“Yes it is.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes it is, I promise. I know, because I’m in school.”
“Son, Mount Rushmore is not in Russia.”
That was a real conversation I had with my mom, and I was the “yes man” above. You see, I had a lying problem when I was young. Not just a little white lie here and there, but a massive lying problem. I lied about relationships, money, what I did and didn’t do. It even got to the point where I tried to convince someone that the sun was really purple, but our eyes were playing tricks on us.
It was bad, really bad. Lying is absolutely one of the greatest struggles I’ve had in my life. Lying defined me, and the residue those habits have left has been hard to remove.
I wasn’t the first to lie in this world, and I won’t be the last. Lying isn’t new; it’s very old. It started even before the beginning of the world.
The First Liar
In fact, when you look within the pages of the Bible, you see that even the supernatural struggled with telling the truth. Before his fall, one of the great angels believed a lie about himself that wasn’t true: Satan actually believed that he could become like God. That was a terrible, false idea, and his idea got him kicked out of heaven. He became the father of lies and actually used false testimony, or lying, to deceive the first man and woman.
After creation, God said it was very good that he created man and woman. They existed in perfect relationship with him. God gave them tremendous freedoms and only one restriction. What was the restriction? God said there was one place they couldn’t go in the garden, and one tree they couldn’t eat fruit from. It was here where Satan leveraged his opportunity.
God was clear: Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—don’t even touch it—lest you die. But Satan took what was clear and blurred the truth. Genesis 3:4 says, “But the serpent said to the women, ‘You will surely not die.’” It was as if he said, “Did God really say that? God’s holding out on you. You’re not going to die! He knows that if you do it, you will see the real truth, and you will have fresh eyes to see this world for what it is.”
That sneaky serpent deceived Eve, she took, she ate, and everything fell apart. Sin and death for mankind entered this world because of the decisions Adam and Eve made. The lineage of man was forever changed in that moment—all because they couldn’t hold onto the truth that God had given them. Instead, they believed a lie.
Our Struggle with Lying
When I read these early accounts, I wish I could read them as ancient history that was course-corrected by the men of the future. Unfortunately, I have seen the struggles of history to be struggles of my own life.
Lying is such a deep struggle for me because I don’t like to disappoint people:
- If I don’t have an answer for someone, I’m going to disappoint them; so I lie about the answer, wanting them to think highly of me.
- If I have already missed someone’s expectations, but can somehow get back to meeting their expectations with a lie, I do, so as not to disappoint them.
- If I think a person will not like the answer I give to their question, a lie will help me avoid a truthful response.
Bearing false witness is a real struggle that perhaps you have also experienced. Yet, the good news about false testimony is that it doesn’t have to be a struggle that defines us.
Put Away Lying
God doesn’t lie. Many places in the Bible tell us that. Titus 1:2 speaks of the God “who never lies.” It’s not possible for him because it’s not in his nature. He is truth. And he wants his creation to be marked by truth as well. Specifically, when God gave the people the commandments they were to live by in Exodus, truthfulness was included in them. Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Social order depends on truth. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on truth. If you don’t have truth, you won’t have trust. If you don’t have trust, you will never have true fellowship. God knew what he was doing when he set up the directive for being honest. He wanted his people to be guided by truth, to reflect himself. Honesty has always been the best policy for God’s people because God is always honest. He has always desired for his people to be truth-bearing and truth-telling.
My favorite passage about truth-telling comes in Ephesians 4:25:
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
Paul is writing to Ephesians about their identity in Christ. Because of salvation that came by grace through faith, the Ephesian Christians were instructed to see their lying as a part of their old self that died when Christ invaded their life. Lying was like old, dirty-smelling gym clothes that they had cast off, and he was encouraging them not to put those back on.
They were new creations in Jesus, and they needed to put on the new clothes—clothes of truth-telling— that they were given in Christ and by the power of his Spirit. This was important for them because the fellowship that they had with each other was at stake, as was God’s name and honor displayed through their fellowship.
The same is true for Christians today. More than ever, we as Christians need to create true community which is built on trust that is built on truth. Lying will always fracture this foundation. It is time we repented against untruth and renewed our minds in what God’s Word says about our truthful God, his fellowship-restoring gospel, and his commands for us to walk in truth. We also need to seek to rebuild the relationships we have with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that have been broken by the sin of falsehood.
My encouragement for you today is to not let the struggle of false testimony define you and destroy your relationships. Jesus has made the way for truthful living, and he has given us the power to overcome the struggle by clinging to the Source of all truth: God himself through his truth-giving Word.
Do you need to repent of lies today, or seek to restore a relationship broken by lies?
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