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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How Can I Stop Lying?

How can I stop lying?

I’m a pastor of a relatively small church.

But the bigger your church, the more impressed people are.

So when am I tempted to lie?  It’s at pastors’ conferences when I am asked — “How many people are in your church?”

That’s when I’m tempted to lie — about the size of my church.

You may be tempted in other ways

Maybe for you it’s fudging the numbers on your tax return when you are low on money.

Or checking “yes” when the application to get your son into a drama group asks “is the applicant 12 years old” and your son just turned 11.

Or making an excuse for why you didn’t get the report in to your boss — when the real reason was that you procrastinated.

Or maybe it’s telling the guys about how you bagged an eight-point buck when it was actually only a four-pointer.

So we all need to ask — how can I stop lying?

To answer this I have found it helpful to raise another question —

Why do we lie?

Even though there are hundreds of different ways we can lie — they are all motivated by the same thing —

We lie because we want to gain pleasure.

That’s behind each of the above examples.  Lying is caused by —

  • wanting to gain the pleasure of impressing other pastors
  • wanting to gain the pleasure of having more money
  • wanting to gain the pleasure of having your son in the drama group
  • wanting to gain the pleasure of looking good to your boss
  • wanting to gain the pleasure of impressing your hunting friends

So that’s why we lie — to gain pleasure.

So how can I stop lying?

The key is understanding that lying causes us to miss an even greater pleasure — the greatest pleasure of all.

That’s what Jesus taught.

Jesus taught that we should tell the truth (Mat 5:37).  And he tells us why in John 14:21 —

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

So if we keep Jesus’ commandments (including telling the truth) He promises that He will manifest Himself to us — which means we will experience even more of His nearness and presence.

This is huge — because it’s only in Jesus’ presence that there is fulness of joy (Psa 16:11), that all our heart-hungers are satisfied (John 6:35), that all our heart-thirsts are quenched (John 7:37-38).

The truth is that Jesus’ nearness and presence is infinitely more satisfying than anything else —

  • than impressing other pastors
  • than having more money
  • than having my son in the drama group
  • than looking good to my boss
  • than impressing my hunting friends

So the key to stop lying is to trust Jesus’ promise that His presence is all-satisfying — and that truth-telling will bring me more of His presence.

So why do we lie?

It’s because we aren’t trusting Jesus’ promises.

It’s because we are NOT trusting that Jesus’ presence is all-satisfying — and we ARE trusting that money or impressing others is more satisfying.

So how can I stop lying?

There’s only one way — by fighting the fight of faith against unbelief until I once again trust Jesus’ promise that He is my all-satisfying Treasure.

So here are some steps I’ve taken that have helped me battle the temptation to lie —

Come to Jesus as you are.

Don’t try to overcome lying first.  You can’t — on your own.

Instead, come to Jesus just as you are (Luke 18:13-14).  Confess your sin of not trusting Him as your Treasure.

Tell Him you are sorry.  Look to the Cross as the only way you can be forgiven (John 3:14-15).

Ask Him to forgive you through His death on the Cross.  He will (1Jo 1:9).

Ask the Father to pour out His Spirit.

When I want to impress people more than I want Jesus — that shows a serious heart problem.

It shows that sin has blinded me, deceived me, bound me.

My own will-power can’t deliver me.  But God can — and will.

The Holy Spirit can change our hearts (Luke 18:27), strengthen our faith (Mark 9:24), and help us feel the all-satisfying glory of Jesus (2Cor 4:6).

So pray — earnestly — for God to pour His Spirit upon you.

Set your heart on Jesus as He is revealed in God’s Word

Turn your heart from thinking about money, impressing your boss, getting your son into the drama group — and set your heart upon Jesus.

Find Scriptures that display His majesty, authority, compassion, and mercy.

Find Scriptures that describe His life, death, resurrection, ascension.

Pray over these Scriptures — asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of your heart so you feel and taste Jesus’ glory.

Maybe ask help from your wife, or a trusted believing friend.  Confess your sin to them and ask them to pray with you and for you.

As you do this — in time — you will feel the Holy Spirit changing your heart so you trust Jesus as your Treasure, you delight in Him and desire Him more than anything else.

