“Perpetrating a fraud”.
I couldn’t get this phrase out of my mind.
My brother and I were watching a t.v. show in which the main character, a man of strong beliefs and morals, insisted that he had not lied about a particular situation.
Technically, I guess he never did.
He never came right out and told a lie. He just neglected to tell the truth and went to extended lengths to make sure that his secret remained a secret.
He perpetrated a fraud---intended to deceive. Now he was caught in a web of lies.
It’s a dangerous game…secrets, lies, deceit…leaving out just enough information so that you’re technically not lying, but you’re not exactly telling the truth either. If it continues long enough, most people eventually do end up lying when people become suspicious. Like a snowball, lies get bigger and bigger and more and more complicated until they eventually destroy you and anyone or anything in your path. In the end, lies and secrets cause more problems than the truth you’re trying to avoid ever could.
I know, because I’ve seen it first hand, and lived to tell about the destruction.
You see, for most of my life, my father perpetrated a fraud. From the day he met my Mom he started making up stories that made his life look better than it really was. After they married and became parents, he continued to lie. Even after he said the sinner’s prayer at an altar, he continued living a double life: the perfect Christian in public, a man with a lot of problems he needed to overcome behind closed doors.
Even my Mom, my brother and I had no clue about his secrets as he perpetrated a fraud for over 25 years.
Then one day one of his lies caught up with him.
A letter arrived in the mail revealing his secret.
For ten years, he’d been creating a secret debt that my Mom knew nothing about. In an instant everything changed when we went from believing we had no debt and a strong savings account to finding out that he owed a considerable amount of money.
Once that lie was revealed, many more secrets came pouring out. Even though the financial disaster was horrific, it was only secondary to the destruction that came as we found out about my Dad’s history of lying.
No matter how many times he tried to excuse it as only money, it was so much more. It was betrayal, broken trust…trust that was never fully regained again.
In my own life, I’ve seen that lies---no matter how big or how little---are a big deal.
You can call it keeping a secret, perpetrating a fraud, or the sin of omission, but in God’s eyes, it’s sin.
God takes the sin of lying and deception very seriously.
Don’t believe me? Check out the story of Achan in Joshua 7.
The story starts out with Joshua sending the Israelites into battle to conquer the tiny city of Ai. However, instead of a quick victory, they take a beating.
Joshua 7:4-5, “So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.”
What went wrong? This should have been an easy battle—an easy victory. Why wasn’t God fighting for them?
That’s exactly what Joshua asked God. Here’s what God said:
“Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
Someone was hiding something.
A few verses later, we find out it was Achan. He’d taken some things and hidden them.
He was perpetrating a fraud.
It was a big deal to God.
It was a big deal to Joshua.
And it was a big deal to the families of the men who died in battle because of Achan’s sin.
Just like in Joshua’s day, lying is still a big deal to God today.
In His eyes, it’s sin. He can’t bless us when we’re living in sin.
Quite the contrary, when we choose to sin and lie, God has the responsibility to discipline us by revealing truth and allowing us to suffer the consequences.
Hebrews 12:5 says, “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
If we claim to be Christians, God cannot allow us to continue perpetrating a fraud. Instead, in His love He will allow our fraud to be exposed so we will repent and turn back to Him, even if that means we suffer unpleasant circumstances.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Like a bomb detonator, we can choose to cut the wires before the bomb goes off destroying everything in it’s path.
How do we do this?
First, don’t lie, deceive, keep secrets, or perpetrate frauds.
It seems basic, but God will honor you when you seek to tell the truth.
What if you’re already caught in a web of lies?
Then it’s time to repent. Come clean. Confess.
Start by asking God to forgive you for the sin of lying and deceit.
Then go to everyone you’ve been lying to and ask them to forgive you. Yes, that will mean confessing that you’ve been lying and telling the truth. No, that won’t be easy.
They will probably be hurt and angry. You may even suffer some consequences or need to make restitution. However, I can guarantee you this: They will be dramatically more hurt and angry, you will suffer more consequences, and experience much more destruction if your sin is “revealed” by someone other than you.
I remember my Mom saying, “It would have been so much better if he (my Dad) had confessed…but because he got caught, I’ll never know if he was really sorry or if he can ever be trusted again.”
There’s something about a person coming forward, taking responsibility for their actions and telling the truth that seems honorable…as if the person is truly sorry.
Getting caught is just getting caught.
So do the right thing…repent and confess.
Take responsibility for your mess and help clean it up.
Then vow to abandon lying forever and open yourself up to accountability.
Understand that it will be hard for people to trust you again, and devote yourself to re-establishing trust.
Remember---they don’t owe it to you and may never be able to fully give it to you again---be grateful that they are still trying and keep on the straight and narrow.
Most importantly, don’t blow this article off.
If you are lying…keeping a secret from someone you love…doing something behind your boss’s back…or perpetrating a fraud, don’t make excuses and pretend it’s no big deal.
Instead, realize that you are sinning against God.
Face the fact that you are playing with fire.
Heed the warning and turn around. Stop lying and start living a life of truth.
As an older gentleman told my brother and I years ago, “There’s never any reason to lie.”
Make the wisest choice you can ever make: Avoid perpetrating a fraud and choose to walk in truth today.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)