The overall emphasis this month is breaking the chains. Due to space restrictions, we will only focus on the Danger of Self-Deception and Breaking the Self-Serving Spirit. Perhaps later this year we will revisit the topic of breaking the chains. But for the time being, we will pick up where we left off last week. In continuation of the Danger of Self-Deception, this week we will list three ways to break this destructive shackle.
1. Re-adjust your thinking. In order to break the chain of self-deception, one must re-adjust their thinking. The Apostle James links specific acts of disobedience to rationalizations born of spiritual blindness. Consider James 1:13 “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” Oftentimes we blame our shortfalls and see ourselves as victims of the Almighty. This is a deceived view comparing truth and ourselves. James wrote: “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:14). We are enticed by our own evil desires. This is what happens to us when we are hearers of the word only – we “deceive our own selves.” (James 1:22). We must re-adjust our thinking and accept full responsibility for our behavior! God does not tempt us neither does the devil make us, do anything. We are free moral agents capable of making our own decisions. The devil did not make us do it! Rather we are victimized by our own immature faith and lust of the flesh! William Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” If one is to escape the bear trap of self-deception, he/she must re-adjust their thinking!
2. Renew your thinking. One of the most common threads of self-deception is how persons see themselves – either self-aggrandizement or helplessness. Either we take all of the credit for our successes or we blame someone else for our failures. This view swallows up any sense of personal responsibility for creating or perpetuating the problem and obliterates the possibility that we are participating in any way. But this sadly is the fruit of self-deception and consistent with how self-deception is described in the book of James. After all, if we do not see how we played a part, especially, in getting ourselves deeply rooted in bad situations, then we feel no responsibility for the helplessness. Escaping and abandoning self-deception begins with a willingness to admit that we are self-deceived. Self-deception is more than an abstract term that describes someone who refuses to see the truth. It is a concept that accounts for how it is possible to be blinded to truth. We can be certain God does not intend for us to be spiritually blinded to divine truth. So, when one is blinded to the truth it is because that person chooses to be and is a hearer of the word and not a doer. One must renew their thinking. Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to the patterns of this world and be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we my discern what is good and pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Renewed thinking comes from a renewed mind.
3. Reconsider your commitment. Every day God gives you and I another opportunity to reflect over our life and take an honest inventory of it. James’ concern is for the believer who is living a lie! Faith has to be more than mere ceremony and ritual. Authentic faith is more than turning to God in the time of crisis or paying a periodic and occasional visit to the church. We must reconsider our commitment to the things of God. (See James 1:26-27).
Beloved, the bottom line is, we must reassess and review what it really means to be followers of the Christ! We are called Christians for a reason. The hymn writer raised this question for all of us: “Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? Do you fear to own his cause, or blush to speak his name?” This month you are encouraged to search out and clean out and essentially get a checkup from the neck up. If you find yourself shackled by self-deception, pray for God to rid you of this heavy burden.
Next Week: Self-Serving Spirit
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.