Speaker: Jerry Cisar
The idea of self-deception is, seemingly, an oxymoron–a contradiction in terms. How can someone set out to deceive, if the object of that deceit is the very one doing the deceiving? How can we be so unsuspecting? Lewis Smedes writes, “First we deceive ourselves, and then we convince ourselves that we are not deceiving ourselves.”
Evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban believes self-deception and hypocrisy are not only religious problems. In his book, Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite, he writes, “The problem in self-deception is to identify what is doing the deceiving and what is being deceived. Is the mind deceiving the mind? How can that be?” His research suggests this is the natural state of the human mind. That the mind consists of many specialized modules that don’t always work together seamlessly, resulting in contradictory beliefs, fluctuating between patience and impulsiveness, violations of our “moral principles,” and inflated views of ourselves. He calls this self-deception hypocrisy.
Religious self-deception by a believer is much worse than the garden variety kind all have, because the one deceived has actually received the truth and professed to believe it. In this weeks’ text, James moves from describing blatant ways in which we might be deceived by our desires, to describing a more insidious form of deception—self-deception. It is a type that is warned about repeatedly in Scripture, and it is a type that, the more earnest the disciple, the more prone one might be to it. Of course, they don’t have to be.
Join us as we explore James 1:19-26 as we worship together. Discover the key to remaining earnest and yet not slipping into the common error of hearing the word and not doing it.