Truth and Lying
Have you ever been deceptive or told a lie?
Do you always tell the truth?
Honesty and dishonesty. Truth and lying. How do we look upon this virtue and vice? Is lying only a “little sin” without consequence? After all, everyone does it! Surely it is not bad enough to merit eternal punishmentis it? Is this what you have been told or led to believe?
Consider a few scenarios. The little boy looked around and, when his mother was not watching, he took a cookie out of the jar. Later his mother asked, “Johnny, did you eat any cookies?” The boy answered, “No, Mother!”
The phone rang and the secretary answered. The voice asked, “Is Bob in today?” She replied, “Im sorry, but Bob left early today. Please call back again!” She was only following the orders of Bob, her boss, to tell all incoming callers that he was gone, although he really was in his office.
The husband handed his wife the income tax report and explained, “Honey, weve had a hard time lately and I had to cheat on our report this year. Just sign it and well send it in!”
Sue walked up to Sally and asked, “Sally, what do you think of my new hairdo? Great, isnt it!” Sally was nearly repulsed by the bizarre hairstyle before her but replied, “Wonderful! I really like it!”
Tom was living a double-life. He was having a secret affair with a woman at work but continued to allow his friends and family to think he was a chaste and faithful man. This required dishonesty in life as well as word.
The Popular Sin in the World
The sin of lying seems to be on every hand. We find that it is common in everyday personal speech as well as in politics, in education, in business, in the military, on television and radio, and in the newspaper,. People lie to get out of difficult circumstances, to pass the blame on someone else, to gain an advantage over another person, to make a sale, and to make friends and family feel good. We can see why Paul could say, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Indeed, most people have told lies in their life and some have made it an habitual practice. It is safe to say that all have been dishonest in some way.
How should we look on this matter of lying? Is it just a minor flaw of character, an acceptable escape from a hard situation, and a “problem” that we should accept as part of life? To answer this question, we must examine the opposite of lying and falsehoodwe must look at the subject of truth. Only when we understand truth can we understand lying. Only when we have the basis of truth can we understand its counterfeitlying.
God is a God of Truth
The Scriptures refer to God as “Him who is true” (1 John 5:20). Paul adds, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Rom. 3:4; Num. 23:19). Truth is the very character of Almighty God. He is not only “the true God” (1 Thess. 1:9) but truth is His very nature. Just as He is personally holy (1 Peter 1:16), light (1 John 1:5), and love (1 John 4:8), so God is a true God. The Bible says God is so true that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). Because God is a God of absolute truth, we can depend on Him to always stand for truth and always oppose untruth.
The Bible also says that Jesus is “true” and that “truth is in Jesus” (Rev. 3:7; Eph. 4:21). Jesus declared, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6). Thats rightthe Lord Jesus is the personification of truth! Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26; 16:13). This Spirit of truth has inspired the Scriptures as the source of saving truth. Jesus, in prayer to the Father, said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The psalmist also said, “The sum of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160; cf. v. 152). The gospel of Christ is called “the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13) and the way of Christ is called “the way of truth” (2 Peter 2:2).
We can see that God is truth, Christ Jesus is truth, the Holy Spirit is truth, and Gods means of communication to usthe Bibleis the truth! God asks and even requires that we be like Him in His holy character. Paul says that we are to be “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). We are to walk as Jesus walked, and walk in His steps of love, holiness, and truth (1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21). When we come to Christ for salvation, we put off the old person that is characterized by deceit and dishonesty and put on the new person “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). We are to be truthful just as God our Father is truthful, just as Jesus our Savior is truthful, and just as the Holy Spirit who indwells us is truthful!
Lying is of the Devil
Not only is truth and truth-telling of God, but the opposite is this: Falsehood is of Satan! Lying is of the Devil! In the very beginning of the world, the Devil “deceived Eve by his craftiness” (2 Cor. 11:3; cf. 1 Tim. 2:14; Gen. 3:1-6). The Bible even says that Satan “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). The Lord Jesus tells us something about the nature and character of Satan our spiritual enemy: “[Satan] does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This means that just as Gods nature is truth, so Satans nature is falsehood. There is no truth in Satan! He is a “liar” and also “the father of lies”!
