Lies are a common feature among men. It would not be an overstatement to however say this is more common among young people. Lying is no big deal to them. So spontaneously do they lie that it is like nature taking its course. In some circuits of friendship lying is actually a fashion. The more one lies, the more he or she is considered smart! Seldom does it occur that lying is actually a sin.

But why do we lie?

  1. We lie to hide the truth (of an unpleasant nature). We lie to hide sinful behaviour.
  2. We lie because we do not want people to know what we have done, and so discover who we really are.
  3. We lie to avoid punishment due to the wrong being covered by the lie.

Lying, then, is a sinful attempt to escape from the guilt of misconduct and its consequences.

There is a sad consequence to habitual lying worth warning against here. It sedates conscience and cultures the courage to continue in patterns of sinful behaviour. There is some kind of heroic feeling in successfully evading being caught or found out to have lied that bolsters confidence for repeat acts of disobedience and deceit. Lying is addictive. The manner in which the first lie, in any given situation of life, is dealt with is therefore crucial in determining what moral lifestyle may follow.

What does God think about our big and small lies? You will be surprised just how much God has to say. I will bring out the Lord’s teaching in a typically proverbial form.

  1. God thinks that lying is cheap, useless and harmful

(1)    So worthless is lying that abject poverty is more honourable than it. “A poor man is better than a liar” (Prov. 19:22). “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool” (Prov. 19:1).

(2)    Lies have a very short lifespan. They are soon discovered. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Prov. 12:19). Gehazi (2Kings 5:25-27) would be among the first to painfully say “Amen!” The Gibeonites (Joshua 9) would be next. Sweet is the lie but brief is this sweetness, for the searchlight of truth and the sword of judgement soon overtake it.

(3)    Lies are a product of evil thinking and living. “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil” (Prov. 12:20). “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue” (Prov. 17:4). Live and think right and associate with the right people and you will have less reasons to lie.

(4)    Lying or deceiving is the business of fools. Only fools lie. “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving” (Prov. 14:8 cf. 19:1).

(5)    You hate whoever you lie to. “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Prov. 26:28). Do you lie to your parents, siblings and friends? Then you hate them. You do not care about their feelings and desire for the truth. You mislead and confuse them. You steal from them by robbing them of the truth. You blindfold them into believing a lie and so portray them as fools. Yes, you consider them too stupid to discover the truth. You connive with the grand deceiver, the Old Serpent Satan, to delude them. Is this love? This is hatred! You hate every person you lie to.

(6)    You soon lose the trust and respect of the people you lie to. Even liars don’t trust their kind. “A man who bears false witness against his neighbour is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Prov. 25:18, 19).

(7)    Every liar despises God. “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises him” (Prov. 14:2). When you lie you are mocking or pouring contempt on the fact that God is present everywhere; that God sees and hears everything you do and say. In lying you are effectively saying “I care less!” that God is all this.

  1. God wants you to know that lying has a horrible source

(1)    It is from the heart along with all other similar evils. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

Of such a heart God says it is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Next time you lie, remember that it is coming from the dirtiest, ugliest and worst part of you. This is exactly why you find it offensive when you are cheated, lied to, or lied about.

(2)    There is a more alarming source that actually influences your heart, in case you didn’t know. It is the devil. Lying Ananias was asked, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie?” (Acts 5:3). Do you realise that when you lie you are not alone? You are surrounded and influenced by evil forces. At those moments your heart is not merely influenced, it is actually filled with the devil? Lying must be a terrible evil!

Our Lord was more blunt. Liars are “children” of the devil, he said. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Could the habit of lying be a sign that you are not a child of God but of the devil? This is scary!

Do you notice that the Lord connects lying with murder? Liars are indeed murderers at heart. How? Well, because they hate those they cheat, they stab them with falsehoods, leaving them to bleed to the death of delusion. Those we lie to we do not love, we hate. Hatred is the taproot to murder. “Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1John 3:14b, 15). There is no murderer who was not a liar. I wonder how many times you have murdered members of your family and church by lying to them?

