You Can’t Lie to Yourself

TruthA college professor of mine, intrapersonal communication I think, told us the first day of class, “You can’t lie to yourself.” He explained that when we tell ourselves something long enough, we eventually accept it and then live it as truth.

We do this when we try to show satisfactory reasons or give excuses for doing something. Doing so brings us to the dangerous side of justification.

When we justify, we shape our thinking to avoid having to change our behavior. We create a reality in our minds that allows us to avoid the discomfort of growth, which involves admitting mistakes, preferring others, and being teachable, among other things. And the longer we do this, the more deaf we become to hearing the actual truth because we’ve created our own alternate reality, our own version of the truth, for so long.

The Pharisees did something of this sort when they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.

“But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, ‘No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.’” (Matthew 12:24)

Of course, Jesus easily refuted their claims created to justify their unbelief, but they remained stubbornly in their own, self-created realities, ones that would allow them to stay deceptively secure in their comfort zones.

unrealityChange or Justify?

The more I read about the Pharisees, the more I dislike doing so because I’m usually reminded of some way of thinking of my own that’s too much like theirs. And this leads me to either needing to change or add another level of justification to avoid having to change.

When I don’t want to do something, say reach out to someone or admit I’m wrong, I’m very creative about why doing so isn’t necessary and even how it’s possibly detrimental in some way. In reality, these things just make me uncomfortable, so I want to find reasons — I want to justify — why I don’t need to do them. It’s really a control issue at heart, if I’m to be brutally honest with myself.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking also happens often when it comes to deciding about Jesus. Alternate realities are created where he either isn’t seen as who he is, he’s seen as a big disappointment in some way, or we just keep too busy to truly make him Lord of our lives or even think about how we might need to change our thinking.

Jesus actually calls the Pharisees’ words “idle” (Matthew 12:36). In essence, he’s saying that their attempts — and ours — at creating a false reality where we get to stay in control is really “idle” (of no real worth, significance or importance) thinking. And of that thinking, Jesus uses justification in another way.

“The words you say now reflect your fate then, either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)

In other words, the reality in which we choose to live either leads to the only authentic justification that exists — the kind that comes only through Jesus — or to eternal destruction. One day, every reality will be based on actual truth, God’s truth, and we’ll have no say in the creation of that reality. In fact, all our false truths will fall away. This motivates me to get my truth, the reality I choose to live by, as much in line with God’s truth as possible before time expires.

DISCUSSION: How have you lived within a false reality? How do we align the truth we live by with God’s truth?

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10 Replies to “You Can’t Lie to Yourself”

  1. Excellent! Explains why so many of us as we get older, i.e. our older parents, tend to have distorted realities of truth. We tend to paint life to protect us from some of the harsh realities we'd rather keep locked in the past.

    On your Pharisaical analogy, I agree they lived their own defensive state that led them to deny Jesus as Messiah (until later rabbinical – Pharisee – writings period), but likewise, I believe we have painted Jesus inside the CHURCH as something more than he intended as well. We can paint our memories with skepticism (darker cynicism) or we can candy coat wearing rose colored glasses to make our memories more palatable and believable in our own mind too. History itself tends to record only the good and seldom the bad because of that reasoning. The Pharisees were caught in tradition that they themselves only knew, and for the last 1500 years the CHURCH has struggled to recognize that it has been caught in the same trappings of traditions. Thankfully, we have a God who smiles and is not defined by our tainted memories or our beliefs. I believe even Jesus would blush at how we have defined him over the years… Happy Easter

    1. Thanks, Coach. I agree that the problem is inside the church too for sure. So glad He forgives us for our mis-defining of him and that he gently corrects those who truly seek him. Guess this is another area of progression in the life of a Christ follower. Happy Easter to you too!

  2. Bill hit the nail on the head…even though I have hit all round the head at times to protect myself or so I thought. I would like to claim old age the Coach Brown talked about but when I shut up long enough I can hear the sweet Holy Spirit speaking gently, old woman, get it right next time.
    Great post Kari,

  3. Jesus said we would try to fit HIS words into our lives and not out live into His Word. You see that every day in the world. My late husband had a lie he had told for so long he totally believed it. I was not aware it was a lie until after his death. It impacted all of us, his family. So I do understand how believing and telling and retelling something can get to the point of someone totally believing it and living as if it were true. It made an excellent excuse for some of his behavior.
    I also sometimes find myself feeling a bit like the Pharisees and when I do it is a reminder that my focus and thinking are becoming distorted and I need to return to the Word of Truth and the I AM of TRUTH. Thanks Kari….been a crazy week so just getting to this. Glad I found time to read it. Happy Easter.

  4. Great post Kari. It is easy to deceive ourselves – Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful. But God's Word shines into our hearts and reveals to us what is true and what we need to deal with Him.
    My recent post True Rest

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