When someone lies, he or she is following Satan, the originator and motivator of lying! He is acting like Satan, the enemy of God! When Ananias lied to Peter, the apostle asked, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit. . . ?” (Acts 5:3). God Himself immediately killed this liar to show how serious his sin was (vv. 5-6). A liar is following Satan, the one who originated lying!
God Hates Lying and Will Condemn Liars
The Bible says that God “hates” certain things that are an “abomination” to Him. Among these are “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who utters lies” (Prov. 6:16-19). We also read, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight” (Prov. 12:22). How does anyone dare to do what God hates and what He says is an abomination to Him?
Many people take lying very casually. They dont consider it a sin or at least dont consider it a “major” sinbut God says otherwise. Jesus tells us that “deceit” is something that “defiles” a person (Mark 7:21-23). Those who practice “deceit” are “worthy of death” (Rom. 1:29, 32), and “the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice” this sin and all other sins (2:1-2). God considers the sin of lying (whether spoken or written) to be very serious: “He who speaks lies is treacherous” (Prov. 14:25b).
God even declares that those who speak lies and are deceitful will suffer a dreadful destiny! They will not enter His eternal presence in the Holy City, on the wonderful new earth, but will be sent to hell (Rev. 21:1-7). Revelation 21:8 speaks of “all liars” and then says that “their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” How many liars? God says that “all” liars will be sent to this horrible place and suffer this horrible destiny! This shows that we must not joke about lying or take it casually. If you tell lies or are dishonest and do not repent, you must be eternally separated from God and be sent to hell.
The Bible also says that “no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into” the heavenly city of God (Rev. 21:27). “Outside” the city of God will be “everyone who loves and practices lying” (Rev. 22:15). Can you now see how serious lying is to a truthful God? Your lies will keep you from the beautiful city of God and from the Paradise of God (cf. Rev. 21:1-7; 2:7)! Your lies will condemn you to eternal punishment and eternal fire (Matt. 12:34-37; 5:29-30; 25:41, 46)! Your lies will keep you out of the Kingdom of Godunless you repent!
Forms of Lying and Deceit
Some people think that they can safely tell a lie occasionally as long as they dont do it every day. But how many people does one need to kill to become a murderer? How many banks does one need to rob to become a bank robber? Then, how many lies does one need to tell to become a liar? God says that we must not even tell one lie! We must always tell the truth! Therefore, the psalm writer prayed, “Remove the false way from me” (Psalm 119:29a). What are some of the forms of lying?
- Intentional lying. This would be a lie that one tells with the time to plan this sin of deceit (Acts 5:1-11; Gen. 27:5-29).
- “White” lies. Some use this term and justify themselves by saying that it is fine to lie if it is a “small” lie or if we lie to help someone. However, the Bible says that all lies are sinful and makes no distinction (Rev. 21:8).
- Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is “play acting,” acting in a religious way when we are not true and sincere inside. It is presenting yourself as religious, worthy, good, and honest to others when you know that it is a pretense and false (Matt. 22:18).
- Doctrinal liars or false teachers. These liars present false doctrines that lead people away from the true teaching of God found in Scripture (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 John 2:22; 2 Cor. 11:14-15; Matt. 24:4-5, 11, 24).
- Half lies and half truth. In order to keep from discovery, one may tell a partial truth, which amounts to a lie (Gen. 12:11-20).
- Deception. One can deceive another person without speaking a lie with the mouth but acting in a certain way to deceive or mislead (1 Sam. 21:13-15).
- Bold-faced lying. Sometimes a person may lie directly and openly but without pre-planning (Matt. 26:69-75).
- False witnessing. This is telling a lie in a more formal situation, to either justify or condemn another, or to declare ones own guilt or innocence (Exod. 20:16; Prov. 14:5).
