It’s been 7,300 days since my last lie.
A History of Lying
There is a lineage of liars throughout history. With the very first lie playing a part in the original sin, it’s no wonder. Satan first lied to Eve (Genesis 3:4,5), giving him the reigning title of the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44). Adam followed suit lying to God (Genesis 3:12, 13). Cain carried on the tradition in Genesis 4:9, as did Abraham, (Genesis 12:11-19, 20:2) Isaac (Genesis 26:7-10), Jacob (Genesis 27:6-24), and all of Jacob’s son (Genesis 34). These are just a few of the deceptive accounts in the first book of the Bible…there are 68 more books and hundreds of more accounts! The lineage of liars continues with each generation.
Within this long line of liars I have stood with the best of them. When I was in my middle school and early high school years, lying characterized my life…every single day of it. I lied about my homework being done when it wasn’t; I lied about my room being cleaned when it was a wreck; I lied about grades I got on tests and quizzes. I even lied to some people about my last name. It was pretty ridiculous.
It was also pretty awful.
The Reasons Behind The Lying
In his book, Telling Lies, Dr. Paul Ekman (most popularly known for his research behind the hit TV-series Lie to Me) says, “While there could be a school for lie-catchers, a school for liars would not make sense. Natural liars don’t need it.” Dr. Ekman says it well, natural liars don’t need to be taught how to lie. The fact is, we are all natural liars because we all have a sin nature. When you told your first lie, it’s doubtful that anyone had to sit you down and explain the in’s and out’s of lying. You just knew…to avoid trouble, you lie. It is in our nature to lie.
For every person who lies, there are a million and one reasons for why they do it. Some lie because it’s fun. Others tell little “white lies” that aren’t any “big deal.” Some lie to cover up something else, done or undone. Some people lie to manipulate others into doing what they want them to do. Some lie because they are afraid; they fear the consequences to the truth, so they lie to change them. They fear rejection from their peers, so they lie to be accepted by them. They fear looking bad in front of others, so a lie seems like a quick, easy way to look good. Some lies are motivated by pride. They want someone else to look bad and a lie will do just the trick. Or they want control and lying keeps them in it. Some people lie to be someone else. And some…some don’t even know why they are lying. They just are.
I lied for all of the above reasons. And I thought I was getting away with it, but in reality, I was also lying to myself and the consequences of my deceitful habit weren’t avoided.
They never really are.
The Consequences of Lying
When we lie, we are creating a spirit of distrust between us and the person to whom we are lying. When I was going through this tumultuous stage of my teenage life, my parents could probably throw me farther than they could trust me. With each lie I told, their distrust in me grew. I had become a liar, and it defined me like the words daughter, girl, teenager, student. My parents could no longer trust a single word that came out of my mouth. As long as the truth is hidden deep, my parents trust in me would never be sure.
When we lie, we are ruining relationships, our relationship with that person to whom we lied and, more importantly, our relationship with God. Lies are like cancer to flourishing relationships. Partly because trust is foundational to any working relationship. When we break that trust with a lie, a break in the relationship occurs. So often the relationship we fail to recognize being affected is the liar’s relationship with God. But it is an undeniable fact, that sin affects our relationship with our Creator. Sin severed man’s communion with God in the beginning (Genesis 3:8, 10, 23, 24). And it was because of sin that God sent Christ, His only Son (John 3:16), into the world as a man (Luke 2:10,11), to live a holy life (2 Corinthians 5:21), to die in our place (Romans 5:8), to cancel our debt of sin (Colossians 2:13, 14), and to rise victoriously (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) so that we may live NOW victoriously through Him (1 Peter 2:24). We were not created to be ruined by sin, but to live in fellowship with God. Lying stifles this.
When we lie, we end up deceiving ourselves. When we lie long enough, we end up believing our own lies. At the core of lying is something so deceptive that it’s easy to believe our own lie and not be able to distinguish the truth from the lie we created. This is the nature of lying (Jeremiah 37:9, 1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 John 1:8).
When we lie continually, it creates a habit of lying in our life. Like any repetitious behavior performed over time, lying can be a habit. At 13, lying no longer was something that I did; it had become what I was. Everything about me was a lie, my words, my stories, my likes, my wants, my friendships, everything. Lies. And for no other reason then…I was a liar, and I needed God to intervene into my life in a miraculously radical way. I needed His grace to change me. I needed His love to make me miserable in my deceptive state of living.
