This is one of the questions posed by Kirk Cameron and his ministry partner Ray Comfort to the man on the street as an evangelism strategy in their show, “The Way of the Master.” (This was shown to us in one of our sessions in the Discipleship Group we attended a few years ago.)
As expected, the answer was in the affirmative. Well, at least the man didn’t lie in answering a candid question.
But what does lying really mean?
A google search yielded the following definitions:
Lying is the telling of lies, or false statements; untruthfulness ( https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lying)
Lying is making a false statement to another person with the intention that the other person believe that statement to be true. ( https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/lying-definition/)
Based on these statements, there are three elements involved in the act of lying: (1) utterance (whether spoken or written), (2) falsehood, and (3) intention to make another person believe the false statement to be true.
Simply stated, it refers to “utterance of something untruthful.”
I bet not a single person who has reached the age of accountability and has had countless opportunities to exercise his or her own freewill, is ever guilt-free when it comes to lying. It is part of our fallen human nature—handed to us by that ancestor of ours who listened more to the woman by his side than to the God who fashioned him inside out.
I have had my share of guilt too, as I look back to my foolish ways as a child thinking I could make adults believe I was as innocent as a dove.
I vividly remember when I was in grade four (I was about ten years old), I volunteered to sell Yema. It is a popular Filipino candy or sweet made of condensed milk with vanilla and ground peanuts. Sometimes it is wrapped into balls rolled in white sugar or packed in pyramid-like shapes with plastic cellophanes of different hues—yellow, green or red.
Our eldest sister who had the knack for cooking used to make sweets like this, including Polvoron (made of flour) to be sold to anyone with a sweet tooth. Of course, I was thrilled to help dispose the goods and turn them into cash. Here’s how my first entrepreneurship venture turned out:
I brought with me three packs of yema candies (with 20 individually wrapped items in each pack) so I could offer them to my classmates who I knew, judging from the quality of their teeth, would bet their lives for the love of sweets.
I sold each piece for 25 centavos (oh yeah, every cent had value before) and watched my customers merrily chomping my paninda. Of course, the sweets were tempting, so I would also take out a piece from the pack and unwrap it excitedly. The moment the whiff of vanilla hit my nostrils, any business sense I may have had, flew out of the window. Soon, I was lost in a sweet indulgence, carried along by my customers who were equally bewitched with the heavenly taste of my merchandise.
Before I knew it, every piece was “sold.” I returned home with both an aching tooth and racing heartbeat. On the way home, I started rehearsing my punchline. By the time I saw my sister’s arched eyebrows almost kissing her hairline (after counting the money I had turned over), I gushed out the greatest lie of my young life.
“I sold only two packs of the items because…because… the other pack was STOLEN!” (I almost choked as I lied, even as I felt a stabbing pain of a molar as a result of my voraciousness).
“Who stole it?”
“I don’t know. I just went to the comfort room. When I returned to my desk, the remaining pack was gone! I even tried finding out who took it, but of course nobody would admit anything.”
Boom. Once the first falsehood came out, the succeeding lines flowed wantonly and spontaneously like a stream from a raging waterfall.
That was the day I realized “lying” was a tool for self-preservation.
That day though doomed me as a seller, as I never got to sell anything anymore to my classmates. Worse, I lied through my teeth to my “business” partner because I cared more for my own pleasure than for the ROI. (Then again, I was 10, and at this age, taste buds rule over anything else.)
Lying, I learned much later, is an act that God hates.
There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. –Proverbs 6:16-19
More than mere speech, however, God’s Word defines lying in other ways. No, it isn’t just about saying, but about doing (or not doing) something. Interestingly, the passages on this subject are all found in the book of 1 John.
Here are five ways by which we can know if a person (especially one who claims to be a believer) is a liar or not: (Do a heart check in each category and see if you have slid from the truth.)
1. Claiming to have fellowship with Christ yet walking in darkness
(1 John 1:6)
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
To walk in darkness is to stray away from the light of God’s Word. John 3:19-21 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness more than light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
2. Claiming to be without sin (1 John 1:8)
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
3. Claiming to know God but not following His commands (1 John 2:4)
“The man who says ‘I know him,’ but not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
4. Denying that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah (1 John 2:22)
“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the anti-Christ—he denies the Father and the Son.”
5. Claiming to love God but hating his brother (1 John 4:20)
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
A liar is, in essence, a hypocrite – pretending to be someone he is not at the core of his being. He is double-faced, a chameleon who assumes a different color as he blends in his environment. His ethics depend on the situation he finds himself in. More often than not, he comes as a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
When Jesus faced the Pharisees who all fit the descriptions for liars to a T, he only has harsh words to them:
“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
What then awaits such kind of people?
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. – Revelation 22:14-15
Knowing that a severe judgment awaits all liars, we need to check from time to time to see for ourselves if we are already starting to skate on thin ice. Go over the checklist (5 ways to know if a person is a liar or not) and memorize it, if you must.
In a world packed with lies, let us hold on to the truth.
Christ is the truth. (John 14:6)