From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 9 – What is ‘the love of the truth’ and why does truth matter so much to God?
A key feature of our fallen human nature is that we are self-centered. That has a very adverse effect on the way we behave. However, it also affects the way we handle information. It distorts the way we see and hear things and deflects us away from truth. Thus, the average person is particularly likely to be deceived about anything which has any bearing on themselves. In short, they will believe whatever it suits them to believe i.e. whatever promotes their own interests, regardless of whether it is actually true.
These things are not necessarily done consciously. They are usually done by long-established habit. Few people would go so far as to say any of these things out loud. Nevertheless, the average person will rearrange and reconstitute facts within their own minds, so as to be able to:
a) believe the best of themselves
b) see their own actions and motives in the best light
c) see anything favourable to their own interests as obviously true
d) see anything unfavourable to their own interests as obviously untrue
e) see no faults in themselves, but only in others
f) feel automatically entitled to things, without needing any evidence to justify that entitlement
In other words, most of us find it very easy to believe whatever we want to believe and to ignore or reject anything which we do not want to believe. In doing this, in either direction, there is no honest or rigorous examination of facts or evidence. It is all done instantly and automatically, without the need to analyse anything at all, and irrespective of whether those things are actually true or not.
In my experience that is pretty much the default-setting of the average person. It is rare for anyone, even in churches, to be different from the above. Therefore, if we are to grow as a disciple we have got to get to grips with this self-centered and self-biased way in which most of us have learned to think. We need to cross examine and challenge ourselves and expose our selfish assumptions whenever they arise. We need to be ruthlessly frank with ourselves and believe things solely because they are true, regardless of whether it suits, or does not suit, our purposes for it to be true.