Be Honest with Yourself

In Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, one of the characters gives another this advice: “Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others.”[1] Nearly three millennia before, David also described the potential effects of self-deceit about what we are really like.

Honesty is vital to the discovery of happiness. Joyful, contented people do not lie to themselves or to anybody else. We cannot deceive ourselves and enjoy genuine happiness; deceit and happiness don’t sleep in the same bed.

The Bible calls us to be as honest about ourselves as it is honest. It turns a searchlight onto our hearts and minds, revealing the truth of the human predicament. We are told that we live in iniquity, which results in an internal bias towards wrongdoing and a nature corrupted by sin. We’re transgressors, going where we shouldn’t go. We’re sinners, failing to live up to our own standards, let alone the standard God has set.

The surprise of this verse is that David starts off with the word “blessed” or “happy,” but then immediately introduces such hard realities as our iniquity and our capacity for lying to ourselves and God about it. But the reason he can do that is because the predicament he faces is more than matched by the cure God offers.

Notice that David doesn’t say, Happy is the individual whose iniquity the Lord does not count. He says, “Happy is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity.” Because God is holy, He must count sin—but He counts it against someone else. He counts it against His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We find in David’s words the amazing doctrine of justification by faith, which we first see in God’s relationship with Abraham, who “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The moment we truly believe that our sins have been counted against our Savior, we will be blessed; we will be happier than ever before.

So the path to blessing starts with honesty. We are not good people who make the odd mistake. We are not wonderful individuals with a few flaws that can be blamed on our upbringing, our environment, or our lack of sleep last night. We are sinners with deceitful hearts, who fall short of God’s glorious standards and by nature stand to inherit only wrath (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-3). Be honest about who you are. Be specific about how you have sinned against the Lord. Then you will be ready to embrace the most joyful news in the world: that each day, though “our sins they are many, His mercy is more.”

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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