I preached this last Lord’s Day on the problem of lying. I believe it to be one of the most prevalent and damaging problems in the lives of not only the world, but Christians as well. It has become epidemic. It is in our private relationships, our families, our social lives, our business practices. It’s everywhere–at school, at the golf course, at the PTA meeting, even in the church.
Coincidentally, The Houston Post, in its June 4 issue, carried a review of The Day America Told the Truth, a new book by J. Walter Thompson Advertising Exec., Peter Kim and his associate James Patterson. It is an astonishing look at the morals of our people. The picture is not pretty. For instance:
— 91% of Americans lie regularly
— 63% of American men and 52% of American women have lied to protect themselves.
— 40% of the people interviewed admitted to having lied on job applications.
— 62% think there’s nothing morally wrong with the affairs they’re having.
— And get this: 13% of the people have had an affair with a fellow worker. And 26% have shoplifted.
What a sad description of our times! How deplorable that people have such little regard for truth, such little respect for morality.
Can you believe that?
A lie is a false statement deliberately presented as being true; something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression. And we all have trouble with that at various times, some chronically. My Dad once spoke of a man who “would lie for a check when he could get cash for telling the truth.”
Why do people lie? Sometimes it’s done to deceive (Psalms 50:19); sometimes to shirk responsibilities (Luke 14:18, An excuse is not a reason, it’s a lie); sometimes out of fear (Matt. 26:69-74, Peter’s denial). And sometimes it’s done to hurt someone (Gen. 39:14-17, Potiphar’s wife); or to get gain (Acts 5:1-10, Ananias and Sapphira).
And yes, there is such a thing as a religious lie (1 Tim. 4:12; Rom. 1:25). 2 Cor. 11:13-15 is an apt description of those televangelists who have duped people in this age by making claims of inspiration or having powers like those of the apostles’. They have charmed old ladies out of fortunes, talked the ignorant and superstitious out of their life savings, while they live in houses with gold-plated faucets or carry on illicit relationships with prostitutes. This is religion?
Some lies are hard to detect. Self-righteousness, for instance, looks good on the surface, but is no more than a subtle lie, an impression created to deceive (Matthew 27:27-28).
One of the worst forms of lying–and very subtle–is the innuendo. It is a rather indirect implication or impression which often takes the form of an insinuation. In fact, the word is from the Latin innuere, “to nod to.” Some of us nod just at the right time to leave a wrong or derogatory impression. And one of the worst forms of the same is to not stand up for a friend when you know what is being said is not so. Dereliction in such instances is no different than a blatant lie. I see entirely too much of this among brethren!
There are other forms of subtle lies: To appear to be more than you are. To discredit someone who has been praised. To transfer suspicion. To procreate gossip. To get ahead in line. And that most subtle of lies, self-deception, lying to yourself about yourself.
The end of all liars is predicted. Lying is repulsive to God (Prov. 16:16). He warns against it (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9; 1 Pet. 3:10). He will punish all liars (Prov. 19:5; Rev. 21:27). Make no mistake about it, God will deal with all liars, those who make lies and those who proliferate them.
No one is immune. The problem is huge, greater than most of us realize. Let every man examine himself and take care about lying. Let every person be impressed with the value of truth. And let us teach our children that all lies are sin.