Summary: This article is not enjoyable to write. But if God uses it to change even one person’s eternal destiny from hell to heaven, I will be thrilled. The point according to Scripture? Unrepentant habitual liars end up in hell! The first three verses we’ll look at below make that very clear. I urge you to set aside any “but, but” reactions until you see what the Scriptures say about the practice of lying.
That’s a pretty serious company of unrepentant sinners listed in Rev. 21:8, all heading for the lake of fire — including the unbelieving, the vile, murderers, the sexually immoral, those practicing magic arts, idolaters … and all liars! Just imagine, in His Word God lumps “all liars” in with murderers, occult magicians, the sexually immoral, and idolaters. And their destination — unless they repent (more on that later) — is the fiery lake of burning sulfur, which is the final embodiment of what we now call “hell” (Revelation 20:13-14). An illuminating contrast with this condemned group is the multitude seen with Jesus on Mount Zion (Rev. 14:1,5), of whom it is said, “No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” Jesus is called in the Bible “the truth” (John 14:6) and “faithful and true” (Rev. 19:11). Our Savior is the shining example of truth and truthfulness, so it is appropriate that His followers aim to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).
This verse describes the time after Christ’s second coming (Rev. 19:11-21), after the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-6), and after the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). There is a “new heaven and a new earth” (21:1) where God the Father and Jesus inhabit forever the Holy City, the new Jerusalem (21:2,10,22; 22:1-2). Condemned to eternal exclusion from God’s presence — and having been cast into the lake of fire (20:15; see also 21:8) — are many evildoers, including “everyone who loves and practices lying.”
We see similar catastrophic penalties for liars in Psalm 5:6 — “You destroy those who tell lies” — and in Proverbs 19:9 — “Whoever pours out lies will perish.”
In mental health literature today you'll find various categories of liars — "pathological, habitual, chronic, compulsive," for example. The website Truth About Deception says that "a compulsive liar is someone who lies out of habit ... [they] bend the truth about everything, large and small ... the terms Pathological Liar, Habitual Liar, and Chronic Liar are often used to refer to a Compulsive Liar." Most mental health literature lists some differences among the categories. But of greatest importance to us is the fact that the Bible makes no nuanced distinctions. It simply speaks about "lies, lying, and liars" and clearly speaks of God's judgment on "everyone who loves and practices lying ... those who tell lies ... whoever pours out lies." Taken together, those and other Scripture verses indicate that we are speaking not of someone who tells a one-time lie and repents. Rather, these verses (and God's resultant judgment) speak of "liars" who have an ongoing habit of unrepented lying.
What! But doesn’t God love all people all the time in all circumstances? No, He does not! Verse 19, for example, names two types of people—not things, but actual people—that God hates: (1) a lying, false witness and (2) a divisive person who stirs up conflict. It is worth noting that, among the seven acts or people that God is said here to hate, two of the seven have to do with dishonesty: “The Lord hates … a lying tongue … [and] a false witness who pours out lies…” It is very, very clear that lying is “detestable to [the Lord]” and He hates it, even to the point that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8, KJV).
To summarize this occasion (Acts 5:1-10): Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some land and donated a portion of the proceeds to the apostles. But they lied by indicating that they were donating 100% of the proceeds. Peter caught them in the lie and pointed out that they weren’t obligated to give all of it, or even to give any of it. He pointed out that their sin was in lying about allegedly giving the entire proceeds of the sale. By so doing, Peter said, they had “lied to the Holy Spirit” (vs. 3) … they had “lied…to God” (5). It is interesting that, although the lie had been spoken to men (Peter and the others), God considered it as though they had lied to Him and to His Holy Spirit. And the result was that both Ananias and (shortly afterwards) his wife Sapphira “fell down and died” right on the spot (5,10). This confirms our main point: the practice of lying is detestable to God and without repentance will sooner or later incur the judgment of God.
The supreme deceiver is Satan, “a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus said that those who do not receive and follow Him are “of your father, the devil…and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Satan is a murderer, Jesus said, and the Christ-rejecting Jews were among those who had Jesus crucified, thereby displaying the desires of their spiritual father, the devil. Satan is also “a liar” and the father of lies. Again, those who choose not to obey and follow Jesus will follow Satan and will themselves tend to be liars, as he is.
The clear choice for all Christians is to follow Jesus in every detail, to strive to be conformed to His image, to His blameless character. He who “is truth” will impress His truthful character into the hearts of His followers, who will embrace truth and honesty and will reject the practice of “loving and practicing lying” (Rev. 22:15). In a word, lying has no part in the life of a follower of the Lord.
But what if we do tell a lie? There is a solution. Remember, the apostle Peter lied when he denied Jesus — “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72). He denied that he knew the Lord; that’s a serious lie! But Peter repented (vs. 74), and after Jesus’ resurrection Peter reaffirmed his love and commitment to the Lord (John 21:15-17) and became one of the greatest apostles of the early Church. Peter is one of many Bible examples showing us that we can repent of our sins and turn to (or back to) God and find forgiveness.
Holding on to our sins (“concealing” them) has catastrophic consequences, as we saw in our opening verses about unrepentant lying. But by confessing and renouncing our sins, we find mercy and our sins are “wiped out.” And that includes confessing and renouncing the sin of lying, lest we find ourselves among the “all liars … consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Rev. 21:8). So to answer our opening question — do all liars go to hell? The answer: unrepentant, habitual liars go to hell. Thankfully, repentant liars — like Peter, the Christ-denying apostle — can repent sincerely, put away lying (see the next verse), and be forgiven by the Lord.
Being saved, being born again and becoming a child of God (John 1:12-13), is more than just intellectual consent to God and Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons “believe” in God (James 2:19), but are certainly not saved and are fearfully expecting their final judgment.
Being a true believer in and follower of Jesus Christ involves becoming a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) through “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). We cast off our “former way of life” and begin a new-creation life walking with God and His Son Jesus and serving and obeying them with all our hearts.
Upon conversion to Christ, we enter immediately (and for life) into a process of (1) putting off our old self with its corrupt, deceitful desires; (2) being made new in the attitude of our minds; and (3) “putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Imagine! He wants us to “be like God in…holiness.” By ourselves we cannot. But with His indwelling Holy Spirit’s help, we can press toward that high, holy calling. And in light of our topic today, that process includes: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully” (vs. 25). We put off the lying that was part of our corrupt old self. And we put on speaking truthfully, which is consistent with our being a new creation in Christ, pressing towards full conformity to His image and His splendid, blameless character.
It’s a simple choice. “Love and practice lying” and end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8; 22:15). Or repent of lying; look to Jesus and His shed blood to cleanse you from that sin; and put off the old self and put on the new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The choice is between eternal life and judgment. Choose life!
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©2016, 2018, 2019 James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.