Breaking the chains: The danger of self-deception (Week 1)

August 18, 2014

self-deception“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
– James 1:22

This month I am addressing the issue of breaking the chains. By “chains” I mean those weights in our lives that hinder us, constrict us, and prevent us from becoming the agents God has called us to be in the world. As disciples we are supposed to have authority. Yet, many of us are impotent because in the words of the Hebrews writer, we have failed to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” (Hebrews 12:1). We are admonished to set aside those things that entrap us and prevent us from drawing nearer to God. This month I am inviting you to examine your life and ask yourself what are the things that are keeping you chained and hindering you from serving and giving yourself wholly to the service of Christ? What is or are the chain(s) that you need broken in your life? Due to space limitations, the two areas of consideration this month will be: “Self-Deception” and “Selfishness.”
We will begin with the Danger of Self-Deception. Chains that one has lived with for so long eventually become a way of life for some. You may tell yourself this is just the way I am. Thus you justify and rationalize. Beloved, this is what you call an act of self-deception. Self-deception is when we convince ourselves that something is true or right when our conscience tells us otherwise. Or, worse, when we convince ourselves that our way of life is of God, when it is merely what we want to do.
The human mind is programmable. We program the mind through justification and rationalization. We can see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe! Self-deception is rooted deep into this kind of thinking and is visible in just about all of our activities. What we do, and how we act is in reality a product of what we believe. So if our believing is wrong then our acting and thinking will be wrong. For instance, at the personal level we rationalize, it’s okay to lie to another who has lied to us! We rationalize it’s okay to lie as long as it does not hurt anyone! We rationalize cheating and stealing is okay, the problem is getting caught! Deception is a problem in our society and it was a problem for James and that was why James addressed self-deception in his epistle.
For James at the core of Christian virtue is the question of honesty, integrity, and hypocrisy. In James’ epistles he warned the believer against deception which in essence is self-deception. In Chapter 1, James used the word deceive no less than three times (vs. 16, 22, 26) and warned the believer against the practice of deception. The Greek word for “deceive” means “worthless.” In other words, James is saying deception has no value and benefits no one. Therefore in verse 16 he used this strong language, “Don’t be deceived, my brothers and sisters.” James warned believers about thinking they are the source of their own successes. To think so is to deceive oneself.
Secondly, James’ concern is the believer deceiving himself about the sincerity of his faith. (James 1:22). To press his point James used the mirror as an analogy. Deception is like a person looking at himself/herself in a mirror, who walks away and forgets what kind of person he/she saw in the mirror. James’ concern is self-deception and it should be our concern because self-deception is a dangerous game to play.
Beloved, James, the brother of Jesus, considered deception a danger to the body of Christ and gave it a prominent warning in his epistle; thus it is worthy of consideration this month. Self-deception is a spiritual chain that binds, yet there are some things we can do to break that chain and escape its destructive trap! This is where I will pick up this article next week.

Next Week: Continuation: Danger of Self-Deception

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.