Though the word “lie” is found 10 times in the New Testament, it has the definite article only four times in Greek, and I believe should be translated the lie, though most of our English translations do not do so, at best placing this translation in a marginal note.
The definite article in Greek, even more than our English “the,” has many uses, but like our English word, it is usually used to point out a definite or particular person, place or thing. So when we translate “the lie” we are not speaking of just any lie but of a particular lie. What is this particular lie?
The first place we read of “the lie” is in John 8. Jesus has been carrying on a heated discussion with the Jewish religious leaders as to who is whose “father.” They had claimed Abraham as their father or ancestor, both physical and spiritual (8:33-40). Jesus rebuts this and they then, claim God as their Father and that Jesus is of illegitimate birth (41-43). Jesus then hits them with the statement recorded in verse 44:
“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 has not stood in the truth, because truth is not in him. Whenever he speaks the lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
It is not simply that the devil speaks an occasional lie, or even that he continually speaks lies, but that he, Satan speaks the particular lie, which comes from his own nature and that he is the “father” of this lie, in the sense of its originating with him. Perhaps we could even call it the original lie.
If this is a correct inference, we might want to go back in the biblical record to find this lie, which we find recorded in the first book of the Bible.
“And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die, because God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4, 5).
Like many lies that have followed, this original lie contained a germ of truth. The eyes of the woman – and the man – would “be opened” and they would know “good and evil,” but not in the way implied (verses 6 and 7). They would not be “like God.”
And this is what the lie really is – that a human being could be “like God” or even be God.
In the second use of “the lie” in our New Testament, it is found in the words of Paul. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul is describing “the descent of man” from an original knowledge of God through the evidence of creation, into idolatry.
“Such ones exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshipped and served the created thing rather than the Creator --Who is blessed unto the ages. Amen!” (Romans 1:25).
Here we see that deity is ascribed to what is created. Not only has man exalted himself to being God, but also “birds, four footed animals, even reptiles” (verse 23).
The fourth use of “the lie” (I’ll get to the third use later) is found in Paul’s prophetic description of the great apostasy of the last days, when a man, whom Paul calls “the son of destruction” will actually “take his seat in the sanctuary of God, showing himself as being God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4).
“And because of this, God is sending to them the operation of deceit so that they will believe the lie …” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
And so the history of humankind is filled from beginning to end with “the lie.” Whether pagan idolatry or modern philosophy, mankind is worshipped in the place of God. A human being is exalted or exalts himself to the status of God.
But the lie is always presented in contrast to the truth. Man cannot become God – but God became Man. Jesus said, “I am … the Truth …” (John 14:6). This is the great truth of history – the ultimate truth. And those who have put their faith in this Truth do not need the lie.
There is one more use of the term “the lie.” It is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In chapters 4-6, Paul is explaining how the believer is to “walk” or behave in the light of his position in Christ. It is to be by a renewing of the mind, a laying aside of the “old self” and his habits (4:22-24), and along with this “the lie.”
“Therefore, laying aside the lie, each of you speak truth with his neighbor, because we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25).
Our “old self” – our pre-Christ personality, has been characterized by that self-deification tendency that has ruled in us since the garden. And it still keeps asserting its influence on us even after we have come to Christ. We are now to be characterized by truth in our dealings with each other – truth in our conversation and also truth as to who we really are.
God is God and I’m not!
See: WHAT IS TRUTH?BE REAL