If we say, “We have a relationship with God” and yet live in the dark, we’re lying. We aren’t being truthful.
1 John 1:6
The greatest lies are the one that we tell ourselves, and rarely have I been aware of the impact my lies have in my life, my relationship with God and with others. According to a USA Today study, the average American lies at least 11 times a week. Those who lied least were found to have stronger health, and those who lied more frequently were found to have weaker health. In a more telling study conducted by Newsweek, 60% of people admitted they lied at least once in a given 10 minute conversation.
It is no surprise that lying affects our physical and emotional health. The connection between lying and health are not only well documented, but biblical, with even greater effects on our spiritual life, our relationship with God and on others.
Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty
When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Psalm 32:2-5 (NLT)
Why We Lie
God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
John 3:19-21 (NLT)
At the root of our lies are hidden guilt, fears and truths we are too afraid to face and to proud to share vulnerably with others. I found that through lying and deceiving not only do I keep God, my wife and friends at a distance, but I never confront the real motive behind the lies: I want to keep living the way I want to, resisting change and being influenced by God and others. In reality, this deceitful desire will only lead to greater sorrow not happiness:
18 What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!
Isaiah 5:18 (NLT)
We use our lies to continue living however we want to in contrast to pleasing God. It’s only through deceit that we pursue fulfilling our selfish ambition and what we envy. Living in this way we “drag a cart of lies” that leaves people disillusioned and confused along the way, and we lose our respect for God:
Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.
Psalm 36:1-4 (NLT)
The Bible describes this way as living in darkness, and when we live in darkness, we no longer see truth but have greater confusion, consternation and conflict in relationships, especially with those living in the Light.
This deceitful heart condition is what makes building relationship and intimacy difficult for me to attach to others and for others to attach to me.
Too often we think relationship building is a skill, when in reality it is an issue of heart condition: Is my heart condition one that wants to be influenced, intimate and inspired, or remain isolated, insecure, and intimidated? Those with the latter heart condition will fail to build an intimate relationship with God, while those with the former will develop a security and confidence in God that inspires others:
But if we live in the light in the same way that God is in the light, we have a relationship with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we say, “We aren’t sinful” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.
1 John 1:6-9 (GWT)
We cannot be close to God without being close to people because our heart condition overflows into all our relationships – there is no “on-off” switch but as the saying goes: “Where I go, there I am.”
One barometer of how honest I am with God is in how honest I am with my wife and friends. For years I deceived myself growing up religious thinking as I long as “feel like I’m doing better than others” I must be OK with God. Even recently I see how I deceive myself thinking as long as I am “acting right” and focused on getting the results that will make me appear successful, then I must then be working hard and doing what pleases God. Appearances are never an indicator for integrity, but building honest relationships are.
What are the “barometers” in your life that determine how honest your are with God and others? For instance:
- When was the last time you repented, radically changed something?
- How stressed out are you?
- How irritable are you?
- How often do you have critical thoughts towards others?
- How much of a control does sensuality and impurity have on you daily?
- How often do you feel threatened?
- Who do you genuinely listen to and allow to influence you?
Overcoming the Lies: Here are 3 ways we can overcome being self-deceived and believing the lies around and within us:
1) Choosing Love Over the Lie
Love contains no fear—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.
1 John 4:18 (JPB)
Lies perpetuate our fears, leaving us self-consumed, living in denial, and having no room to love others.
- What fears are are you not honest about with God, with your spouse, and with your friends?
- What guilt or envy do you have at the root of your anxiety that keeps you from loving others?
2) Sensitize Your Conscience:
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
1 Timothy 4:2 (NLT)
Lying sears our conscience. When our conscience is seared, our love grows cold (Matthew 24:12) and we are no longer able to love others. This is why we need spiritual friends who will tell us the truth, to help our consciences remain sensitive to God. What relationships will you allow to influence you spiritually, hold you accountable to help you develop and re-sensitize your conscience when it comes to your relationships, your motives, and decisions?
3) Prayer Purifies:
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
Psalm 34:4-5 (NLT)
Honest prayers are what purify our hearts, and keep us from buying into our own lies. The less we pray, the more fearful and impure our hearts will become; the more we pray honestly, the more God is able to influence and purify our hearts.
- What fears, sins and weaknesses have you avoided praying about specifically?
- What are you asking God and others for help in?
- Does your prayer life inspire others to be honest with God also?