In part 1 of this ‘Counseling a Liar’ series, we examined the metaphoric soil of a person who chooses to lie. In part 2 we discussed the controlling desires in a person’s heart that moves them to lie. When we look at these things, we start to see what is happening underneath the action of lying so that we can help someone change. In part 3 we focused in on our responses to a person whom you think is lying before they have come clean, as well as what to do when someone seeks help from this sin. In this final part in the series we’re going to examine how we are thinking and acting (as the person being lied to) and how we should respond to the repentant person who knows that it is wrong to lie and is seeking to change. Up until this point we have been dealing with a person who we suspect may not be telling us the truth, but we either can’t tell, or they are not willing to admit it. Now, we will look at this situation from a place of knowing that this person has, for sure, been lying.
Calling to worship something better
We are all worshipers. We were designed, by God, to worship Him. But we, all of us, went astray. Instead of worshiping the Creator, we worshiped the created things. The person who is a liar is worshiping the wrong thing(s). Perhaps they want the praise of man more than the praise of God. Maybe they want the comfort and ease that comes with lying. Whatever it is, you as the counselor will need to point this person to worshiping something better. This is where John Piper and his notion of Christian Hedonism is so helpful.
It is beyond our scope to talk much about Piper’s Christian Hedonism other than to point out that when we worship the things that we were intended to worship, we will live so much more full and happier lives. By directing the liar to worship the Creator rather than the created, they will find the true joy, satisfaction, peace, etc. that they were looking for.
Pointing to a true identity
Often the person who struggles to lie has an identity crisis. How they perceive themselves is not good (even if they do put on a strong show). They might hate themselves, feel inferior, or on the other end think they are the greatest. Whatever it is, they are missing their identity as a saved, forgiven, loved, redeemed Child of God. By pointing them to their identity in scripture, they can begin to put off their wrong identity and put on the one that Christ has given them. When we have a mistaken identity, apart from God, we end up going down all kinds of wrong paths.
Reminding of truth during temptation
The person who chooses to lie is often the person that does not have God’s Word on the forefront of their minds. They don’t regularly rehearse and believe all that God has promised to them in scripture. So why would they consider covering something up? Because they are not sure that God will take care of them. Or, why would they deceive one of their friends? Because they are not convinced in what God’s Word says about the consequences for lying. By immersing the liar in God’s Word, by combing through the promises of God and correctly applying them to their life and situation, they will see more and more clearly why they should put off lying and put on telling the truth.
Directing to confession
Finally, we should encourage the liar to confess when they have lied. Walking in the light will bring healing to their bones (Ps. 32:2,5). By confessing their sin to God and to other people, they can be supported and helped towards change. The liar’s confession should not only include the person(s) that was/were lied to, but also to the key persons in their life that are serving in an accountability/mentoring role. By telling them of their sin, those key persons will speak the truth, look for patterns, ask questions, and so much more. Lastly, confession to God on a daily basis during a morning quiet time should be habitual. By confessing to God that there will be a temptation today to sin, because that person knows their own heart, they will be helped towards growing to be more like Christ.
Remember, helping a person come out of a habit of lying will be hard, but the Lord will not only give that person grace, He’ll give it to you as well! Remember, you have your own struggles and you are no better. Remember to focus on the heart of the person and not just the actions. Finally, don’t forget to pray. Praying for the person not just when all else fails, but at the beginning and throughout the process is one of the most God-glorifying things you can do.
Much more could be said about steps to help a person who is struggling with lying. What would you add?