The Path from Deception to Truth
According to a popular TedTalk, “On a given day, we’re lied to from 10 to 200 times.”
It’s upsetting to imagine being lied to 200 times in a day.
But what is more upsetting is to realize that we may have a lying problem ourselves.
Multiple studies have found the average person lies more than 100 times a day.
A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found, “60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.”
Let’s define what a lie is.
A lie is anything other than 100% truth. I used to constantly tell my children, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”
Anything short of the full truth is a lie. For something to be true, it must be completely free from falsehood.
Are you a liar? Your gut reaction may be to scream, “No!” But, pause for a moment.
Even if you are not a habitual liar, it is likely you are still deceitful from time to time.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things … who can know it?”
We tend to excuse the little white lie or dismiss lies of omission, but these are forms of deception.
You might want to change your answer to the initial question.
No one wants to be known as a liar but lying has become a habit for many.
What if you could turn from deception and become known as a truth-teller?
We’re spending time discussing how to move from deception to truth using Deception: Letting Go of Lying by Lou Priolo as our guide.
Understanding the Different Types of Deception
When it comes to deception, we lie to ourselves when we don’t acknowledge all forms of deception.
For instance, when we exaggerate a story, we are essentially deceiving our audience.
That may seem extreme, but it is just one example of how easy it can be to slide away from the truth.
Ultimately, there are different styles of lying, many of which were even used by heroes of the Bible (such as Peter denying Jesus).
According to Priolo, “There are two basic ways to deceive. Deception can be accomplished by falsifying information or by concealing information. Falsification involves distorting the truth (changing the essential facts of a matter). Concealment involves withholding vital elements of the truth (omitting the essential facts).”
In his booklet, Priolo lists 23 different styles of lying. They include:
- An outright lie
- The “I Don’t Know” lie
- Making commitments with no intention of keeping them
- Slandering or talebearing (gossiping)
- Hidden agenda
- Verbalizing suspicions or false conclusions
- Partial Truth
- Covering up past sins
- Kidding, teasing, or joking lies
- Vocal and body language lies
- Claiming to be close to God while continuing to sin
- Giving the appearance of one emotion to cover up the existence of another emotion
- Planting/fabricating evidence
Priolo writes, “The [list] above is not exhaustive. But the truth is, you and I have told more of these lies than the number of hairs on our heads.”
Why Deception Hurts
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
– Exodus 20:16
Ultimately, deception hurts others and our relationship with God.
Priolo writes, “As you may know, the first four of the ten commandments show us how to love God – the remaining six how to love our neighbor. The ninth commandment is intended to guard against defamation of character. It is meant to protect the reputation of our neighbors.”
Christians are commanded to speak the truth (in love).
Therefore, when someone is a habitual liar, it raises red flags about who they put their faith in.
As Priolo writes, “If you lie on a regular basis, you are imitating not the Father in heaven but the ‘father of lies’ – you are not bearing God’s image but Satan’s.”
If you have a lying problem and are not a Christian, the first thing to do is confess and repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Take Note of How You Lie
Once you’ve acknowledged your sin of deception, it’s time to take inventory of the types of lies you tell.
We each have a style of lying.
By identifying your personal style of lying (i.e., flattery, making commitments you don’t plan to keep, slandering), you will be able to stop yourself when an opportunity to deceive arises.
Become a Truth Teller
Next, make a goal to speak the truth (in love) in every situation rather than simply telling yourself you’re going to stop lying.
Priolo says, “A liar is no longer a liar when he becomes something else – a teller of truth.”
To do so, you must stop deceiving and tell the truth. Replace the lies with the truth. That’s repentance.
For example, if your style of lying is to conceal information, make a goal to be honest, open, transparent, and disclose all the facts and information.
Live your life telling so many truths that you never have to fear being caught in a lie.
Confess and Clear Your Conscience
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit
– Romans 9:1
In addition to confessing your sins to God and asking for forgiveness, you also need to confess to those hurt by your deception.
This is the only way to clear your conscience.
Priolo writes, “Not only is it biblical to do so, but the humility needed to correct lies that were told in the past can also be a powerful motivation to not tell any more lies.”
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
– Acts 24:16
Earn Back Trust Where Lost
Don’t mistake forgiveness for trust. There is a big difference between the two.
Even though you confess and are forgiven, it does not mean the individual is ready to trust you as before.
You must earn back the trust you lost as a result of your deceit. This is accepting the consequences of the confessions you’ve made.
Priolo explains, “The key to earning back trust that has been lost is to habitually do the opposite of what was done to lose it. So, if you lost trust as a result of falsifying information, you must make it your goal to earn (win back) the trust you relinquished by accurately reporting future events.”
Identify What Causes You to Lie
It is also necessary to identify what causes you to lie.
For example, maybe you use flattery to get what you want or to find acceptance.
Either way, these causes do not justify the sin.
Priolo claims a case can be made for “some sort of fear” motivating all lies (fear of being found out, fear of embarrassment, etc.).
Ask yourself what you value or fear so much that you are willing to lie.
Ultimately, if you fear and value God above all, you will stop lying and start telling the whole truth.
Lastly, it is important to ask someone to hold you accountable.
Sometimes simply knowing someone will call you out on a lie is enough encouragement to avoid deception.
It’s hard to stop lying when you are only accountable to yourself.