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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today is Part 4 of our Parenting a Lying Child Series. Please make sure you listen to every episode before listening to todays or you’ll discover — the hard way — that taking shortcuts is neither Christ-honoring nor effective.
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And now let’s talk about training a liar to tell the truth.
Believe it or not, all four parts of this series are desperately important when it comes to training your liar to tell the truth.
1. The Whole Family
A. Train the whole family to tell the truth all the time.
In our first episode I revealed some really sneaky ways our families lie on a regular basis without realizing it and the fact that dishonesty of any kind in the home only serves to promote more dishonesty.
Families that mature together are the best places to find mature individuals. God wants us all impacting each other and sharpening each other as we mature in Him.
B. Train the whole family to spot lies.
Now, I do need to put in a caveat here. I do not believe it’s wise to teach a liar about all the physical and verbal cues. If they’re anything like I was, they may only work harder to train their bodies not to respond that way. We don’t want that.
But the best way to spot a lie is to know the truth. We need to bathe our families in God’s Word, we need to talk often about the lies the world is trying to sell us. We need to contrast the lies of Satan with the truth of the Bible.
If your family doesn’t know the genuine article, they won’t be able to spot the counterfeits.
C. Train the whole family to understand why they are tempted to lie.
Last time we talked about the fact that every single one of us sin because we’re self-deceived . . . we’re believing a lie of Satan.
But we’re also prone to believing those lies because we’re inherently wicked. Our sinful flesh hates God and loves everything that’s guaranteed to destroy us.
The whole family also needs to understand that they desperately need God if they ever hope to glorify Him.
But we mustn’t try to use God like a genie. We actually have to love God and desire to worship Him.
Okay, those are the things the whole family needs to know. Each individual member needs to know that for themselves, and when they grow in these areas, it can also be a help to the liar.
So, let’s talk about them.
2. The Liar
Now, the next four points all grow from our Parent’s 5 Jobs Series. If you have never heard that series, I cannot recommend it more strongly. It’s imperative to understand how God wants us to approach bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. And that series will prepare you to do just that.
There will be a link in the description for easy access.
Here we go . . .
A. Teach the Liar.
Many of the things I’m about to share with you are things that are good for the whole family, and I would definitely suggest that all the kids in your house need to learn these truths at one point or another, but if you have a habitual liar in your home, you will absolutely need to start addressing these concepts with them ASAP.
You need to be your kids’ primary human source of truth. Do not delegate this stuff to someone else. Recognize your calling, and start right away.
First, you need to teach you child about the Gospel. The Gospel introduces us to God — it’s impossible for Him to lie because His Word is the total sum of truth. He wants us to be saved from the lie we all believe and be set free in His truth.
If your child isn’t born again, lying makes all the sense in the world. But if they know God and His salvation, lying isn’t just foolish, it’s an attack on the God of truth. A born again believer is going to experience a lot of conviction when they see their lies for what they really are.
Second, you need to teach your child about the nature of truth and lying.
Now, I want to simplify this for you. I think one of the easiest ways to approach the Scriptures is the 3 Questions approach. As we engage with a passage or truth, we need to ask, “What does this teach me about God?” “What does this teach me about me?” and “What do those two truths mean for me today?”
For example, as we’ve already observed:
Who is God? God is truth.
John 14:6 teaches that Jesus is the Truth. So much of what He taught started with ‘Truly, Truly.” It was a Jewish way of making it perfectly clear that what was about to be said was irrefutable fact.
Psalm 119:160 reveals that the sum of God’s Word is truth. And Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, and Hebrews 6:18 make it perfectly clear that God cannot lie.
But then we need to ask, “Who are we?” We’re liars.
I’ve referenced John 8:44 a lot — I won’t read it again here — but anyone who is unsaved is of their father the devil.
All throughout I John we see how easy it is to lie to ourselves and others. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches that our hearts are deceitful and wicked. Matthew 7:21-23 also reveals how self-deceived we can be. In fact, this truth is either taught or illustrated in every book of the Bible.
