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4 Surprising Ways a Believer Can be Self-Deceived

4 Surprising Ways a Believer Can be Self-Deceived

So much of what we believe is ingrained in us at a very young age. I can even recall a few silly traditions passed on by my grandparents that I believed well into adulthood. 

For instance, my grandpa had a major sweet tooth, as did I. So, every time I would visit, he would go to the refrigerator, pull out the can of Hershey’s syrup, and give me a spoonful. Then, as I licked the chocolate from my lips, he would say, “There’s your dose of iron for the day!” Because of that little tradition, I grew up believing that chocolate syrup was a good source of iron! (Bummer.)

Ideas like that may be harmless and even laughable, but what about the ways in which we can be self-deceived? How often are we so sure about something, only to realize that it’s not true at all? Here are a few surprising ways believers can be self-deceived.

1. Believing That Self-Confidence Leads to Success

Perhaps now, more than ever before, we’ve become a society that relies heavily on self-confidence to be successful. We look in the mirror each day and give ourselves pep-talks to hold our heads high and walk with assertiveness.

But self-confidence can become a form of pride if we’re not careful. And self-dependence can actually put our trust in God on the back shelf. In fact, we can be deceived by thinking “we’ve got this,” when in reality, only the Lord holds everything together. (Colossians 1:17)

The sooner we realize that we desperately need God each and every minute, the sooner we can walk in “Christ-confidence,” knowing that He who began a good work in us, will be the One to complete it, and all for His glory. (Philippians 1:6)

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:5-8 NKJV)

2. Believing in Clichés as the Gospel Truth

When Benjamin Franklin penned the phrase, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” he probably never dreamed people would one day regard it as the gospel truth! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with adhering to certain principles that are beneficial, but how often do we confuse popular clichés with God’s Word?

The Bible is our ultimate handbook for life! In fact, it is living and active, accurately judging our thoughts and attitudes. And there’s no earthly replacement for God’s absolute truth.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

3. Believing That the Bible Changes with the Culture

It is easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that the Bible conforms to the changing tide of the culture. Especially when something is said or done in the name of “love,” we have a hard time deciphering what is from God and what is not. But remember, the Word of God does not change. There is no shadow of turning with Him. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8)

As Christians, we can fully trust the accuracy of the Bible for each and every generation. And when we regard it as absolute truth, any and every cultural deception is brought under its divine authority.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:16-17 NKJV)

4. Believing That Freedom in Christ Gives Us the Freedom to Sin

Unfortunately, Christianity has been watered down to the point that we confuse our freedom from sin with the freedom to sin. Even as I type this, I feel a tug from the Holy Spirit, reminding me not to view my liberty in Christ to live liberally.

Yes, we are free from sin and shame, saved from death and no longer condemned. That should spur us on to live righteously before God, obeying His commands out of love and gratefulness for His Salvation. In fact, Galatians 5:1 encourages us to stand fast in the freedom for which Christ has made us free. But later in the same chapter, Paul warns us not to use that freedom for the things of the flesh. Let’s not be self-deceived into thinking that Christianity is a license to sin!

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 NKJV)

In what ways have you been self-deceived? Perhaps your childhood traditions or beliefs have become gospel truths to you. Or, maybe you’ve been drawn in by the culture, adopting the idea that Bible no longer applies to your situation. Whatever has been misleading you in life, I encourage you today, to test everything in the light of God’s Word and discard any self-deceptions by replacing them with the authority of Scripture.

Please pray with me:

Gracious God, thank You that we can trust Your word above all else. Thank You for having mercy on us and understanding that sometimes we get confused. Lord, please reveal to us anything in our lives that does not conform to Your likeness. Please show us which beliefs need to be replaced with Your truths. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Jennifer Waddle is best known for words of encouragement as an Author, Speaker and Musician for Women’s Ministry. She currently has three published books on Amazon and is a regular contributor for WomensMinistryTools.com and GotQuestions.org. Jennifer is committed to sharing authentic messages of hope to women of all walks of life. She loves being a wife of 24 years, mom of four, and nana of two. Most of all, she cherishes her time spent in the Word of God, with a cup of coffee and a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. Contact Jennifer here: www.jenniferwaddleonline.com or encouragementmama@gmail.com.

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