Just One Little Lie

Poor Joseph. His father, Jacob, sent him to check on his brothers. They responded by grabbing him and throwing him into a well. Later they sold him to the traders. Then the lies began. If you recall the story in Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers took his fancy multicolored coat, covered it in animal blood, then presented it to their father. While they didn’t flat out say Joseph had been killed by animals, they sure intended their father to reach that conclusion. And for the next 20 years, as Jacob probably questioned them again and again, they maintained that lie. 

In his book, The Hand of God, Alistair Begg warns, 

“There is an important lesson here: it is virtually impossible to commit just one sin. One sin needs another to guard it from detection. How many more lies do you think the brothers had to tell over the next two decades to keep up the sham? Jacob must have grilled them about the incident. Surely other family members and friends asked them to recount the story. You can mark it down that when you sin, you’ll sin again—especially in the area of lying.”[1]

Here’s the thing, though. God hates lies. He hates it so much that lying rates two mentions in the list of “deadly” sins in Proverbs 6: 

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19, emphasis added)

In addition, the Bible tells us:

  • Proverbs 12:22 – The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
  • Proverbs 19:9 – a false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.
  • Psalm 101:7 – No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

Here is what God says to those who are Christ-followers:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossian 3:5-10, emphasis added)

Do you want to walk God’s way? The psalmist David says you should “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies” (Psalm 34:13).

One last word. God gives us a promise. But this promise should never be used as an excuse to lie. In God’s eyes it is not better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission as we so often do. Yet God is aware we are fragile people, prone to sin. So God gives us this amazing promise:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Our response to God’s forgiveness should be to obey what Jesus told the woman at the well: “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). 

  1. Alistair Begg, The Hand of God (Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition), p. 45.

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