He did just that.
Freedom From Living A Lie
It was a cold day. I had just been brought home from school by my sweet mother in the most painfully silent car I have ever been in. My father was, unfortunately, on a business trip and the responsibility of discipline lay in her very capable hands. I had lied…AGAIN! They had already grounded me…several times…for lying before. It hadn’t stuck. As a child, they had spanked me, scolded me, plead with me, and even read Scripture to me. (I was a stubborn child). The only thing that broke the silence when we pulled into our driveway was a soft whisper spoken by my mother, “What am I going to do with you, Sarah?” I hung my head in shame. I don’t even remember why I lied…it was stupid, but I was a liar. That was reason enough.
We walked into the house, and I immediately went to my room to await the sentence. I would probably be grounded, but for how long this time I didn’t know. My mother came in a while with the most gigantic book I had ever seen in my life. It was a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
“This is what we’re going to do.” She decidedly started, letting the book bounce down on my bed. “You are going to look up every single verse on lying. Every single one. Every verse that mentions the words lie, liar, deceit, deceitful, deceive, lying….all of it. And you’re going to write them all out on this pad of paper. And you’re grounded until it’s done. You don’t watch TV, you don’t go to friend’s homes, you don’t talk on the phone…nothing. It’s school, church, work, and THIS.”
I stared blankly at her, not fully realizing the length of time this assignment was about to take me. (FYI: there are a LOT of verses on lying…just in case you were wondering.) The saddest memory I have about this time in my life was the depth of hardness my heart had taken on from living in lies. I have to admit that it wasn’t until the word liars (a word that appears after deceit, deceitful, deceive, deceiving, deceived, deceiver, deceivers, and liar in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) that I was convicted. It wasn’t until I read Revelation 21:8, that the callousness around my stony heart melted and the Holy Spirit flooded in with conviction.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
“WAIT A MINUTE! What does John mean liars will go to Hell?? I took care of that when I was four…he doesn’t mean me, right?” I was horrified. My eternal security was officially at stake, and I was officially worried about it. I walked to my parents’ room; my father was at home at this stage of the grounding. He explained the verse to me, how lying is not characteristic of a follower of Christ and if you know the Lord relationally, not just cognitively, then you will live a life that proves that (Matthew 7:16-20). While you are not perfect this side of Heaven, you are in a process of being made more in His image (Philippians 1:6). It all made sense that night, and I began a process of walking in truth and freedom from lies.
The Steps to Take
If you are like me and have struggled with lying, there is hope. When I was staring at that concordance for weeks at a time, hope was bleak. I know my parents and teachers felt hopeless. But I am not the woman I was when I was lying because God has done a work, His good work that He’s promised to do. It’s only by that work that I am not defined by it anymore.
1. Confess your sin (1 John 1:9). First to God, then to others. Asking forgiveness from those to whom you lied is the first step in rebuilding destroyed relationships (James 5:16). This is a humbling process, but in order to truly break the habit of lies in your life it is unavoidable.
2. Admit it the moment you lie. Every time you hear a lie coming out of your mouth, stop…mid-sentence if you have to, admit the lie in that moment and then speak the truth. Over time, the habit of lying will be broken and a new habit of speaking truth will begin to form. Colossians 3:9, 10 says, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”
3. Walk in Truth. In Psalm 86, David says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” In order to walk in truth, we must fear God and live life in a close relationship to Him. The moment you walk away from spending time with Him, in His Word, with His people, in His house, you open yourself up to old habits.
4. Have accountability. There is nothing like another sister in Christ staring you in the face asking you the hard questions. Seek accountability out. For more on the benefits of accountability, read Diane’s post on friendships.
5. Realize the struggle will always be there. When something was once a stronghold in your life, it’s like a kink in a chain necklace. Although the necklace is fixed and the kink is barely seen, it will forever remain weak from the past. Be cautious of this reality. Don’t think that just because you once struggled with lying and found freedom from it that you will struggle no more. This is prideful and wrong thinking. You will lie again, maybe unknowingly….maybe in a moment of weakness or fear, but a lie told doesn’t mean complete failure. It means you’re human and still in need of a Savior just as much now as you were when you were dead in your sins. That being said….
My name is Sarah Bubar, and I struggle with lying.
It’s been one hour since my last lie.