Recent events have caused me to reflect on this question: is lying just as serious to God as is sexual sin, or are some sins not quite as bad as others? As I looked at this question, I decided to dive right into Scripture itself to find out what God Himself has to say to us on this topic.
It turns out that, although humanly speaking, lying often seems less serious, God actually sees lying as extremely serious, right up there with sexual immorality and other very grievous sins. “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28) To lie to another person (or group of people) is to actually harbor hate towards them, as it hurts them by spreading deceit.
Lying can temporarily bring about dishonest monetary gain. The love of money and concern about how donors view us can motivate all kinds of evil, such as lying to cover up another’s sin. “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” (Proverbs 21:6) “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forget their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26) What money or reputation is worth committing this serious sin? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Utilizing deception and lying to cover another’s sin will only temporarily work – eventually both types of sin (both the lying and the sexual immorality that was covered up) will be brought to light somehow and found out. “But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke8:17) Why lie when all that is hidden will be known anyways, and when God already knows what has been done in secret?
Discretion is virtuous, yes, but never mistake lies and deception for discretion! “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:14-15) Be careful, so that you do not allow yourself to commit one terrible sin to cover another’s terrible sin. Both of these sins cost Jesus an equal amount of suffering on the cross. Both are incredibly serious. Never excuse one sin over another just because it’s less obvious or “less gross.” Sin, of any kind, is serious, and those who have been called to follow Christ must pray for the strength and grace to avoid all of the sins we are tempted to commit.
When we follow all of God’s law, without selectively choosing what is convenient, we both glorify Him and make choices that actually benefit our lives as people. Sin not only destroys our lives and reputations, but also leads others astray, Lying to another person devalues our relationship with them. Adding sin to sin does not cancel out sin – it simply adds to the sin already committed. Only the sacrifice of Jesus can cancel out sin. Let us seek to follow the Lord as we worship “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)