By faith, tell the truth

Everything starts, continues, and finishes with trusting Jesus Christ.

So trust Him —

  • as your all-satisfying Treasure (Matt 13:44)
  • to give you even more of His nearness as you tell the truth (John 14:21)
  • to satisfy you in Himself more than in impressing others (John 5:44)
  • to take care of your finances (Matt 6:33)
  • to do what’s best for your son (maybe pray that the drama coach makes an exception) (Phil 4:19)
  • to help you not procrastinate on projects (Phil 2:13)
  • to have mercy on you with your boss (Neh 1:11)

And then — trusting His promises — tell the truth.

How does this impact you?

I’d love to hear — leave a comment in the box below.  Thanks.

Do you know someone who is asking “How can I stop lying?”  Email this to them using the “share” button below — or use the other buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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49 Responses

  1. Patrick says:

    Great post and the timing is perfect. God is at work! In addition to impacting me, I will be sharing this with my kids.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It is always a joy to hear from you, Patrick. And I’m glad to hear this post was encouraging to you and your kids.

      May the Father richly bless you and your family, brother.

      In Christ,

      Steve

  2. Jade says:

    Lying hurt so much I know the feeling it can ruined life and relationship, I’m a god a fearing person, but I started a little lie and now I just don’t know how to stop, coz it become on top of each other, I just want to stop but I don’t want to tell the truth at the same time cz it will ruined someone’s life. But I just need to stop it, and lift it all to god :..( it true I feelt that god has turned his back me, I was so selfish.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Jade —

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart.

      Are you part of a Bible-believing-and-living church? During a hard time like this it would be really helpful to have some fellow-believers to share your story and pray with.

      And while lying deeply dishonors God — the beauty of Jesus Christ is that you can turn to Him as you are — confessing your sins and being assured of His forgiveness — and He will give you everything you need to handle this situation.

      Keep me posted on how you are doing.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • amy says:

        Dear Pastor, what if i told a very trivial white lie to my mum, do i need to confess it? it is really really stupid and awkward, i dont want her to think i am a legalist and all which she already thinks i am.

        • Steve Fuller says:

          Hi Amy —

          Most important is to bring it to the Lord, and be assured of his forgiveness.

          It’s also crucial to discern what you were trusting more than Christ as your treasure.

          I see no command to confess sin to others, but it might be that this is something God is leading you to do.

          I’d pray about it some more.

          If God leads you to confess to your mum, ask God to give you wisdom on how to explain it to her so she does not hear it as something legalistic.

          In Christ,

          Steve

    • Exie says:

      It is hard but yu can do it never stop praying keep believing and trusting that God will help you if you ask forgiveness and put more faith and trust in Him.We can do it I am in the same situation let’s pray together so we can worship Him with a clean hearts.

  3. Carol says:

    This is a very good post and I feel assured and blessed to have read it. God bless you!!!

  4. Samantha says:

    Steve,
    Thank you for this post. I am now praying through this as I am a person who has always (it seems) desires to impress and to please other people. I know this as I often wonder if people like me and if they love me. It is good to be honest. It seems impossible to change, but that is God’s work. He is the only One who can change a person. I pray He does so, to where I only desire Him, and pleasing Him. I pray the same for others who can relate.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Samantha,

      You are so welcome — and thank you for sharing your story so honestly.

      It DOES seem impossible to change, but you are absolutely right that God does the impossible.

      And the way He brings about this impossible change is by helping us see and feel Jesus’ glory so deeply that we are truly filled and satisfied and want nothing besides Him.

      This is not our constant experience. But as we experience this more and more we will grow more and more free from the desire to find satisfaction in pleasing others.

      I love how God changes us from the inside, by His power, through Jesus our merciful and all-satisfying Treasure.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Tammy says:

    I just came across this and it really woke me up. I am lying about something big and I can’t seem to stop. It’s like I’m addicted to it for attention. I am so ashamed but still continue to lie. I need help but at this point I am too scared to tell the truth due to fear of what people will think and the hurt I will cause. I am going to pray and ask for Gods forgiveness and hopefully I will stop. I’m scared.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Tammy,

      Thank you so sharing so honestly about what’s going on. Jesus Christ is ready to help you, forgive you, and free you — He has everything you need.

