Rick was angry. He had been turned down for a promotion again. Someone else with less experience was given the position. By the time Rick arrived at home, he was seething. He snapped at the kids, yelled at his wife and started bitterly complaining about his supervisor. Even the dog could not escape Rick’s wrath. “How can they do this to me? I do a great job for the company. This is so wrong! I am praying for God to judge them.”
But the truth is, Rick was not a good employee. His job performance was getting worse, not better. What he didn’t know was that in two days he would be fired. He complained so much that no one liked working with him.
Why was Rick angry? Why did he think he was a good worker? Why, because Rick believed the lies that he told to himself about his job. Rick is self-deceived.
There is danger in self-deception, of believing your own lies. People who are lying to themselves can be dramatically persuasive. People who lie to themselves need others to believe their lies just as much as they do. Self-deceivers must have the affirmation of others. Self-deceivers often demand that others affirm and support their lies. If they don’t receive that affirmation, they may become hostile, sullen, angry and emotionally destructive.
Like many who are self-deceived, Rick has a rude awakening coming. He will be shocked when he is fired. Right up to the moment of his termination, he will be totally committed to his false narrative that he is a good employee. Like Samson, he thinks that all he as to do is to believe his “truth.” Samson’s self-truth was that his strength was of his own making. So after he tells Delilah about his hair, he still believes life will go on the way he wants it to:
“When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.”
When Rick is fired, he will have the same moment of clarity that Samson had. He will reap the bitter fruit of self-deception. Believing your own lies in opposition to God’s truth results in self-deception which leads to self-destruction. James describes it this way:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:22-24
Anyone who does not faithfully and intentionally do what Scripture teaches will be self-deceived. All of us are that dependent on God’s truth. If a person believes his own truth over what the Bible teaches, he has exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
The way to avoid self-deception is to constantly measure your thoughts and actions by the truth of God’s word. The way to determine if others are self-deceived, especially those who are passionate about their own version of what is true, is to carefully examine how their words are consistent with the Bible. Just repeating something loudly and passionately does not make it true.
Learn from Rick and Samson. Don’t believe your own lies. Don’t believe the words of those who are self-deceived. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Trust God’s truth and find life and freedom.