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James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
In sociological studies the Dunning–Kruger effect represents “a cognitive bias wherein relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate.” In more basic terms, there are people who clearly are not the most intelligent people but think they are brilliant. Other people might not be the most attractive, but they believe they are eye candy. There are individuals who believe they are the best on the team when everyone else knows that they’ve got no game at all. All of these people live in a false reality. The Dunning-Kruger effect is the blatant disregard of knowing yourself and the reality in which you live.
As I examine the lives of Christians across the nation, I think many suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect. They think they are more spiritual, more Godly, more religious than they think they are, but they are not living in the reality of what Scripture calls for Christians to embrace. Consequently, they deceive themselves about where they stand spiritually.
James tells us that this self-deception is not something new but something that he was dealing with in the church 2000 years ago. One thing that James wants his hearers to fully understand is that they must not be deceived into believing something about themselves that is not rooted in reality. In the first chapter he uses the term “deceived” three times (16, 22, 26).
James recognizes that Christians often don’t see their faith in the right lens. They believe everything is OK spiritually when they are really falling short. They think they are quite perfect when they are not. They think they live quite adequately, when, in fact their lives come nowhere close to the Biblical mandate for Christian living. Such was the self-deception that was unfolding in the Church of Laodicea in Rev 3:16-17.
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
The Laodicean Church thought everything was good and that they were quite hearty spiritually, but in reality they were on the verge of being spit out. Consequently, they were only deceiving themselves and needed a reality check.
Are you deceiving yourself about your faith, thinking it is something that it is not? You can end your self-deception by measuring your life to the standards in Scripture and making adjustments to model the kind of life that God requires for his followers. Stop deceiving yourself and start obeying.