      Look to Him by faith, come to Him as you are, and trust Him. Fight to see that He is infinitely more satisfying than the attention you are getting through lying.

      Are you part of a church which has some trusted believers who could pray with and for you about this? I find that very helpful.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

    • john brantley says:

      Hay Tammy I feel the same way I ask god for forgiveness I have been lying for so long that sometime I hate myself. so god is the only one who can help us. I have been lying to my wife and others for so long I am so tired of it.

  6. sarah says:

    hey i am sarah and i always lie to myself and to people i love around me…and it hurts me inside and also hurts them inside to….i want to stop lying but dont kno how…i need some pointers on how to stop lying,,,if i countine lying i will lose everything tht i worked hard for and i dont want to do tht….so i want to change and stop lying to the people i love and myself….i hate tht i lie and i want to change but is really hard to stop lying…so i want to stop lying and be a better person

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I would encourage you to take the steps I outline in this article. I believe that as you do that you will experience the Holy Spirit changing your heart, and the temptation to lie will lose its power.

      Let me know what the Lord does.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  7. mom of 2 says:

    Hi Pastor Steve,

    I turned to your website because I feel so angry at myself for lying. But what I find at the heart of the lying is covering up either’s my son’s problems with high-functioning autism or my husband’s problems with Asperger’s or even my medical problems that have resulted from being hit by a drunk driver and having on-going vertigo that prevent me from medically driving. I had worked in ministry for years as a social worker before I started having serious inner ear and vestibular problems. I hate that I lie but I’ve searched my heart and I think the lies happen when I don’t know people well enough or have the time to explain all of our family’s baggage.

    Upon meeting people, I feel that people get very uncomfortable with me explaining my families issues and it also leaves me feeling very sad that people that know the truth too early reject getting to know us more. I have always enjoyed being around people and it makes me sad that it’s hard to make new friends. And it’s really hard to know how much information to provide to them on the onset, but I have in the past opened up only yo be very disappointed that people preferred not to have more contact with our family. I think people are fearful that I will ask them for a ride or invite them over when two of the people in my household do not enjoy social interactions. I guess I catch myself lying and I hate it but much of it is to protect our privacy until I get to know someone better. Or it is just the opposite, I know my son needs services. I don’t lie to service providers but I expose them to all of our families issues so they can understand the complexity of the situation, my son needs services but I can’t medically drive; I need the services in my home and.but the services need to be when my husband isn’t home because he want doesn’t enjoy people in our home.

    It feels like I live a double life, and I that feels like the biggest lie of all. At church, I am trying hard to help our family appear like a “typical’ so I can get to know more people in our community but when it comes to services that can help my son like ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) or Occupational Therapy, I’m asking for the services to be applied in our home because I know they will benefit my son and I can’t drive him to a clinic. My husband travels for months and we do it primarily when he is out of the home. And when there’s special ed meetings at school, I know I must tell the worse of my son’s behaviors in order to get services; that’s just how the system works.; you have to tell why the services are needed.

    So, I guess I am torn up the double life and I feel essentially I’m living a lie to many people. There’s one lady that has reached out at church. The ladies in my bible study know I can’t drive but never offer to help us get to church even knowing my husband is gone for six months. So, it’s hard for us to get to church and I hate to be a burden to the only lady that reached out to us. The pastor knows I can’t drive and my husband is gone, but he has to many other responsibilities. I do want to connect with other christians and my get my soul filled up in church. I know God is with us through all of troubles but I feel very isolated maybe that’s why I’m pouring out my heart out here in this reply message. Thankfully my husband is a christian and when he is in country he does take us to church but we go missing in action in church when he leaves or have spotty attendance (sometime we will walk, but that requires walking through a major intersection with two kids when I have inner balance problems. We had been at another church but again the similar problems with people knowing our situation and being fearful to ask if we needed anything. We changed churches as my son has gotten to look more normal and found a church closer to home. I guess I now when I meet new people I feel trapped lying, feeling I know need to protect our family from exposure and protect myself from the sadness that comes from excluded. People don’t mean to exclude us they just have fears of what it may involve to be our friends! So when talking to new people I catch myself lying if it’s people in the church or community, I tend to lie making our family sound like they have no problems, but we missed an event because we were busy but on the other hand when it comes to service providers, like the medical people I have to try hard not to exaggerate the problems so we can get more services to help.

    Sorry for the long reply, but I had a lot on my heart. I having a hard time because I know I lie and that’s a sin but I don’t seem to know how to

    • Steve Fuller says:

      My heart goes out to you, mom-of-2. You face a difficult and complex situation. But God promises that in Christ He will be everything to you that you need. He will give you all the wisdom and support you need — and so satisfy you in Himself that you are strong and peaceful and encouraged, even in the midst of your trials.

      I will pray right now that God will bring you some sisters in Christ who can love and support you and your children with all the struggles you face. But in the meantime, know that God will take care of everything in such a way that you have the greatest joy in Him.

      And one other thought — NOT telling someone about your son’s condition is not necessarily lying. You don’t have an obligation to tell everyone everything. God will give you wisdom about those you should tell.

      Let us know what God does. In Christ, Steve Fuller

  8. anonymous says:

    So I have been lying a lot to my parents. It comes out and I regret it later. I feel that I need to contact every one I’ve lied to and tell them the truth. I only want to ask God for forgiveness because it’s a little scary confessing your lies to a family member or non family member. I feel that I am more comfortable praying to God than confessing to them about my lies. So I really need an answer. Is it okay to not confess your lies to the people you’ve lied to and pray to God and ask for forgiveness of lying? I want to remain a christian but need an answer.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      As you mentioned, the first step is to confess this to God and receive assurance of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.

      Then it might be helpful to confess your lying to those you have lied against. You don’t need to do this in order to be forgiven, but as a way to rebuild trust with that person. God will give you wisdom regarding who it is that you need to confess to, and who you might not need to.

      I hope that helps, and thank you for your comment and question.

  9. anonymous says:

    Thanks that answered it 🙂

  10. mom of 2 says:

    Thanks Pastor Steve! It’s still a struggle, but my son jumped up one day in our new church to because he wanted to serve communion. He was granted the opportunity and he did well and has kept on volunteering. Our new church now feels like home, it took over almost a year. We changed churches because the new church is only about a mile away. We are walking to church and that’s not easy with my medical problems even when it’s only a mile away but I so happy that my son wants to serve and he is given the opportunity! He now enjoys church whereas it was hard to get him to go before. My mother’s heart is so proud to see my son serve and know that he wants volunteer because he understands the importance of communion.

  11. Perla says:

    AsI have been in prayer for a while asking god for forgiveness n asking him to help me change.my prob is the lie comes out before naturally without thinking of lying. That’s the worse part because before I even realize it its already out there. So I retract my statement n then stop n say the truth. I notice that when I’m honest more people accept me for me n more people ask me what happened n my life with situations. I take the blood of Christ n cover n wash myself with it and my sins are gone n I am as white as snow. I ask god to throw my sins as far as the east s from the west n I know he remembers it no more. I am holding on to his promises. A while back I told a lie n it literally was eating me alive. I was guilty n my conscience wouldn’t let me b. But I talked to my pastor n we prayed. I couldn’t understand why I lied so much but now with what you’ve written its cleared things up. Thank you. I will pray now taking into consideration what I have learned.

  12. Ronds Dawson says:

    This post was truly a blessing. Sometime we lie to fit in or to portray an empty life. To make other think we have so much going on when we don’t. When in reality we are running from Christ instead of running to him to fulfill us.
    Truly a blessing and a tuff subject to confess to anyone.

  13. Abena says:

    Thanks soo much for the message.
    I am encouraged.
    God bless you.

