The Truth of Self-Deception

13 April 2018
(© 2018 Curtis I. Crenshaw)

What is self-deception? For this article, let us say that it is allowing ourselves to be persuaded against the evidence for some point of view. In other words, we don’t want to believe the truth; thus, we manufacture “reasons” against it. We are all guilty of this to some extent.

When we say something negative about some of the pet sins of our culture, we often get screaming back, and screaming without an ounce of logic or evidence of their position on some moral point.

But how does their response demonstrate that they are suppressing the truth and self-deceived? One can recognize this kind of self-deception by its immediate response to the light, for without even considering what the truth is, he rejects it. When someone opposes him, there is immediate suppression of the truth.

When the emotion kicks in, the brain kicks out. The interesting thing is that they do precisely what God said they would do: Hate the light, hate the gospel, hate Christians, and because they cannot harm the Triune God, they seek to harm Christians who represent Him.

Consider several passages on self-deception:

From Romans chapter 1:

  • 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18 ESV)
  • 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. They are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21 ESV)

From the Gospel of John chapter 3:

  • 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

Again from 1 John chapter 1:

  • If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)
  • If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
  • If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)

Notice the progression downward in these three verses from 1 John chapter 1: v. 6 is deceiving others; v. 8 is deceiving ourselves; and v. 10 is deceiving God, or attempting to do so. God, of course, cannot be deceived. Moreover, notice that they use unrighteousness to push the truth out of their minds. In other words, they immediately hold back righteous thoughts by identification with sin, and then they dare anyone to say anything under penalty of screaming and bearing false witness. It seems to me that what we have in Romans one, John three, and 1 John 1 is self-deception in this form:

  • What the heart desires, the will embraces, and the mind justifies

To put this another way, it is not lack of reason that keeps non-Christians from faith—though they claim that—but that their faith (or better, unbelief) leads them to adopt whatever reason works at the moment to promote their agenda. To restate it, their commitment to their sin in the heart means their will has a commitment to that sin, and then they use their minds to justify a position already embraced. It is never the reverse; that is, that the mind leads them to embrace something in the will, and then the will forces the heart to embrace the sin. No, what we see in Romans 1, John 3, and 1 John 1 is that self-deception begins with the sinful heart, with the person’s desires for some sin that God forbids. Then they embrace that sin with a vengeance, they commit to it with their sinful wills, and then, and only then, they seek to justify the sin with the mind, with evidences.

It is not an intellectual problem with unbelievers; it is a moral problem. They embrace some sin and then use the mind to justify the sin. Thus, the nature of their deception is embracing sin with their hearts or sinful natures. Then their will embraces what they desire, and the finally the mind seeks to justify it. We Christians have an enormous responsibility to help them see the wonderful light of Jesus Christ less they perish.

No one fails to become a Christian because he demands more intellectual proof but because he hates the Triune God, hates His righteousness as revealed in His commandments, and wants to practice some sin that the Triune God forbids. Unbelief is never an intellectual problem but a moral problem. The unbeliever uses his intellect as a cover for self-deception; he WANTS sin and HATES righteousness. That is the problem and nothing else. AMEN. Ω

 

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