In addition to that, Psalm 101:7 says, “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.”
So, that leads nicely into, “What does all of this mean for me today? We must submit to truth and reject lies.
Colossians 3:9 and 10, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
And again, there are so many other passages that teach us to reject lies and speak the truth.
Third, teach your child the different reasons they may be tempted to lie.
All lies grow out of self-deception. We’re tempted to lie because we actually believe the lie or we actually believe that lying is good.
All sin eventually boils down to not trusting God. Instead we lean on our own understanding, trust our own way, and engage in self-worship.
In addition to that, some are further tempted to lie out of fear. This may be fear of consequence or of disappointing people.
Others are tempted to lie in order to control a person or situation. This applies to those who are fearful, but sometimes a person lies to control even when they’re not afraid something is going to happen.
Others lie because of the exhilaration they experience.
And any reason we may have for lying can lead to habituation. If we do it enough, our true motives get shoved further and further down until we’re not certain why we do it any more . . . it becomes a mindless habit.
By the way, some may think that deliberate lying with conscious bad motivations is worse than off the cuff, habituated, unconscious lying. This is categorically untrue because we don’t become habituated to something without a lot of practice.
The child may seem relatively innocent or not fully in control, but that’s only a result of a whole lot of intentional and successfully executed lying in the past.
Okay, so teach your kids about the Gospel, the nature of truth and lies, about the temptations to lie, and . . .
Fourth, teach your child about the consequences of lying.
We already read Psalm 101:7.
But then there’s Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.”
Proverbs 19:5 warns, “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.” Four verses later Solomon writes, “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will perish.” Just in case it wasn’t clear the first time.
Matthew 12:36-37 teaches, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
And Revelation 21:8 reveals something very scary about the fate of habitual, unrepentant liars: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Now, before we move from the Teach point, I want to stress how important it is that you parents be welcoming of the truth . . . no matter how unpleasant it is.
It’s natural for a child to think that a parent will be displeased with them if they admit to cheating on the test. And — guess what — it’s appropriate to be displeased in Christ-honoring ways. But many parents respond sinfully, selfishly, and satanically.
When we respond incorrectly to the truth, we dissuade our children from telling it to us.
Okay, so you’re keeping a steady flow of teaching pouring into the ears of your little liar. Hopefully, you’re making these truths interactive, and you’re teaching for understanding. Don’t just lecture; genuinely teach them.
But be prepared that they’re not going to change overnight, and if they have any kind of habit instilled, they will lie again.
Therefore, you need to be ready to . . .
B. Reprove the Liar.
Reproof is what happens when we confront someone in their sin. This is for the times we know our child is lying.
First, we must keep our kids accountable to the truth. Hopefully you’ve investigated and done the hard work of discovering the truth to the best of your ability. Keeping your kids accountable to the truth is an absolute requirement of biblical parenting, so you’re happy to do it.
Second, we must confront them when they lie. Whether they lied on purpose, accidentally, to themselves, or to someone else, it’s never valuable, helpful, or loving to let the lie slide. At best the child continues in a self-delusion, at worst you’re letting them get away with deliberately deceiving someone.
Third, we must give them appropriate consequences for their lies.
We just finished up a series all about consequences, so I won’t dwell here too long, but I do want to point out that when all we do is talk to our kids about their sin without giving them appropriate consequences, we’re lying to them about the nature of the world.
And — from a strictly pragmatic perspective — human nature doesn’t like to submit unless there’s a good reason to submit. We hope and pray our kids love God and us enough not to lie, but it is completely biblical for someone to keep from sinning in order to avoid consequences. It’s not the best motivation, but it works.
When we don’t give our liars consequences for their lies, we’re not giving them any holy or base reasons to change.
But we must not merely tell them they were wrong and toss a consequence at them. That’s punishment. So . . .
Fourth, we must guide them to reconciliation.
Generally speaking, reconciliation involves three important steps.
