Masters of Self-Deception

By Kevin Wiebe

I believe that any path that leads to true peace must be based on the truth. One cannot fully reconcile with someone else without acknowledging and repenting of the ways one has wronged the other. Part of being made right with God involves acknowledging the truth of our own sinful ways.

I have noticed, however, that most of us are masters at deception. Not at deceiving others, necessarily, but at deceiving ourselves—especially when the truth is something painful.

The Bible isn’t ignorant of this trend either. In fact, there are many passages throughout Scripture addressing our tendency to deceive ourselves into certain ways of thinking. James 1:22 (NLT) says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” In 1 John 1:8 we read, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

In Jeremiah 2:35, after listing grievous sins that people had committed, God rebukes them, “You say, ‘I am innocent; he [God] is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’”

When I was a high school athlete, I noticed something: it was much easier to see clearly where mistakes were made when I was sitting in the stands watching a basketball game than when I was in the middle of a game and on the court. When I was in the game, my heart was racing, my limbs would sometimes ache after a while, adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and I couldn’t see the whole court the whole time—I could only see what was right in front of me.

Similarly, we may think ourselves wise because we can pinpoint the sins in other people’s lives, but that is not the hallmark of wisdom. Rather, wisdom shows itself in wise living, and in the ability to accept valid critiques—not only in giving advice.

If we deceive ourselves so we don’t have to acknowledge our errors, eventually the number of errors becomes larger, and the person we really are and the person we think we are move further and further apart. While I believe there is always still hope, I have also observed that the longer someone lives in self-deception, the harder it is to face the truth. If someone eventually becomes monstrous, who would want to see that looking back at them in the mirror?

As long as you have breath, it is not too late for you to look into God’s perfect truth, to confess, repent, and obey. As Jesus said in John 8:31–32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

One thought on “Masters of Self-Deception”

  1. Like a golf ball in the wind, we can vear far from our target. Miniscule course changes end in sand traps and deep water. Good article.

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