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Telling Lies, Believing Lies

God's Word anchors our confidence in the certainty that what He says can be relied upon.
By BILL LAWRENCE
Read Time: 9 minutes

We are living in challenging times. One of the challenges everyone reading this article will face is the certainty that what the Bible teaches is authoritative and true. Truth is a fundamental Bible teaching. We believe the Word of God is without error. God’s Word anchors our confidence in the certainty that what He says can be relied upon.

We live in a society that now rejects the principle of the certainty of the Word of God. We live in a world that increasingly believes lies compared to Scriptural truths. God cannot lie; His word should be a solid anchor:

Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.
We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.
Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner,
because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 6:17-20 CSB).

Telling Lies

two of the six things the LORD hates involve lying

God cannot lie, but we can. I think most of us have wrestled with the concept of not being truthful in the various shades of meaning the idea brings. From childhood, we learn lying is wrong. Our parents likely taught this to us very early. In Sunday School, we knew this Bible ethic was essential to incorporate into our lives. Proverbs contains an early memory verse of mine where we learn that two of the six things the LORD hates involve lying: “There are six things that that the LORD hates… a lying tongue… a false witness who breathes out lies.” (Prov 6:16-19).1

We know the LORD hates lying, and we want to do what is right. We wish to be truthful people. How well have we incorporated being truthful into our lives? I want to share a lesson from an adult Sunday School class that addressed this topic many years ago.

At the time, our adult classes were discussion oriented. We enjoyed listening to and considering viewpoints from many fellow believers. A senior member of our meeting, very well respected for Scriptural knowledge and wisdom and extremely well respected for living a faithful life, challenged the class: “We should always tell the truth no matter what the cost might be to us personally.” This statement is paraphrased, but it gives the sense. The remainder of that class allowed for input from most of those attending.

I recollect that most of the class thought this goal would be challenging. It was like we were grading the severity of lies. For example, most of us may tell what I will call half-truths or harmless lies (as opposed to outright lies, or is it?). For example, maybe I am not feeling well, and the standard greeting of “How are you doing?” has me responding, “Fine, thanks, how are you?”

We know we are not okay but do not reveal it, so we are being slightly deceptive or evasive. Perhaps a friend has a new hairstyle they are pleased with and asks how we like it, and we respond favorably, but our true feelings are not favorable. In some social circumstances, we may be less than honest.

One way of justifying our statements is by the idea that we are sparing remarks that would be hurtful to others. There are countless other examples. Our Sunday School class concluded that most, if not all of us, realized we do this sometimes, even the brother guiding the discussion. I don’t recall anyone saying they had mastered being truthful in every circumstance.

We know that we wrestle with being perfect in our truth-telling at times. This struggle has been true from the beginning of Genesis in the garden. We could speak of Cain lying about his brother’s whereabouts. About Abraham and his lies to Pharoah in Genesis 12 and Abimelech in Genesis 20. His son Isaac repeats the same lie in Gerar later in his life. And then Jacob deceives his father, Isaac, to inherit the blessing.

We could recall Rahab hiding the spies sent to Jericho and lying to the King while she hid the spies on her rooftop. And what about Peter denying his Lord? I almost hesitate to use these Biblical examples of lying, as there may be a danger that simply acknowledging them will lead a person to some justification for not being truthful. This type of justification could lead us down a path of increasing allowance for telling a lie. We aren’t perfect. We will have motives, but we should always consider Proverbs 6 and the importance of being truthful.

The simple conclusion from the above is that we are human and are not always as truthful as we could be. Sometimes, we may even rationalize that we are reasonably justified in telling a lie. God has allowed us to choose when we find ourselves in various situations. Truthfulness and truth-seeking should be principles that guide our behavior. We know what God desires. It is essential to develop spiritual- mindedness, and it can be difficult to master the challenge.

The spirit of God working through James encourages us to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (Jas 1:22). Being deceived or deceiving is not in the way of truth. Deceiving is a form of lying, and it is possible, says James, to lie to ourselves. He goes on to say, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (Jas 1:26 ESV).

We know from Jeremiah that, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.” (Jer 17:9-10 CSB).

Further, James 3 is devoted to the tongue. In this section, he likens the damage the tongue can do to a fire, boasting, staining, cannot be tamed, a restless evil and full of poison! James concludes the section by directing us to examine our hearts and behavior. We understand God hates lying, a work of the tongue that echoes what is in the heart and mind. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Matt 15:18 WEB).

Our challenge is to be reflective in our walk.

Our challenge is to be reflective in our walk. We ask ourselves questions to measure how we are doing and where we can improve and develop a mind that better reflects our Lord’s mind. The Apostle John reminds us:

Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. (1 John 3:18-21).

