Lies. Deceit. Misrepresentations. Fakery. Falsehoods. When you think of a lie, what comes to mind? Do you think of someone who broke your trust, or maybe the times you’ve broken trust? Do you think of lies you’ve told someone else to protect yourself? An occasional lie seems harmless most of the time. After all, isn’t it a good thing if you want to help someone feel better about themselves?
Let’s examine a lie and look at the different sources of lies we either tell ourselves or hear from others. And let’s determine how we can be more than conquerors in the area of telling the truth and breaking free from the sin of lying.
To lie is to say or do something that is not true or based in truth. In fact, it is the opposite of what is true. How do we know the truth? God is truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” in John 16:4. And in John 17:17, He prayed that His Father would “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. So how do we know what is true? God's Word holds all the answers to life and all the truth we could ever need.
In my counseling history, I’ve consistently encountered three common sources of lies that impact the lives of many of my clients: society, Satan, and self. Society tells us a lot of lies. Follow your heart. Go with how you feel. You deserve this. It’s not your fault. Someone else is responsible for why you did what you did. If you get this job, you will be satisfied. If you get that dream home, your life will be perfect. If you meet the guy of your dreams, everything will be right with your world. Stuff will satisfy you. Money will complete you. These are all lies. Many people spend their lives chasing these lies and in the end, their lives are empty. We were created to worship God and to have a relationship with Him. Nothing outside of this will bring true joy. Anything else is a lie. Society at large lies to us and leads us away from the truth.
You may think society doesn’t really influence us all that much. There was a leader who convinced an entire nation of people that this one group of people was different from the rest. This group of people was different and needed to go to these institutions to be refined and made better or more like the rest. They were negatively impacting others and this problem needed to be fixed. This lie was communicated over and over again until the people of that nation believed it. Repeat a lie enough and people confuse it for the truth. The end result of that lie was an estimated six million Jews killed and some five million others who were deemed “defects” of humankind. Germany was “scientific”, not “religious”, and this lie that was repeatedly told to Germany and several other countries resulted in one of the biggest massacres in human history.
Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44). He is the first to have ever lied according to Genesis 3. He lied to Eve. He twisted what God said. He made it sound like God’s command was something to keep Eve from being better. When she followed the lie instead of the truth, she and Adam were separated from God. Satan didn’t just lie to Eve. He lied to himself, and he believed his own lies. He believed he deserved to be higher than God. The end result was that he was removed from Heaven by God. His lies not only influenced him but all of the fallen angels, who are now demons, that were foolish enough to believe his lies and follow him. He lied to Jesus during Jesus’s earthly ministry. He twisted Scripture again when talking to Jesus and tried to persuade Jesus to worship him. Jesus rebuked him. Satan isn’t finished. He still roams the earth seeking someone to devour and he often devours us by lying to us if we fall prey to his lies. He has many different tactics to his lies. He tries to persuade us in many ways to believe a lie and not God. His mission is to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus Christ came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) God is truth, and His truth gives life.
Many believers have been deceived into believing their happiness is the measuring rod of God’s love toward them. Time and time again, people will share with me how they have struggled with an issue for two years, ten years, or perhaps their entire life and are still not happy. They’ve asked God to stop the issue and pleaded for happiness, and because He hasn’t granted their request they’ve bought the lie that God must not love them.
Satan tells us what we want to hear. He gives a bait and switch. He tells us things to try to separate us from God. God doesn’t promise us happiness. Happiness is fleeting and what God provides is not fleeting. God tells us there will be difficulties, trials, and troubles. He also promises to be with us and provide us with peace that passes understanding.
We lie to ourselves. We believe things that are not true. The longer I live, I’ve come to believe we fall in ditches in almost every area of life. The problem with a ditch is it isn’t the way. The road is the way that leads us to where we need to go. When we go away from God’s truth we end up in ditches. We take God’s truths and we try to change it to fit what we want to think or believe, and that leads us into a ditch. Take for example the idea of mankind’s innate goodness. Many believe in their own goodness and assume that God will surely reward them for being better than the truly bad people in the world. . But, God’s word - His truth - is crystal clear. There are none righteous, no not one. There are none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10a, Romans 3:12b. Then you have the Christian who is constantly consumed with the bad they have done to the point they are filled with anxiety and dread and believe they could not be saved. They too have a wrong focus. They are not seeing that Christ died for them, and their identity is in Him. They are a new creation in Him, and it's not a magical unicorn that emerges but a process of transformation of being more like Jesus and dying to ourselves. They are focused on themselves and not on what God is doing in and through their lives. They look to themselves to be “good” and not the work of the Holy Spirit. There are a million other examples of how we lie to ourselves. When we catch ourselves in an unpleasant situation or emotion we need to do the same thing as when society tells us something or Satan. We need to compare our thoughts to God’s Word. Scripture does not lie to us.
One of my favorite research studies is the Stanford Prison Experiment. College-aged people who agreed to participate were paid to be a part of the study. They were assigned as either guards or prisoners. The experiment took place in a basement. The experiment had to be stopped approximately halfway through because of how badly the guards began to treat the prisoners. Again, these people playing the role of guards knew they were participating in an experiment and that the “prisoners” were not criminals. Yet the behaviors and beliefs of the guards and their treatment of the prisoners were such that the experiment was stopped. This study intrigued me as I began to understand how much we can deceive ourselves. I was amazed at how quickly we can believe something that isn’t real or true. This is the power of a lie that is believed.
The final thought is we lie to others. We lie to cover up sin. We lie to keep ourselves out of trouble at the moment. We lie to be polite. When we do, we are aligning ourselves with Satan. Telling the truth is the right answer, every time. We need to share the truth with love and kindness, but it is impossible to truly be kind and loving and not tell the truth. The truth, no matter the situation, is always the right answer both in action and in deed.
My boys love to watch America’s Funniest Home videos. Our living room is filled with laughter as we see people do silly things. One of the videos they find the funniest is when a 2 or 3-year-old kid has eaten chocolate and the evidence is all over their face and the parent asks the child “Did you eat chocolate?” and the kid’s response is “NO! I didn’t eat ANY chocolate!” They think it is so ridiculously funny. The truth of the matter is often when we lie we think we have hidden or covered up something, but the reality is God knows and brings it to light and the end result is broken trust with those we love most. Tony Evans famously said, “A little lie is like being a little pregnant - eventually it’s going to show up and be seen.”
So how do we live a victorious life and be more than a conqueror in Christ? The Holy Spirit lives in us. He guides us. He is our helper. He leads us to do right and enables us to do so. He never leaves us. He is with us as we face whatever difficulties come our way. God knows we cannot live victoriously in Him without Him. We can’t say and do truthful things without His presence and His help so He gave us His Spirit. Satan nor sin can take Him or His love away from us….and because of these great truths, we are more than conquerors. This great truth brings hope. It brings light. It provides life to every believer. I am so thankful we do not have to live in a world of deception. We can conquer lies and live in truth in the power of His Spirit.