There are at least 40 words one may used to described a lie. Here is my list:
1. Bluff: a statement intended to deceive or confuse
2. Canard: an unsubstantiated story or report
3. Deceit: a deceptive statement
4. Deception: A statement or action intended to mislead
5. Distortion: a deviation from the true meaning, or an overstatement of proportion
6. Equivocation: a misleading or confusing statement based on the possibility of differing interpretations
7. Exaggeration: an overstatement or overemphasis
8. Fable: a fictitious statement or story, in the sense of something made up to explain or justify an unmerited action or state of affairs
9. Fabrication: a made-up fact or incident
10. Fairy tale: a misleading story, especially a simplistic one that would not be expected to deceive anyone
11. Fallacy: a deceptive or erroneous statement; also, a false idea or a flawed argument
12. Falsehood: something untrue or inaccurate
13. Falsification: an alteration of facts in order to deceive
14. Falsity: incorrect, untrue, or even dishonest
15. Fib: a simple, perhaps transparent lie
16. Fiction: an invented statement or story
17. Half-truth: a statement with some basis in truth that nevertheless serves to deceive
18. Humbug: a false, deceptive, or nonsensical statement
19. Invention: a statement crafted to deceive
20. Jive: a deceptive, insincere, or nonsensical statement
21. Libel: a written or similarly presented lie that defames a person
23. Mendacity: an act of lying
23. Misconception: a poor understanding, perhaps deliberate, of a fact
24. Misinformation: a purported fact presented with the intent to deceive
25. Misinterpretation: a deviation from the facts or from a reasonable analysis of them
26. Misreport: an inaccurate account
27. Misrepresentation: an erroneous or unfair interpretation of facts
28. Misstatement: an inaccurate or erroneous comment
29. Myth: a perpetuated notion, belief, or tradition that is suspect or unfounded
30. Obliquity: a deviation from the truth to obscure or confuse
31. Perjury: a lie presented under oath
32. Pose: a false or deceptive position or self-representation
33. Pretense: an unsupported claim, an insincere purpose or intention, or a superficial effort
34. Prevarication: a deviation from the truth
35. Slander: an injuriously false statement about a person
36. Story: a lie, or a rumor
37. Tale: a false representation
38. Flip-Flop: A reversal, as of a stand or position
39. Untruth: a deviation from truth or the facts
40. Whopper: an outsized lie
As with all sin, mankind has even tried to rename lying. A lie by any other name is still a lie. Half truths or partial truth, like all untruth is no truth at all. We see people in all walks stretching the truth, just to get an advantage in life. This world rewards liars to the highest offices in the land. To them, the end justifies the means, even if that means is lying. Stretching the truth has been turned into an art these days. If someone tells the truth, society crucifies them as if they are stupid or weak. Most have heard lies so much that they prefer a liar to a truth teller. One thing for certain, God does not!
Solomon wrote, “Buy truth, and do not sell it” (Prov 23:23). Truth is just that valuable. Of all the things God desires most, none has suffered more in recent times than honesty. The lie is no longer something to be scorned; in fact, “everybody lies” is the most common excuse heard when someone is actually caught in a lie.
Still, there seems to be agreement among most that there are “little lies” as opposed to “big lies.” Apparently, a big lie is reason to call someone’s integrity into question, but a little lie is not. It could be asked, how do you tell the difference?
A better question might be, does God differentiate? Clearly, Old Testament teaching decries lying of any sort, beginning with the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:16). The Law of Moses also taught, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Lev 19:11). David sought God’s help in ending wickedness: “Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. Let lying lips be dumb, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt” (Ps 31:17-18).
Solomon too, discussed the Lord’s hatred of lying (Prov 6:16-19). And when writing of the loving kindness of the Lord, Isaiah said, “For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely‘” (Isa 63:8). Nahum, in his prophesy against Nineveh, had this accusation against its inhabitants: “Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage” (Nah 3:1).
Jesus taught against lying, even identifying the source of all lies. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44).
Paul cautioned Christians to “Speak truth, each one of you with his neighbor” (Eph 4:25), and “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Col 3:9). And John, at the end of scripture, in Revelation, writes of the end of “. . . all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8), and says of the gates of heaven, “Outside are . . . everyone who loves and practices lying” (Rev 22:15).
Surely, the Bible’s view of lying is clear from just these few passages. There can be no excusing the liar or his practices.
One of the most common defenses of lying is of the lie which “doesn’t hurt anyone.” The idea is that, since no one is hurt, the lie cannot be considered that bad. This is what some would characterize as a little lie. Is that God’s view? No!
One of the most famous examples of lying and the punishment of liars is of a lie which, seemingly, “didn’t hurt anyone.” In the fifth chapter of Acts, the early church is bringing the proceeds of land and houses sold, placing the money at the feet of the apostles. Ananias brought his money, leading others to believe he had brought all, when in fact he had kept back part. While Ananias might have been accused of selfishness, it is the lie of which Peter convicts him, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3-4).
Ananias fell dead at Peter’s words (v.5). Later, his wife Sapphira is convicted of the same lie, and she too, falls dead (v. 7-10). The lie of Ananias and Sapphira “hurt” no one. No one except God.
Therefore, lie not, and never reward a liar by elevating them to places of authority. Teach your children to lie not. Hire not a preacher who is willing to tell you what you want to hear as opposed to what you need to hear. Lie not to sinners or fellow brethren that they are right with God when you know the truth of God says differently. Their sin will be upon you (Ezek 33:7-9). Stand up for the truth and never be ashamed of it (Rom 1:16). We must understand that God hates lying (Prov 6:16), and that to Him, there are no little lies. When the wise writer advised, “Buy truth, and do not sell it,” it was more than just a slogan. His advice is as needed today as it was then, for all lies, no matter what we call them, can send one straight to hell.