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Chapter 15 - Justification
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. - Genesis 3:12
We all tend to excuse and justify our actions. It is almost a reflex action. When called to give an account or to explain something we have done, we can be very creative in finding reasons that sound plausible. We prefer to avoid saying, 'I was angry' or 'I was selfish'. We prefer to say, 'They made me angry' or 'I was only getting what I deserved'.
The leaven of the Pharisees is just this sort of self-deception. What we often fail to appreciate is just how dangerous this is. Our innovation can lead us to construct very clever deceptions by which we hope to deflect criticism. However, as we come to believe them ourselves, we distort and corrupt our own thought processes. We should again carefully consider the warning given by John;
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. - 1 John 1:8
We can temporarily avoid the discomfort of criticism and wounded pride. However, the abandonment of truth carries with it a far greater price. Without a habit of honestly acknowledging our sins and faults, we create a false self in whom our increasing satisfaction often expresses itself in pride and smugness.
We become actors playing a character we have fabricated and come to believe is our true self. These rationalizations are the glue that keep us prisoner under the mask we have constructed. If Hitler could justify killing six million Jews, there is little humans are not capable of justifying.
The Pharisees would cheat each other in business and steal houses from widows. This shows there is no limit to the destruction we can cause ourselves in failing to honor truth.
Buy the truth, and sell it not; - Proverbs 23:23a
One can 'sell' truth by exchanging it for something else. One can 'sell' truth in exchange for the comfort and even pleasure self-deception brings. Consider the qualities that flourish in the absence of truth like pride, smugness, ingratitude, disregard for others, and even greed, lust, and hatred.
The reflex to protect our comfort at the cost of our souls is one that needs to be replaced with a reflex that is quick to acknowledge fault and speak truth.
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