The Truth About Lying
Lying is common. From day-to-day dealings in schools, in businesses, on sports fields, in courtrooms, even in the highest offices in governments, it has become accepted. Lying is tolerated by most; some even admire it as a “talent.” Underhanded dealings and “white lies” are considered the norm—from advertisements that mislead to politicians who make promises they know they cannot keep.
How about you? Do you believe it’s OK to lie once in a while or tell a half-truth if the situation calls for it? Do you agree that deceiving or misleading people isn’t really all that bad?
The articles we publish in this magazine are always based on truth—not lies. The main theme running through every article is truth, and truth must be based on God’s Word, the Holy Bible (John 17:17).
Let’s examine the truth about lying. Grab your Bible and read each scripture or passage we refer to. You might even want to have a pen and some notebook paper, and then write out the verses that answer each question. By doing so, you will more effectively learn and remember the important principles regarding this subject.
Does God Lie?
1. What are some of God’s characteristics and qualities? Deuteronomy 32:4; Revelation 15:3. What is one thing God will never do under any circumstance? Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18.
God is a God of truth. He will never lie. It is impossible simply because God has set His will never to lie. Think for a moment about what this means for you. You can always trust what God says. When He makes a promise, you can have absolute confidence that He will keep it.
The Bible is full of promises—all of them as rock-solid as God Himself. That is why we can stake our lives on God’s Word! When God says He’ll do something, it is as good as done. There is nobody else so perfectly reliable and truthful—but imagine how much more we would be able to trust people if everyone strove to live up to God’s own example!
2. Did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, always tell the truth? Matthew 22:16.
Jesus Christ, before coming to Earth in human form, was known as the “Word,” or Spokesman, of the God Family (John 1:1-3, 14). Therefore, while He was on Earth, He exemplified the sterling character—and truthfulness—of His Father.
God’s Law on Lying
1. How did Jesus, the Word of God, define truth? John 17:17.
The Bible is God’s Word in written form. It is truth. It is inspired by God and reveals the way of life lived by God—the way that produces the peace, happiness and overflowing joy that God and Christ have enjoyed for eternity!
2. How did the psalmist, under God’s inspiration, define truth? Psalm 119:142, 151.
God explains His perfect, happy lifestyle in His spiritual law, which He broke down into 10 basic principles in the Ten Commandments. Consider it: Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:16); it also says that keeping God’s law is love (Romans 13:10; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). In other words, keeping God’s law makes us more like God! Keeping the commandments shows us how to love God as well as those around us. It develops His perfect, godly character in us.
3. Did Christ teach that all people should obey the commandments of God? Matthew 19:17-19. Did He obey them Himself? John 15:10.
4. What is the Ninth Commandment? Exodus 20:16.
Bearing “false witness” essentially means lying. One whole commandment of 10 directs us to make sure that what we say is true!
5. How does God feel about lying? Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 12:22.
Notice: Of seven things named in that Proverbs 6 passage, two refer directly to lying. The word “abomination” means that God looks on lying with disgust and hatred. Misleading someone by using falsehood or through misrepresentation is exactly the opposite of God’s character.
6. What did the Apostle Paul teach concerning lying? Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9.
7. What about little “white lies” or “half-truths”? Are those acceptable to God? Read Acts 5:1-5. Didn’t Ananias and his wife tell part of the truth?
Acts 5:5 shows how God views “white lies.” Misleading and deceiving others by intentionally telling only part of the truth violates the true intent of the Ninth Commandment.
8. Often, there is a temptation to mislead others. Though it may seem successful at first, what do these lies become to those who speak them? Proverbs 20:17.
The Father of Lies
Why is the world so full of lies? Why is it so easy for people to abuse each other by using lies and misrepresentation to get their own way? Let’s look at the origins of lying.
1. What was the first recorded lie? Genesis 3:1-5, especially verse 4. Who was this serpent? Revelation 12:9. Did Christ call him the “father” of lies? John 8:44.
Satan the devil is the father of lies. The Revised Standard Version translates John 8:44 this way: “[Satan] has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature ….” Lying is at the core of Satan’s very being! He is a liar through and through.
2. What has the father of lies managed to accomplish through his devious practices? Revelation 12:9.
According to the Bible, Satan has deceived the entire world. People’s minds are blinded to God’s truth, and they don’t even realize it. In fact, most people refuse to believe that the devil actually exists—let alone the fact that he has an invisible, yet powerful sway over humanity. The devil has deceived them into completely ignoring his presence. Of course, that only makes them easier to deceive further.
3. As a result, has all mankind broken God’s commandments, including the Ninth? Romans 3:12-13, 23.
From the Garden of Eden until now, the devil has worked fiercely to deceive mankind about the truth of God. Satan hates God’s truth. Day in and day out, he labors to make men think that what God says in His Word is a lie. The greatest lie of all is that Satan is God—and that God is a liar! Because of Satan, this world is full of lies.
Fruits of Lying
1. Does lying have any benefits? Proverbs 12:19; 21:6; 26:28.
You can gather from these scriptures, and as you can see in the world around you, that sometimes liars do prosper—for a while. People may get a more glamorous job, or get wealth for themselves in an underhanded manner. But in every case, such “benefits” prove to be illusory and temporary. Not only must liars then watch their backs for the dangerous boomerang effect—for example, if their lies are found out, or the people they took advantage of take revenge—but they pay the price in discontent, unhappiness and guilt. Lying might seem convenient at the moment, but in the long run, it will always work ruin for the liar.
2. What happens to the trust between individuals when it is violated by lies? Jeremiah 9:3-6. How is God affected when He sees these results? Verse 1.
Verse 4 in the New International Version reads, “Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.” How does it make you feel when one of your brothers or friends lies to you? It isn’t too difficult to see the damaging effects of lies.
3. What did King David say God would do to liars? Psalm 63:11. Will liars be allowed into God’s coming Kingdom? Revelation 21:8. Will people who lie be able to dwell in God’s presence? Revelation 21:27; 22:14.
4. What are the benefits of always speaking the truth? Proverbs 3:3-4. How will those in authority regard you if you tell the truth? Proverbs 22:11. Will you be given the chance to be a part of God’s eternal Kingdom? Psalm 15:1-2; Proverbs 12:19.
Don’t be fooled about lying. Just because others lie habitually doesn’t mean that it is right. God delights in truth, not lies (Proverbs 12:22). Only those who tell the truth will receive lasting blessings. Others may lie and feel they are getting away with it for a short while, but they are paying for it in many ways, and unless they change and commit themselves to being truthful, they will have no future with God. Telling the truth gives you peace of mind, improves your reputation with others, and gains God’s approval as well.
Work to become a person who always keeps his word and never lies. Jesus had this sort of character—even while He lived as a human being, just like you and me. He lived a life of truth in the middle of a world of lies. His example will forever stand. Think about how precious it is to have a God who always speaks the truth! You can stake your very life on His words of truth!