When children lie parents sometimes tend to treat the problem as one of logic and intelligence; they puzzle over why their children would lie. Scripture solves the mystery. Humans are born liars. When we sin, we lose the ability to be logical. We are blinded by self-interest (Proverbs 4:19; Psalm 58:3).
Lying is the extension of a self-centered nature. Children tend to lie in two types of circumstances. First, they lie when they fear a consequence so much they will do anything to avoid it, e.g., punishment for hitting. Second, children tend to lie when there is something they desire, and they see lying as the best way to get it. In both situations the reason for the lie is the same—a self-centered heart.
Children lie because they fear exposure. They think their thoughts and doubts are hidden, and a lie is the best way to solve the problem. However, nothing is hidden from God.
Lying is an indication that children are much more self-aware than they are often given credit for. It is compelling evidence of their true heritage: original sin.
Children don’t have to be taught to lie, it comes naturally.
Like you, your children you tend to lie, or more deceptively put, alter the truth when you fear of being exposed for who you really are.
The answer, of course, is Christ. Even in the midst of hearing their lies, you can have compassion for your children. Yes, they are sinful, unkind, and even cruel with their lies. But at the root is a heart in need of Christ. Without Christ, fear dominates. Fear can make one stupidly deny the truth, just as Sarah, Abraham’s wife, did.
When your children lie, or even when you think they may have lied, you always want to remind them that God knows their hearts and thoughts even better than they do themselves. You want to call them to repent and trust in Christ, for he alone can help them overcome the fear of self-exposure. Only the power of the Gospel can free them from the tyranny of lying. You should confidently tell them that God knows whether they have been truthful or not. Discipline for lying must come from compassion for a lost heart. It is sometimes difficult to realize that a child who is defiant and seemingly unfazed by lying may actually be dominated by fear. Yet this is often the case.
Ephesians 4 says that the opposite of lying is truth-telling. The way to expose lying for what it is, is to tell the truth yourself. If you make your children’s lies primarily an issue between them and you, you are actually distorting the truth. A child must be right with God before he can be really right with parents. Lying is a deeply personal sin of the heart. Only Christ can address this issue. Point your children to Christ to address this sin. More on this and the second reason for lying in the next few posts.