We are often too eager to accuse others (or ourselves) of lying. This is serious, because not only is true lying a serious sin and hated by God, but true lying destroys trust, relationships, and love, which is abominable to God. Even thinking a person has lied to you about even the slightest thing can destroy a relationship if you are not relying wholly on God’s love in it.
One common misconception is that if a person merely states a falsity, he is lying. There could be nothing further from the truth. He could have been lied to himself, he could have misunderstood the evidence, formed a false conclusion from true evidence because of a mistake or a logical error; he could have any number of reasons for stating and believing something false, without actually lying.
A lie requires conscious knowledge of the truth, or at least the falsity of the statement you are positing. You have to know what you are saying is not true, and say it anyway. If you didn’t know it was false, there is no lie, unless it was passed along to you by someone else who convinced you of its truth when he knew it was false. Then it would be a lie for him, but not for you. A very common event. Therefore, it is impossible to lie accidentally (just like with any sin). Furthermore, if you are trying to discern and speak the truth, even if you fail, you cannot lie, because you are trying to speak truth. You cannot try to speak the truth and lie at the same time.
Another misconception is that every lie is a sin. Every deliberate falsity is a lie, by modern definition, but biblically a lie more often meant a deliberate falsity with intent to do harm, as in a false witness. You are lying in order to overcome truth. Sometimes a lie is necessary, and thus good, in certain situations. Self-defense is an obvious one, as God often commended and blessed people who lied in the act of self-defense and war (most notably David and Joshua). God Himself hid Himself from time to time, even during His earthly ministry – and what is hiding but lying by saying you aren’t where you are?
Another misconception is that withholding information is lying, when the fact of the matter is that this isn’t even dishonest most of the time. Actually, it’s nearly always absolutely necessary. If withholding information (even without mentioning the presence of undisclosed information) was a lie or a sin, then the Bible would be incredibly sinful since it, while being a history book of the universe, withholds vast quantities of information about an infinity of topics. It is impossible to ever make a truly full disclosure, and it is often inadvisable. God Himself said that “it is the glory of God to conceal a thing; and the honour of kings to search out a matter.” We often have many more reasons for our actions than what we reveal to a specific person, and there is nothing wrong with this.
This is even true in consideration of the injunction to “confess your sins one to another.” If this was taken exhaustively, we would have to search out every Christian in the world to confess every single sin to every one of them. Yet this is clearly ludicrous. The command is to confess to someone, not everyone. So withholding information about your past sins in a particular instance with a particular person isn’t even a sin. If you refuse to be transparent with anyone or pretend that there is nothing to reveal at all, that is another matter, though.
Yet in all these behaviors which we like to mask under an accusing pharisaical cloak of lying, we neglect to see the true elements of evil deceit which we accept and condone constantly. Such as living a lie.
We put up faces and behaviors that are not our own. We represent ourselves as someone we know we aren’t until we deceive even ourselves. When our conscience pricks us, we deny it and quench the Spirit, dulling our hearts with whispers of ‘positive thinking.’ We don’t want to believe that we aren’t all we hope we are. We don’t want to succumb to ‘the devil’s accusing voice,’ when in reality it is the Lord calling us to repentance. We lull ourselves into being past feeling in order to escape the truth of our depravity and failure. We use the very same lies that kept us from the Cross before our Salvation and say that we ‘aren’t that bad.’
This life of lies is pervasive and deadly. It is a sin against ourselves, against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and against our God Himself. Against us, because we are slaying our own life and destroying our own heart. Against the Body, because we are turning ourselves into a deadweight and a poison in the Bride of Christ. Against our Saviour, because we deny His saving grace, His holy nature, and His everlasting loving desire for us to be intimate with Him. We break His heart every moment we reject His advances of transforming love.
The answer? Repent! Be honest with yourself and measure yourself against the standard of your Holy and Just God. Fear, tremble, be very very afraid, but be courageous. Stand up and step into the light, that your deeds may be made manifest and proven to be in God. Let Him have the work of judgment, and do not take it upon yourself. Let Him mark you as unclean and unworthy, and then let Him cleanse you. Submit yourself to His holiness. Submit your life to His service. Humble yourselves, for we are sinners of the Cross! Draw nigh to God! He will draw nigh to you!
He will! Always, ever and forever, He will. He has never failed. He always comes. Draw nigh, in tears, in mourning, in weeping, in humility, in contrition, and He will come in love. Love like you have never known it. Love like is nowhere on this earth but in His sanctified people. Love that will pour into and through you, cleansing, forgiving, changing, empowering. Abundantly and overpoweringly flowing out of you to those around you. Love, as God loves.
But first, be honest. Do not lie to yourself. Tear off the mask. Let your God see your disease. Confess. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart. And find His Truth.
P.S. This is an edit of an old draft I wrote ages ago, before I went to prison. I had to tone it down in some ways, because it smacked of arrogance to me now, looking back on it. It has a different tone to me, now. These are issues I’ve had to wrestle with over and over again in these recent years. Living a life of transparency with a past which haunts you is a terrifying thing. I try, though. At least I try.