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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Christians & Lying

As a young boy I started doing it without even realizing I was doing it. I guess I did it because I thought it would help me “stay out of trouble.” I would do something wrong, get caught and realize that a spanking was imminent. So I would lie. I didn’t break the lamp. I didn’t eat the cookie. I didn’t steal the toy. I didn’t write on the wall.

I remember as a father myself, noticing one day that my two-year old son was lying. How did he know to do that? My goodness, he wasn’t even old enough to have talked about the concept with anyone! I’d learned at church that we are all born with a sin nature. Frankly seeing my toddler lie for the very first time was a stunning confirmation of that Biblical truth!

As I grew through the years, I don’t guess my lying habit got much better. If anything, it just got more sophisticated. I learned to lie to get what I wanted. I lied to impress people. I lied because I wanted people to like me … and figured the lie was better than the truth. In some respects, the lies I told began to be defense tactics. I didn’t like who I was and assumed everyone else would feel the same way. So I tried to pretend I was someone I wasn’t. By the time I grew to adulthood, it had gotten so that I could hardly tell the lies from the truth. Did I believe my own lies?

Relationships are difficult to sustain with lies. Let me tell you. I vividly remember my mother exclaiming that she could handle just about anything, but emphatically stating that she hated liars. I would hear her words, “I hate liars!” And I would sulk off to my room --- knowing full well that I was a liar --- and concluding then that my mother must hate me. This is not a good conclusion for an insecure teen-ager to draw.

It would be less than honest if I didn’t fess up to continuing to lie. Even in my career I became quite the liar and manipulator. I could get what I wanted, when I wanted. I could step on anyone I needed to in order to make myself look good and get ahead. And often I did. At least until Jesus got hold of me though. When we first adopted our kids and turned to regular church attendance “for the sake of the children,” God started to do a work in me. Frankly He had a lot of work to do!

It wasn’t long before I found myself truly surrendering my heart, my life, and my will to the Lord. And yes, I had to surrender my lies to Him as well. Today I’m not a liar. In fact I don’t recall the last time I told a lie. Somewhere along the line that habit slipped away and was replaced by honesty that sometimes is admittedly a bit brutal. Let’s just say that not everyone is a fan of all of my truth.

But the thing I’ve learned is that lying is an instinctive human behavior. Remember my two-year old son and that sin nature we’re all born with? I’m convinced lying is its foundation. We dress up the lies and call them “white lies.” And our society rationalizes and justifies them to no end. Even in our churches we lie. But you know, the thing I’ve discovered is that my mother was pretty godlike in her view of lying. As it turns out, God hates lying – and His recourse with those who persist in telling lies is not pretty.

I ran across an author recently, Paul Tautges. He’s a pastor in Wisconsin I think. Anyway, he wrote a blog and called it “12 Reasons God Hates Liars.” I read it with intrigue, and took note of the relevant application he made of some tried and true Scriptures on the subject. Let’ take a look.

· God loves truthful speech and honors truth-tellers. [Proverbs 3:3-4 & 12:22]

· Lying reveals a lack of godliness. [Proverbs 12:17 & 13:5]

· Lying is the mark of an unfaithful person. [Proverbs 14:5, 21:6, & 19:22]

· Lying is often motivated by fear (which Christians are not supposed to have). [Genesis 20:9-11 & Isaiah 41:10 & 13]

· Hypocrites are addicted to lying. (They have to have it!) [Hosea 11:12]

· Liars love impure conversation. [Proverbs 17:4]

· Lying is a cause of unanswered prayer! [Isaiah 59:2-3]

· Jesus called Satan the “father of lies,” and Satan leads mankind to join him. [John 8:44 & Acts 5:3]

· Lying often accompanies (or tries to cover) other sin(s). [Hosea 4:1-2]

· Liars will perish. [Psalm 5:6, Proverbs 19:9, & Revelation 21:8]

· Truthful people prevail in the end. [Psalm 63:11 & Proverbs 12:19]

In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul calls all of us who have been born-again in Christ Jesus to put away the old self and put on the new, clothing ourselves in righteousness (amongst other things). This of course includes lying. Even white lies are not suitable for a Christ-follower, under any circumstances, at any time.

I have to confess that I actually disagree with the author, Paul Tautges. I don’t think there are 12 Reasons Why God Hates Liars. For I don’t believe God hates liars --- any more than I believe my mother hated me. What God hates is lies. And the people who tell them simply cannot be in His presence.

Did you know that? Were you made aware, when you gave your life to Christ, that even the most harmless looking lie separates you from God? And of course lies of any kind separate us from lots of other important relationships in life … such as our spouse, children, parents and siblings. Simply put, there is no place in the Christian life for a lie.

I’ve had to make a continuing effort, and sometimes a valiant effort to turn from my sin of lying. Even today I’ll catch myself in an awkward situation where I might feel as if a lie would be easier. I might even be tempted to rationalize and justify the lie as being more humane, perhaps more socially acceptable or even more polite. But of course, those would be lies that I tell myself. And strangely enough, those of us who've struggled with lying often lied to ourselves more than anyone!

As Christ followers, let us make it a practice to turn from the sin of lying, and develop a core competency in dealing always with the truth. Jesus said that, “the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32) So let’s get with it --- let’s get set free!

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