Years ago, my college Intrapersonal Communications teacher started a class session with this statement:
“You cannot lie to yourself.”
He explained that this is because we eventually believe what we continually tell ourselves. In other words, even though what we’re saying may be a lie, our minds eventually accept and act on it as truth. Essentially, then, we can reprogram our thinking with lies. What’s more, research actually supports this assertion.
“Humans are masters of self-deception. We fool ourselves into believing things that are false, and we refuse to believe things that are true.” (How Do I Know When I Am Lying to Myself?)
Self-deception also comes up often in literature.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses respect for himself and for others. And having no respect, he ceases to love.” (The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky)
“Self lies are the worst lies…” (Richard Bach)
Most significantly for Christians, the struggle with lying to ourselves is also confronted in the Bible.
“Keep my from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your law.” (Psalm 119:29)
Self-deception is the worst type of lie because it reprograms how we think, and the way we think determines the reality of our lives. For this reason, we need to regularly let our minds be renewed.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Our culture seems to condone self-deception. The follow-your-feelings, seek-your-own-truth pattern of the world seeks to conform our thinking. It’s telling us that lying is acceptable if it fits with your personal truth.
Refuse to conform to this worldly pattern. Regularly assess your thinking by getting in God’s word and letting it transform you. Know God’s will, so you can regularly cast down any thinking that conflicts with it.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)