, believing a lie and learning to live with it. Often accompanied by pride, the longer self-deception continues the worse the condition becomes. For that reason a man must examine himself often. The Scriptures are the measurement by which the Believer compares himself. The use of the tongue for instance is not something to be taken lightly when you consider what James says: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (James 1:26) No matter how religious you may think you are, use the tongue for evil, and your Christianity is a farce. Self-deception can be so insipid that the infected soul may see little wrong to be in such a state. For the Christian to return to a life of blessing means that he must deal honestly with God and His Word. Always obey the Scriptures, and where you have not, simply seek forgiveness and commit yourself to the Word, no matter the consequences. Be sincere and ask God to search you to reveal hidden sin and courage to deal with it.

Self-Deception

In the book of Proverbs, we are instructed to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23). The heart is here compared to a fountain where from it flows our thoughts and actions. How important is it then to keep our hearts from corruption and evil influences. To do this, we need to start with ourselves. The Believer may be a new being in Christ, but he is to be cautious about what goes on around and inside him. The flesh still wants to persuade us to do evil, and the program of the devil is to condition us to think wrongly about ourselves. Satan led Adam and Eve to think less about the consequences of their rebellion and were subject to a lie about the good that would come from their sinful deed. In a similar way, our hearts are deceitful and may lead us to believe lies about ourselves and about God. James tells us: “…each one is tempted by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:14). Recall that James is writing to Christians scattered abroad, so that this is about people in the Church who are trying to sidestep the guilt of their sins. The way to avoid or recover from self-deceit is not that complicated at all. Simply obey the truths of Scripture. James makes this very clear in his letter to the Churches: “Be ye doers of the Word not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (v.22).

Self-deception starts in the heart of the Believer, who harbours a lie about himself. When in such a state, the problem we must admit to is that, when corrected measures are taken, too often the Believer resists and chooses to remain in denial. Much like Adam blamed Eve, we want to think that we are not at fault. Self deception forms in the heart, and unless we submit to God and repent, our defiance may only grow. We would tell a bold face lie rather than to admit to our own guilt. Can you recall the last time that you heard a Christian acknowledge that the fraud perpetrated upon him was of his own doing? “What a fool I was!” is heard from those who have been defrauded by someone outside of themselves. Recovery is certainly possible by refusing to listen to those external influences and to return to the truth. But when we are the authors of our own falsehoods and have convinced ourselves with our own propaganda or wishful thinking, then it is far more insidious than we dare admit in that we willingly choose to rationalize away the truth by measuring ourselves with ourselves. James warns that there are those who hear God’s Word but fail to obey it; they are like the man who looks into a mirror but does not recognize the type of person he is and as a result cannot count on the blessings of God in his life (see James 1:22-25).

In his commentary, Gill offers good advice to Christians: that each must ensure that nothing evil enters or evil comes out of our hearts. To live above pretense, a Believer must pray, read, meditate, and apply God’s Word daily so to keep stark contradictions from happening. It should be obvious even to non-Christians that obedience is the anticipated response to God’s Word for any who claim to be followers of Christ. But not always apparent is this fact to those who choose to live in abject disobedience since with their mouths they may say that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate that this is not the case at all.

If we are truly saved, then we would submit to a “biblical worldview” which means a belief that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. These are truths familiar to anyone who has experienced the new life. It is safe to say that these truths should naturally frame our orthodoxy and our practise.

With this in view, a recent Barna survey concluded that “less than one-half of one percent of adults of those aged 18 to 23 – hold a biblical worldview.” What does this mean for us who are sharing the gospel with this younger generation? For one thing, we are finding out just how serious we must be in our evangelism and discipleship. In our daily lives we must consistently apply the truths of the Bible and root out inconsistencies, especially those that are long standing. If we do not examine ourselves in the light of Scripture and take decisive action where needed, we may only be fooling ourselves to think that we can show others the way of the cross.

Thirsting after God (Psalm 63)

The Hebrew language is a fascinating study. Those who have a keen interest in language will find that our Western approach to understand human expression differs to that in the East. The study of words and their roots, where they find their original meaning, in the Hebrew language is driven by function. For instance the word for steadfast love in Psalms 63:3 has its root in hesed, the Hebrew noun for stork, which in verb form conveys a picture of the protective care it gives its young. God cares and provides for us and always seeks our welfare. David has experienced God’s steadfast love many times which has led him to desire God even more.

Desire for God is not something left to the philosophers or professionals to define for us. David does it in verse 1 when he speaks about thirsting after God. Quite a vivid picture of thirst is found in Psalm 42:1: As a dear pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for God. It is only natural for a deer in the woods to seek water for survival. There is no indication here of a chase or any immediate circumstance that compels the deer to seek water other than an innate physical need for it. Such is the soul’s need for God. When left in its natural state, the soul does not seek after God, but when the Spirit works and regenerates it, then the heart of man is turned to God and our affections are predisposed to His service. This is why David could devote himself to bless God as long as he lives. Psalm 63:4a

I am not sure what your motif is in life, but trouble awaits when God is not your life’s focus. In the epilogue of Psalm 63, David declares what can be expected for those who oppose him, and while it may sound somewhat arrogant of David to pronounce judgement on his enemies, virtually in all seventy five psalms by David there lies an inseparable relationship between his kingly rule and that of God’s. In other words, any challenge to David’s life and rule, was to be understood as a direct assault on God and His people. So David is speaking on behalf of God when he describes the dread that awaits his opponents: shall go down into the depths of the earth vv.9 – a reference to hell, and shall be a portion of the jackals vv 10 – when David’s pursuers were killed their unburied bodies were eaten by scavengers, considered to be a death of shame and dishonour.

Where do your loyalties lie? Are you firmly on the side of David’s God and enjoying Him? If you are and your desire is true, then you would spend time with Him, in worship, prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, and trusting Him daily. If not, I would recommend that you start with God’s great love that was shown to us on Calvary and consider your own need for forgiveness. His Son was nailed to a cross so that we may be granted eternal life. His love is beyond anything you or I will ever encounter on this earth. Will you consider your end before it is too late and come under his protective care by trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins now!