This is a habit that both Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff address in their writings about spiritual transformation. These two men agree that young children are close to God because they start life out in innocence.
But as they get older (by about five years old) they pick up a truly nasty habit from those around them, including from their parents and teachers.
As children grow up they learn from others how to divide their minds for the sake of pretense. One simply can learn to do what is expected of them by merely manipulating their lips and physical muscles to say and act in ways that are most acceptable to the society they are brought up in.
Meanwhile, they can hide their true intentions from the world (like everybody around them does). This split in one’s consciousness was originally a gift from the Lord God to help people learn about things that can challenge their self-centered hearts. The human intellect must be able to act separately from the faulty human heart in order to accomplish this. After gaining “higher” knowledge (God’s precepts) through the intellect, this knowledge can then serve to influence one’s heart and build a new conscience.
But instead, we learn to use this split psycho-spiritual gift to feign noble manifestations in the world. Even a bigger problem is that through habit this dissimulation and pretense becomes second nature—to the point that we no longer notice it. (That is the real insidious nature of the human condition.) We can even attend church services and form beneficial affiliations with this second nature fully intact and fully protected.
It is this human predicament that the Lord God is most concerned about and makes many attempts to reach us each personally and convince us that we are living in “fantasy” and are “asleep at the wheel.” When Jesus was in the world he challenged everyone personally to explore their own heart and mind.
Removing the negative traits that we discover through sincere self-examination, and that we have kept hidden from others (and from ourselves), is the only way to return to a state of innocence.
The difference between the good actions of the damned and that of the angels is innocence. Otherwise, even good actions can be controlled by hidden agendas.