On Tuesday, I posted an article, “Does Evil Exist?” based on my thoughts from reading Immortal Combat: Confronting the Heart of Darkness by Fr. Dwight Longenecker (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press. 2020).
As I ended that article I referenced Fr. Longenecker’s discussion of how Satan distorts our desires (30-31) such that we make ourselves the center of our own universe (33-34) even to the point of deceiving ourselves (40).
Now, I would like to continue my discussion from his book. In doing so, I am going to jump ahead in the book. However, it is not that I think the material I am not reflecting on here is not important. It is very important. In chapter 4, called “The Three-Headed Hound of Hell”, he discusses power, pride, and prejudice. In chapter 5, called “Medussa and Her Sisters”, he discusses resentment, rivalry, and revenge. He offers some very interesting points that I do not feel able to summarize in a blog article. You might consider reading it for yourself.
What I do want to talk about in this article is what Fr. Longenecker calls “the People of the Lie”, hence the name of my article here. Before continuing I want to say that it would be very easy to start thinking about other people in our lives that might exhibit the behaviors described below. This might be an important tool to help understand them. However, I suggest another way to look this material. Ask yourselves if you fit the description. It is only when we admit our own shortcomings that we can repent and open ourselves more fully to the Lord.
The first sign Fr. Longenecker identifies about the People of the Lie is that they think they are never wrong (55). The most accomplished of them will not “deny and defend” in an argument. Rather, they will deflect (55). The second sign he describes about them is that they always have a sacrificial lamb, meaning they always have someone else to blame because there is nothing wrong with them (56, cf. 58).
He says, “Finally, the People of the Lie are impervious to criticism. They never apologize. They never repent” (60). Furthermore, “There cannot not a cure because a cure would have to begin with an admission that there is something wrong with them” (61). This is exactly why I said that it is important for us to look at ourselves to see how we fit the description. It is only when we recognize the behavior in ourselves that anything can be done to change. (As to our sins, there is always a cure available if we repent. The cure comes from Jesus’ death on the Cross.)
It isn’t that the People of the Lie intend to lie. Sometimes it starts with a little lie but then we need to lie more to cover up the first lie. The lies spiral until we get “trapped in a world of deception and deceit” (63). The lies become so great to even deceive the one lying (64) to the point where they become the lie (65).
So, what do you think? Do you exhibit some characteristics of the People of the Lie? I hope you can answer no with regards to your whole life being a lie or deception. However, perhaps there is one particular part of your life that you hide from even yourself in some way. Here you might make a general examination of conscience to ask yourselves if there are other sins that you have failed to notice in your own behavior or denying.
It is only when we admit we have sinned that repentance is even possible. As Fr. Longenecker says we need to be willing to say, “Whoops. I got it wrong. In fact I am not right. I messed up. I’m guilty. It’s my fault.” (114). Fr. Longenecker goes on to say, “Even if it is partially someone else’s fault, we’re accepting our part of the blame and not shifting it to anyone else” (114). If we want to work to improve the situation, to lead the world from sin to Jesus, we must be willing to admit our own failings and be willing to change ourselves. We need to stop putting all the blame on others and accept responsibility for our own actions.
Here we can turn to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-5:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.“
It does not matter whose sin is bigger. The best place for any of us to start is with our own sins. Then we can help the other person, starting with forgiveness.
This ends what I will offer today. I foresee one more article coming from Fr. Longenecker’s book discussing his ideas on how we can succeed in the battle against sin.