Note: This is the second of a two-part series. For part 1 of this article, click here.
Genesis, known as the book of beginnings, records the first lie in Chapter 3. Predictably enough, it was uttered by Satan. The original command not to lie is found in Exodus 20:16: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Bearing false witness has to do with lying about some aspect of a person’s character or actions. God directly commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. He warned that disobeying this command would result in death, but Satan tempted Eve and deceived her by bringing a false witness against God:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:1-5, NASB).
Ironically, Satan, the actual liar, accused God of lying. He talked to Eve about the character of God and suggested that God lied when He told Adam and Eve that their disobedience would result in death. He implied that God had selfish motives and was withholding something good from them, but we know He was actually protecting them. Sadly, Eve’s agreement with Satan’s false witness against God ultimately led to the spiritual death of the entire human race.
We can learn much about dealing with Satan’s lies by studying this account. One of the primary strategies Satan used to deceive Adam and Eve was distracting them from God’s best. Satan introduces thoughts into minds so he can work his destruction. In Eve’s case, he did this by bringing up the topic of God’s restriction concerning the trees.
Eve’s conversation centers on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was forbidden, but she makes no mention of the tree of life, which was permissible. We see that she was distracted from the goodness of God’s provision and desired what was forbidden. As she continued to talk with the serpent, the desire for what she could not have grew until the forbidden tree had replaced the tree of life in the center of her heart. Satan diverted her affection, then chose a lie that catered to her desire. He designed it to be the perfect lie, something she wanted to hear, making it easy to get her to embrace his false witness concerning God.
Through cunning and subtlety, Satan distracts the heart from God and causes it to set its affections on something else. Once this initial work of distraction is accomplished, he presents us with the perfect lie. Only a sincere love for God, His truth and the power of the Holy Spirit can keep us from falling victim to this deception. We should give thanks to God for His faithfulness to protect us from the lies of Satan. Satan’s deception is a powerful, seductive spirit that supernaturally deludes men and women and brings them under its influence. Only those who really love the truth of God’s Word will be able to resist the power of this temptation.
Even genuine Christians lose sight of the truth and allow their carnal desires to pull them away from Christ. Business professionals may initially sincerely desire to make money for the kingdom of God, but after a time, as God prospers them, they lose sight of their original mission and focus on money and the prestige that comes with it.
Ministers are susceptible as well. When things are tight and tough, they spend a great deal of time in prayer and reading the Bible. But when busy-ness and prosperity come, they may spend less and less time in prayer and reading God’s Word. Blessings and prosperity leave them most vulnerable to deception.
A.W. Tozer said, “Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.” We live in such a self-centered, self-absorbed society that it’s easy to lose our focus on God and others. The greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37b, MEV) and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39b). It’s not about me; it’s about God and others and stewarding what He entrusts to us.
Any time we forget the truth of God and begin to get lost in the appetites of the flesh, compromising the truth becomes easy. Loving truth more than life itself is imperative; otherwise, we are no match for the lies of the devil, and we will perish in his deception.
Satan takes truth and mixes it with just enough lies to deceive those who do not love the truth; in doing so, he is able to wreak havoc on God’s people. Jesus warned His followers to expect such attacks (see John 15:18-20).
The book of Acts tells how this happened to God’s servant Stephen. False accusations were brought against him and, on the basis of false testimony, he was stoned to death, martyred just like Jesus.
How is the Christian supposed to act in light of such tactics? Jesus gives the answer in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).
Being slandered for Christ’s sake is a great honor; it is evidence that the Spirit of God is resting upon you, and Satan considers you a threat to his kingdom. Being aware of Satan’s strategy when the attack comes should bring encouragement rather than discouragement. We must examine our deeds. But if Satan’s accusation is false, we can rejoice in suffering for Christ and continue walking in the footsteps of the Lord.
Whose Side Are You On?
Tragically, Satan often dupes believers into repeating allegations and criticisms against one another. Much of what is passed around within the body of Christ is only partially true or involves outright lies. By repeating them, Christians are actually harming the very church they claim to love. This is why the Bible states:
“A single witness must not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin that he sins. At the testimony of two witnesses or at the testimony of three witnesses shall the matter be established” (Deut. 19:15).
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except before two or three witnesses” (1 Tim. 5:19).
In order to establish a defense against slander, God requires that all accusations be substantiated by reliable witnesses. Far too many lives and ministries are destroyed because of gossip, rumors and unsubstantiated allegations. God desires better than that for His people. He wants our hearts to be so full of love that we refuse to repeat evil concerning others. God says in His Word, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
God is seeking intimacy with people of sound character. David writes about the type of people God chooses to dwell with:
“Lord, who will abide in Your tabernacle? Who will dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and does righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart; he who does not slander with the tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor bears a reproach against his friend” (Ps. 15:1-3).
The love for gossip is not easily mastered, but the first step toward deliverance is recognizing it for what it is. It is not a joke—it is sin, and acknowledging this truth is vital in order not to walk in self-deception (the most dangerous of lies). After acknowledging our need for help, we must call out to God for His grace.
Hypocrisy: The Ultimate Lie
Loving the truth of God’s Word more than the flesh empowers us to withstand the seduction of Satan’s deception. If we believe the father of lies, we begin to walk in compromise and self-deception, and while we still profess to love God, we no longer love our neighbor but begin to say and do things that will bring him harm. We may put other people down in an attempt to get ahead, and before long, our Christian witness becomes watered down. We become hypocrites, and the cause of Christ suffers.
Multitudes are in the valley of decision today, hungry for the truth. They are desperate for what is genuine. When we don’t reflect God in our lives, they won’t receive what we have to say. Unless we experience freedom within ourselves, others are not able to receive freedom. The answer for a hurting world is genuine Christian character.
Scripture tells us: “Do not lie one to another, since you have put off the old nature with its deeds, and have embraced the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created it” (Col. 3:9-10).
Lying is associated with the old man, the individual you were before you believed in Jesus. Now you are a new person who has been renewed and conformed to the image of His character.
It is impossible for God to lie, so let us strive to be truthful in all we do, just as our Father is truthful.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father’s Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.