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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 24 2020

The sin of lying

In June 2017 National Geographic magazine published an article entitled “Why We Lie” using scientific and empirical methods of investigation and measurement. Some Christians have criticised this approach because it ignores the cause and effect of lying, as well as what the Bible says about such conduct.

by Victor Kubik

The article presented lying as a natural part of life, with the author pointing out that lying is recognised as “a deeply ingrained human trait.”

Some feared such an approach could foster a sense of acceptance or justification for misleading behaviour, with the author presenting habitual lying as something “that most of us are very adept at. We lie with ease, in ways big and small, to strangers, co-workers, friends and loved ones.”.

It is true no one is immune to the temptation of lying and almost everyone lies. Sometimes what is called a “white lie” is told to make someone feel better, while other lies involve deliberate deceit. And then we have the situation where lies are mixed with truth to produce the Internet phenomenon known as “fake news.”

How Does God View Lying?

The Bible presents lying as such a serious sin that it is specifically condemned in the Ten Commandments with the prohibition: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).

Revelation 21:8 declares unrepentant liars will share the prophesied fate of eternal destruction in the lake of fire, along with other unrepentant sinners: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Satan told the first lie recorded in the Bible when he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4-5), and Christ revealed Satan as the father of lies, stating the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him . . . For he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Why Do People Lie?

The National Geographic article notes 22 percent of people lie to cover up a personal transgression. About 16 percent use lying and deception to gain financial benefits or an economic advantage. Another 15 percent of lies are told for personal advantage, and about 14 percent of lying is centred around getting out of something. Eight percent of lies are told to promote a positive image of ourselves, with the remainder of lying split up between making people laugh (telling tall tales), trying to hurt people or avoid hurting someone’s feelings, and other miscellaneous reasons.

Lying is part of corrupt human nature. It is not part of God’s nature and we are told in the book of Proverbs that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

The Apostle Paul instructs us, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9). The capacity and ease of telling a lie is something that every Christian must continually be aware of and resist.