What Does the Bible Say About Lying?

I have been talking to two brothers over the past six months about someone we know who tends to tell lies at will. Let’s understand this carefully … everyone, sadly, tends to tell lies at times. It is a sin and it is breaking the Seventh Commandment:

Ex 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

And like any sin violating the Ten Commandments, lying takes the name of the Lord in vain!

Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

When we belong to the Lord Jesus, we ought to be growing in grace and telling fewer and fewer lies because He is truth while the architect of lies is the devil. The reason I say this is because when a person tells lies upon lies, it is possible they are not Christian at all!

Jn 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

One of the brothers was very transparent in our discussion, saying that when he lies, the Holy Spirit immediately convicts him of his sin. He is spot on. Perpetual lying is an indicator that the liar does not belong to Jesus! You have heard the saying: “He/she is economical with the truth”. Used like this, “economical” is an adjective and “economical with the truth” is an idiom, meaning, “not telling the whole truth, especially in order to present a false image of a situation; untruthful; lying”. Often, courts find a person to be a “pathological liar” … also known as “mythomania” and “pseudologia fantastica”. This is described as “a chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason”. And the great sadness is that such a liar believes the lies he or she tells. Some people are experts at “obfuscating” (make obscure, unclear or unintelligible) the truth by being evasive, unclear or obscure in telling the facts. Such ‘experts’ include unscrupulous defense lawyers fighting for their clients, politicians to gain support in an election and teenagers when asked what their plans are for, say, a Friday night.

The most fearful thing is when people who work as Christians workers tell lies … repeatedly. I remember being told by one of these brothers how a certain Christian worker smeared my name and reputation to many other Christian workers in the province. Both the brothers I referred to above know this was nothing less than lying (God knows). The old saying, “Sticks and bones can break my bones but names can never harm me”, is true. On a more serious note, the three of us have been lied to by a Christian worker (me once, one brother a few times and the other far more than 20 times).

One wonders when this happens from Christian workers whether God is their Father or the devil their father? The reason I say this is because a lie or two, sinful as this is, is pardonable, and such might pursue truth more agressively … but the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying is another thing. It is in this context that I speak of being economical with the truth. I wish, but I can’t be explicit about the shape of these lies. Lying takes many shapes … half-truths, ignoring truth, excluding certain points, misrepresenting truth, gossiping, white lies or shading a story … you will be able to add to this list. The reason for lying in any way is to sway the conversation to provide a favourable outcome for yourself. It is extremely sad when this happens in Christian circles … and people tend to get away with their deceit because of whom they are … but do they get away with it? As the wheel turns, so will our sin be exposed! Although the immediate context in the following passage is different, the Bible is clear:

Nu 32:23 … “You will be sinning against the LORD and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

When we seem not to get justice, we know that God will!

Within the vibrancy of the New Testament Church in Acts 5, we read of whom lies are levelled against:

Ac 5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Any and every shape of lie is against God in the first instant. This ought to put holy fear within each Christian to seek as far as possible to maintain integrity and refrain for telling lies. Consider these Scriptures:

Pr 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

1 Pet 3:10 For,

“Whoever would love life and see good days

must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Dear God, forgive me for every lie I have ever told. Help me to hold to the truth even when it is for my immediate disadvantage. You are truth, I am in You … saturate me with truth so that I cherish Your truth. Amen.

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