Deception is so common and follows such well-defined patterns that the patterns can be described. Taken together they are called “mental mechanisms.”
One such pattern, rationalization, is a process whereby one justifies their conduct. By using it, a person gives themselves good reasons for doing bad things.
Lying, for example, can be called tact or diplomacy. Obviously, anyone ought to be tactfully or diplomatically or lovingly honest. But deception is a sin. It is easy to convince oneself that to do right is wrong, and to do wrong is right. Isaiah wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
Who has not faced the desire to do something that his better self tells him is not right, but still does it anyway? An example is exceeding the speed limit. “I’m late getting home and I don’t want to worry my wife,” a speeding driver will say. It is a good enough excuse. But looking squarely at the facts, few persons would accept this reasoning as valid for breaking the law.
Most persons are at least vaguely aware of inconsistencies in their lives. It is hard not to rationalize them. How difficult we find it to get down to reality and face conflicts, or to harmonize disagreements. We dislike being shown up, having our pride injured, or having our true selves exposed.
Rationalization can become a subtle habit of the inner life. Dishonesty and deception can, in time, become so easy to live with that you can fool yourself into believing whatever you want to believe.
Deception violates a biblical standard. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22). “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things” (Psalm 12:3). “We are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head” (Ephesians 4:15).
If you form the habit of ignoring facts, brushing aside the truth, or making things come out to suit yourself, you will react in just these ways when a serious crisis comes into your life. You cannot rationalize the small decisions and then expect to make the major decisions in good, unfettered judgment. By practice, you can become an expert at dodging issues or at facing them frankly and honestly.
The biblical standard of dealing only in truth is not designed to be a nuisance to the one who would abide by it. Rather it is the pathway to peace. Rationalization, on the other hand, will thwart your progress in life.
The key to inner peace is self-discovery. The method is to forsake the wrongs you discover. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
This information is an excerpt of chapter 5 from Dr. Brandt’s book, The Struggle for Inner Peace, currently available as an e-book.