Isn’t it interesting how frequently we hear or speak these words? We utter them after someone says something doubtful or outrageous. Of course, these words would be completely unnecessary if everyone only spoke truth. Every time. All the time.
Lies come in many shapes and sizes. “Little” ones could include the way we answer a policeman who has just pulled us over for allegedly speeding. “No, sir, I had no idea I was going faster than the speed limit.”
Or they could be whoppers like lying about an affair.
But lying of every kind has consequences. And this isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for a long time. The Bible tells us about lies men believed long ago—lies men still believe today. We ought to do our best to identify some of those lies, address them, and take them out.
First Lies in the Bible
According to Scripture, which lies are the most egregious? The most damaging for those who believe them?
Here’s one for starters: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Gen. 3:4–5).
This was the lie that began the downward spiral of sin and death. These words were spoken by Satan, appearing to Adam and Eve, disguised as a serpent.
History’s first couple was situated in a sin-free setting: the garden of Eden. And this place of perfection included a “no” directed to the man: “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16–17).
The Bible tells us about lies men believed long ago—lies men still believe today.
It was as though the Lord was saying to Adam, “This place is yours. Enjoy all of it . . . except for that tree over there. It’s lovely to look at and its fruit is tasty, but stay away from it. If you disobey me, it will be the end of you.”
The first heinous lie is that we have the capacity to be like God.
And here’s another: “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves’” (Gen. 11:4).
From the first time I poured concrete into a foundation, I’ve been infected with the construction bug. The small company I started working for at age 17 had just begun the process of building a house in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I remember the delight I experienced that summer watching the house take form. Because I was the only full-time employee besides the founder, I learned every trade, falling in love with most of them.
In fact, throughout the summer I brought my parents back to the site on the weekends just to show them the progress and what their son had accomplished. I was proud.
The story of a group of men getting together to build something isn’t unusual. But the purpose of those who united to erect the Tower of Babel was awful, and the lie they believed isn’t uncommon.
The first lie is that you and I can take the place of God and do life on our own—without him. The second is that our highest goal—the source of our greatest satisfaction—is to glorify ourselves. To make ourselves great by our own remarkable accomplishments. Sounds like the second stanza of the same song, doesn’t it?
What’s the Truth?
So what is the truth that counters these lies? I’m glad you asked.
The prophet Isaiah had something to say about Satan’s first lie—about becoming like God: “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5).
And Jesus summed up his response to the second lie—about earning our way to glory and perfection: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).