Yesterday, we wrote about the sin of lying.
The lies of others are obvious. To us. And we detest being lied to. Yet, we tend to justify our own lies. They become as William Paul Young expressed it, a “little fortress.”
Young opined, that “inside them, you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies, you try to run your life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so you build some. These are the justifications for your lies. You know, like you are doing this to protect someone you love, to keep them from feeling pain. Whatever works, just so you feel okay about the lies.”
The truth is that the biggest and most frequent lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
Several years ago I came across a shortlist written by Susan Skidmore entitled “7 Ways To Rationalize Your Way To Ruin.” It could be accurately called “7 Ways We Lie to Ourselves.
1. Everyone’s doing it.
2. I’ll just try it once.
3. It’s just a little lie.
4. No one ever needs to know.
5. No one will really get hurt.
6. If I don’t someone else will.
7. I deserve it.
Let me add 5 more to that list that I’ve witnessed.
8. I can’t help it.
9. I’m only human.
10. It relieves my stress.
11. If you had my ____ (fill in the blank with your excuse. Husband. Wife. Child. Job. Problem). then you’d understand.
12. I don’t have a problem.
Sound familiar? Does it hit a little too close to home?
Lying to ourselves is real. Self-deception is an issue that the Bible often warns us to be on guard against.
As Israel stood on the brink of inheriting the Promised Land, Moses warned, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them” (Deut 11:17).
Hundreds of years later the prophet Isaiah would speak of God’s people having turned away from Him because of a “deceived heart” (Isa 44:20). To the Edomites, Obadiah wrote, “The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Ob 1:3).
“Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits,” the apostle Paul warned (1 Cor 15:33)
Regarding our own wisdom, erudition, and insight, Paul admonished, “Let no one deceive himself” (1Cor. 3:18).
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:9).
Are you deceiving yourself? Blogger Aletheia Luna offers 9 signs that you’re lying to yourself without even knowing it. Here’s the bullet-list version.
1. You feel like you’re running away from something.
2. You keep justifying other people’s behavior.
3. You keep justifying your behavior.
4. You have a rigid attitude and cannot accept blame or personal responsibility.
5. You feel inauthentic. Like a fake. Or a sham.
6. You prefer to wear rose-tinted glasses, rather than live in and face reality.
7. You don’t like listening to other’s advice.
8. You carry around deep-rooted anxiety. And feel insecure and uneasy.
9. Your heart contradicts your mind.
Owning up to the truth about our lives and motives is a difficult, painstaking process. But it can be done.
It begins by realizing that God knows our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). Accepting the fact that our heart can deceive us (Jer 17:9). That we need to honestly and accurately examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5). And then by prayerfully and carefully looking into the mirror of God’s Word to see ourselves as He sees us, “not deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:22-25). Then accepting what we see. And willingly work to change.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:7-8).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman