These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts. Zechariah 8:16
Two individuals both take an oath in court. They are asked, “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God”? Both say, “I do!” Yet when the two take the witness stand, their stories contradict each other. Both cannot be telling the truth. One of them has to be lying, yet both seem to be sincere. Both have good reputations. Both speak convincingly. Which one is telling the truth? Tough issue, right? How can individuals lie so convincingly?
The scenario that I have described has a thousand variations: The student who tells his teacher, “I did not get help with my homework” when, in fact, he did. The husband who tells his wife, “I was working at the office!” when he was actually having dinner with his secretary. The employer who tells a tax examiner, “We have reported all of our income” when a considerable amount went unreported.
Who is telling the truth? And how do you know when someone is lying? There are times when it seems that there are telltale indications. When I was a boy and my father questioned the truthfulness of my story, he would say, “Son, look me in the eye and say that!” Naturally, if I couldn’t do it, my story was suspect. In working with people, I’ve learned to put a lot of stock in non-verbal signals: jaws that grind, fists that are doubled, voices that become strained and tense, blotches that break out on a woman’s neck.
Recognizing that when a person is lying there are physical indications, in 1921 John Larson invented the first lie detector, an instrument which is known today as a polygraph. The more refined version of what Larson created is now a device that measures reactions to questions which must be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer, and the instrument records changes in blood pressure, pulse, and breathing. It also measures a variety of responses including muscle movement and changes in electrical charges which are the result of involuntary reflexes.
Though law enforcement agencies believe that lie detectors are generally quite accurate, their results is not admissible in a court of law, so submitting to a lie detector test cannot really prove who is telling the truth and who is not.
There are times when the general public will never know for sure who is telling the truth and who is lying. Yet when individuals are of sound mind, they know clearly when they are lying and when they are telling the truth. There is another issue which needs to be considered. Whether or not spectators to certain dramas ever know who is lying, God does, and eventually, He has His payday, someday.
Long ago God dictated: “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts” (Zechariah 8:16).
More than 170 times the Bible speaks of lies or liars, and those who have made it a practice are judged. While dishonesty may result in some gain, on occasion, in the broken world in which we live, it brings no gain eternally. There are some habit patterns which are so repulsive to God that He specifically excludes individuals who practice these things from spending eternity in His presence: dishonesty or lying is one of them. “Outside,” writes John, speaking of heaven, “are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15).
Eventually, who is telling the truth and who is lying will be clear, very clear.
Resource reading: Revelation 21.