If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins… 1 John 1:9
What do you do to change when dishonesty has become a way of life, when it is just as easy for you to look someone in the eye and lie as it is to breathe and sleep? To the Corinthians, who knew something firsthand about dishonesty and deceit, Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In God’s sight, conversion makes you a new person; yet the fact remains that the ongoing change in your life, the result of God’s Holy Spirit working within, takes time. Conversion isn’t an instant transformation from dishonesty to moral perfection.
My experience in working with people who have made lying an integral part of their life, is that this habit can be broken, but it requires work on their part. It isn’t something which instantly gets fixed. When you recognize that lying is wrong, and you want to see that habit broken, you can find God’s help and you can change. Interested in knowing how? Try these guidelines.
Guideline #1: What God commands, He gives you power to perform.
Here it is clear what God expects. When Paul wrote to new believers in the city of Colossae, he said, “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” (Colossians 3:9,10).
Paul is really saying, “You used to do this all the time. It was a habit. But now, stop lying to each other, and be renewed in the image of Christ.”
Guideline #2: Realize that dishonesty is a habit which can be broken.
When you become a Christian, God’s Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in your life. You used to lie without giving the truth a thought. Now you hear a voice saying, “That’s not the way it is!” Insight: Stifling the voice of conscience only allows the chains of dishonesty to shackle you further.
Guideline #3: Understand that honesty should not be an option but a constant decision.
Okay! For you, lying has been like breathing. That has to be history. You make the conscious decision: “With God’s help, I’m going to tell the truth!” You’ve made the decision, but it has to be reaffirmed constantly. It is a day by day commitment, and even more probably, an hour by hour, possibly a minute by minute commitment. Don’t be deceived by thinking, “It won’t matter this time.” I think of that bit of wisdom which says, “The chains of habit are too small to be felt until they are too great to be broken.” That’s often true, but with God’s help, you can make honesty a decision which you continue to affirm.
Guideline #4: When you fall back into that old habit of dishonesty, confess it as sin, and go back and make it right.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9). This takes courage, but it is powerful medicine.
You may be thinking, “People won’t respect me if I correct wrong impressions or admit I was lying!” To the contrary, they may be surprised, perhaps even shocked, but they will admire you for the courage to confront and do right.
Honesty is a way of life which God honors. Making that decision and reaffirming it brings great rewards–the reward of a clear conscience and the knowledge that you are right with God and your fellow man. It is the only way to go.
Resource reading: 1 John 1.