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The Truth About Lying

September 2013
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lyingLying . . . it’s everywhere. Not only do we lie to loved ones, bosses, coworkers, business associates, friends, customers, and “fill in the blank,” . . . we even lie to ourselves. And, “not only is lying fairly common, but for the most part, people are good at it. [For example] most of the lies people tell to their romantic partners never get discovered. In fact, the odds of getting caught in a lie are very low. It is estimated that people get away with almost all of the lies they tell (well over 95%)” (quote source here).

“We are a culture of liars, to put it bluntly, with deceit so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we hardly even notice we’re engaging in it. Spam e-mail, deceptive advertising, the everyday pleasantries we don’t really mean . . . . [and] liars get what they want. They avoid punishment, and they win others’ affection. Liars make themselves sound smart and savvy, they attain power over those of us who believe them, and they often use their lies to rise up in the professional world. Many liars have fun doing it. And many more take pride in getting away with it” (quote source here). And it’s not just about us and “them” (the liars). We all fit into that category as every last one of us tells lies–whether big or small or white or whatever color we want to make them.

When was the last time we took the following verses found in Proverbs (in the Old Testament) seriously? The verses I’m referring to are found in Proverbs 6:16-19:

“There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
–haughty eyes,
–a lying tongue,
–hands that shed innocent blood,
–a heart that devises wicked schemes,
–feet that are quick to rush into evil,
–a false witness who pours out lies
–and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

While lying comes in at #2 on that list, it is also implied as a part of several of the others listed, and God hates them all. And we don’t. And therein lies (no pun intended) the problem.

And just so that we are all on the same page, give a really good definition of “lie” which states:

A lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally. A barefaced (or bald-faced) lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. A Big Lie is a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major which will likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. To bluff is to pretend to have a capability or intention one does not actually possess. Bullshit is often used to make the audience believe that one knows far more about the topic by feigning total certainty or making probable predictions. An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree (quote source here).

inconvenient truth-reassuring lieI think we all pretty much know what lying is since we all do it so well when we feel the need to lie about something. “Stretching the truth” or telling a half truth (and gossip is full of half truths or outright lies) may make it sound more palpable (really???), but a lie is a lie, folks, even on Sunday morning in church.

In a devotion in Open Windows,” published by LifeWay titled, “Real Neighbors Speak Truth,” Jenna Fleming, pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader, Union Avenue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, hits on this topic right where it hurts. She writes the following (Note: devotional passage reference is Ephesians 4:23-25 and she starts by quoting verse 25):

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” ~Ephesians 4:25 (KJV)

Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” tells of a shepherd boy who deceives villagers into thinking that a wolf is attacking the flock. Time after time, the boy cries “wolf” in an attempt to deceive the villagers. When a wolf does arrive, the villagers do not believe the boy’s cries for help, and the flock is destroyed. If the boy had spoken the truth all along, perhaps the villagers would have believed him and the flock could have been saved.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul told Christians to put away lying. In other words, he said, “Get rid of it! That was your old self.” He spoke of the church as a community, belonging not only to God, but also to one another. When they lied, they sinned against God and were guilty of sinning against the community.

Our lives are to be marked by being completely truthful in our relationships with our neighbors—any other person in general, but especially fellow believers. If we are the least bit deceptive, we must put it away, seek forgiveness, and commit only to speak the truth. You want others to tell you the truth; they want the same from you.

Father, since I have put on the new self, may I be a real neighbor and speak only what is true. I pray that You would help me become a person known as being truthful.

Lying has become so commonplace in our culture–from Madison Avenue, Wall Street, Hollywood, the halls of federal, state, and local governments; in social and all other types of media; in business and education, and right on down to Main Street, USA–that we hardly even think about it when we lie nor do we think about any of the ramifications that may come from it. And yet it is one of the things that God absolutely detests. And for those of us who profess to love God it says a lot about how we really think about God when lying (and that includes gossip) becomes second-nature to us.

In the middle of the 20th Century, A.W. Tozer wrote:

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshipper in this middle period of the twentieth century (quote source here).

Imagine how much farther we have fallen from the time Tozer wrote those words to now in the second decade of the 21st Century. Sin means next to nothing to us anymore, and “a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us” are thriving all around us and in our own lives, including lying to others and ourselves and believing lies being spread by others.

Galatians 6:7-9 clearly states, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

It behooves us to remember that God cannot be mocked, so the next time we think about lying or spreading a half-truth about someone or something . . .

Don’t do it . . .

‘Nough said . . . .

YouTube Video: “Smiling Faces” (1971) by The Undisputed Truth:

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