The Universal Lying Habit
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
During my college years, a new student came to our school at the beginning of winter semester and joined our winter track team. As we worked out on the outdoor circular wooden track built above the snow drifts below, we had opportunity to discuss our track backgrounds. We were shocked when our new teammate told us some of his running times for various races. They surprisingly were Olympic level times. If true, why had he come to our college? He most certainly should have been at a Division 1 school with a very high reputation for track. It turned out that he was, in fact, lying, and about far more in his life than just track.
Observing the typical behavior of the young men who come to the PAYH presents good evidence that lying is really a habitual human condition. In fact, it seems it is more the default practice than telling the truth. Believable lying does require certain skills, to be sure, but they are skills which are honed from early in life. Children learn lying skills from observing their parents and older siblings, as well as from others outside their home. They notice that lying well and convincingly is rewarding. They quickly surmise that you can best get what you want by lying more than choosing to be truthful. Telling the truth is pleasing to God, but if you are not well acquainted with Him and ignore His all-knowing and all-seeing presence, it is no firm preventative from fudging the truth. Better to lie.
Once finding that believable lying gets you what you like, lying becomes a habit. It is the thing you end up doing. Of course, it is simply imitating your father, Satan, the father of lies. It is not something you are trying to do, that is, imitating Satan. You never think this is what you are actually doing; it is what happens naturally because, being fallen, you incline to sin, not righteousness. You imitate him, not knowing that is what you are actually doing. Your thinking is never, “Am I pleasing to or am I defying God when I lie, or am I truly following Satan, and pleasing him? It is, “This is what I choose to do because I am the captain of my own soul and no one else can get inside my mind but me or really know I am lying, as I pull the wool over my hearers’ eyes and ears.
We learn when to lie to accomplish an end, and when it would be so obvious we are lying, we tell the truth. But always in our own thoughts is, “I will lie when it is most advantageous to me. You can scheme knowing that if everyone knows you are lying it will not be something with which you can get what you want. There are many who can sincerely look you in the eye, lie, and convince you they are genuinely telling the truth. You accept it until something causes you to doubt, and that doubt may never come. The more skill you have at lying, the more you can achieve your purposes. Some become near geniuses in perfecting their lying.
The catch is that there is always One who knows exactly what you are doing – the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He sees right through you. He sees into your heart, mind, and conscience. His grace and mercy is such that He will forgive a repentant heart and even bury your sin and truths best undisclosed in the depths of the sea. But when He knows it is most helpful for your salvation, He will disclose it, not to destroy you, but to best save you. When you come to know God intimately and lovingly, you know He is all-seeing, and you take that into account in all you say, think, and do. Your first thought then is always to please Him in all things, “doing everything to the glory of God!
The only way one can break the habit of lying is to draw near to God. He alone can break the power of sin. He alone can make truth dwell in you. He alone can guard the heart, mind, and tongue to only allow truth to be spoken and to cause the love of Him to saturate you thoroughly. This is the only means to eradicate lying from your practice. Only the power of God can really break the habit.
This is a habit you want to completely destroy. Not because others may find out you are a liar, even an occasional one, but because your first and primary purpose in all you do is to please Him. Others may not know what you think or do, but He is well aware. The knowledge of others about you is always secondary for which to be concerned and much less important than the personal knowledge of Him with whom you have to do! You want to be known by Him as a lover and protector of the truth. “Speaking the truth (always) in love. Sometimes the truth needs to remain, at least for a time, undisclosed to express real love to another. And sometimes it needs to be disclosed. The Spirit of God must be the arbiter in your mind and heart about godly tact concerning others, with genuine love being your motivator.
But commitment to the truth, especially about yourself, in all humility, should be your worthy goal. It is what should define you as a godly person. It is what you would wish people praise in you, though you do not seek their praise. It is what you hope God sees in you and for which He knows you. Liar or redeemed saint?
“O, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be, let that grace now like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.
(3rd verse of Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, 1757)
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