Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
I sure don’t want to be doing something God specifically says He hates, do you? Well, in Proverbs chapter 6, God speaks of seven things He hates:
“There are six things the LORD hates – no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
The word “hates” means to consider personally offensive and to regard with enmity. In other words, those who do any of these seven hateful things are acting as God’s enemies! Note that two of these seven hateful things refer to dishonesty – a “lying tongue” and “a false witness who pours out lies.” Why does God condemn lying in such strong terms?
Let’s go back to the Ten Commandments and in particular to the ninth commandment on God’s Top Ten list:
“You must not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)
The ninth commandment prohibits swearing falsely against your neighbor in matters of law and civil proceedings, but on a deeper level it implies that we have the responsibility to be truthful at all times.
In order to bear false witness, or to lie, you must already understand what the truth is. That is, you know the truth, but deliberately misrepresent it or withhold it from view. Often this deception is done for self-serving reasons.
However, what if you didn’t really believe that there is such a thing as “truth”? What if you didn’t really believe that there are objective standards for behavior? Wouldn’t it then be easier to engage in deceptive behavior for selfish reasons?
Recently, George Barna conducted a poll that asked adults if they agreed with the following statement: “There are no absolute standards for morals and ethics.” Seven out of 10 people survey said they agreed with it! That means, in a room of 10 people, seven of them would deny that there are any objective moral rules that should govern their behavior!
With this kind of outlook so pervasive, it’s easy to see why lying and deception are so much a part of our culture:
- 65 percent of high school students say they have cheated on an exam in last 12 months;
- 24 percent of college students say they would lie to get or keep a job;
- 47 percent of adults would accept an auto body repairman’s offer to include unrelated damages in an insurance claim.
If there’s no objective truth about our moral choices, then the basis for our decision to be truthful in any given circumstance will always depend on self-serving reasons.
But unlike the moral relativism of most people, God absolutely hates – that is, regards as personally offensive – a lying tongue and “a false witness who pours out lies.” God hates these things because they are so destructive:
“Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” (Proverbs 25:18)
God hates lying because He is the Source of truth. In fact, Jesus used that very word to describe His character when He testified, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) Scripture further tells us that “it impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), since God Himself is the standard and ground of all that is real in the universe.
In dramatic contrast, Satan is called the “Father of lies.” (John 8:44) When we lie, we are behaving more like children of the devil then children of God. Have you been telling lies about others lately? God says of the liar, “I will not allow deceivers to serve me, and liars will not be allowed to enter my presence.” (Psalm 101:7)
We know lying is wrong, so why do we do it?
Often because we have been caught doing something wrong or embarrassing. An article from the Washington Post magazine on lying pointed out that people lie 92 percent of the time “to save face.” The same article goes on to say that people lie 98 percent of the time to keep from offending someone else.
We have all been faced with those situations when telling the truth was not easy. We try not to state the obvious and yet not lie outwardly.
- When the wife asks her husband, “Honey, do I look fat in this?”
- When you’re a guest at someone’s home and the meal was horrible. “How was it?” “I have never eaten anything like that in my life!”
Then there are those “little white lies” that can lead to bigger ones:
- When you instruct the kids to say you’re not home when they answer the phone.
- When you say, “I forgot” – but you really didn’t.
- When you exclaim, “It’s good to see you!” – but you don’t mean it.
- When you say, “I love your outfit” – but you really find it repulsive.
- When you promise, “I’ll be praying for you” – but you have no intention of doing so.
Maybe you think to yourself that you never lie like this, but perhaps you are overlooking other common ways of deceiving yourself and others.
Consider the issue of gossiping, or talking about other people behind their back. Gossips love to share private (and usually unsubstantiated) information about other people, sometimes using such pretenses as:
- “Have you heard …?”
- “Did you know …?”
- “I don’t know if it’s true, but I just heard that …”
- “I wouldn’t tell you, but I know it won’t go any further …”
Christians can even rationalize the sin of gossip by saying things like, “I am telling you this so you can pray …”
Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to convey accurate information, but the question is, are you sure that what you are reporting is true, or is it merely a rumor? Have you checked your facts? Have you gone to the person? Spreading rumors or insinuations about other people is dishonest, since it doesn’t make the slightest effort of determining the truth about something while passing it off as credible information.
Another common way we lie is through flattery. Flattery is perhaps the subtlest forms of deceit. A good definition of flattery is “saying something to a person’s face that you would never say behind his or her back.”
It’s tempting to flatter someone to get something from them, but saying insincere things is just another form of lying. Would you consider a two-faced person to be honest?
Yet another way we lie is through exaggeration. This is especially easy to do, since we often feel the (insecure) need to impress other people. We may tell some pals about that “giant fish” that got away, or we might hype our skills with the hope of getting that job promotion.
Finally, we can lie by keeping silent when we should be speaking up. For example, we might hear someone say something we know for a fact is untrue, yet we remain quiet. Or we might turn a blind eye to a case of injustice and let it be “someone else’s problem.” Slander by silence … complicity by passivity.
Christians are called to be truth-tellers in a world that “loves to live a lie.” (Revelation 22:15) Unlike the majority of others around us, “we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
May God give us the courage and grace to live our lives as true witnesses for Him.