• on July 26, 2016

Blurring The Lines: The Danger of Self-Deception

by Evang. Victor Aina

It is easy to help someone who is being deceived by someone else or by an external force, but it is very difficult to help someone who is deceiving himself. Theodore Discovescky said, “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lies comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And so having no respect, he ceases to love.”

To blur means to make something unclear or difficult to see or remember. It also means to becloud or to make cloudy or confused; while a line is a narrow mark on a surface, an area or border that separates two places. Therefore, blurring the lines means making the lines unclear. In other words, one does not have a clear vision of what is demanded of him because of refusal to accepting the standard that God has set in His word. Yet the truth is that God is very clear about His demands from us.

A philosopher called Demetrius once said, “The power of the human mind to deceive itself seems infinite. Nothing is easier than self deceit.” As humans, we often like to choose the path of least resistance; we want to do what is most convenient to us. But when it pertains to the things of God, we must do what is commanded, not what is convenient. That is why the apostle Paul said he did not receive the grace of God in vain. When grace is given at salvation, it actually empowers us to obey God. Grace is favour that God bestows on us, to the end that we should carry out His expectations of us.
Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways: but the folly of fools is deception.” (NLT). A fool is someone who deceives himself. So if you are into self-deceit, the Bible calls you a fool. But God wants you to be wise.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, who really knows how bad it is? But I the LORD search all hearts and examine secret motives, I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (NLT). Humans are prone to deception. When you rely on your heart as a human being, you are deceiving yourself; we need to rely on God’s Spirit to live life in His way, letting His word to guide our actions.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 says, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. NIV

Paul understood the wickedness in the human heart, so he believed that whatever people judged of him came from human hearts and could be wrong, so he chose the judgment of Christ above them, because only the Lord can truly judge righteously, for He will judge not just our actions, not also our motives—the reason behind the reason. That is why we always need to purge our consciences, and clean our hearts.
A child of God can get so carried away that he will pile up sins in his heart until he is being blocked from God’s presence before he would realize that something is wrong. The real problem/sins that easily beset Christians are in the heart—pride, hatred, jealousy, lust, etc. We deceive our selves when we do not take the word of God in totality.

Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1-4 spoke about people who are lost and still walked in darkness, according to the natural state of man, but the light of God came through Christ. When we are in a fallen state, our spirits are caged and all that we do are controlled by our physical senses. But when we come into Christ, we are transformed from within—from our spirits—where we communicate with God.

God has a plan and pattern of life for His children to live. God also has a destination for us. And for us to arrive at that destination, we must live by His precepts. We deceive ourselves when we do not take God’s word in its totality, and that is the reason why a lot of Christians are not actually transformed even after many years of coming to Christ.

It is the one who has your soul that controls your life—God or the devil. The bane of Christianity is their attachment to the things of the world. And even as meager as the job of some Christians may be, they worship their jobs because they believe that without it they are nothing in life. Child of God, who is in control of your life?

When we deceive ourselves and live with hatred and slander, God’s word condemns us. Proverbs 10:18 says, “Hiding hatred makes you a liar, slandering others makes you a fool.” When you deceive yourself, you are lying. When you slander others, the Bible calls you a fool, so you need to control your mouth.

Proverbs 11:9 says, “Godly people find life, evil people find death. With their words the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.” The Bible calls slanderers godless people, so don’t deceive yourself thinking you are godly when you are a slanderer, because God is not with you. It is when you submit in totality to God that whatever service you are rendering to Him can be reasonable. That is why Jesus gave the parable of those who thought they were serving Him but He said He never knew them; their names were not in His list of stewards. Brother, if you go and preach the gospel yet refuse to repent of the hidden sins in your life, if you get killed, you are going straight to hell. God cannot be cajoled; God does not lie.

James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” We are called to remember to always do what we know is right. We are called to give help to those who ask, instead of sending away empty handed. How many times have you sent your neighbours away without giving what they ask for, even when you have it? Some Christians even refuse to give testimonies of God’s blessings in their lives so that people will not begin to come to them for help. Yet God gives preferences in giving to His children. If you are living like this, you are deceiving yourself.

These are the little foxes that spoil the vine. Some Christians think it only when they fornicate that they have sinned, but even when you lust or hate your brother, you have sinned. Sin is sin, committed in action or in the thoughts.

Proverbs 15: 28 says, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.” For some Christians, their sin may not be in what they say, but they can manipulate every situation just to favour themselves; and some have done it so consistently that they don’t even know that they have blocked their access to God, until they find themselves in trouble and then realise that they cannot reach out to heaven.

Jesus lamented about this kind of deception when He said, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'” Matthew 15:8-9, 18-20. When people honour the Lord only with their lips, they have blurred the lines. That is we have to subject our hearts to the scrutiny of God’s word on a daily basis and let God remove all the deceptions in it.

What is self deception? Self deception is an act of lying to oneself or making oneself believe something that is not true; make believe. The Webster’s dictionary defines it as “deceiving oneself to one’s true feeling, motives, circumstances, etc”.

Deception in Greek language is the word “Planow” which means to go astray, to get off course, to deviate from correct path. So each time you are deceiving yourself you have actually left the correct path to roam into error. Whether we like it or not, we are living in a world that is full of lies and deceit, even from the pulpit. We need to watchful against deception. That was why Jesus told His disciples to beware of deception, when they asked about the signs of the end time.

Most of us are wary of external deception, but we forget that we can also deceive ourselves. If not, how could some people challenge Jesus that they had done so much miracles and all in His name, how could He say that He did not know them? But the fact is that when you deceived yourself overtime, you will get to a point where truth become a lie to you, and you begin to live a false life without knowing it.

