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Lying Bible Study

February 1, 2015

LYING, FALSEHOOD, ERROR, DECEITI. Representative Biblical references.

A. Old Testament
Exod. 20:16 – “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Prov. 6:12 – “a worthless person, a wicked man,…one with a false mouth”
Prov. 12:22 – “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord”
B. Varying Greek words in New Testament.
1. Greek words pseudes, pseudomai, pseudos, pseustes – false, lie
Eph. 4:25 – “laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you”
Col. 3:9 – “do not lie to one another…you have laid aside old self”
I Jn. 2:22 -“Who is the liar…the one who denies Jesus is the Christ”
2. Greek words apatao, apate, exapatao – deceive
Eph. 4:22 – “old man corrupted with lusts of deceit”
Eph. 5:6 – “let no one deceive you with empty words”
Gal. 6:3 – “if anyone thinks he is something…deceives himself”
C. Greek words plane, planos – deception, error
Matt. 24:4 – “see to it that no one misleads you”
Gal. 6:7 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked”
Eph. 4:14 – “trickery of men, craftiness in deceitful scheming”
D. Greek words dolios, dolioo, dolos, doloo – false, deceitful
Mk. 7:22 – “from heart of man proceed deeds of deceit”
II Cor. 11:3 – “as serpent deceived might be led astray”
I Pet. 2:1 – “putting aside all guile (deceit) and hypocrisy”

II. Some Biblical examples of lying, deception, falsehood.

A. Serpent – Gen. 3:1-5
B. Cain – Gen. 4:9
C. Abraham – Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18
D. Isaac – Gen. 26:6-11
E. Jacob – Gen. 27:6-35
F. Laban – Gen. 29:15-30
G. Hebrew midwives – Exod. 1:15-21
H. Rahab – Josh. 21-6; 6:17,22-25
I. Ananias and Sapphira – Acts 5:1-11

III. Spiritual source of lies, deception, error

A. God cannot lie. Contrary to His character of Truth.
Numb. 23:19 – “God is not a man, that he should lie”
Heb. 6:18 – “it is impossible for God to lie”
Titus 1:2 – “God, who cannot lie”
Jn. 8:32,36 – “the truth shall set you free…the Son…”
Jn. 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life”
I Jn. 2:27 – “is true, and is not lie”
B. Lying, falsehood, error, deception is the character of the Evil One, Satan.
Jn. 8:44 – “devil, no truth in him…he is a liar, and the father of lies”
I Jn. 4:6 – “the spirit of error”
Rev. 12:9 – “devil and Satan…who deceives the whole world”
Rev. 20:10 – “the devil who deceived them”
C. Fallen mankind identified with Satan’s character of lie and deceit
II Cor. 11:3 – “serpent deceived Eve…”
Ps. 58:3 – “those who speak lies go astray from birth”
Rom. 1:25 – “they exchanged the truth of God for the lie”
D. Lying, deception, falsehood in man derived from Satan – ek diabolos
Jn. 8:44 – “devil..the father of lies”
Acts 5:3,4 – “Satan filled your heart to lie to Holy Spirit”

IV. Christian behavior

A. Should represent and manifest the character of God’s Truth
Matt. 5:37 – “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ be ‘No'”
Eph. 4:15 – “speak the truth in love”
Eph. 4:25 – “speak truth, each one of you”
B. Should not misrepresent the character of God
Lk. 3:14 – “do not accuse anyone falsely”
Eph. 4:25 – “laying aside falsehood”
Col. 3:9 – “do not lie to one another”
1. Inconsistency of such misreprsentation
James 3:14 – “do not be arrogant, and lie against the truth”
I Pet. 2:1 – “putting aside all guile (deceit) and hypocrisy”
I Jn. 1:6 – “if walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth”
I Jn. 4:20 – “If says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar”
2. Severity of punishment – Acts 5:1-11; 13:6-11; Rev. 21:8,27; 22:15

V. Religion is the hotbed of lying, deceit, falsehood and error.

Jn. 8:44,45; Rom. 16:18; II Cor. 4:2; 11:3, 13-15; Eph. 4:14; I Thess. 2:9; I Tim. 4:1,2;
II Tim. 3:13; II Pet. 2:3; 3:17; I Jn. 2:26; II Jn. 7; Jude 11

VI. Some practical questions and considerations

A. Are some personalities more prone to lying than other personalities?
B. Do exaggeration, embellishment, inflation of figures qualify as lying?
C. Are there degrees of lying? ex. “little white lies”
D. What is meant by the term “pathological liar?”
E. Does the end ever justify the means of lying?
F. Is there such a thing as a “loving lie”?
G. Does the omission of information qualify as a lie?
H. Does the phrase, “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), create an intrinsic conflict?

every person on the planet at times is an Oscar-winning liar. Haven’t we all lied without being caught? As the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one …. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” (Rom. 3:10-13). My husband and I, aware of this reality, have made a pact. If either of us lies to the other, we are committed to confessing the lie within three days.

Perhaps my most common lie is to tell myself I can do things in less time than I actually can. And lying to myself in this way sets me up to lie to others. How many times have I told my husband that I would arrive at a certain time and place when in my heart I wasn’t genuinely committed to following through on my word? I told him that I’d be there, but I wasn’t. My husband has learned not to trust me, because my actions don’t always line up with my words.

To justify myself, I’d like to view my tardiness as a minor character flaw. In other words, I’d like to be untruthful about the selfishness that characterizes my way of managing time. Early in our marriage, I argued vehemently that lateness and lying are unrelated matters. I didn’t want to see the truth because the truth indicted me.

It’s not fun to be reminded of the humbling fact that everyone needs to be prompted, indeed, regularly goaded, to be truthful in our speech and in our hearts. All of us are susceptible. We all know what it’s like to take refuge in the escape route of lying. When it goes unchecked, we hardly even notice how far we have drifted. We’ve probably all seen a leader who intimidates and blames instead of owning the mistake that everybody knows the leader made.

Lying is more perilous than it seems. It’s more Satan-like than Christ-like. Jesus referred to Satan as “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). By contrast, Jesus declared himself to be the Truth (John 14:6).

Aren’t There Exceptions?

The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (17:9, NASB). What’s so indicative of our human fallenness is the universal tendency to minimize the treachery of lying. We want certain forms of lying to be okay. We are quick to remember Rahab and Corrie ten Boom, citing them as saintly liars. Or maybe we say that refusing to lie is somehow itself unloving. More than one person in reading a draft of this article expressed a concern that if we all told the truth all the time, we’d be rude. The 1997 Jim Carrey comedy Liar Liar comes to mind. Carrey’s character gives a comical rendition of what happens when people are so honest that they don’t edit what they say about others.

I wonder if we’re defensive about everyday ‘white lies’ because we are too lazy to find creative ways to speak the truth in love.

There’s a big difference between blurting out rude thoughts and being truthful, just as there is between gentle tact and gentle lying. I wonder if we’re defensive about everyday “white lies” because we are too lazy to find creative ways to speak the truth in love. My sense is that most of us are defensive about our lying because we are defensive about ourselves. We are slow to face the truth of the contrast between our character and God’s.

According to the Scriptures, God himself “does not lie” (Titus 1:2). In his holiness, he is incapable of lying. As the apostle John put it, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Lying can’t be other than sinful because God can’t do it. If lying were ever righteous, then there would be something righteous that God can’t do. It is clearly not God’s plan for people to harbor darkness or deception in their hearts. Even though God might use us when we lie, it doesn’t mean we are not sinning when we do.


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