When I was confronted with this direct, yet simple, question I had to think deeply. What is it about being accused of lying that unsettles us so much? Surely we all tell lies? I can’t beleive that there is a person I know who hasn’t told a lie and if that is so, how can a lie be as bad as adultery and murder?
The ninth commandment is:-
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”Exodus 20:16
The fact is lying is a sin, it’s part of God’s Moral Law and we shouldn’t tell lies.
The reason we feel uncomfortable when someone asks us if we tell lies, is that we are convicted of sin. Our conscience will quickly remind us that lying is a sin and we feel convicted, as we should. The problem is that when we continue to lie, when lying becomes a habit, we start to ignore our conscience and we start to accept lying as a part of life. Then we can start talking about ‘white lies’and ‘fibs’ and we can start to rank our sins according to our own standards. As we know, when we set our own standards things can fall apart quite easily.
And that brings us back to keeping the Law. When we see God’s Law for what it is; the standard that God has set, the standard that will not change, the standard that we cannot change, we start to realise how often we lie, how often we sin and how desperately we need help.
We must lie to survive socially!
The dictionary defines a lie as “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.”
I read a secular article on lying and one contributor wrote this:-
“My circle of friends includes people I’ve met recently, and people I’ve known for more than a decade. Within my circle, I have different groups of friends (this always pleasantly surprises me, that I am able to juggle so many people) and within these groups, there are different personalities and dynamics. When I sit and think about how I do this, I think it’s all my white lies.“
The same contributor goes on to say:-
“On paper, all this might make me sound like I’m some kind of altruistic being but I just turned 30, is it time to think about myself and put myself first. Am I not living my truest, authentic self because I have to lie to my friends? And should I not accept that a white lie is just in the end, harmless and trivial?“
This is really a picture of the world and how we see lying through the lens of the secular world. We tell lies so that people feelings don’t get hurt. We revert to being ‘nice’ rather than telling the truth. I wonder what the outcome would be if we decided that we would not tell ‘white lies’. Would we lose friends and become unpopular? You be the judge, for me I would rather go back to God’s Moral Law and regard that as the line not to be crossed.
God didn’t say “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor unless…”
There are times that we may have to use our discretion but we must be convicted by the Holy Spirit. There may be times that Christians do lie and those would be extreme cases where we are protecting lives, not simply telling people what we think they want to hear.
What does God say?
What stood out the most for me as I thought about lying, as I read the various articles that I found on lying is that whether we accept it or not, God has placed His Moral Law on our hearts.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)Romans 2:15 (KJV)
Every person, Christian or not, has the law written on their hearts and whether they have come to Faith in Jesus Christ or not, their conscience will convict them when they lie. That conviction may be dulled through repeated offence but when we prick the conscience and point out lies, or simply ask people if they lie, the conscience awakens and starts to convict them. This is the reason for the millions of articles written about this simple little thing that becomes a part of our lives, the lie.
It is also the reason that we must, with urgency and compassion, remind the world that lying is not ‘harmless or trivial’ and that we will face the consequences of our lies, we will face Judgement.
Often people will excuse lying by reminding me that they don’t murder or commit adultery – this highlights the human tendency to believing that God will rate us all from good to bad and that the line between Heaven or hell is somewhere in-between (and we can all make it into the middle).
But as James reminds us:-
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.James 2:10 (KJV)
We must see lying in this context. It is a sin. It is against Gods Moral Law. When we lie we are sinning. We must repent, turn from our sinful ways, have a Godly sorrow, and put our faith in Jesus Christ. When we profess to be Christians we do not allow grace to become the license for sin (Romans 6 v1-2), our consciences, the voice of the Holy Spirit will convict us and we must learn to listen closely to that gentle encouragement each time we hear it. We must stop lying.
So let me encourage you. Stop lying, completely. When your friend asks if you can help them out on Saturday morning and you really don’t feel like it because you need the rest, just tell them that you can’t because you need the rest. If you can’t tell them the truth, go and help them. But don’t tell them you can’t help because you are just too busy. That would be a lie.
If your friend asks if they look good and you don’t think they do, don’t just say ‘Yes’, think carefully about a gentle response. Maybe something they are wearing is inappropriate or maybe their make-up can be fixed – whatever the case may be, don’t simply lie to avoid offense. When you do that it becomes a habit and you will find yourself on a slow, downward spiral. That one ‘white lie’ is the foot in the door that the devil wants to have and soon he will force the door open and you will be telling lies all the time. Just tell the truth and be encouraging, loving and compassionate when you do.
This is what God wants from us. The Truth, whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.
You can do this.
Be blessed as you seek the Truth.