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The Father of Lies

The Father of Lies

by Mark Grant

Published in
The Christian Informer
November, 2002

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Last updated:
November 2, 2002.

A minister was walking down a street when he noticed a group of boys standing around a dog. Concerned for the dogís safety, he walked over and asked what they were doing. A boy replied, "This is an old stray, and all of us want it. We decided that whoever told the biggest lie would get it." "You boys shouldn't have a contest telling lies," said the minister. "Don't you know that lying is a sin? Why, when I was your age I never told a lie!" There was complete shock and silence upon all the boysí faces for about a minute. Then, just as the minister thought he had gotten through to them, one boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, the minister wins" and reluctantly placed the dog leash into the minister hands.


While we may smile and find this story humorous, the fact is we have all told some lies and whoppers at one time or another. There is no humor however, when we are lied to and cheated in a business deal or when an untruth threatens our reputation. But what is a lie? Essentially, a lie is the utterance by speech or act designed to be false with the intent to deceive. In Leviticus 19:11 we read, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another." Unfortunately, lying has become a way of life for many people in our society today. Several years ago a survey found that ninety one percent of those questioned lie routinely about matters they consider trivial; thirty six percent lie about important matters; eighty six percent lie regularly to their parents; seventy five percent lie to their friends; seventy three percent lie to their siblings; sixty nine percent lie to their spouses.


Whenever we lie in order to deceive others, then we are following Satanís example. It is Satan who is called a liar and the father (originator or source) of all lies by Jesus himself. Jesus describes Satan when he said, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). Jesus confirms that murder and lies are identified specifically as works of the devil. From him falsehood first proceeded, for it was Satan who tempted Eve with a lie with the intent to deceive (Gen. 3:1-6). That is why when we speak a lie, then we characterize his spirit and are under his influence.


While there are various forms of lying, the motivation for most lying is a desire either to hurt the one against whom the lie is directed or to protect oneself, usually out of fear or pride. It was Cain who tried to protect himself by becoming evasive with God after he killed Abel and God asked him, "Where is Abel your brother?" (Gen.4:8-10). Abram lied to the Egyptians by telling them that Sarai his wife was his sister because he was afraid that they would kill him in order to take his wife for her beauty (Gen. 12:11-20). Jacob put the kidskins on his hands and neck and served up dainty meat to his old blind father Isaac, passing himself off for his brother Esau, acting out a lie so that he would receive the blessing (Gen. 27:15-29). Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before the rooster finally crowed (Matt. 26:69-75). Ananias and Sapphira wanted others to believe they had sacrificed everything when in fact they had given only a portion to the Lord, and in doing so lied to God and died (Acts 5:1-11). No matter what the reason may be when we tell a lie, we need to realize that it is only going to compound the problem for there are grave consequences for lying. Solomon wrote, "A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape" (Prov. 19:5).


Lying is sinful first of all, because it alienates us from God who is truth itself. "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight" (Prov. 12:22). Second, lying to each other disrupts unity by creating conflicts and destroying trust. It tears down relationships and leads to open warfare in the Lordís church. "Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another" (Eph. 4:25). Because each member belongs to the rest, the fellowship of the church should be marked by a refreshing openness rather than deception. Truth is the first condition of mutual confidence that is the basis of all unity. A third reason lying is sinful is that is destroys the liar himself. The contradiction between the liarís knowledge of the truth and his participation in the lie will leave him helpless to discriminate between reality and delusions. One lie will ultimately lead to further lies to cover up the first. This web of falsehood produces a kind of bondage that will sooner or later be exposed. "The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble" (Prov. 12:13).


While lying may be the universal vice of the world, it is Godís Word that appeals to Christians to throw off falsehood and speak the truth to each other. "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (Col. 3:9-10). We as Christians must understand that lying and falsehood are incompatible with the divine nature of God because He cannot tell a lie. The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to Titus, "Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Tit. 1:1-2).


The biblical opposition to all lying originates in the fact that the people of God are to serve and glorify "the only true God" (John 17:3). Jesus Christ is "the truth" (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13) The Word of God is always "the truth" (John 17:17). If Christians are going to model their behavior on Godís character, then it should motivate us to speak the truth. There is no middle ground for the people of God, because every habitual liar of every kind, along with other unrepentant sinners, will be in the lake of fire. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev. 21:7-8). The choice is between the way of God and the way of Satan. Between being set free for knowing the truth (John 8:36), or exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:25). Let us do as David said, "Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me your law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me" (Psa. 119:29-30). To live and speak any other way is to follow the father of lies.

[We appreciate very much brother Mark Grant's article on this much needed subject. We know that lies are usually told to gain some personal advantage, but sometimes they are masked as "a kind deed" or "something necessary for a good cause." Some knowingly fabricate, exaggerate, even alter the facts of an incident for a greater impact on their listeners, and in their mind, no doubt, reconcile this deviation from Christian principles by thinking, "It's all right in this case, because I'm doing something noble for the Lord." Remember, if you lie, as brother Grant has pointed out, you are acting like "your father" - Satan. No matter how "just" the cause may seem, it is no longer "just" when lies are used in its pursuit. "The end does not justify the means." -R.N.]