Why Do People Lie?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Ephesians 4:17-32


I.         It happens over and over, someone tells me about a situation to get some advice on what to do, but as the story progresses, it becomes painfully obvious that the person is lying.

            A.        Critical facts are left out, the wrong attitude is expressed, and inconsistencies appear, especially as you ask about details.

            B.        I’m left wondering, if they really wanted help with a problem, why are they bothering with the lies? Advice on a false story isn’t going to help them.

II.        Put away lying - Ephesians 4:25

            A.        Putting away implies that at least for some lying is a part of their nature that needs to be abandoned - Colossians 3:9

                        1.         Lying is a part of the world’s corruption. It may be accepted by the world, but it is not acceptable to God.

                                    a.         God cannot lie - Titus 1:2

                                    b.         There is no shadow of sin with God - I John 1:5-7

                        2.         We have to be freed from sin - Romans 6:17-18

                        3.         That means killing off the old man of sin - Romans 6:4-7

                        4.         And it means leaving that sin in the grave - Romans 6:1-2

            B.        We can’t speak truth until the lying is stopped

                        1.         It seems so obvious that one is the opposite of the other - Proverbs 12:17

                        2.         Someone asked me to read an article, I responded that I didn’t get very far because the author had abused the Scriptures to make his point. But, the person replied, can’t you just skip over the parts that are wrong and gleam the 10% that is truth in it?

                                    a.         The answer is “no.” There is saying “garbage in – garbage out.”

                                    b.         When a claim is made on partial falsehood, that claim might be true, but it more likely is false. The problem is that you can’t tell. The decision of the accuracy of the claim would have to be made independent of the falsehoods. In other words, the arguments made to reach the conclusion would have to be discarded because they are worthless.

                        3.         For the same reason, telling a mixture of lies and truths in the past means that anything claimed must be analyzed independent of the “proof” offered because nothing is trusted.

                        4.         Our words are to be truthful - James 5:12

                                    a.         People who are truthful have no need to give promises to tell the truth.

                                    b.         People who lie will promise anything you want to hear to get you to believe that they are telling the truth, even though they are lying.

            C.        We speak truth because of love - Ephesians 4:15

                        1.         Love is without hypocrisy (an act) - Romans 12:9

                        2.         Love not just with words, but in our actions and in our truth - I John 3:18

            D.        We speak truth because we are members of one another - Romans 12:1-5

                        1.         Lying, at its root, is a selfish act. It makes no sense to lie to yourself, though I realize that many people do so. Still, it serves no benefit.

                        2.         Paul argues that if we hold concern for our fellow Christian, then lying to them is just like lying to yourself

III.       But why do people lie?

            A.        The liar thinks there will be a benefit to himself

                        1.         Ananias and Sapphira lied because they wanted the recognition without the expense - Acts 5:3-4

                        2.         Abraham lied about his wife because he thought it would save his life - Genesis 12:12-13

            B.        Some people lie reflexively to avoid trouble

                        1.         Peter did this when challenged - Luke 22:55-60

                        2.         You’ll see people do this when confronted about something they said. Often the first knee-jerk reaction is “I didn’t say that.”

            C.        But others will plan their lies with care

                        1.         Conceiving falsehoods - Isaiah 59:13-15

                        2.         Jeremiah bemoans the mighty liars of his day - Jeremiah 9:2-8

            D.        Then there are those who will lie to cause harm to others

                        1.         Naboth was lied about to get him killed - I Kings 21:13

                        2.         It was attempted against Jesus - Matthew 26:59-61

                        3.         It was done to Stephen - Acts 6:9-13

            E.        Finally, there are those who lie out of habit

                        1.         Jesus said Satan’s native tongue was lies - John 8:44

                        2.         No faithfulness in their mouth - Psalm 5:9

IV.      Regardless of the reason, the result is the same - Revelation 21:8

            A.        Isn’t it about time you left the old man behind?

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