A student copies whole paragraphs from someone else’s term paper. A guy bends the truth to impress a girl. A man claims someone fired a gun at him when he actually dropped his own gun and shot himself.

Adam desperately blames his first sin on Eve. Fearing death, Abraham claims his wife is merely his sister. The Gibeonites pretend to have journeyed from a far country. Ananias and Sapphira claim to have donated all they earned from selling a property, but they keep much of it for themselves.

Telling a lie, stretching the truth, leaving out critical facts to make a false impression—they all come as naturally as breathing. Dishonesty is defined as deceitfulness shown in someone’s character or behavior. One can be dishonest in word (such as lying about age, income, or status) or in behavior (such as sneaking through an exit to avoid paying for one’s entrance).

People lie because they seek attention and admiration, or to compensate for their lack of self-esteem. People lie to impress others and to appear better than them. Most dishonest and deceptive persons are caught sooner or later and suffer the natural consequences: rejection and isolation, and a string of broken trusts and relationships. Then there are those who lie so casually and skillfully that they seem to create their own counter-reality. Like Absalom, they attract followers who gladly buy the lies they have to sell. Such people can warp society in ugly and destructive ways.

Dishonest acts tarnish a person’s character and violate God’s Law: “You shall not bear false witness” (Exod. 20:16). The Bible also condemns dishonest behaviors: “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house” (Ps. 101:7), and encourages honesty in business transactions: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Prov. 11:1).

Jesus calls us to live lives of truth in a dishonest world. Jesus, who declared Himself “the Truth” (John 14:6), promised that if we follow Him, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:31, 32).

If you tend to lie or act dishonestly, make a covenant with God and commit always to be truthful. He will provide you with the necessary strength and will supply whatever needs you may have.