He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”—1 John 2:4 (NKJV)

The headline read: “1 Dead, 4 Hospitalized After Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.” The gas, so subtle, but so deadly, had overcome the good oxygen of a 21-year-old woman who never regained consciousness.

This tragedy helps to illustrate a deadly spiritual condition. Just as CO2 can invisibly rob the body of oxygen to live, self-deceit can also mask itself, choking our spiritual lives if we don’t take precautions. 

A.W. Tozer once wrote, “Of all the forms of deception, self-deception is the most deadly. It is altogether possible to practice fraud upon our own souls and go deceived to judgment.” Tozer’s words and today’s verse echo the words of Jesus when He asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 NKJV).

Self-deception is complex, but rooted in pride. It creeps in when we see ourselves steadily attending church, reading His word, and going to Bible study—feeling confident in our relationship with Jesus. We’re going through the motions, but if we don’t put what we learned into practice in our lives, then we are as merely hearers of the Word and not doers, thus deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). This is exactly the state of mind Satan prefers. His agenda is to blur the lines of demarcation between hearing the Word and doing the Word. As the father of lies, his desire is that you would not “stand in the truth because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44 NASB).

I’m not saying this is you. But it was Israel. I hope you stand in truth, love as the Lord loves, and forgive as the Lord forgives. But the Pharisees didn’t. You are probably discerning, humble in your service and with the gifts God has given you. But the Corinthian church wasn’t. You are probably on fire for Jesus, measuring your walk by His standard. But the Laodiceans weren’t. You see, self-deceit is not particular in whom it targets, for even the elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24).

But God is so merciful. I was living a lie for so long until I read 1 John. The Holy Spirit challenged my spirit and brought me to my knees. I thought I was something I really wasn’t . . . I was deceived (Galatians 6:3). His kindness led me to repentance; He breathed new life into me, and because of this, I’m more consciously attached to His Lordship.

Dig: 1 John is short, but powerful. Ask the Lord to join you as you open it and read it.

Discover: When you are finished, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any self-deception you might struggle with.

Display: If something is revealed, ask for forgiveness, pick up your cross, and follow Him. He loves you so much!

About the Author

Lisa Supp

Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.