- Exaggeration. This kind of lying occurs when one “stretches the truth” in telling a story, recounting a personal experience, or telling of ones observations.
Examples of Lying and Deception
It may be helpful for us to ask a few questions to challenge our conscience about lying. After all, Scripture says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). After this statement, we read, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways” (v. 10). God looks at your heart. What does He see? Does He see honesty and integrity? Does He see lying and deception? Answer these questions:
- Do you always give back money when a cashier undercharges you?
- Are you willing to obey whatever God commands you in His Word, or do you dishonestly avoid facing His will?
- Are you absolutely honest in any reports you must make?
- Are you willing to honestly confess your faults to your spouse, your parents, and your friends?
- Are you honest on the job even when this will cost you financially or bring your employers disfavor?
- Do you lie about God by holding to a false religion, or lie about His creation by holding to unsupported evolutionary theories, or lie about Gods word by endorsing any false teachings?
- Do you financially support a pastor, teacher, televangelist, or preacher who does not proclaim the full truth of God?
- Do you tell so-called “white lies” to make someone feel good or to escape a difficult situation?
- Do you “stretch the truth” in describing sports events?
- When you tell someone that you will do something, do you always truthfully follow through on your commitment?
- Have you been dishonest about your age, weight, or your accomplishments?
- Have you failed to be absolutely honest in your resume?
- Have you given people the impression that you are more righteous and pure than you really are in secret or when alone?
- Have you described your religious and spiritual experiences, using more imagination than reality?
- Do your friends and associates know that you always tell the truth and always do what you say you will do?
David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). Jesus said that we must give account of “every careless word” in the Judgment, “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). Now is the time to face any lies or dishonesty in your life and come to full repentance. Now is the time to walk in truthfulness and integrity.
Are You a Liar?
Has our discussion convinced you that you are a liar and have unforgiven lies from the past? If you have lied, how can you be forgiven? If you have never come to Christ in the past, the good news is that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for your lies and all of your other sins (1 Peter 3:18). This is the “good news” of salvation from lying and all other sins! Now you need to recognize your need to be forgiven of not only lying but also every other sin you have committed in your life. “The wages of sin is death” and unless you turn from your sin with all of your heart, you will face your lies in the great Judgment of God (Romans 6:23; 2:6). You need to place all of your faith in Jesus, the Son of God, and find your forgiveness in Him. “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
If you have come to Christ in the past but have fallen into the sin of lying, you need to recognize the danger of your condition before a Holy God. Be willing to repent of those lies and confess your sins before God: “If we confess our sins [including lying], He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9; cf. Matt. 6:12). If you have sinned against others by lying about them or to them, be willing to confess this and seek their forgiveness (cf. James 5:16; Luke 17:2-3; 15:18-21).
Live for God as a Truth-Teller
Now is the time to begin to practice the “put off” and “put on” instructions of the Bible. How does this relate to lying? Paul writes, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:9-10; cf. 1 Peter 2:1). In other words, “lay aside” the old self with the sin of lying! Paul elaborates even further: “Laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). You are to be truthful as an individual Christian, but the entire body of Christ is to be a truthful assembly of saints! We are members of one another, thus we are to be truthful with each otherand with all people!
As followers of Christ Jesus, who is the truth, we must come to hate lying and dishonesty. Scripture says, “A righteous man hates falsehood” (Prov. 13:5a). If lying has been a strong sin in your life in the past, seek Gods help to remain truthful. “Keep deception and lies far from me” (Prov. 30:8a). You should be so truthful that your “yes” means yes and your “no” means no (Matt. 5:33-37; James 5:12). You should be honest in thought, word, and deed!
Are you willing to turn away from all deceit and lying? Are you ready to cease living like Satan, the enemy of God? Are you willing to become a truth-teller and walk in absolute honesty as you follow the Lord of truth, worship the God of truth, are guided by the Spirit of truth, and obey the Word of truth? If so, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Truth, will be yours!