The foolishness of lying


By Rev. O.L. Johnson

Religion Columnist

I’ve often heard it said that history repeats itself.

If we buy that idea, then I wonder when was the last time in U.S. history that indiscriminate, intentional lying was a nationwide pastime and widely accepted as truth. When I listen to the remarks made daily by our leaders at all government levels, that seems to be the atmosphere in our nation today.

We claim to be a nation founded on and governed by Christian principles but, if that’s true, we seem to have ignored or merely forgotten one principle that is of the utmost importance to God. He addressed it briefly in Exodus 20:16, the ninth commandment, that he gave to Moses when he told us all “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

As the years progressed, it appears that mankind didn’t take God seriously the first time, because he found it necessary to repeat it three more times, once each in Exodus 23:1, Deuteronomy 5:20, and Deuteronomy 19:16. And if that wasn’t reminder enough, Jesus himself weighed in on it and reminded us again in Matthew 19:18.

And here we are today, acting as if God had never uttered a word about lying. We have gone far beyond just lying on one another. We have taken this foolishness to a much higher level.

I can imagine that about now God is probably scratching his head in wonder, asking himself, “what will it take?” But I have faith. I know he will come up with something.

I am confident of this because of the position that lying holds on God’s list of sin priorities. In Proverbs 6:16-19 God shares this list with us. This passage gives us the so-called seven deadly sins where God reveals his hatred for each. When we look closely at this list, we find that one of the sins is listed twice. Which one, you ask? Take a guess — yep, you’re right, It’s lying!

In verse 17, he shares his hatred for “a lying tongue;” in verse 19, he expresses hatred for “a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that sows discord among the brethren.” Notice the difference between these verses; the former speaks of lying generally, while the latter expresses God’s hatred of incidents of lying, and also hatred for those who speak lies, thereby causing discord.

Discord can be the result of lying behavior, if those same lies are consistently repeated. If that is the case, then lying becomes deceptive and contagious.

Consistent lying deceives the liar into believing that his lies are truth, and may have the same effect on his listeners. There’s a saying that if a lie is told over and over again, everybody will begin to believe it as truth.

If we pay attention, we can see this saying played out on our national scene over and over. Deception and contagion are alive and well on the political scene in the U.S.A. So, what can you and I do to help eliminate liars? First, trust God that when he’s ready, he will “bind them in bundles to burn them” (Matthew 13:30). The time of the lying “tares” is limited.

Secondly, recognize that the antidote for lies is truth. Learn to fact check when you suspect a lie; do some online research to discover truth; and share that truth with others. We can help to break the lie-to-truth cycle that is running rampant on our country today. And, lastly, pray!

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.

Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website,

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