It’s hard to know when someone is lying. Several ex-FBI or CIA agents have written books and developed seminars to help us spot lies by studying body language, eye flickers, facial expressions, voice pitch, and other things. But good liars can even fool polygraph machines.
Last fall Psychology Today ran a post by Christian L. Hart, a university psychologist who specializes in deception. Dr. Hart admitted, “There simply are no behavioral cues that reliably indicate when someone is lying. Researchers like myself have searched high and low for such cues for decades. The best anyone has come up with is a small number of behavioral cues that are extremely unreliable.”
“But don’t abandon all hope just yet!” Hart also wrote. “There actually are some fairly effective ways to really detect liars.” It’s not by trying to read body language. The real secret is to listen carefully to what’s being said.
“Lying is nothing more than communicating false information,” said Hart. We have to pay attention to the information we’re told, see if it aligns with reason, with evidence, with what we know or can learn. We have to ask questions and see if the story stands up to scrutiny. That’s good advice when we suspect another person is lying. It’s also how to deal with the never-ending lies of Satan.
He is an expert liar, as Jesus pointed out in John 8:44, when He told His critics, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He … does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” The New International Version says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language.”
Satan never tells the truth, but he’s a master at twisting the truth. Lying is his native language, and it’s the language of his people today. If we aren’t careful, the devil even prompts us to lie to ourselves, often without realizing it. The devil is so cunningly deceptive that we instinctively believe what he whispers in our ears.
Here are four other lies he often tells us.
ONE: “God doesn’t want me to be happy.” One of Satan’s worst lies is telling us God isn’t the source of happiness; indeed, He’s a hindrance to it. Vocalist Andrew Cameron Cline has a song in which he says, “All that I really want is to be beautiful. I don’t care what it costs; I only want to be happy.”That’s the desire of literally billions of people.
How ironic! According to the Bible, God has made us in His image, He loves us, we are His handiwork and craftsmanship, and He longs to fill our lives with joy! Yet most people reject Him and go off looking for happiness on their own.
If you’re struggling with issues related to happiness and joy, I want to recommend Psalm 144, which begins: “Blessed be the Lord my Rock … I will sing a new song to You, O God” (verses 1, 9). The Psalm ends: “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (verse 15).
Study this passage and apply it to yourself. Only the truth of God’s Word can wash Satan’s lies from your mind.
TWO: “I’m no good.” The devil also wants us to think we’re no good. We often feel that way because of faults and regrets that haunt us, and sometimes we damage our self-image by comparing ourselves to others. Admittedly, without the grace of Christ, we are warped and ruined by sin. There’s no denying that. In Romans 7:18, the apostle Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.”
But Jesus placed a high value on us. He died and rose again for us. With Christ within us, there is only one “no good” we need to claim—the promise of Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
I want to recommend that you study Psalm 84 if the devil is telling you that you’re no good. The twelve verses of this wonderful Psalm will combat the devil’s distortions, reassure you of your value, and uncover fresh blessings from your Heavenly Father.
THREE: “I’m a failure.” Another fabrication of Satan is that we’re failures. Yes, all of us fail at many things, but the act of failure doesn’t translate to who we are as people. In Christ, we are people who view failures: (1) as learning experiences; and (2) as opportunities to find God’s best plan for our lives.
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Commander Guy Snodgrass, a TOPGUN Navy pilot and instructor, wrote about failing a practice dogfight over Nevada. His instructor literally flew circles around him, and Snodgrass would have been blown out of the sky three times had the combat been real. He dreaded what his instructor would say.
In the briefing room, Snodgrass explained all he’d done wrong and wrote on a whiteboard the items he needed to master. Then he braced himself for rebukes and corrections. But his instructor simply said, “Overall, I thought you did very well. Nice job.” The instructor went on to say that aerial skills take years to master and that we don’t succeed until we learn the value of failure.
The takeaway from Guy Snodgrass: “When adversity strikes—as it always does—refocus your determination and try again. Commit to making each day better than the one before. Then do it again the next day. In the long run, people care far more about who you are than what you do.”
If the serpent is hissing failure in your ears, take time to study Psalm 73. The writer of this Psalm struggled with a sense of failure and frustration, but he overcame the lies with God’s truth, saying, “My innermost being was wounded … Yet I am always with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory … My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever” (Psalm 73:21-26).
FOUR: “I can’t overcome this temptation.” The devil is a master at deceiving us with self-destructive habits. He wants us to say to ourselves: “I can’t overcome this temptation.”
To counter this lie, I suggest Psalm 51, which is David’s great prayer of confession after his moral failure. He implored God’s forgiveness, and in verse 12, he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
We can’t withstand temptation in our own strength, but the Lord forgives us, restores our joy, and then upholds us by His generous Spirit. He will uphold you in temptation. Study Psalm 51. Accept it as truth, and the truth will set you free from Satan’s debilitating lies.
Don’t listen to a single word from the devil because lying is his native language. Learn to spot his lies and to counter each one with the brilliant truth of God’s infallible Word.
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Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best-known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point’s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, Dr. Jeremiah has written more than fifty books.