By Lauren A. Birago

It was out of character for me. It slipped out like it was natural, and when it escaped my lips it left a sour taste of confusion. This was the type of behavior I judged with harshness. This was one sin that I thought I'd bound forever. Lying was something I had the courage to avoid, until I didn't.

Frequently I scrutinized my conversations and behavior to make sure I was not giving false impressions. I believed I would walk in authenticity by maintaining a truthful tongue and stance. I realize now that my motives were skewed at times. There were occasions when my walk in truth had more to do with being pridefully different than demonstrating the way, the truth and the life in Jesus Christ. My false sense of confidence, and my misplaced motive to maintain a truthful stance did not cause me to lie, but the lie showed me where I truly was in my walk.

Dishonesty has become an identity of its own, acceptably dressed and appealing. It is invited into relationships on the first date, as if it were the celebrity guest at the party. It has a way with words, fooling the longing heart, at least until it shows its true colors. It leaves debris on its way out, like a fragmented heart or distorted perspective. Lies paint the big screen with smiles and sex appeal; winning "best actor" for the laughter it provoked, or the tears it unleashed. They are a way to "save face," or an "exit" from our toughest binds. They can get us to the top and fill our pockets with loot; money justified by good deeds or excused by generosity. Sowing deception can reap an abundant harvest, pleasant to the tongue and filling to the stomach, but it is toxic to the spirit. Proof of its toxicity came after my repentance. I expected the nagging guilt to leave after asking for God's forgiveness. When it didn't, I tried harder to forgive myself, thinking that was the anchor to my guilty conscience.

My friend lived within walking distance. She and I had very little history, so I figured it would be okay to keep the confession between God and me. Three days passed, which felt like seven, before grasping that I had to ask for her forgiveness as well. I explored the reason I lied, for my own understanding and in preparation for my confession. I found that my dishonesty was rooted in something that had nothing to do with my friend or the current circumstance but was firmly planted in the fear of disapproval. After identifying this, I realized this fear permeated more aspects of my life and had led me to withhold much information from those closest to me. "Is holding back the details the same as lying?" I questioned. In many instances no, I have a right to keep things to myself. There are occasions however, when I've skirted around the truth with vagueness. On this occasion it was blatant.

I set a time to call. Leading up to it was like going on trial and preparing my statement. The Holy Spirit kept reiterating that I mustn't rehearse. I called and confessed, stumbling over my words like a tongue-twisted child, but I managed to get the two most important words out. "Forgive me."

No one's confession will lead to the same reaction. Sharing hers would take this in an entirely different direction. I will share that the guilt lifted. This time the reward for obedience was immediate. Though lying still remains out of character as I continuously strive to take on the character of Christ, there is an additional trait that is no longer welcome. It is the prideful belief that I have bound any sin permanently. I can only die daily to the flesh as enabled by the Holy Spirit, while I watch and pray to avoid a fall into its trap.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Matthew 26:41 KJV)

Illustration: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

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Published on 8-12-13