  14. KH says:

    I was awaken to the guilt I had about lying. It’s over the craziest things like buying a crock pot but telling my husband a friend gave it to me. We have one income so he is very budget friendly. Or always saying everything is great when people ask, or lying to get out of helping someone. I have a new born and I’m so exhausted and I don’t like telling people no. So I figure if I make a good enough excuse they’ll be understanding. A LIE is a LIE. Whether BIG or small. I’m tired of lying. My husband, I know he had led about things. But he is so honest to where people just stare at him. He is not mean when he says it but he says why lie? I feel like a hypocrite….. This really blessed me and I need to ask for forgiveness and press in or. It feels like I’m dying….

  15. Jared says:

    This really helps me out. My lying problem has gotten really bad and I want to change. My parents are the ones who are the most hurt by it, and it breaks my heart because they’re the people I’m the closest to in my life. They have always been there for me and they’ve sacrificed so much for me, but now I’ve betrayed them and hurt our relationship in a major way. Please keep me in your prayers as I will do my best to put lying behind me forever.

    God bless,
    Jared.

  16. Carol says:

    Hello I lie alot and I have lied to these people that God has placed in my life to help me. They are Godly people and I got saved through them. I lied about not doing something and it messed everything up. They were so upfront and honest with me about their lives. I have hid alot of shameful things from my past. They helped me out alot and I feel like crap for lying. I know God will punish me because he hates lying. Ive been praying and reading my bible but I feel like God is very angry with me. I want this lying spirit out of me in the name of Jesus!

  17. Susan says:

    I am so blessed by this website and thank God for giving you the wisdom to write it. I have had a lifelong struggle I begin believing the lies I have said and do not know the truth from the lies. I want to walk right before God, I want to always tell the truth. I need help and did not know where to turn, if anyone would understand and not condem me . I want to do the will of my father in heaven in all things. Thank you again.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m in such a awful place. Im a believer and I am part of a wonderful strong church. I have a secret. Not for pleasure but to escape rejection, because of fear I lie! Every time I’m placed in a threat til position I lie to protect myself, sometimes from imagined threat-so to speak. I think I’m going to get fired, so I’ll make a huge story to prevent becoming fired. Only, the threat was never real. I suffer from anxiety in a big way. I’ve come a long way in the struggle with anxiety but it still puts me in positions where I lie for no real reason. Now I’ve told a lie to my boss and I want to correct it, to face it, but I will likely lose my job and I’m the only income in my family. Not that this is an excuse! Please pray for God to give me direction on this.

  19. E says:

    Thank you for this article. I’ve recently noticed a pattern of lies over the last few weeks. It’s destroying friendships and relationships even though they aren’t huge lies – there is no excuse. I think I’ve noticed a link of fear. I lie to avoid embarrassment and to impress people. I don’t know what’s happened to me as I’m a very honest person and hate lies. I know how important it is to tell the truth, but this barrier seems to have formed lately.

    I’m commenting really to make a commitment to making a change by letting God change me and working with him to highlight areas that need to change. I command out any spirit of rebellion and lying in the name of Jesus and declare that I am His.

  20. C.C. says:

    I have alway been a person to stretch the truth, or embellish. I have my own company and it seems that in the business world-that’s all ppl do is lie. We try to convince ppl that we are better then other companies. Our products, equipment, staff are better…it starts there. Then my lying got worse. I run a business and I am 25 years old. I find I cannot relate to my friends at all. They can’t see how hard it and how much I struggle. I own a house, married…non of my friends know my struggles. So, I lie to convince them how hard it really is. I work alone all day…it gets lonley. So my lies have progressed to just boldface lies just for attention. Just to start a conversation. I have tried to stop…I find they just spill out like its natural. After in my head I think *aww noooooo* I feel so ashamed. I keep trying to start over the next day-and it never works. I keep trying though. This website gave me hope and encouragement. Thanks!

  21. C.C. says:

    If anyone needs someone to talk to and grow with in Christ… You can email me
    Notsocleverblonde@gmail.com

  22. Shanyah says:

    I’m in the process of trying to stop telling lies so often for no reason. and I feel like the reason I lie is to make it seem like I have live a life that I don’t actually have. I’m on the thicker side so I felt as if my lies would take away from the fact that my life really isn’t interesting, or that I don’t get much attention. But its becoming too much and I feel heavy. I really want to stop. Ive tried by myself several times and none of the attempts have worked. So I am starting with over once again, this time with help from the Lord, and I pray that I overcome.

