1 John 1:8 ESV
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
The insidiousness of self deception is tricky. On the one hand we look to the obvious route of flattery and self-love. The idea that a human knows in his or her heart that they are wrong in their thinking but choose to deceive themselves. I don’t think this is what John meant when he wrote 1 John 1:8. Of course we all sin. We were born in sin. We all have a sin nature. His readers knew and understood this probably way better than we do today. Today, people really do think they are better. This year, ABC News reported that 83% of Americans consider themselves Christian. A 2009 Barna poll found that 40% of American “Christians” feel that Satan is just a symbol of evil and not an actual being. That same poll found that 22% of them believed Jesus sinned while on earth. A 2013 Barna poll found that 51% of all people who identify themselves as Christian live less like Jesus and more like a Pharisee considering themselves to be self-righteous. If over half of all Christians, or at least those who call themselves Christians feel that they somehow have the ability to work their way to Heaven and overall have a general high view of themselves as being self-righteous, then, Houston, we have a problem.
There is a systemic issue in our “Christian” American society that states “I am better than my neighbor.” Very few people would consider themselves a “worm.” Our high view of ourselves has pushed out our own ability to even see that we have deceived ourselves. That is why Satan, who is real by the way, has artfully woven into our hearts the deception of our own sin and is laughing all the way to his fiery bank where he is successfully depositing soul after soul of deceived people. The deception is real and the consequences are real. Pray right now that you would not be deceived. Swap out your lofty view of yourself and trade it in for a new and improved high view of God. Beg God to reveal himself to you. Plead with him to breathe life into you that is unmistakably Truth. Ask Him that the blinders be ripped from your eyes and the stoppers removed from your ears. Recognize that you are a sinner. Recognize that we are ALL sinners. It is who we are, not what we do. Our unrighteous actions are an outpouring of our very nature.
Consider this simple question: There are three figures in the room. On the far right is Jesus. On the far left is Hitler. In the middle is anyone from history that you feel was the greatest human who ever lived such as Paul or Mother Theresa, or Ghandi. Take your pick and then in your mind place that person closer to Jesus or closer to Hitler. Got it? Are they in position? Now do the same with yourself. Where would everyone be in the lineup? Closer to Hitler or closer to Jesus? This little “test” is done again and again in seminary schools across the nation. Guess where most students place Paul or any of the historical “good” figures? Closer to Jesus. Where did you place yourself? Probably closer to Jesus but not as close as the example figures. If that is how you answered, I can assure you that you and every other person who answered that way is dead wrong. Every single person should be firmly planted right next to Hitler. Not close to him, not sort of in the middle, but right next to him. This is where our warped sense of self comes into play. You may be wondering why? How absurd? The simple answer is because Jesus is GOD and the rest of us are sinners. We have no business thinking we are any better than any other human. We are ALL sinners. Of course we will be judged based on the fruit of our life in light of bringing God glory, however the simple notion that I am somehow better than others is a very slippery slope of deception. Get right with God. Study who He is. Change your view of Him. Raise it as high as you can think and then raise it again and again. You can never go high enough. I pray that the Truth is in you and that you have not deceived yourself. The blessing of having hope that is built on confident assurance is something easily missed but oh so precious when you get it. Get hope. Get truth. Get God.