Christ is the truth. And we are not. At least not yet. Until the lies that we carry as part of our identity are released, redeemed, or burned out. Until then Christ remains a mystery to us.
This mystery of Christ is mostly because we avoid him. We may create an engraven image of him, fashioned in our own imagination of what we want him to be like, and then implement that image as part of our false identity, but this, too, will be burned out of us.
Sitting with Christ and confronting him requires us to confront the truth and lies within us. His love overpowers, but it also illuminates every deception, and he lets no deception pass. We can be weak and prone to folly, but if we hold to self-deception we remain separated from his presence.
His mercy overwhelms, but there is no mercy for deception. It either gets sanctified out of us now or later. Now is better.
And so he requires us to become the truth as well. The story we tell ourselves, and the engraven images we have built will all come tumbling down. It is much better to have these addressed by Christ in this life than the next. The opportunity is now.
What is a self-deception? Perhaps they are the lies we have believed, and often have become sources of self-comfort, that keep us from coming to Christ completely and fully.
They are falsehoods we have adopted to make ourselves the God of this world.
They are justifications that keep us comfortable in our current condition.
It you accept the doctrine that becoming like Christ is a process of steady self-improvement, you will retain your self-deceptions. A self-deceived state cannot be improved by becoming better at its own deceptions. It is redeemed through radical and fundamental transformation.
Many of our deceptions become absorbed into our minds and hearts by doing one simple and disastrous thing: when confronted with a truth, or a prompting to be true, we resist it. Resistance to the spirit of truth is the heartbeat of this fallen nature. We are all here to both experience self-deception and come out of it.
If we resist the truth, in any form, it will then become hidden from us, and we will accept a lie as truth. And our reality and perceptions will thus become distorted.
We tell ourselves lies, and they can become so engrained in us that we most likely don’t see them, they are largely unknown to us, unless we begin the process of committing to yielding to every prompting of the spirit of truth. This brings us out. This process of yielding pull will reveal to us, over time, all of the lies that we have adopted as part of our identity.
This is the process of redemption – coming out of self-deception.
Everyone, except the holy, have self-identities that are saturated in self-deception. (We also have to be careful of who we call “holy”. Often we believe those that are holy are the ones that share the same deceptions we carry.)
Families carry their own deceptions.
Neighborhoods, wards, communities carry their own self-deceptions.
Political parties, social movements, entire countries can be organized and connected by virtue of their collective self-deceptions.
And so do religions, including our own.
Any identity, including our own, that isn’t transparent in Christ, and has his likeness, is one that carries, as the fundamental heartbeat of its identity, self-deception.
How do we know a person who is free of deception? First, that person will not be a participant in your own narrative. They won’t need it. They will see you for who you are. They will love you freely and won’t be taken in by falsehood. You may love this person for it. And also, it may be offensive. They, by their very nature, will invite you to discard your self-deceptions and be free with them. Christ is the great example of someone completely free of self-deception. And he has his associates.
CS Lewis refers to this when he wrote:
“How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing…it is irresistible. If even 10% of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year’s end?”
How do we know if our church is free from self-deception? A church free of self-deception is what we call Zion.
It will have no poor among them. None. No matter where they are in the world (Moses 7:18).
There will be no class systems. None. They won’t be promoted based on social and professional status (4 Nephi 1:17).
They will not adorn themselves with fashion and stylish clothing ( 1 Nephi 13:8).
They are not proud because of their wealth (4 Nephi 1:43).
They will not adorn their buildings while the poor are hungry (Mormon 8:37).
They will not have passion for business and all manner of commerce (4 Nephi 1:26).
They will not administer that which is sacred to the unworthy (4 Nephi 1: 27).
They will elevate themselves above those that they believe are unworthy because they think they are better (Alma 38:14).
But how can we have a church free of self-deception if we are not ourselves free from our own self-deceived identities?
The church is not the problem.
We are the problem.
I am the problem.
Until I confront Christ completely and without reservation I will persist in my self-deceived state.
And if I become divested of that state, I can then, with my spouse, sanctify my marriage so it is also becomes free of self-deception.
Then I can work on my family. We can become a family of Christ.
And then it flows to my ward and community.
I believe this is how Melchizedek redeemed Salem.
The prophet is not going to stand up one day and say, “Ok, it’s time to be Zion.” We won’t suddenly get a green light and then step into a Zion state. We either desire it now, or we desire our own wicked self-images and telestial comforts.
That invitation was given almost 200 years ago. It is still available.
A false prophet will teach you that you already are Zion.
A true prophet will always declare to you and invite you out of your self-deception.
Joseph Smith prophesied in his day about the future self-deceived Latter-Day Saints:
“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall” (D&C 1:16).
We are either Zion or we are not. If we don’t choose it our of our own free will and choice, sanctifying ourselves by confronting Christ, it will be sifted out of us.
But we can come to him straightforwardly and without reservation. We can ask with unshaken faith to have him reveal both our true self to us and our deceived self. He will lead us through it. He will be both gentle and abrupt. And he will do it in the perfect way for you.
Christ is the only way we can be freed from our deceptions. Yielding to His spirit of truth, and through his revelation can all things be made known to us.
And we can experience the supernal blessing of becoming the truth ourselves.