Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stop Lying!

Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Strictly speaking, this command was a prohibition of ‘lying under oath.’ The point in this, the ninth commandment, was to protect people from false accusations. Trials back then consisted of the testimony of two or more eyewitnesses. This command was telling every Israelite to speak truthfully and not accuse anyone of something that they didn’t do. Proverbs 19:19 reinforces this, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish.

You see, the penalty for making a false accusation was severe. Deuteronomy 19:18-19 shows us what that penalty was - “And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.” It was simple: if you lie under oath and try to use the law as a weapon against an innocent man, you were to be punished for whatever crime you were accusing him of. That means if you were falsely accusing a woman of adultery, you were required to face the penalty of adultery. If you falsely accused someone of theft, you would be demanded to pay to that person what they supposedly stole from you

This may seem harsh, but it’s not! I can guarantee that the culture of Israel wasn’t plagued with frivolous and baseless lawsuits!  Justice was upheld and innocent reputations were protected. This was the letter of the law.

The spirit behind the law goes much further, leading to a simpler concept - speak the truth. God’s people were to be a people of truth. Lying and falsehood were to have no part in Israelite culture. The book of Proverbs is filled with such warnings to take the technicality of the ninth commandment and apply it to your daily life. Listen to these scriptures:

Proverbs 12:19 “The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” It’s common sense - you simply cannot continue to push lies forever. Eventually you will be found out!

Proverbs 26:18-19 “Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, ‘I was only joking.’” We’ve all done this - sometimes for surprise parties, sometimes to pull a prank on a friend. The sad truth of it is, even when the lie is under the cover of a joke, it will still damage the trust in the friendship.

Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” This passage lists both sides of the ninth commandment - false witness in a trial and lying during everyday life. Both of them alike are an abomination to God. God feels just as strongly about lying as He does ‘hands that shed innocent blood’ - that is murder! Proverbs 12:22 repeats this point: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” God hates lying but He delights in the truth!

Why does He hate lying so much? First of all, you need to understand His nature. Numbers 23:19 tells us, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” God isn’t like us, no matter how hard we’ve tried to humanize Him. God means everything that He says - His entire nature and character backs up the words that He speaks. James 1:17 tells us that God has no “shadow of turning.” - not even a  hint of change.

So if lying doesn’t come from God’s nature, where did humanity (created in God’s image) pick it up? Jesus was very upfront about this in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Do you see this? Satan is the liar and the father of any lie.

Telling lies is so serious in God’s eyes that it’s listed alongside murder, sexual immorality, and idolatry in Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Notice it says all liars - not just the biggest liars. You see, when you tell a lie you are taking the side of Satan Himself! Ouch!

Truth and lying are enemies, they cannot exist together. Try it. Try mixing a little bit of lie with truth. What happened? It turned everything you were saying into one big lie! As children of God, as His own special people, believers are to be people of truth.

Colossians 3:9-10 “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” We were all liars before we were saved. Satan was our father and we both shared a common destination. But now, Jesus delivered us and we have been recreated in God’s own image. Now, our goal is to be more and more like Him every day. We can’t reach this goal if we still think that little lies are harmless.

Remember this, lying (in any shape or form) is Satan’s native language, but God always speaks truth! Whose side do you want to be on?

Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.

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