Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jeremiah 17: Preventing Self-Deception

Jeremiah 17:7-10 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart  and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." 

One important reason why it is blessed to trust in the Lord rather than in ourselves is because we are masters of self-deception. If we were to rely on our rationality alone to make decisions and reach conclusions, we are often self-deceived because self-justification is always our reflex action, making even our wrongs seem right. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but  its end is the way to death." 

The only way to ensure that our self-deception is exposed is to learn to trust in the Lord and allow Him to "search the heart and test the mind" (v.10). The heart is the seat of our motives while the mind is seat of rationalization to justify the heart's real intentions. If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that we daily engage in self-justification in matters as trivial as driving--do you realize that the "nerd" is always the "other driver"! (I wonder who the "other driver" thinks the real nerd is!)

One way we can prevent self-deception is through God's Word. It is interesting that Hebrews 4:12 describes the word of God as "living and  active,  sharper than any  two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and  discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Daily meditation on God's Word will allow God to separate our self-deceiving thoughts and the true intentions of our heart. 

Another way to prevent self-deception is through daily self-examining prayer. David's prayer in Psalm 139:23-24 is a model for us: "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and  lead me in  the way everlasting!" We need to pray this prayer daily so that God may reveal our true heart intentions as opposed to our self-deceiving thoughts. The old chorus reminds us us that it's 

Not my brother, not my sister but it's me O Lord
Standing in the need of prayer (twice)
It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord
Standing in the need of prayer (twice)

Daily prayer and meditation on God's Word will keep us from self-deception. The  devotional discipline of a Quiet Time is the key to learning to trust in the Lord by hearing His Spirit speak to us through the Word and we responding to God through prayer.

Lord, may Your Word be a double-edged sword to me, helping me discern the thoughts of my mind and the true intentions of my heart and may it also be a lamp to my feet to guide me into right and godly decisions. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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