The second abomination to God’s soul: a lying tongue. We make two mistakes with lying: one is to quickly and easily pontificate how wrong it is, but since everybody lies, that’s just a cover. The other is to justify it, knowing that there are levels of lying, and our “comfortable” level of lying fits into our Christianity the way we’re comfortable living it. We manage to figure out how to perceive lying as a positive good. Am I making sense? Either way, a life of absolutely not lying in any level or form is too extreme for most people, who say, “It’s impossible to not lie ever.”

SEVEN LEVELS OF LYING, by Sara Sumner

1. You lie. A single lie can become a match that lights a bonfire. Unless we confess the truth about our lie, we are on our way to level 2.

2. You self-protect. That is, you lie about having lied. If you lie about one thing, it is likely you will lie about another.

3. You develop a habit of lying. A liar at this level might, just out of habit, lie about something trivial for no benefit.

4. You self-deceive. You now believe the lies that you are telling others. We can lie to effectively that we even lie to ourselves. We self-deceive. This does not, of course, mean we are innocent or exempt from the need to repent. On the cross Jesus asked forgiveness for his assassins because they didn’t know what they were doing. This tells us that sins committed unknowingly still need to be forgiven. Lying is sinful even when we do so subconsciously. At level 4, a person enters into denial. He stops looking at his inner moral compass and therefore ceases to feel guilty anymore.

5. You rationalize. You not only believe the lies are not lies, but you justify the lies as a positive good. Lying is just part of a normal day, but it’s a virtue—it helps the company grow, it saves jobs, and so forth. Level 5 is especially tempting at the leadership level. The higher up you go in an organization, the harder it is to tell the truth. Lies are justified for the sake of the institution or some other larger good. Level 5 lies happen in the person realm too (This is not adultery, but true love!)

6. You develop your technique. The main technique is to compartmentalize. You start isolating statements or ignoring what was said in other contexts.

7. You see it as your duty to lie.

I believe lying is always a sin. It’s wrong. Our morals come from the character of God, and the character of God is TRUTH (Jn. 14.6; 1 Jn. 1.5). God is incapable of lying, which means that lying can’t be other than sinful because God can’t do it (Titus 1.2), and sin is a falling short of the glory of God. Therefore truth is universally right, and untruth is universally wrong. There is no situation where untruth is right. This is not, and never will be, situation ethics. Lying is wrong. So let’s go through biblical teachings and examples.

  1. Exodus 1.19-20. Interesting, right off the bat: The midwives lie, but God blesses them. Hmmm.
  2. Exodus 20.16. There is every expectation that we will be honest and truthful people. The command is not about lying per se, but about proceedings in court, particularly false accusations and therefore wrongful prosecution. False witness will ultimately lead to a travesty of justice and bring to an end the effectiveness of a court of law.
  3. Joshua 2.1-7. Rahab lies “for the purposes of God.” Though things work out, and later Rahab is praised, she is never praised for her cunning or lies, but for her faith (Heb. 11.31).
  4. 1 Sam. 16.2. Interesting, again, how God changes the story a little bit to adapt to the situation.
  5. 2 Ki. 6.19. Elisha lies to the enemy army to trick them and capture them.
  6. Ps. 101.7; Prov. 6.16-17; 12.22; Prov. 19.5; Rev. 21.8. God hates lying and judges liars
  7. John 8.44. Lying is something the devil does, not God or His followers.
  8. Acts 5.1-11. A follower of Christ cannot be a person of deceit.
  9. Eph. 4.25; Col. 3.9-10. Believers should drop lying once and for all as a mode of life.

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