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.