Self-deception is an insidious condition. You will never meet a person who knows he is self-deceived. By definition, those ensnared are completely unaware that they are.
The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood lurks, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself.
No one enjoys being cross-examined, or accused of having something wrong in their lives. But as we grow as Christians we come to the painful recognition that we have an almost unlimited capacity for self-deception. We slowly learn that we need to be stopped in our tracks by God. He uses Scripture to do this… We cannot reach our destination if we are travelling in the wrong direction.
We cannot deceive God. Twice in the Acts God is called “the Heartknower” (Acts 1:24; 15:8). But we can deceive ourselves. Here are four differences between deceit and honesty in our hearts. One, a deceitful heart doesn’t know its sin because it doesn’t want to know. But an honest heart is saying, “Bring it on.” Two, a deceitful heart notices how well a sermon applies to someone else. But an honest heart is too concerned about itself to judge another. Three, a deceitful heart, when it isn’t growing, blames its inertia on hardship or its church or even on God himself. But an honest heart says, “It’s my fault. I need to get in gear.” Four, a deceitful heart delays response. It says, “I’ll get around to it, even soon. But I can’t right now.” An honest heart puts God first. Delayed obedience is a way of saying, “I’m setting the terms. I am Lord.” But an honest heart says, “Lord, whatever you want – right now.” An honest heart says, with the old hymn, “The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.”
It is greatly to be feared that there are multitudes in Christendom who verily imagine and sincerely believe that they are among the saved, yet who are total strangers to a work of divine grace in their hearts. It is one thing to have clear intellectual conceptions of God’s truth, it is quite another matter to have a personal, real heart acquaintance with it. It is one thing to believe that sin is the awful thing that the Bible says it is, but it is quite another matter to have a holy horror and hatred of it in the soul. It is one thing to know that God requires repentance, it is quite another matter to experimentally mourn and groan over our vileness. It is one thing to believe that Christ is the only Savior for sinners, it is quite another matter to really trust Him from the heart. It is one thing to believe that Christ is the sum of all excellency’, it is quite another matter to LOVE HIM above all others. It is one thing to believe that God is the great and holy One, it is quite another matter to truly reverence and fear Him. It is one thing to believe that salvation is of the Lord, it is quite another matter to become an actual partaker of it through His gracious workings.
We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colors, saying, “I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in hell.” Oh, no! sin comes to us, like Judas, with a kiss; and like Joab, with an outstretched hand and flattering words. The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden.
Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.
Sin plays havoc with our spiritual vision. Although we are able to see the sin of others with specificity and clarity, we tend to be blind to our own. And the most dangerous aspect of this already dangerous condition is that spiritually blind people tend to be blind to their blindness.
When we see sin, we are close to the light. Only when we don’t see sin should we be suspicious of our hearts [1 Jn. 1:8].
When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.