Our Pre-Disposition to Lie

I (Justin) haven’t been able to turn on the TV the last few days without seeing blanket coverage of the General Petreaus affair story. It has been all over the news and the internet.

Yesterday, during lunch I sat in a restaurant and programming was interrupted so the President could have a press conference to talk about his knowledge of the situation.

It is big news. What is interesting is that the affair isn’t really the big news…at least not anymore…it’s the fact that he lied. A leader at a very high level, entrusted to protect our country, lied; then lied some more; then convinced several other people to lie on his behalf.

The reason that this story continues to gain steam is because they continue to uncover layer upon layer of lies, deception and cover up.

Sin never runs toward the light…it always tries to cover up. While there are huge differences between General Petreaus and you and me, there are some pretty uncomfortable similarities as well.

  • The sin we think we’ll never fall victim to isn’t one big decision away…it just a few small steps of compromise. We don’t go from person of integrity to adulterer and conspirator between now and next week. We make small compromises over time that allow us to justify our choices.
  • We are all pre-disposed to lie and cover up our mistakes and poor choices. It is easier for most people to lie to cover up a mistake, sin or poor choice than it is to admit it. Once one lie is told, more lies have to be told to continue the cover up. We are poor truth-tellers.

It is easy to think the way we don’t become General Petraeus is “just tell the truth.” But it’s not that easy. If it were that easy, we would all be great truth-tellers.

The problem is that most of us try to behave our way into behing honest. Being honest isn’t a condition of our behavior; it is a condition of our hearts. If we want our lying to change, we have to allow God to change our hearts.

I have struggled with honesty most of my life. I have distorted, exaggerated, withheld truth and covered up sin. I’ve learned that the pain of me exposing my sin is far less than the pain of my sin being exposed. Because of that truth-telling has become a nonnegotiable in my life.

Here are some questions I ask myself to check my heart and overcome my pre-disposition to lie:

1. Is the fear of consequences of the truth greater than my commitment to truth?

2. Am I telling the truth to myself?

3. Is there a truth I have distorted or am distorting right now? 

4. Is there something I am nervous about being exposed in my life? 

The reality is that most of us will never have the opportunity to direct the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. But every day we are given the opportunity to distort truth or be honest; to expose our flaws or cover them up; to pursue the light or hide in darkness.

Sin tries to convince us that the way to escape its consequences is to hide; everything I see on TV says that is a lie. 

5 Responses to Our Pre-Disposition to Lie

  1. lynne

    Question- How do you help someone like this or learn to trust them after you realize this is an issue?

  2. I am reading a Tim Keller book and in my reading today, I came across this which really convicted me: What do you do when telling the truth could cost you dearly?

    Unfortunately my answer too often was not to tell the truth. I have found, however that it only serves to postpone the inevitable AND exposes me as a liar.

    The timing of this post is remarkable. Thank you.