Why We Can't Trust Our Own Best Thinking

Every Friday morning at our Man in the Mirror Bible Study, I meet with the first time visitors. They routinely describe the severely underestimated consequences of having lived by their own best thinking: Estrangement, financial chaos, crises of meaning, loss of purpose and direction, and so on.

When our own best thinking is the arbiter of what is true, right, and good the chance for making a mistake soars exponentially. Why? Because you and I are a confluence of complexity and an amalgamation of inconsistencies. Our minds are a labyrinth of self-deceit.

Demosthenes said it like this, "Nothing is easier than self-deceit, for what each man wishes that he also believes to be true." Our emotions delude us to believe that what we feel is somehow true--and the way it is, or has to be. By self-deceit, we reinvent the "truth" to match our desires. And the higher the stakes, the lower the reliability of our own best thinking. In short, we are horribly unreliable.

Before Demosthenes, Jeremiah had the original words for this. He said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The Apostle Paul amplified, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:15, 18-19).

So what's the solution if we have erred and lived by our own best thinking? It's to have a higher authority. It's to bring ourselves under the authority of what has been the most true for the most people for the most long: our Christian faith. As Paul went on to say, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25).

Let's stop reinventing truth in our imaginations to be what we want it to be. Let's stop seeking the truth we want, and seek the truth that is. Let's stop doing what seems right in our own eyes. Because we just can't trust our own best thinking.

Until every church disciples every man...