Proverbs 6:16-19: “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
Lying is a very common sin to all races and all languages. Webster defines a lie as: “Willfully making false statements with intent to deceive.” Lying is perhaps the most destructive sin of all. When people base their decisions on lies, they make bad choices which end up destroying their lives and the lives of others.
Groucho Marx said, “There is one way to find out if a man is honest – ask him. If he says yes, you know he is crooked.”
David overstated it a little in Psalm 116:11 when he said “I said in my haste, all men are liars.” Still, there may be more lying going on than we think!
Many Christians do not look on lying as the grievous sin that it is. There are Christians, maybe someone here, who wouldn’t consider attending a dirty movie, but they will lie at the drop of a hat in the name of good business.
Have you ever lied? Did your lie destroy someone’s reputation, freedom, possessions, their job, farm, etc. Did your lie lead someone away from the truth? Have you ever been guilty of telling someone, “Yes, I’ll do this and that and such-and-such,” and then never follow through with your promise? Have you ever told someone that you will be at a certain place at a certain time and never show up? Have you ever promised your children (spouse) certain things and never fulfilled your promise to them?
The book “The Day America Told the Truth” says that 91% of those surveyed lie routinely about matters they consider trivial, and 36% lie about important matters; 86% lie regularly to parents, 75% to friends, 73% to siblings, and 69% to spouses.
Most people lie to others once or twice a day and deceive about 30 people per week. People lie in 38% of all their interactions including relatives. 95% of college students will tell at least one lie to a potential employer to win a job, 41% had already done so. More than 75% of college students admit to some cheating.
86% of teens lie to their parents. 100% of dating couples in one survey lied to each other in about a third of their conversations. More than ten million working Americans lie on their tax returns resulting in a 200 billion annual loss to the government. 70% of doctors believe it is ethical to deceive health insurance companies when they submit bills.
The sin of lying contradicts the very character of God. The Bible teaches that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18 – “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie”).
But Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44 – “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”).
So to lie is to choose to be more like Satan instead of God. Almost every time we see the devil in Scripture he’s lying. The first time we see Satan in the Bible he lies about God to man. The next time Satan appears in the Bible is in the book of Job lying about man to God.
“The only reason Job obeys you is because you’re so good to him.” To Adam and Eve he says that God isn’t good enough, now he’s saying that God is too good!
We see Satan again at the crucifixion. This time he put it in the hearts of man to bear false witness against Jesus.
So, from beginning to end, Satan is a liar! So when we lie, we align ourselves with everything that brings death, destruction, doom and damnation to this world.
Don’t take lying lightly. There’s no such thing as a “little white lie.” God is truth, and anything less than truth is wrong, it is sin!
I. Why do people lie
Some lie out of habit, they are chronic liars. Some lie to be polite because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings (I’ll be there Sunday for sure; what a beautiful baby; I’m praying for you). Some lie for convenience or out of laziness – when a phone call comes and you say “Tell them I’m not home.”
Some lie to make themselves look better (Ananias and Sapphira). Some lie to protect themselves from embarrassment or disapproval (Cain). Some lie to protect themselves from conflict or danger. The most common reason is to avoid confrontation or punishment. Some lie to cover their shame (Potiphar’s wife). Advertisers lie to sell their products. Newspapers lie to sell their papers. Politicians lie to get votes. Politicians and lawyers will spin the truth if it serves their purposes.
Some lie to get money (Proverbs 19:22 – “…It is better to be poor than dishonest.” Proverbs 21:6 – “Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap”).
Isaiah 59:3-4: “Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin.”
Occasionally you will find a pathological liar who lies for no good reason. But most people think they have pretty good reasons for lying. Maybe you’ve done something wrong and you want to conceal it at all costs, so you lie about it. Maybe you think that the person you are talking to can’t handle the truth. Sometimes you might lie because telling the truth would take too much time and would be too complicated. Whatever the reasoning, God hates “a lying tongue.”
II. What are the different kinds of lies
False witness – Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness.” The ninth commandment was intended to protect people and their reputations from false accusations in court. In the days before fingerprinting and DNA evidence, the major evidence for a crime had to be provided by witnesses. If the witnesses were not truthful, then an injustice would result.
Exodus 23:1-3: “You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand. “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.”
This means that when you stand in a court of law you had better tell the truth! A false witness can defeat the ends of justice. If a man lies on the witness stand, he may rob another man of his property, his time, or his life.
You may testify falsely in a court of law and pull the wool over the judge’s and jury’s eyes, but you will stand before Almighty God and answer for your lies!
Matthew 15:18-20: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Half-truths – telling part of the truth, but not telling the whole story. This is why in court you swear to not just tell the truth, but “the truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth.”
Abraham told a half-truth about Sarah being his sister (she was his half-sister), but it was a whole lie because they did not live together as brother and sister.
A parent asks their teen where they are going. “To Andy’s house.” That’s true, but they leave out where they’re going from there.
