On the Self-Deceived Nature of Self-Deception


February 14, 2022

1 Peter 1:17-21 NIV

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.


This is a very big story.

And as big as this story is; that is just how small our part in it is. 

But we should not confuse the smallness of our part with its importance and significance. We play a very small part of a very big story in a super significant way. 

The history of the world is littered with so many of our ancestors who gave all they had to play a super magnified and ultimately insignificant part of the infinitesimally small story of their own lives. 

That is what today’s text refers to as “the empty way of life.” 

A life filled with self-will, self-rule, self-interest, and self-advancement is an empty way of life. And yes, there is a way of an apparently others-oriented life that remains quite self-interested. 

Perhaps the most broken part of our broken human nature is just how hopelessly self-deceived we are. How else can we account for the levels of sheer chaos in this world? Self deception compounds like inflationary interest until it creates a debt that cannot possibly be repaid. Perhaps the greatest collective self-deception is that there is some kind of collective solution like communism or socialism or even capitalism. There is only a personal solution. We don’t want this to be true, but unfortunately it is, and we can live out our entire lives trapped within our broken selves in an empty way of life. The craziest thing about self-deception is you have no idea of it when you are self-deceived. And it’s in this kind of enslaved condition where we are most apt to isolate ourselves from other people. 

There is very good news, though. There is a solution to this problem. It is not a collective solution built on ideological foundations or any form of idealism. It is a personal solution with profound social implications, because it is not built on an individualized sense of identity. Jesus comes to us personally, even intimately, and yet always in our relatedness to each other. Jesus doesn’t offer us a self-improvement program. He offers a very different kind of community. I don’t want to call it “The Church” because that is all too often just another collectively self-deceived human built organization. Remember what he called it that day when Peter famously got it right about Jesus? Let’s remember it together.

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:15-18

Did you catch it—what Jesus called this new thing he was doing in the world? Yes! He didn’t call it The Church. He called it “My Church.” “My Church” is not a new community. It is certainly not a new organization. It is a new humanity being built on a regenerated personal and corporate relational union with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

It always starts with Jesus moving personally to me and almost immediately it moves to you. Or it starts with Jesus moving personally to you and moves almost immediately to me. And that’s why Jesus begins by talking about Peter’s faith and in the sentence he is talking about his Church—a blood purchased collection of broken people becoming a radiant community of beautiful saints. 

This man. This God. This God-Man redeemed us with his very own blood. Wherever there is new birth into a living hope there will be blood. It is just that costly. Gold and silver can never touch it. Jesus comes right into the cell of our inmost self, the place where we are hopelessly locked up and so utterly deceived we have made ourselves at home there—surviving in slavery, mistaking shackles for bracelets, mirrors for windows, and our small stories for the Big Story. And he whispers to some and shouts to others, “Follow me! The door is open!” 

Peter now brings us Gentile Christians into the Big Story by remembering the Exodus and the deliverance of God’s people from slavery through the Passover Lamb—the night every Hebrew family sacrificed an unblemished perfect lamb and spread its blood over the door frame of their homes so they would be delivered from the plague of death and the slavery of Egypt and into life and freedom. Jesus is our Passover Lamb and he sets us free from sin, death, and the self deceptive slavery to ourselves. He actually liberates us into the New Humanity of the New Creation and empowers us to live there in total freedom, peace, joy and love. That’s where this letter is headed, so buckle up. The New Exodus may get bumpy—especially the upcoming parts where the movement becomes about deliverance from the all too often self-deceived organizations we call “our churches” into the community Jesus calls “My Church.” 

It’s why we must keep reminding one another,

Wake up sleeper, and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn. (Hint)


Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are the head of the Body, which is what makes it not our church but your Church; My Church you called it. Holy Spirit, grace us to return to Jesus with all our hearts. Restore us to the big story you are writing and our small and significant part to play. Deliver us from the smallness of our own big story and our hopelessly deceived self interest. Only Jesus can do this. It’s why we are praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.


What is your own sense of your self-deception quotient? Like “0” would be “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,” and “10” would be “I have no idea what you are even talking about.”

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I perceive that my personal “self-deception quotient might be a 3 or 4. I relate this post to where in Ezekiel we are raised from a valley of dry bones and raised to new life through the breath of God, or having our bodies washed with clean water (baptism) and having our hearts of stone transformed into hearts of flesh. Ezekiel chapters 36 and37. This post is like a light piercing the darkness of our self-deception.

  2. This is amazing!

    About 40 years ago this image came to my mind: I saw an emaciated man in a jail cell. His hands were grasping the bars and his forehead was pressed against them. He had a desperate look in his eyes. Then I noticed that the cell door was standing open, but he was facing the bars and couldn’t see the open door.

    Two nights ago, I watched a beautiful, animated version of John Bunyan’s “Pilgram’s Progress.” The “interpreter” showed Christian Pilgram a vision of a desperate man in a jail cell who was looking through the bars but couldn’t see that the cell door was open. The very vision that I saw 40 years ago. At the end of his journey, Christian Pilgram suddenly realized that the man he saw in the jail cell was him.

    Now I read this blog post and you say: “Jesus comes right into the cell of our inmost self, the place where we are hopelessly locked up and so utterly deceived we have made ourselves at home there—surviving in slavery, mistaking shackles for bracelets, mirrors for windows, and our small stories for the Big Story. And he whispers to some and shouts to others, ‘Follow me! The door is open!'” Wow!!! What is God up to?

    “We see in part.” No human can accurately assess how deceived he is.

  3. How can we ever understand the value of the blood? The blood of Jesus shed for us is beyond real comprehension to me. However, God wants me to grasp the meaning of His life and love and sacrifice for me. I pray that He teach me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *