You might think telling a big lie would be harder than telling a small one. According to Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist at University College London, such isn’t the case. Sharot said, “Whether it’s evading tax, infidelity, doping in sports, making up data in science or financial fraud, deceivers often recall how small acts of dishonesty snowballed over time and they suddenly found themselves committing quite large crimes.”
After conducting an experiment which rewarded participants for lying to an unseen partner, researchers discovered that the brain responds most to the first lie. But when untruths escalated in magnitude, the brain’s response declined. It’s similar to how the brain responds to sensory experiences. A scent become less potent when smelt repeatedly.
I suspect since the first lie is small we can justify it easier. Once we do that, our resistance to lying diminishes and so we can tell progressively bigger lies without resistance from the conscience.
According to the Scriptures, God himself “does not lie” (Titus 1:2). In his holiness, he is incapable of lying. As the apostle John put it, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). As author Sarah Sumner observed, “Lying can’t be other than sinful because God can’t do it. If lying were ever righteous, then there would be something righteous that God can’t do. It is clearly not God’s plan for people to harbor darkness or deception in their hearts. Even though God might use us when we lie, it doesn’t mean we are not sinning when we do.”
When you’re about to tell a small lie, like, “I was late due to traffic,” when you were late because you slept in, you might want to ask where the lie came from. Did it come from the Holy Spirit? Or, somewhere else? Jesus spoke of the origin of lies when he said the devil, “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). His words provide a quick and reliable answer. All lies find their source in Satan. He first lied to Eve in the Garden and he lies to us today. This means when we lie we’re aligning ourselves with the enemy of our soul.
You might think it’s such a small lie, why does it matter? It matters plenty. As we saw above, we resist the first lie most. After that we progressively desensitize our brain to ignore future lies, even when they’re bigger. Since that’s the case, doesn’t it make sense to avoid the first small lie?