Misstatement of fact – This is a plain “bald-faced lie.” Satan only added one word to God’s statement but completely changed God’s intent (Genesis 3:1-6).
Silence/bodily movement – You can lie or spread falsehood without even opening your mouth by using non-verbal’s gestures that are intended to give a false impression.
Proverbs 6:12-13: “What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars, signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers.”
Slandering – This is lying with the intention of doing harm to another’s reputation. Some sins are worse than others in terms of the damage done. If I steal from you I can return the item. But if I spread lies about you I may not ever be able to undo the far reaching effects. When we slander someone’s reputation we do irreparable damage. And we’ll answer to God for it! “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” Winston Churchill
Proverbs 10:18 – “Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.” Psalm 101:5 – “I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride.”
Gossipping/talebearing – 1 Timothy 5:13 – “And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t.”
Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.”
A gossip loves to tell things, but they don’t care if their facts are correct or not. Next time you’re listening to someone gossip, remember this fact: “Anyone who will gossip TO you, will gossip ABOUT you!” Don’t allow your ears to become someone’s personal trash cans.
You can spread a lie just by silently listening to people say things about another person that you know are not true. Not speaking up and coming to their defense is to bear false witness.
Every church seems to have 4 or 5 people who are always in the know, they have the inside scoop. They come to the preacher and say, “I thought you should know that people are saying…” Who are “people” – who are “they?” Often it’s just a cowardly way of saying what that person wants to say, but putting it off on someone else.
Flattery – insincere and excessive praise, saying something to someone’s face that you would never say behind their back. Proverbs 26:28 – “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.”
To a woman’s face you say, “That’s the prettiest dress I have ever seen!” but behind her back you would say, “I wouldn’t use that dress as a dish towel!” Or to your minister you might say, “Wonderful sermon, preacher.” but in the car on the way home you would say, “That’s the most boring thing I have ever heard.” Now, I know you guys never do that but I’m just using it as an example! “When someone starts buttering you up, remember that they are probably about to have you for lunch!”
Psalms 55:21 – “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.”
The story is told about two brothers who were well-known in their community to be two of the most evil men in the entire county. They were cruel, abusive, and involved in just about every kind of crime from gambling, to drugs, etc. But they had lawyers who were more than capable of twisting the truth to help them avoid prosecution.
One day one of the brothers died. The other brother went to see the minister of the local church to ask him to do the funeral. He said, “I will write your church a check right now for one million dollars. All you have to do is promise to say at the funeral that my brother was a saint.”
Now, he was asking this minister to lie about his brother, to share false compliments and insincere flattery in his funeral message, but the minister accepted the check and agreed anyway. On the day of the funeral, the minister stepped to the pulpit and said:
“This man in the casket before you was one of the cruelest men I have ever known. He was a liar and a thief. He had his filthy hands into just about every kind of crime you can think of, but compared to his brother, He was a saint.”
Other ways that people lie are by twisting words/truth, quotation, excuses, jumping to conclusions, crafty questions, presuming, accusations, making insinuations, inferences, innuendo, surmising, casting suspicion, etc. Regardless of the method, all lying is wrong!
Telling lies is addictive. One lie generally leads to another to cover up the previous lie. Thomas Jefferson said “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual…”
1 Peter 3:10 – “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.”
When we lie we don’t enjoy the life God has given us. We don’t see good days. We become suspicious of other people, wondering if they are truthful with us. We live our days in constant fear that we will be found out and we are usually forced to tell more and more lies to cover our deceitful tracks.
Martin Luther said, “A lie is like a snowball. The longer it is rolled on the ground, the larger it becomes.” And no matter how good we are at “spin,” lies always eventually catch up with us.
Lying destroys character and can become a habit. The more you lie, the more easily you lie. “What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.”
III. How does God feel about lying
Psalm 12:1-2: “Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.”
Psalm 120:2 – “Rescue me, O Lord, from liars and from all deceitful people.”
Proverbs 12:17 – “An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies.”
Proverbs 12:19 – “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.”
Proverbs 12:22 – “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.”
Proverbs 19:5 – “A false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape.”
Proverbs 30:6 – “Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.”
Ephesians 4:25 – “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”
Colossians 3:9 – “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.”
1 Peter 2:1 – “So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.”
Revelation 21:8 – “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:27 – “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
Revelation 22:14-15: “Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
IV. Lying to ourselves
1 John 1:6-8: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 2:4 – “Anyone who says, “I know God,” but does not obey God’s commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
1 John 2:2 – “Who is the liar? It is the person who does not accept Jesus as the Christ. This is the enemy of Christ: the person who does not accept the Father and his Son.”
James 1:22 – “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”
James 1:26 – “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
1 John 4:20 – “If people say, “I love God,” but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars. Those who do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have never seen.”
Right now Satan wants to sell you a lie – don’t fall for it like Adam and Eve. He’ll tell you there’s not a God, no heaven, no hell, or just no hurry. But today you’ve heard the truth which will set you free. Don’t lie to God, to another person, to yourself – confess your sins and be saved!