Our conscience can help us determine if our walk aligns with the truth. Being self-deceived would be like having a seared conscience. Self-deception is lying to oneself. Do we, like the Apostle Paul, “strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man”? (Acts 24:16 NIV).

Self-Examination

The thoughts of James and 1 John should put us on a course of self-examination. Are we conforming to the pattern of this world or being transformed by the renewing of our minds? Whenever we come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are told to examine ourselves before eating and drinking the cup. (1 Cor 11:28). The Apostle Paul also asks those in Corinth to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” (2 Cor 13:5 NIV). It is perhaps easier to find fault with others than to look inwardly at ourselves.

At the last supper, we have some insight into self-examination. Consider the moment when our Lord reveals he will be betrayed: “When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.’ They became greatly distressed, and each one began to say to him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’” (Matt 26:20-22 NET).

Note the attitude of the twelve. Could it be me? Is it possible? There was no hint of finding fault with someone else. There was no “Could it be Judas?” being spoken. It was simply, “Could it be me?” Closely reading this text could also reveal that the disciples recognized the truth that Jesus was Lord. Whereas Judas says, Rabbi, is it I?” (v. 25 NKJV). Is it possible that Judas recognizes him only as Rabbi or teacher and not as Lord? If so, this would be very close to many in our age who see Jesus as a good living person.

They see him teaching good principles but fail to acknowledge him as Lord. This thought leads to a rejection of the principle that absolute truth is embedded in the Word of God. John the Baptist had his question answered when he asked, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Luke 7:19 NASB). Did Judas believe a lie? Perhaps he was thinking of Jesus a good teacher, not the Coming One. Both telling a lie and believing a lie can put us on dangerous ground.

When we examine ourselves and find we are weak or lacking in a particular area, we must confess that to our Lord. In addition to the confession, we must seek forgiveness and pray that we might overcome. “Pray for us; for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” (Heb 13:18 WEB). This is vital for our salvation.

The Post-Truth Era

In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary called “post-truth” the word of the year. As part of its definition of this term, Oxford states, “In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and reach any conclusion you like.” If it is true that we live in a post-truth society, we must be even more diligent to determine truth. We don’t want to reach any conclusion we like. We want to be truthful and be able to identify lies.

Consider that in the post-truth era, there are competing worldviews. A worldview is how we understand and have a perspective on everything that exists and matters to us. Do we believe in God? Which God? Who and what is God? Is there a purpose in life? Does it matter how I treat and interact with others? Is truth important, or is it okay to have my truth while you have yours? A worldview encompasses the most fundamental beliefs we hold dear. A worldview provides us with a roadmap to life. Other worldviews compete with a Biblical worldview. Different worldviews often clash with the truth we find in the Scriptures.

The challenging times we live in make it difficult to be in the world but not of the world. In other words, it may be tough to have a Biblical worldview without borrowing ideas from the world around us. If and when we do that, we are not only in danger of believing a lie but also of transmitting that lie to others. God hates this.

We desire to be children of God, shining forth as lights in a world full of darkness. The danger lies in that it can be challenging to ferret out how much we have been assimilated into the culture we are embedded in. How many of the lies of competing worldviews infiltrate our beliefs? Has there been, or will there be, a form of acculturation from the culture around us, and will that be merged into our beliefs?

In North America, we live in a Postmodern world with its version of secular humanism. We add to this that we live in an ever-growing multiethnic society in North America. We are immersed in a pluralistic society that constantly challenges our Biblical beliefs. Our society is decidedly less Christian every year. There is a mindset that permeates our culture of one that is relativist. A University of Chicago professor, Allan Bloom, wrote in his book The Closing of the American Mind that,

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4.”2

Speak the Truth in Love

Our walk of faith has many challenges. Are we confident we are speaking truthfully? Being honest with others who hold a different worldview can be formidable. Talking about what God says without being labeled a bigot or prejudiced against a particular group is risky in some places. So, are we convinced that we could trust in God’s Word and put our complete confidence in that source of information that anchors our hope? With that conviction, are we confident we will not be slightly deceptive in revealing the truth to others? Are we even being persuaded to believe things that are not true and are lies when compared to the word of God?

We are living in challenging times. It is essential to be truthful and avoid lying. It is crucial to compare the Word of God with what society says, so that we don’t believe a lie and spread it to others. May we “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15). Let’s ensure the error of lawless people does not carry us away. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25 KJV).

Bill Lawrence,
Guelph Ecclesia, ON

 

  1. All Scriptural citations are taken from the New King James Version, unless specifically noted.

  2. Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

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