-Truth Or Consequences

Truth Or Consequences

Picture FrameMost of us have heard the story of Geppetto, the toy maker who created a wooden puppet of a little boy. He had always wanted a boy of his own, and magically the wooden puppet turned into a human boy named Pinocchio. He became so real he even told lies to get out of trouble. But every time he lied his nose grew longer. Another story is told of a mother who asked her son, “What is a lie?” He answered, “A lie is an abomination to the Lord, but a very present help in the time of need.” These stories illustrate what many think about lying. We know lies are wrong, but it seems handy at times to tell them. Lying may seem like the way out of trouble, but it almost always backfires. There’s a lot of truth to this well-known line from Walter Scott: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

What does God’s Word say about lying? He takes our words so seriously, Malachi wrote that there is “a book of remembrance” being written as God’s people speak to one another (Mal. 3:16). He is the unseen listener to every conversation. In the Old Testament God commanded, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16 NKJV). It is repeated in the New Testament (Rom. 13:9). It’s important to see that in Proverbs 6:16-19 two of the seven things God hates have to do with lying.

Why Does God Hate Lying?
One reason God hates lying is that it goes completely against His nature. God is light; this means He is holy. In 1 John 1:5-10, His holiness is contrasted with our lying. The Bible says it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18; Ti. 1:2). He is the God of truth (Dt. 32:4). Jesus declared, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life” (Jn. 14:6). The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Truth” (Jn. 16:13; 1 Jn. 5:6). The entire Godhead is truth. Lying is contrary to God’s divine nature.

Another reason God hates lying is that it was a lie that plunged mankind into sin and separated him from God (Gen.3; Rom. 5:12-21). Man chose to believe Satan, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), rather than the God of truth. It’s sobering to read that those who practice lying will spend eternity without God (Rev. 21:8, 27; 22:15). God takes lying seriously, and says, “Do not lie to one another” (Col. 3:9). Let’s take a closer look at lying.

The Diagnosis Of A Lie
The first question to ask is, “What exactly is a lie?” According to Webster’s dictionary, to lie means “to make a false statement, knowingly.” This means that a lie is something deliberate, told in order to deceive or give a false impression. We can lie with our lips and we can also lie with our lives. If we pretend to be something we’re not, we are lying. If we say something a certain way to lead people to a wrong conclusion, we are not telling the truth. If we misrepresent the truth, we are lying. There should be no gray areas.

The Dilemma Of Lying
Mark Twain once said, “The difference between a liar and a truth-teller is that the liar must have a good memory.” It is difficult to keep all our lies straight once we begin telling them to cover our tracks. So the next question is, “Why do we lie?” Some people lie out of fear, like Abraham, a godly man who was even called a “friend” of God (Gen. 20:7; Isa. 41:8). He feared both the Pharaoh and Abimelech, king of Gerar (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18). He lied to both when he told them that his wife was his sister. Though this was half true, it was still a lie, and both times it had negative consequences. Even godly men resort to lying out of fear.

Another reason people lie is to hurt someone or make them look small. This is what happened to our Lord. His enemies paid people to tell lies about Him, but those liars could not even get their stories straight!

A third reason we lie is because of pride. We want to impress people so we make up stories that make us look good. We exaggerate to paint a prettier picture. This is what happened in Acts 5, where we find a lie to be the first recorded sin in the Church. Ananias and Sapphira lied to give the impression that they gave more to the Church than they really did. They not only lied to the Church, but they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:34) God took this so seriously that the consequence for their lie was death. If we died when we lied, would any of us still be alive?

People also lie because they really don’t believe that telling the truth is the best thing to do. At times it might seem that telling the truth may get us into trouble, but if difficulties do come they are only temporary. The truth always wins out in the long run. The Lord Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (Jn. 8:32). When we lie, we doubt God’s Word and fall into Satan’s trap. But when we tell the truth we show that we are following the Lord and will experience real freedom.

Disloyalty Of Lying
The definition of disloyalty is, “to be false, treasonable, unfaithful, untrue, traitorous.” This definition really describes our behavior when we lie. We can be disloyal by telling an untruth, but we can also be disloyal by telling a “half truth” or “white lie.” We can be disloyal by exaggerating, or even by flattering another. Lying usually begins by lying to others, but often it does not stop there. The apostle John tells us that it is just the beginning of a slippery slope: “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth … If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). John teaches that we can be disloyal to others by portraying ourselves to be something we’re not. But we can also lie to ourselves! If we have bitterness or jealousy toward another but act as if nothing’s wrong, we deceive ourselves and lie to ourselves.

When we begin to slide down the slippery slope of lying, we first lie to others, then to ourselves – but it might not stop there. John says we can even lie to God: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:10). Like Ananias and Sapphira, we can try to lie to God, but God knows our hearts like He knew theirs.

Decision To Tell The Truth
In a recent poll, 91% of the people admitted to lying regularly. In answer to the question, “Whom have you regularly lied to?” 86% said “parents” and 75% said “friends.” Most feel that as long as you don’t hurt anyone it’s all right to lie. This is the world’s philosophy, but the Christian should “not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). We are told, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:9-10). We must decide if we’re going to be squeezed into the world’s mold of lying or God’s mold of truth telling.

Paul instructs us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). I heard someone say, “I’m speaking the truth; I can’t help if it hurts.” This statement may be true to some degree, but we are to speak the truth in love. We are not to use the truth as a weapon to hurt someone. We should use it as a tool to build them up. Proverbs, the book of practical wisdom says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).

Sometimes our speaking the truth can be rough like sandpaper that harshly tears up the surface. Paul reminds us to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you might know how to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). Speech that is full of grace comes from a heart that enjoys God’s grace. This verse says that our speech is not only to be with grace, but also with salt. Salt was often used to preserve things to keep them pure. When we speak to one another our speech should be pure, with nothing that would contaminate others. Lies contaminate both the speaker and hearer. We are also told that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord ” (Col. 3:17). This verse tells us that the “what and how” of all we do should be in the name of the Lord. We can’t lie in His name, but we can speak the truth in His name.

Will we allow the Lord to search our hearts to see where we are not being truthful? May the Lord help us to “put away lying, letting each one of you speak the truth … Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:25, 29).

By Tim Hadley

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.


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