Deceptive cycles have trapped most people at one time or other. You, me, pretty much everyone. These cycles are key enemy strategies to get God’s people to fail, live defeated, be burdened, and struggle with discouragement. Deception formed the original temptation of Adam and Eve. So, we are not alone. Still, this was never God’s plan. He wants you free to have an Alive and Active Life.
At first glance you may conclude you aren’t deceived and that you can not be easily tricked. That may be true. Still, it’s always good practice to ask yourself good questions. Self-assessment using God’s Word helps reveal things, if you answer honestly.
I really like good questions. They help you look deeper. Plus, they prepare you to openly receive from God. Good questions help you get on the same page as God.
- What does God want to point out to me?
- Is there is any unhelpful pattern in my life?
- Do I have a desire or dream that doesn’t reflect His heart?
- What root is in my heart that doesn’t honor Scripture?
- Do I trust God’s love enough to obey Him in all things?
- Am I working out my salvation each day? (Phil. 2:12)
David used Self-Assessment Often
David is exemplary in being open to God’s assessment. He asked for it. Then he listened intently to hear God’s thoughts. Finally, he did something about whatever God revealed. Every time! In other words, David used the “tool” of God’s assessment for his own self-assessment. That is dedication! Trust! Obedience! Commitment!
Listen to one of David’s recorded prayers. I’m going to give you four versions from Ps. 139:23-24.
- “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.“ (NIV)
- “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.“ (TLB)
- “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (ESV)
- “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong — then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)
I migrate toward the deeply honest expressions and very humble confession of The Message version. It’s not my favorite study version, but it’s an accurate expression of self-assessment using the tool of God’s assessment through prayer.
HONESTY and HUMILITY nurture you to be HOLY as you trust Jesus and obey HIM.
“H” words can change your life.
Good Questions That Help Identify Deceptive Cycles
It can be confusing to begin asking yourself good questions to engage an Alive and Active Life. Here is a starter list to prime your pump. There are so many more.
- Do you live in peace?
- Is joy your daily experience? (P.S. Joy is not a feeling. It’s a state of being through choices.)
- Have you committed to rejoice even when life is difficult and losses crush your heart?
- Do you think you are above slipping, making mistakes, sinning?
- Do you trust your own judgment before using principles of God’s Word? Does it have to make sense before you engage it?
- How do you respond when something is brought to your attention (perhaps accountability)? Do you welcome it?
- Is it your practice to go after your wants, or do you surrender them to Jesus and trust His love for you?
Additional Thoughts That Help
Some thoughts about those 7 questions.
- Peace is your option. Jesus gives it as a gift. It’s yours. Have you picked it up? (Jn. 14:27)
- Joy is low-hanging fruit – easy picking from God. It is your strength. Have you claimed it? (Neh. 8:10)
- Although it takes discipline and resolve, rejoicing is really not that hard. It’s a simple choice. (Phil. 4:4)
- Thinking you are above is a very quick way to fall. How close are you to falling? (Prov. 16:18)
- Trust in your own judgment is being short-sighted. Do you want to be short-sighted? (Is. 55:8,9)
- Accountability is a critical deterrent to making mistakes. The person open to accountability makes less mistakes. (Ps. 139:23-24)
- Your wants not submitted to Jesus means you don’t trust His love or intentions for you. (1 Jn. 4:18)
Warning! Deceptive cycles start easily. Be alert, self-assessing, and in prayer to avoid them. 1 Pet. 5:7-9
People in the habit of asking good questions are usually:
Plus, they trust God!
Good Answers to Good Questions
Answering questions is critical to an Alive and Active Life. Honest answers prepare you to change and heal. You can’t just “love your way” into good habits. You need a good action plan. It’s work. God wants you to use your head, engage your heart, and obey His Word.
An Excerpt About Deceptive Cycles
Below is an excerpt from SharpShooting: Your Bronze Bow. It gets into deceptive cycles and breaking free! But first, let me describe an incredible marksman who has a reputation of skill and accuracy as He shoots into the human heart.
Jesus is the earth’s best Sharpshooter. He is brilliant, perfect in holiness, accurate in every shot into the human condition, direct, loving, and kind. He sharp shoots a common human cycle: the deceptive cycle.
It’s so easy to get hooked into deception, even for a seasoned, healthy adult. This cycle sneaks in and clouds thinking skills. It limits creative trouble-shooting. And it pulls a person down, affecting well-being, perspective, habits, and relationships.
“The human heart is prone to sin. When it is not surrendered and focused on Jesus, all manner of evil rises. It starts a little at a time, becoming a greater presence with each deceptive cycle. The conscience is seared and the heart desensitized. Relationships are broken. Then one day, you ask, “How did I get here?!”
The enemy has crafty strategies to target body, soul, and spirit:
- Body – he targets areas of your flesh and this world: comforts and pleasures.
- Soul – he throws your aim off with status, possessions, and accomplishments.
- Spirit – he deceives you to focus your crosshairs away from God.
Your mind is actively involved in all three of these human components. You engage in processes like: justifying, judging, wanting, defending, fighting, ignoring, shutting down, etc. All these are outlets of fear, insecurity, pride, and deception. The fix: “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (Jas. 4:10)
After humbling yourself comes the step of renewing your mind in Scripture. Following that, you must work out your salvation: do what the Word says! This is posturing correctly with God. Finally, God does what only He can: He literally forms you into His character as you partner with Him. The miracle: transformation.
Many life conditions are the result of hardened hearts, especially in close relationships. Hardness of heart breaks down intimacy. Relationships end.”
So, what’s your part? What should you do when you realize you are in a deceptive cycle, no matter how small? Here are 4 steps to help you get free from deceptive cycles:
- Be honest with yourself and with God. Humble yourself to call the cycle what it is. Stop justifying and explaining. Disarm deception by identifying it. (Notice the “H” words.)
- Renew your mind in Scripture. The Bible is full of directives and promises. Scripture principles set you free when you apply them. Why not use God’s “training manual” for your life training? Let God to show you how to apply His Word.
- Do what the Word says! Many know the Word and talk about it. But they miss the power of the Word. They just know and talk. Jesus said, “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (Jas. 1:22)
- Participate in your miracle! If you really want an Alive and Active Life, partner with God. You do your part. He will do His part.
What is God’s part? He does what no one else can. You need His part to get out of deceptive cycles and live an Alive and Active Life.
- God’s Word is power, help, instruction, and encouragement. Take it in daily like a vitamin. It’s HIs life on paper.
- If your conscience is seared (damaged), sincerely ask God to heal it. Then do what pleases Him. He will heal you.
- Never assume you are doing your part on your own. Your strength comes from God. He helps you do your part.
- The miracle: transformation! When you obey without quitting, you see yourself becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be. This may be the first glance you have had into the person God created you to be. It’s exciting to see the character of Jesus forming in you.
Will you let God do His part? Will you do your part?
Order SharpShooting: Your Bronze Bow. It takes you through Matthew. Each daily session is short and “to-the-point practical.” Even kids have gone through this study and can understand the helpful action steps. Every session has an archer with a “daily quiver” of featured Scriptures to read.