Discernment,  Musings

Lessons Learned: Honesty Means More Than Just ‘Not Lying’

As noted in the first post in this series, I’m taking time to reflect on some of the experiences God has graciously given me and the extremely practical lessons I’ve learned from them. This isn’t meant to serve as a personal journal, but rather as a source of encouragement and application for the reader.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Honesty really is the best policy. I know that seems obvious, especially to those who are regenerate. Let’s face it, though, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we think, even if only briefly, that telling a little white lie may be the best approach.

Before Christ saved me, I was a really good liar… really good. I don’t say that to boast, but to emphasize. I wasn’t a chronic liar by any means, but when a fictional story would be more interesting than the real one, I had no problem adding a few details to reality. The addition of my no-fail poker face meant that I was also a convincing liar. I am thankful God stripped me of that ability when He saved me.

Lying Isn’t Pretty

As Christians, we know that lying is ugly. We teach our children to tell the truth and we expect it from them. Scripture is quite clear on the topic of honesty:

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.

Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Proverbs 12:17, 19

Scripture also doesn’t stutter when telling us precisely what God thinks of lying:

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Proverbs 12:22

An abomination. That’s a strong word! I suspect our God meant it when He wrote it, too.

Deceit is the antithesis of who God is (see Titus 1:2). God does not lie; indeed, He cannot lie because it would go against His very nature! And yet we, in our still-fallen nature, can succumb to the sin of lying.

There’s More to Lying Than Just Lying

What seems to be easier—perhaps more palatable—for Christians is not bold, blatant lying, but a bending of or dancing around the truth. It’s that tap dance that is the trickiest. It’s easy to rationalize that we aren’t lying if what we are really doing is masking or avoiding the truth. Brothers and sisters, I urge you to realize that such concealment of the truth is merely another form of deceit. It is unbecoming of us as sons and daughters of the King, and it means that we are in rebellion against Him.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and the fact that Jesus stated this so clearly is perhaps what makes lying so terribly wicked. All sin is rooted in lies: Lies from Satan (“Did God really say?…You shall not surely die!”) and lies from our own sinful nature. Only God can overcome liars and passages such as Isaiah 44:24-25 bring us hope that our Lord will sovereignly judge and frustrate the schemes of liars, if not now, one day in the future.

Everybody Lies (but it’s Still a Sin)

Lying has affected me in every area of my life. I hate liars. I’ve been lied to by family, friends, coworkers, and a pastor. I am certain I have been lied to by strangers and merchants, but those don’t sting nearly as much as when someone close to you or someone you respect, trust, and look up to lies to your face.

When we are lied to and know it, trust between us and the other person is severed. It is not reconstructed easily. It affects how we view that person from that day forward. While we can forgive, we would be foolish to naively trust again someone who has displayed a habitual pattern of lying.

My experience with lying, both as the perpetrator and the victim, has led me to fully embrace the familiar adage that “honesty is the best policy.” In fact, honesty is the biblical policy if we belong to Christ. When we look in our proverbial spiritual mirror, we do not see Christ reflected back to us in perfection. Sadly, we never will see such glory this side of Heaven. Still, we should see at least a faint resemblance of our Brother and our Father. And remember, neither our Brother nor our Father can lie.

The world is full of liars, but the Christian world ought not to be. I expect to confront an element of deceit in the secular workplace or marketplace, but I do not expect to find it among my brethren or hear it from the pulpit or from the man who stands behind the pulpit.

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.”

Revelation 21:8

Christ Died for Liars

These words make me shudder, especially when I remember my former self. You see, the wonderful, blessed news of the Gospel is that God saves even liars. Jesus Christ died for sinners, not for the righteous. Are you trapped in lies of your own making, or caught in a web of lies fed to you by the Great Deceiver? Take heart, and turn to Christ. Accept His great offer of salvation. Repent of this sin. Jesus lived the life that we cannot and died the death that we deserve. Today He lives and reigns, for He alone is the truth (John 14:6). Ask Him to clear the clouds of deceit from your spiritual eyes, for today is the day of salvation.

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