Acts 20:29-31 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” NIV

Evil doers and imposters
2 Timothy 3:13 says, “While evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” In other words, evil can only get worse, not better. This class of deceivers are from within and around us.

One of the major deceptions of Christianity in our time is the message of prosperity which has become like a wild fire that can no longer be controlled. Christians of old never preached about prosperity yet they never lacked, but even with the prosperity messages, today, people are being impoverished.

False Prophets and teachers
Matthew 24:4-5, 11-12 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

Yourself or Myself
This class of deceivers (yourself or myself) hardly takes notice of their deception. When you are the one deceiving yourself, it is always difficult to be corrected, except you submit yourself to Christ. There is nobody that ever hates himself. We have ourselves to deal with. This is what will actually cause the fall of many Christians.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, who really knows how bad it is? But I the LORD search all hearts and examine secret motives, I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” NLT

If God Himself could regret creating man because all the imaginations of his heart was continually evil, then you should know that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to the issues of our heart. Sometimes we do not check the reasons why we do what we do. When we act irrationally, there is no way we would not fall into this kind of evil. And we will do well to check the word of God concerning issues we do not know what to do about, so that we can take decisions in accordance with God’s word.
When we don’t store up God’s word, we would lack wisdom to draw from it.

The human heart can blind us to the truth, because it always wants to have its way (Obadiah 1:3). Our heart is the soil for God’s word, but if your heart is not taken over by the ‘Great irrigator’, the seeds panted in them will find it hard to produce good fruits (Mark 4:15). Self deception blurs our sense of judgment when our hearts have been deceived (Isaiah 44:20).

There is a warning that the Apostle James gave about deception, which is actually common among believers. He said, “… be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22). And I dare to ask, “How much of God’s word which you have heard this year have you put into practice?” Scientists say that in five days, only fifty percent of whatever you learn would have been forgotten if not written down. When you hear the word of God and you do not apply it, you are into self-deceit. In other words, you have been trapped in self deception. Such deception is common among believers in our response to the truth.

Psalm 119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you,” What you need to store in your heart should be the word of God, so that you can always draw from it when the need arises.

The Bible makes it clear that when we know what to do and fail to do it, it is sin. Take heed of what you allow to build up in your heart, if you think it does not matter, you deceive yourself.
Do you search and purge your thoughts on a daily basis? Are you filled pride? No wonder you cannot make a good Christian! Do you always feel you can do all things better than everyone else? Repent! We are all endued with different graces from God. You need to humble yourself and the careful about blurring the lines of our life by self-deception. We can sit in church year after year, but if we do not allow the word of God that we hear to transform our lives by putting it into practice, we deceive ourselves! (Romans 12:1, 2; Ephesians 5:26—we have to cleanse ourselves continually).

James 1:23 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

If a person is not confused, how can he look at himself in a mirror now and forgets what he looks like in the next few minutes? So if you are not doing the word of God that you hear, you are a forgetful hearer. Application is what actually sanitizes the retentive memory. A child once told his father, “show me how to do it and I will never forget, but teach me, and I will forget. That is God’s pattern. When Jesus was here on earth, the devil came with a scanner but found nothing in Him. That was why He was able to pay with His blood. And the same grace is available to us if only we press in.
Samson, a case of self deception (Judges 13:4-7, 14:1-3, 20; 16:1-4, 5-15).

Samson’s birth was a special one. He was to be a Nazarite unto God from his mother’s womb. A Nazarite is one that is separated unto God and therefore has to live by peculiar rules such as not drinking wine or alcohol, and not cutting their hair from birth.

One of the reasons why we fall victim to self deception is that God’s gifts and callings are without repentance. Whatever gift we had before we became born again still operates in our life when we meet Christ, and some people therefore think they are still in line with God even when they have fallen from grace, just because the gift is still operating in their lives.

Samson was one such a man. He allowed himself to be deceived because even though he fornicated, and married wrongly, he was still anointed. So he kept deceiving himself until he fell prey and lost his anointing. The results—he lost his eyes and became a slave for idol worshippers, and died young. Samson was a victim of self-deceit because he refused to caution himself. Even when his parents cautioned him against marrying wrongly, he took them for granted. He only saved his soul as by fire because God gave him a second chance.

David, an Example for us today (1 Samuel 17:41-51).
David was a man who never deceived himself. Even though he was a young chap, he knew his source, he always depended on God. Even when he faced Goliath, he went with the testimony of what God had done for him.

The Laodecian church
Revelation 3:14-19 says, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The state of the Ladoecian Church is the state of the present-day Church, that prides herself in all that she has accumulated to herself. Commonplace in Christendom today is the building of wonder-church structures just to make a name; yet there are many people dying of hunger, even in nearby Bornu State of Northern Nigeria. That is a pure example of self-deceit, leaving what ought to be done for what ought not.

The danger of self-deceit is eternal condemnation. If you don’t change and you continue on that path, you will be among those who would say on the last day: “Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking” but He would say to you: “you don’t impress Me one bit. Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with Me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.” (Mathew 7:21-23 MSG).

Failure in living up to basic Christian living principles will spring a surprise on many on the last day, than so called “great sins”. If you commit adultery, you know and you can repent of it, but if you gossip, you may just take it for granted as chatting, yet it is sin. Remember, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-9. If you sow sin, you will reap eternal death.

Jesus said, “Why call me Lord but don’t obey my commandments? Luke 6:46-49. Obedience is a proof of your love for Christ. When you want to obey Him without loving Him, you have missed it. Don’t let anything get in your way of complete obedience to God.

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