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Deception Infection
Scripture: Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 36:2-3; Matthew 26:...
Track 2 of 12 in the Soul Detox series
Running time: 1 hour, 02 minutes, 27 seconds.
The art of self-deception is quite an amazing thing. Yes, I said it, self-deception is an art form and some people are really good at it. In fact, some are so good at it that it can drive them to do some of the dumbest things in life.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Part One: Toxic Behaviors
Deception Infection

The art of self-deception is quite an amazing thing. Yes, I said it, self-deception is an art form and some people are really good at it. In fact, some are so good at it that it can drive them to do some of the dumbest things in life. Hannah Moore said it this way:

The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.

If you don’t believe me, just watch American Idol; especially the first few weeks as the judges wade through the first wave of participants. It is amazing to me how some people sing so bad and yet think they are so good to get on TV and show the whole world how wrong they are. Hasn’t someone stepped forward before their performance to tell them that they need to do something else other than sing? Yet they get up there and are just horrible and then become stunned when the judges toss them out.

So how can these people get so fooled about themselves? What causes self-deception?

As we see ourselves through the lens of our experiences, beliefs and perspectives, we all have our blind spots. The Bible tells us what the true source for this is:

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

According to the Bible, where does self-deception come from? What does this mean in practical terms?

True or False: The longer we look through a distorted lens, the more likely we are to believe a distorted truth.

The Bible says “true”. The longer we lie to ourselves, deceive ourselves or remain in denial about the truth, the more likely we are to base our decisions and actions on this false belief system.

Someone tell me about the power of flattery. How powerful is it and what role does it play in self-deception?

How many people can you list where you witnessed their self-deception? It is so obvious that they fool themselves by what they do and how they act? How many of you would list yourself on that list? Why?

It is real easy to list people who fall into the category of self-deception, but chances are in your mind, you’re not one of them. Do you know why? We don’t know what we don’t know about ourselves. And I have to be honest; sometimes I don’t want to know. God places several warning for us in His scriptures because He loves us and wants to help us know the things in our lives that pollute His plan for us. He wants us to realize our shortcomings and the defenses we place around them.

There are a lot like a redneck jokes. If you have two cars in your front yard and none of them have tires, you’re probably a redneck. Well the same is true with our topic. If someone gives you constructive criticism and you get all defensive, you are probably self-deceived. Is this true or not?

The problem with ourselves, we usually see ourselves in only one perspective. It is incredibly difficult to get an accurate picture of ourselves. In order to see into our blind spots, we must use different mirrors in order to expose the toxic behaviors that tend to sneak up on all of us. They are often present on a daily basis but because we can’t see them, they build up and accumulate inside us and poison the well of our souls. Why can’t we see the self generated toxins?

Psalm 36:2-3 (NIV)
For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.

What does it mean to “flatter yourself too much”? How is that done in real life? How many of you battle with self-deception? How many of you know someone who is very self-deceived?

Isn’t it amazing, almost no one in class said they are self-deceived but almost everyone said they know someone who is. Why is that? Because we have the unlimited capacity to deceive ourselves. As we lie to ourselves (I am a great singer), we start to believe our lies. The more we tell the lies, the more we believe they are the truth. Before long we believe a distorted reality created by a willed ignorance. We internally deny, suppress and minimize what is really the truth. By default we assert, adorn and elevate what is false so that when the truth confronts us, we think the truth is a lie.

How many of you by nature, when you are exposed to the truth concerning something about you jump at the chance to fix the problem? How many of you when exposed to the truth get ticked off?

rue or False: It is better to come clean than it is to get ticked off.

Have you ever been mad at yourself for allowing yourself to believe a lie and act it out?

What is the first thing you do when you discover your child has a tic somewhere on their body? How many start to check every part of your child’s body for more? What’s the danger by not doing that?

What is the first thing you do when you discover you believed a lie about yourself? How many of you start checking for more lies? What‘s the danger by not doing that? That is called “getting ticked off”.

Here are some of the warning signs that point to a possible problem with self-deception. Have you ever said these things or believed them?

• I don’t have a problem with this.
• It’s really no big deal. This is the one way I cope with everything.
• I am not as bad as most people.
• I can quit anytime I want
• This is just the way I am.

True or False: Those who are the most defensive are those who are most unknowingly guilty.

Can you think of some Bible characters that were this way? Who might have said the same things or put up a defense to hide their self-deception?

Matthew 26:31-35 (NIV)
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Fascinating isn’t it how we can flatter ourselves? The reality was, they all ran like scared cats. How many of you would have said the same thing that night and reacted the same way later? I love how Christians today say they would die for Christ and yet still have trouble dying to themselves first let a lone die for Jesus. The one truth is certain, behavior doesn’t lie. Behavior tells us and others too much of the truth, so much that many of us would rather hide it and believe something else or deny that it even exists.

1 John 3:7-10 (NIV)
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

So if I can’t shake what I can’t identify, then how can I get my self-deception fixed? How can I fix something I can’t see?

• The first step is to talk to God. God wants us to talk with Him and by doing so He will reveal the blind spots in our lives.

Proverbs 15:31-32 (NIV)
He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

What is a life giving rebuke? In what form can they come? We must be careful of life taking rebukes. In what forms do they come in?

• The second step: It is not enough to just listen to the life giving rebuke, action must be taken. As a soon as a truth is revealed about something we need to change, swift action is needed to fix the problem.

James 1:22-25 (NIV)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.