Canine lie detectors

Canine lie detectors

Know that your sin will find you out. – Numbers 32:23

Acts 5:1-11

 1 There was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property.

 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.

 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.”

 4 “The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

 5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified.

 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

 8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”

 9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”

 10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

 11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.

Apparently, dogs are capable of knowing whether they are being lied to. This is the conclusion from a new study that intentionally tried to deceive dogs.

Researchers spent time training 260 dogs to go to food which they had placed in bowls. There were two bowls, one containing food and the other had none. Both bowls were clearly visible but covered. The dogs were trained to follow the suggestion of “the communicator.” This individual was someone they had never met before. The communicator’s part was to touch the bowl with food and say to the dog, “look, this is very good!”

Then came the switcheroo. The researchers had another person move the food from one bowl to the next while the dogs watched. The primary variable was whether the communicator was in the room at the time of the switch or not. Did the communicator observe the switch?

The communicator was given the task to recommend the empty bowl to the dog. Here’s the interesting part. Half of the dogs would follow the misleading suggestion of the communicator if the communicator had not witnessed the switch. But when the communicator had seen him the switch and still recommended the empty bowl, two-thirds ignored the communicator. The dogs ignored the communicator’s advice and went straight for the bowl containing the food.

The principal researcher, Ludwig Huber, a biologist at the College of Vienna, concluded that the results suggest that “dogs can understand when someone is being deceitful.” In other words, canines are excellent lie detectors (New Scientist).

Do you suppose that if dogs can detect deceit, that the Father can also? Of course, He can. But somehow, we naïvely think that we can get away with things and He is unaware of it or worse unconcerned.


With apologies to Jim Carrey, there are indeed Pet Detectives among us, both 4-legged and 2-legged.

Father speaking the truth in love is the best policy. Encourage me to be steadfast in my integrity.


In the nascent church, children of the King would share what they had with those in need. Among them was Barnabas. He sold a field and brought the money to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37). It was an act of kindness and generosity. How do you suppose that his gift was received? Surely apostles were grateful and thanked him. But in simple terms, his act of devotion received praise from others.

It is not too difficult to figure out what is going on in the minds and hearts of Ananias and Sapphira. What was their motivation? Ananias and Sapphira no doubt seeking the praise and recognition of others. They also sold some property and gave a portion of the proceeds to the apostles. It was a kind and generous act.

But then everything went south. They held back some of the profits for themselves which would have been just fine. But they lied to the apostles saying they had given the whole amount. It is a bit odd that people on the one hand can be kind and generous and on the other hand be deceptive because they are self-deceived. Far too many do the right thing, with the wrong motivations, in the wrong way Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that when people are deceived, they don’t know that they are.

But there is an underlying malevolent force lurking in the shadows, the enemy, Satan. Pause for a moment and reflect. Ananias and Sapphira think that their actions were totally the results of their own machinations. They did not recognize that their scheme was perhaps some sort of an implant from the enemy. He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). How often do we make the same mistake? We think we have a green light from the Father, but actually, we are deceived and listening to another voice.  

Peter easily sniffed out the deception and confronted Ananias. Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4)

It is shocking to think that children of the King would allow the enemy to fill their hearts. Somehow, he was able to influence them and persuade them to do what was wrong perhaps even convincing them that it was okay. After all, nobody was watching or listening, no one would know. One way or another their evil intentions opened a door and Satan made his move.

We know that negative emotions provide the enemy with an opportunity, a foothold. Festering anger, in particular, can lead to sin.

Ephesians 4:26-27

 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,

 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Could repeated wrong thinking and contemplating doing evil provide a similar opening? Neither negative emotions nor evil thoughts should be indulged or nourished.

Perhaps that is why we are to be alert and careful and take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).

They lied to the apostles. They had no idea that they were lying to the Father as well. No one can lie to the Father and get away with it. The Father’s deception detector is far better than that of canines. He is always able to sniff things out.

The consequences of their deception were instant death. The children of the King in the early church were shocked. Instantaneous death for lying? “Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). He lied to and through this couple, and the lie led to their deaths (Wiersbe).

“This is one of the stories which demonstrate the almost stubborn honesty of the Bible. It might well have been left out, because it shows that even in the early Church there were very imperfect Christians; but the Bible refuses to present an idealized picture of anything.”

“Once, a court painter painted the portrait of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England. Cromwell was disfigured by warts on his face. The painter, thinking to please the great man, omitted the disfiguring warts. When Cromwell saw the picture, he said: ‘Take it away, and paint me warts and all.’ It is one of the great virtues of the Bible that it shows us its heroes, warts and all” (Barclay).

“Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all” (Oliver Wendell Holmes).


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