By Rev SEIK PITOI
YOU are the only one in my life. No other woman can ever take your place!
Those were the loving words a young wife heard from the man she married. However, years later, at his death and during his funeral, she was shocked to see another woman and her daughter come up to the casket and mourn, with the child calling him father! It was later revealed to her that her ‘faithful’ husband had a couple of other relationships going on at the same time which he had kept completely hidden from her. He had been telling her lies!
Such a scenario is not imaginary as they do happen. One can only imagine the turmoil and mixed emotions the widow had; her grief compounded now by anger, resentment and a sense of betrayal! How could one who seemed so genuine tell straight-faced lies to her, and she never picked it up in all their years together! Was she too trusting not to suspect anything? Such is the devastation caused by lies!
One statement I heard recently says: “We are all liars. Politicians, pastors and church leaders, parents, kids, school teachers, university lecturers and students, policemen, doctors and the common villager – everyone is a liar!”
Ouch! That’s a bit too strong, isn’t it? Well, maybe we can rephrase that to make it palatable. How about: Every human being has the tendency within him or her to speak untruthfully at certain times. No, we are not all liars as such, but we all have that capacity to tell a fib or two as ‘is necessary’, whether intentionally or otherwise.
The ‘white lie’ versus pathological lying
Scholars tell us that pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behaviour of compulsive or habitual lying. While it may seem almost normal for one to tell the occasional fib for our own or another’s benefit, the pathological liar on the other hand seems to lie for no apparent reason. The Healthline website says, “some pathological lying may result from antisocial personality disorder (sometimes called sociopathy), while others appear to have no medical reason for the behaviour.”
Nature.com also reported that pathological liars tend to be natural performers. “They are eloquent and know how to engage with others when speaking. They are creative and original, and quick thinkers who don’t usually show common signs of lying, such as long pauses or avoidance of eye contact.”
Lying every day
Another research has suggested that everyone tells an average of 1.65 lies every day! That agrees with the statement in my first paragraph that everyone lies.
However, most of these are considered “white lies” or harmless little fibs.
Here are some examples of ‘white lies’:
- Saying you have a headache so you don’t attend a meeting.
- Saying you know someone when you don’t, in order to make your friend happy.
- Lying about why you were late for work.
- Saying your friend’s shirt looks good when really you think it looks terrible (flattery).
On the other hand, we have pathological lies. They are told to make the teller appear heroic or pitied as the victim. Such people seem not deterred by guilt or the risk of getting found out.
Some examples of pathological lying:
- Creating a false story, such as saying you were healed during a crusade when you weren’t.
- Claiming to own property to impress someone, when you actually don’t.
- Telling lies to impress others, such as saying you are related to a famous person.
I have met some really interesting people who are experts in deception. I believe they fall in the category of pathological liars. One young man I met some years ago told me he had been a sailor on the boat that capsized while travelling from Rabaul to Lae, killing many people. He said he rescued many passengers at sea and almost lost his life in the process. He was quite serious when he spoke and even had tears as he recalled ‘saving’ the passengers on the ship!
Another time, he told me he was in the army, training at Goldie Barracks. He even had the right haircut to ‘prove; it! But his cover was blown some time later when a church minister who knows him well exposed him with evidence that he was telling lies. I was told by the minister that the young man was known amongst his people as a habitual liar, despite his powerful testimonies at church.
Sadly, here was a young man who refused to be delivered of the lying spirit. Many like him actually believe their own lies!
What the Bible says
How do we know if someone is telling us lies? We don’t have the luxury of seeing noses grow longer when people lie, as in the story of Pinocchio!
But we can operate in the gift of discernment (Phil 1:10; 1 Cor 12:10) to find them out, or allow God to expose them in His own way. The Bible says, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). God gives space for repentance, but failing that, He will reveal sin and lies in due time!
The Bible has quite a lot to say about lying. Firstly, there is no difference between lies. Whether big or small, all lies are lies and they come from the same source – the father of lies, the devil (John 8:44). As a result of the Fall (Genesis chapter 3), sin contaminated God’s perfect creation.
The serpent’s fib in the garden caused Eve to succumb while Adam lied to keep their sin hidden. This resulted in their banishment from Eden. Soon, the first murder took place, with another lie to cover it up (Gen 4:9).
So began the sad process of life outside of God. As a result of sin’s entrance into mankind, every person on earth has the tendency to lie from birth. (Even the cute little toddler will tell his mommy that he didn’t eat the cookie when he is holding half of it in his chubby little hands)! It is part of our sinful fallen human nature.
While man has sin and lying in his nature, God’s nature is truthfulness (John 14:6). He detests lying. For example, Proverbs 1: 16-19 says, “There are six things that the Lord hates: …a lying tongue, a false witness who breathes out lies…” Also, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov 12: 22); and “a false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish” (19:9). As such, God includes liars in the list of those who are condemned to the eternal fires of hell (Rev 21:8)!
The Fall of mankind was bad news indeed. Man could not fix the mess up on his own and sin had to be judged with eternal death (Rom 6:23). But God in His grace gave us His Son, Jesus, whose sinless life was the perfect atonement for our sins (Heb 2:17). His shed blood washes and cleanses us from all sin and unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We walk in that grace and forgiveness only when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
Whereas the sin nature caused us to tell lies, our new nature in Christ gives us the power not to do so. We now have the power to choose whether to sin (lie) or not.
The battleground is in the mind. Telling lies is a choice we make in our minds. Hence the admonition to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Paul also lists the ‘helmet of salvation’ (Eph 6:17), the part of the armour that covers the head, referring to the mind and our thought life. With this truth, we see that we sin by choice. When we tell lies – even as Christians – we do so by choice.
Like our God, truthfulness should be the hallmark of a Christian’s life. However, amidst righteousness and holiness being practiced in the lives of many believers, there is also deception and lying from others who too profess His name.
Stealing God’s money in the church and lying about it is a big one. Reports of huge amounts of money being misappropriated by certain church leaders is worrying. One wonders if the fear of God is truly in the hearts of these people. Together with stealing is false witness, false testimonies, slander, marital unfaithfulness and the like.
Sometimes, the fear of being caught by the law acts as a deterrent to the non-believers in the world, while Christians have that worn out phrase of ‘forgive and forget ‘to evade any consequence. Thus, the rot continues!
We all are guilty of lying at one time or another. We slander and falsely accuse each other. We ‘adjust’ the truth slightly to make someone happy, to make ourselves look good or to put down someone we don’t like.
We may not embezzle millions of kina or run off with someone’s spouse – but we sin just the same when we tell an untruth. That harms our Christian testimony and displeases our God.
But with God’s grace, let us put off the old nature, put on the new (Rom 6:6-14.), start telling the truth and begin to be trusted again by those we work with or interact with in business. It’s about time the child of God stands up for the truth by living in truth in every aspect of life.
Then, the world will want to listen to us when we talk about our God whose nature and word is Truth (John 14:6; 17:17)!
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.