1. They need to confess their sin.
I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Forgiveness and cleansing require confession. Too many times I’ve interacted with parents who “forgive” their kids even though their kids are not at all interested in forgiveness.
Yes, we are to have a spirit of forgiveness that is ready at any moment to forgive, but until forgiveness is sought, we must not interact with someone as if their sins have been forgiven. This starts with confessing.
Simply put, confession is agreeing with God. It could sound something like, “I lied to you about _______, and I understand that my lie was unloving and sinful.”
The more biblical detail a child uses to describe their sins, the better.
Then . . .
2. They need to ask for forgiveness.
Now, the actual process of saying, “Will you forgive me?” isn’t strictly commanded in Scripture, but it is illustrated in a number of places.
For example, we see a really good example of what to say in Exodus 10:17. Unfortunately, the Pharaoh of Egypt wasn’t truly repentant when he professed, “Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.”
However, Moses did make supplication for Pharaoh as he asked.
In Genesis 50:18, Joseph’s brothers ask him to forgive them for selling him into slavery so many years before.
Moses often asked God to forgive the Children of Israel.
In Psalm 25:18, David asked the Lord to forgive all his sins.
But I think the closest we get to an injunction to actually use the words, “forgive me,” comes in Matthew 6:12 when Jesus is teaching the disciples to pray. In verse 9 He says, “Pray, then, in this way,” and then in verse 12 He says, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
And it was Jesus who asked on behalf of those those who hung Him on the cross that the Father “forgive them” because they didn’t know what they were doing.
But — believe it or not — it’s pretty easy to speak confession and ask for forgiveness. That’s why true reconciliation requires . . .
3. They need to desire to change.
If we believe something to be true, we will desire to submit to it, and then we will do what is right. Our kids don’t just need to say they want to change, true repentance is the actual act of turning away from sin to righteousness.
They need to want to start doing right as soon as possible. That’s why — in the case of a liar — they be given another chance to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with the help of God.
If they truly desire to change, they will take steps to repent.
By the way, you should check out our Teach Your Children to Apologize Series in order to learn more about helping your child achieve true reconciliation when they’ve sinned.
Okay, so the Reproof step needs to include keeping our kids accountable to the truth, confronting them when they lie, giving them appropriate consequences, and guiding them to reconciliation.
But — once again — I want to admonish us parents.
First, please strive to be the type of person who isn’t hypocritical in your reproof. Of course, we all need to give God the worship He deserves simply because He deserves it, but when we are hypocritical, our reproof becomes a joke.
And second, be someone to whom your kids will naturally want to confess. I truly hope you are building a relationship with your kids that you are a trustworthy individual. They can trust you to respond in a Christ-honoring manner and actually grant them forgiveness.
I’m sad to say that too many parents aren’t.
Alright, so you have a liar in your home? You need to be focusing on truth in your teaching, and you need to reprove them when they’re caught in their lie.
And that’s really all you can do unless your child is willing to engage with reconciliation. Much parenting is teaching and reproving, teaching and reproving, over and over because the child doesn’t want to truly change.
But if your liar genuinely understands their sin, confesses, asks for forgiveness, and desires to change . . . you can move to stage . . .
3. Correct the Liar.
The Correction Stage is where we take what we know of the Bible and our child and formulate a plan to make it easy to do right and hard to do wrong. This is the counseling stage. This is where practical discipleship happens.
A. Our child needs to seek the Lord for strength to change.
We’ve already looked at passaged that speak to this truth, but let’s quickly consider James 3 where the Lord makes it perfectly clear that it’s impossible for mankind to tame the tongue on his own. We absolutely need God’s help.
B. We need to help our child develop a new response to temptation.
After we’ve identified the root of our children’s behavior and understand the expectations God has for our lives, now we have to connect the dots. This is a more specific and precise version of the “What does this mean for me today?” question. Instead of simply saying that God wants me to tell the truth, we would be better off to identify the moment before the temptation usually occurs and develop a plan for every step along the way.
