In John 8:44, we see a story unfolding - "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (NIV)
The Message translation reads: "You're from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn't stand the truth because there wasn't a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies."
Before I became a Christian, lies were a necessary part of life. My formative years were shaped around the philosophy that lying had its place especially when it came avoiding hurting someone’s feelings. However, lying is part of our old fallen nature that existed before we surrendered our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. Later, after I started hanging out with Christians, I heard the phrase that Satan is the father of lies. Perplexed, I dug into the Bible a little further.
In John 8, Jesus was speaking to a group of Jews who refused to believe in who He was. Jesus’ critics have adamantly resisted His teachings. Before Jesus spoke, they had claimed to be the children of Abraham and Jesus responded by pointing out they were not true sons of Abraham because Abraham believed God and followed God.Let's take a look at what it means that Satan is the father of lies and what it means for us today as we seek to grow in truth and faith.
What is the Consequence of Lies?
These Jews were rejecting Jesus. So, at that point in John 8:44, Jesus says:
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Seems odd that “murder” is inserted into a passage that deals extensively with the devil as a liar. Satan’s ultimate goal for every lie he tells is your death and for your destruction. Isn’t it interesting how lying goes hand in hand with murder?
The Lord tells us that there are seven things that are an abomination to Him: Haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, and sowing discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).
The harsh reality is that “all liars will have their part in the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, NKJV). We are also reminded in John 10:10 of the true character of Satan.
So, what exactly is a lie? The dictionary defines a lie as an untruth, falsehood, white lie, perjury, fabrication, falsification, deception, betrayal, made-up story, tale, half-truth, pretense, crookedness, exaggeration, fiction, evasiveness, and concealment.
The verb form is to misinform, mislead, evade, conceal, cheat, or stretch the truth. Even a “white” lie is a deception that invalidates a person’s integrity. According to those definitions, at one time or another, we have all lied; therefore, we must repent. Billy Graham once wrote,
An old Scottish clergyman said the devil has two lies that he uses at two different stages. Before we commit a sin, he tells us that one little sin doesn’t matter — ‘no one will know.’ The second lie is that after we’ve sinned, he tells us we’re hopeless. Truth is we have all fallen, individually and collectively, and God does not consider this a trifling matter. Judgment hangs over the whole human race because of rebellion and disobedience.
The Bible tells us, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10).”
We are created in the image of God, who does not lie, and Satan has been a liar since the beginning. In fact, when you look within the pages of the Bible, you see that even Satan struggled with telling the truth.
Before his fall, one of the great angels believed a lie about himself that wasn’t true: Satan actually believed that he could become like God. That was a terrible, false idea, and his idea got him kicked out of heaven.
How Satan Is the Father of Lies
Satan is the “father of lies” in that he is the original liar. Satan told the first lie in recorded history to Eve, in the Garden of Eden. After planting seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind with a question (Genesis 3:1), he directly contradicts God’s Word by telling her, “You will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4).
With that lie, Satan led Eve and Adam to the fall of mankind. Lying is Satan’s primary weapon against us all. He uses this tactic to confuse us, leave us hopeless, and twist God’s Word. He wants us to doubt the goodness of God.
He uses the tactic of deceit to separate people from their heavenly Father. Some of his more common lies are “there is no God,” “God doesn’t care about you,” and “the Bible cannot be trusted.”
God doesn’t lie and he wants his creation to be marked by truth as well. Specifically, when God gave the people the commandments they were to live by in Exodus, truthfulness was included in them. Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
In fact, the Bible has several names for Satan but the common denominator in all of these names is that he is a liar.
He has been called, “deceiver” (Revelation 12:9), “Beelzebub” (literally, “lord of the flies,” the ruler of demons, in Matthew 10:25), “tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5), “Belial,” meaning “wicked” (2 Corinthians 6:15), and “ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
The enemy is relentless in using people and anything of this world to entice and draw us to his deceptions.
We are daily inundated with false statements made by various sources like the news media, advertising, politicians that distort and manipulate the truth for their own agendas. Adolf Hitler once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Even false Christs and false prophets will arise (currently present in many churches) and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).
The Apostle Paul tells us that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so that what he says and does sounds good and seems reasonable. But it is nothing more than a false appearance.
Why Does This Matter?
We would do well to know the Bible inside and out because then we can distinguish between the enemy lying to us or twisting God’s Word. Honesty has always been the best policy for God’s people because God is always honest. He has always desired for his people to be truth-bearing and truth-telling.
Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on truth. If you don’t have truth, you won’t have trust. If you don’t have trust, you will never have true fellowship. God knew what He was doing when He set up the directive for being honest.
More than ever, we as Christians need to create a true community that is built on trust that is built on truth. My encouragement for you today is to not let the struggle of lies or false testimony define you and destroy your relationships.
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Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.