The Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful above all things. But when the heart lies, who is it that is being lied to? Well, the answer is that the heart has ears as well as a mouth, and the heart tells lies because the heart loves to hear them.
Self-deception is a real mystery. How is it possible for the deceiver and the deceived to be the same person? How can you tell yourself a lie, intending to do so, and then, upon hearing it, believe it? It doesn’t make sense, but of course, if it made sense, it wouldn’t be sin.
Scripture teaches us that self-deception arises in certain contexts. One of them happens when you want something a lot, and you are desperately hoping for it, and so you then come to assume that your hope must come to pass (Jer. 37:9). This is the counterfeit of biblical faith.
Another form of self-deception occurs when we take the world’s standards for wisdom as our own. The world loves to flatter, and they have entire industries dedicated to it (1 Cor. 3:18). They give out awards for everything—for cool, for acting, for acting cool, for scholarship, and a raft of other forms of busyness. Beware angling for kudos.
A third form of self-deception happens when you hear the Bible taught in truth, and assume that because you were godly enough to listen to that kind of thing, you must be godly, period (Jas. 1:22). But hearing is not doing, although it has a tendency to feel like doing.
Another kind of self-deception occurs when you tell yourself that you don’t have a sin problem—when the Bible says that you do in fact have a sin problem (1 John 1:8). It is self-deception to dab around the edges of the wound.
And this means that as we come to confess our sins, part of our request to God should be the request that He reveal to us what He would like us to know about where we are with Him.