After a person has rationalized a lie and then gotten away with it—they now have reaped some of the short-term rewards of lying. Nobody would ever lie in the first place if it didn’t have this effect. But those rewards are alluring enough to them that they let the lie grow when…
3) They tell it twice.
It worked the first time—the one who told a lie thinks—so why not do it again? Perhaps someone asks them about the situation, they may even be coming with some skepticism in their voice. The person who told the lie then either needs to confess and hope they will be forgiven or instead, they bet on the lie.
Nearly always they “up the ante” on the lie. Remember, they have already rationalized the lie, and they got away with it too—so just repeating themselves at this point doesn’t feel like a big step. In fact—in a twisted way the lie now has a life of its own and they need to “protect it” by telling it again. It’s easier, for sure, and the conversation is shorter. Why go to all that trouble to confess now—when you can just do what you did before and continue to reap the rewards? In fact, the “false truth” they have constructed requires them to lie in order to keep it up. In a sick way they “protect their integrity” now by lying–at least in the eyes of the person they lie to. This is why so many who tell a lie tell it again. They “double down” on the lie—betting that they will get away with it again, and almost always they do, for now.
How do you stop the lie from growing at this stage? Well—this is very hard, because of all the reasons I said before. We must train our hearts to hear our words as they come out of our mouths. We must attune ourselves to their accuracy—and listen for our own veracity.
In reality, stage 3 is the perfect time to reel back the lie. When the second opportunity to lie comes it is actually a second chance God gives to fess up before it’s too late. It often comes as a question you could respond to by correcting yourself. Indeed, even this late in the growth of a lie one can walk it back to forgiveness fairly easily–you take a short term “beating,” perhaps, but the long term effects are minimal. The skeptical person with the question about your lie already doesn’t trust you as much because of your story or the fact—and so you can take their opportunity to correct your story and tell the truth, or agree with the “true facts.” If you keep playing this game of high-stakes poker when you’re bluffing (lying) then eventually you’ll be caught. So why not get out of this lie why you still can walk away with some chips? (Those chips may be your dignity, what’s left of your integrity, your relationships, etc.)
Yes, the consequences of being “caught” in a lie are greater than reeling it back in at stage 2, when you had gotten away with it. At that stage your guilt can cause repentance—at this stage it looks like you were forced. But in reality things are not that far along here.
Confession & trust are more connected than we realize. Some of the people who trust me the most are those who I’ve confessed sin to. Isn’t that counter-intuitive? Building a bridge of repentance builds trust. Perhaps everyone lies more than they admit—and just admitting your lie to someone helps them trust you more, and you them. In fact, an accountability partner might just be described as someone you tell your lies to, so you stop lying—or someone you tell your sins to, so you stop sinning. For the word “lie” and the word “sin” are virtually interchangeable.