Sin's Invisibility Machine


Posted by Matt Postiff August 28, 2017 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology 

Some years ago I read an article by Greg Bahnsen entitled "The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics". Since then, I found that it is available as a much longer PDF file and on Kindle. A helpful summary article on this subject appeared at The Gospel Coalition.

For some reason the idea and Bahnsen's attempt to explain it was fascinating to me. I have by no means wrapped my head around the concept yet, but I wanted to say something about it that struck me quite forcibly within the last couple of weeks.

It was just this: sin is so deceptive that it masks its own existence from the one who is committing the sin. Sin has a self-cloaking or invisibility device that allows a practitioner to somehow not recognize that sin is actually present. Bahnsen explains that this happens because of various motivations and evidence rationalization. This deception can extend to others, as in Bahsen's example of a mother who can't believe her son is a thief.

This is a critical topic to understand in Biblical counseling, for sin needs to be uncovered and repented of before real progress will be made in counseling situations.

The Scriptures mention the concept of sin's deceptiveness several times:

Romans 7:11 - For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
Hebrews 3:13 - but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
1 John 1:8 - If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

What to do about this? Like I said, I'm not fully grasping this notion yet, but I do know this: we must be diligent in our own lives to do battle against the self-deceptive characteristic of sin. And, when we counsel others in their addictions, marriage problems, etc., we must recognize that self-deception is likely present at some level. This is why one person in a conflict can give a one-sided view of the situation so convincingly (Prov. 18:17). He or she really has gotten themselves to believe what they are saying. They may well be blinded by sin(John 9:40-41).

Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; who can know it?

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