In fact, the beginning stages likely won’t even have anything to do with lying. Generally speaking, they’re going to start with temptations to fear, control, or desiring to do evil. Each of those boils down to self-deception in which we choose to reject God’s truth and follow our own hearts.
This is where you are going to have to pull-up your big boy and girl pants and really help your children reverse engineer their sin and come up with a plan for responding differently to the temptation.
Now, I’ve found that this is not the average wheelhouse for most parents. The church has done a woeful job of teaching people how to personally apply the Word of God to our lives. So, if you’d like some help working through this, start by listening to our Consequences Series, but then schedule a time to talk with our TLP Counselors. Within a couple sessions, they may be able to get you pointed in the right direction when it comes to applying the Bible to your child’s unique need.
Let’s consider Ephesians 4:21-25, “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
It starts with knowing the truth and then consciously choosing not to do the Old Self stuff we used to do. This will require that we renew our minds by trusting God’s Word, and then we need to put on the correct responses which look just like what Jesus would do if He were in our situation.
More broadly speaking, I like to give the individual this three-fold plan:
First — Pray. Ask for help to understand and obey the Scriptures.
Second — Study. Yes, we need to know what God has to say about trusting Him and telling the truth, but let’s make sure our kids really understand it as well. And then we need to remember that the point of every disciplinary conversation we have with our kids is to bring them to a place where they admit that they either trust what God has said or they don’t.
If they do trust God and want to change, then . . .
Third — Ask. They need to approach every temptation to open their mouth with the question, “Is this true?” They should not speak unless they are convinced (and in the case of older children are ale to defend from the Bible) that what they said was true.
Okay, so we’ve taught our kids what is right and wrong, we’ve reproved them when they’re wrong, and when they have submitted to God’s plan for their reconciliation, we’ve help them to correct their behavior. And we will need to repeat these steps all throughout their lives.
But, Lord willing, they will put their faith in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins and be the King of their lives, and they will start maturing. And as they do, they will sin less than they used to. So, as they grow more and more consistent in their obedience, we’re now firmly in the training stage.
4. Train the Honest Child.
This stage is a massive blessing and a curse. This is the stage every parent dreams about reaching, but it’s also the stage where every parent is tempted to pull our of their child’s intentional, premeditated, Ambassadorial discipleship because the child is “doing so well on their own.”
But no child of God ever reaches a place where they don’t need the truth in love spoken into their lives. They will never plateau in their spiritual life, and they’ll never develop a perpetual state of spiritual growth with no help from anyone else.
I haven’t reached that place, and I’m the one helping others to grow in Christ. Basically, we all need God’s Word regularly spoken into our lives, and we need God’s people to be engaging with us in discipleship relationships.
That means that we’re staying in regular conversation with our kids — especially when they’re doing well — and we’re talking abbot Who God is, who we are, and what that means for us today.
Right before putting the final touches on this episode, I returned home from a father son lunch date. There’s a restaurant in town he’d heard of but never tried and asked if we could go. We had a delightful lunch, but the majority of the time was spent in solid and deeply significant father/son discipleship.
This isn’t to say that I don’t regularly speak truth into my son’s life, but I am saying that even when my kids seem to be maturing well, I schedule regular times to get away with them and speak precious truth into their lives.
It’s unfortunate that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to handing every liar you’ll ever meet. But these general principles must absolutely be utilized if we want to truly be biblical parents.
Teach the whole family about what you’ve learned here. And make sure to consistently teach and reprove the liars in the home. And if — by the grace of God — your kids submit to God’s truth and want to change, correct and train them to lay aside falsehood and speak truth to everyone.
Please share this series on your favorite social media outlets. This series is definitely gaining traction because it’s a topic every parent needs to hear from a biblical perspective.
And — again — if you need some specialized help with your habitual liar, please don’t hesitate to contact Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
And then join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be looking ahead to our 24th season of equipping dads and moms, grandpas and grandmas, teachers, pastors, counselors, and friends to worship God as they evangelize and disciple the next generation.
I’ll see you then!
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