  1. God takes your lies seriously

Lies are not merely told to human beings. They are told to God as well. All lying ultimately is lying to God. Ananias needed to know this very clearly before receiving his awesome punishment. “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? …you have not lied to men but to God” Ananias was reminded (Acts 5:3, 4b). His conniving wife was similarly asked, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (v.9). Does it occur to you that in lying you are actually testing the Lord; you are challenging, daring, or provoking the Lord? How much more serious can a matter be! Yet there is more proof of how seriously God takes this sin. He discourages it in three important ways:

  1. He gives laws in order to define lying as sin and to dissuade us from it

“The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1Tim. 1:10). Among the laws or commands given, not stealing stands out: “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Lev. 19:11).

  1. He criticises and condemns liars

[a]    God finds liars disgusting and hateful. “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight” (Prov. 12:22). “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood” (Prov. 6:16-19). Notice again the link between lying & blood shedding.

[b]    God holds liars responsible for many a conflict. “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28). Are you sure you will not trace the suspicions, misunderstandings, quarrels and conflicts around you to your lies or the lies of others?

  1. He punishes liars

No one will get away with lying. Soon or later God, who knows everything, will expose the truth and act upon the lying.

[a]    He sees to it that liars are exposed to shame soon or later. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Prov. 10:9). “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

[b]    He isolates liars from his presence. “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD” (Psalm101:7, 8). Have you wondered why God seems so far from you, why your prayers are not often answered (Prov. 15:29)? Your lies may have drowned your voice from being heard in heaven. Lies drive us away from God.

[c]    He punishes liars in this or the next life. “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape… and he who breathes out lies will perish” (Prov. 19:5, 9). God destroys liars. “You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Ps. 5:6 compare Jeremiah 9:3-9).

Even God’s people are not spared of punishment for lying. Godly Abraham (Gen. 22:1-16), Isaac (Gen. 26:7-10) and Peter (Mt 26:69-75) were all forced to swallow their vomit of lies by bitter exposure, shameful embarrassment and social rejection. Ananias and his wife Sapphira were not as leniently dealt with. They were struck dead instantly (Acts 5:1-11).

Do you claim to be a Christian and yet you are in the habit of lying? Here is an urgent and crucially important warning. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death… But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:8, 27). “Outside [heaven] are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15).

It is safer, if caught in a web of lies, to question whether you are truly a Christian, rather than risk missing heaven because of the false comfort of some religious experience or profession once-upon-a-time that is compromised or contradicted by the lying lifestyle. The caution is plain: “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Prov. 18:7). Remember, “the righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace” (Prov. 13:5).

  1. God has guidelines on how you can stop lying

(1)    See lying as sinful; an act of rebellion against God. Being a sin, desperately seek forgiveness for it from God. For some this will be forgiveness unto salvation from the sinful state, its slavery and punishment. This comes by grace through faith in Christ. Those who believe Christ died for them will be saved.

For lying believers, the sought forgiveness will be unto restoration to good conscience and living. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn. 1:9). Admitting guilt, even guilt of lying, must be seen as honourable and the proper, or God-ordained, way of repairing your reputation. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity” (Prov. 28:13, 14). “The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honour and life” (Prov. 22:4). “Confess your sins to one another… that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

(2)    Practice speaking the truth always, whatever the consequences. “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). The truth may sometimes mean admitting wrong or guilt. So be it. Always resolve to face the consequences of your omissions or wrong actions rather than hide or defend them by lying.

(3)    Stop trusting in your cleverness and begin to assume that others are not too dim to fail to see through your lies. Liars are described as fools because they think they are cleverer than everyone else. Even though lies are difficult to defend, unlike the truth, liars still convince themselves that they are smart enough to stitch together numerous patches of inconsistencies into a seamless whole: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15). “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). Here is remedial advice: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Prov. 3:7). Remember that God knows it all. Fear him.

(4)    Live an obedient straight life and you will have no reason to lie. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Prov. 10:9). Do not omit any duties, however small. Avoid postponing duties, however non-urgent. Shun all wrong. This is how you stay free of lying.

(5)    Fear God who punished lying on the cross and will punish it in hell, for those whose lies have not been covered by Christ’s atonement. “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil” (Prov. 16:6). “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe” (Prov. 29:25).

(6)    Daily pray that God keeps you from this sin. It is a spiritual battle only to be won by God’s grace and power. Thankfully Christ died for this sin as well, and the Spirit came to purge it, among others. A man once prayed: “two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches” (Prov. 30:7, 8). What a wise man!