The First Lie—Who Told It?
IN A town in southern Africa two men in a car drove through an intersection. The traffic lights were green, but they were stopped by a traffic officer who asked: “Why did you drive through the red lights?” Both men denied that they had. But the officer said: “Are you telling me that I can’t see?” And he began to write out a ticket. The driver answered quietly: “There is Someone up above who knows what you are doing.” The officer hesitated . . . and walked away.
Yes, the policeman was telling a lie. Is that surprising? Hardly. Lying is deeply rooted in human society. As it has often been said: “Tell a lie often enough and the people will believe it.” Many politicians appear to agree with this, and, in the minds of many, politics is closely associated with lying.
People tell lies for all kinds of reasons. A sincere Christian who had been out of work for some time applied to a commercial firm for a job. But the manager warned him: “To sell my products you must be able to lie better than the next man!” The Christian refused the job.
Even religious persons, if not holding to godly standards, resort to lying. Do you remember the reaction of the Jewish religious leaders on hearing that the executed Jesus of Nazareth had been resurrected? They bribed the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb to say: “His disciples came in the night and stole him while we were sleeping.”—Matthew 28:12-15.
Yet it appears that lying is not natural to humans. Dr. Lewis Thomas wrote: “As I understand it, a human being cannot tell a lie, even a small one, without setting off a kind of smoke alarm somewhere deep in a dark lobule of the brain, resulting in the sudden discharge of nerve impulses, or a sudden outpouring of neurohormones of some sort . . . Lying, then, is stressful, even when we do it for protection, or relief, or escape, or profit.” (Discover, December 1980) These physical reactions are what trigger a lie detector.
Since lying is so stressful, how did it get started?
Who Told the First Lie?
Jesus Christ identified the first liar, and he showed that it was not a human. He said: “When he [Satan] speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) So the first liar was Satan the Devil. When did he start telling lies? According to the Bible, it was shortly after the beginning of the history of the human race.
The event is recorded in the Bible book of Genesis, and the lie was a matter of life or death for mankind. God indicated to the first man, Adam, that his continued life depended on obedience. He gave Adam a simple law to keep and said that if he failed to keep that law he would “positively die.” But Satan maliciously lied and said: “You positively will not die.” That was the first of the billions of lies that have been heard on this planet Earth.—Genesis 2:17; 3:4.
Many today do not believe that account in the Bible. But Jesus, the most truthful man who ever lived, confirmed that the record in Genesis is not myth but true history. (Matthew 19:4, 5) Certainly, the results of that lie are still with us. It spelled disaster for the human race.