  23. Jillian Jalbert says:

    I keep lying to My fiance. I need help now. He said one more lie then he is done with me. Any advice? ASAP PLEASE

  24. Lisa says:

    I have a habit of not trusting Jesus and lying. I confess this but still I do it. I think I have to hate my son and be grieved over it as Jesus is in order to see it and confess it. I am a leopard who cannot change her spots. Only Jesus can. I am willing.
    Thank you for this site. I want to speak truth in my inner parts and out of my mouth.

  25. Dwhyte says:

    I also lie to avoid… to avoid pain or conflict or maybe ridicule. Perhaps this is still along the lines of gaining pleasure. I have been examining my life and have buried my head for years to the fact that I lie. I am a church leader and have always found some way to either justify it or sweep it aside. I did grow up in an environment that “exaggeration” was used to retell stories or make points. I gained so much encouragement from this article because you bring it all back to Jesus. For the first time I don’t feel like I have to fix it today. To set out with some kind of resolve at the beginning of each day stating “today I will not lie”. That has not worked because I have the wrong power source. ME! I need Jesus, his healing power, to focus on him and lay it at the foot of the cross. Thank you for opening up about this.

  26. Mo says:

    Thanks pastor Steve. This was really timely. I started lying for the fun of it. Sometimes I lie so much about a particular situation that I come to believe it myself. And other times, the lie just comes out naturally and flows. I am really tired of not being totally honest. I guess I do it to impress people, even my family, it is probably rooted in low self esteem. I prayed out all the steps listed here. I will rather have God’s presence than momentary pleasure. I trust God to help me. Thank you Sir.

  27. Erin says:

    Thank you, Pastor Steve for this post. I have lied a lot in my life. I learned how to lie from my mom and I just thought that was a normal thing to do to make myself look better (as that is what my mom did and still does). I am learning that I need to turn to the Lord to help me change my ways. I still lie but I want to change things now in my life and look to what the Lord has in store for me for a better life. I have hurt many people by my lies and I just didn’t know how to stop. I have hurt my grandma a lot by my lies and I don’t know if I will ever earn her trust back. It’s hard for me to admit that I have hurt the people I love by my deceitful tongue.

  28. Exie says:

    I juss came across this post and I am thankful for it.I have been struggling with lies all my life I don’t even no how to tell the truth,I get angry with myself and I feel ashamed everytime I tell a lie,I pray Lord help me to speak the truth everytime I open my mouth,to speak less and listen more,to not speak at all if I don’t have anything to say.This makes me feel sad,angry about myself.

  29. Marco says:

    I need help…. Badly lying has corrupted my life so bad that for the past few day I have been considering suicide. Because of lying I lost my marriage and because of lying I was kicked out of the church. I need help I want to change

  30. Craig says:

    I am not typically a liar but rescently told a big lie. I have ask God to forgive me but I can’t seem to accept His forgiveness. I thought that maybe it was because I needed to confess my lie to those involved but I think that it’s one of those things where it would do more harm than good. The lie, as many do, led to cover up lies. I have asked God to help overcome this. My wife also feels that it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.

  31. Marcus says:

    Dear Pastor
    This has helped me immensely as I was looking for it as I told a deliberate lie yesterday that made me feel so guilty and upset about it that am not feeling happy at all it’s all about little extra money I make by driving up and down my colleague which our Company car authority incharge is against so yesterday when he asked whether I drive someone in my car I flatly denied and said no two times . But now having read all about trusting Jesus Christ I want to stop lying completely and stop bringing my colleague or should I tell first the man in authority that I drive him up and down?

  32. Lynne says:

    Thank you!!!

  33. Dee says:

    I need help , I just re dedicated my life to God and have started to walk the path of righteousness , however lying is my problem because my walk with Christ has open my eyes to a lot however when I lie I confess and ask for forgiveness constantly . I don’t like the feeling when I lie it is hurtful and guilty. I have been seeking God and looking for the right path I just want to stop lying I hate when I do it and quite frankly god must be fed up hearing me ask for forgiveness for lying…. sigh what can I do ?

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