So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. (Ephesians 4:25 NLT)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. (Colossians 3:9 ESV)
Dishonest scales are detestable to the LORD, but an accurate weight is his delight. (Proverbs 11:1 CSB)
Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter.
Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.
Join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion.
“YOU SHALL NOT GIVE FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR.”
That verse, from Exodus 20:16 (NIV), is the Ninth Commandment.
One of the Big Ten that God gave to mankind through Moses. With His hand, He chiseled the words onto stone and told His people to obey each of the 10 commandments so they would be righteous before Him.
Were we to rephrase the Ninth Commandment, we might replace it with the more direct wording from Leviticus 19:11 (NIV): “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”
There it is, plain and clear: “Do not lie.”
Some of us might want to look for a caveat, starting with the word “except,” as in “except in certain circumstances,” or “when the truth will hurt someone,” or “when the truth implicates us.”
Well, those caveats don’t appear in Scripture.
What’s more, Jesus emphasized their importance when the rich young man asked Him what he must do to merit eternal life. Jesus
told him to obey the commandments. The man asked, “Which ones?”
Jesus replied, “All of them.”
While Jesus didn’t list all of them, He did reference a few key ones. In the same breath as “never murder,” He said “never bear false testimony.” (Matthew 19:18 GW)
So, in God’s eyes, lying and killing convict us equally.
OF COURSE, THE BIBLE IS VERY CLEAR that salvation is the free gift of God’s grace for those who believe in Him (Ephesians 2:8) and is not a reward for good behavior. That point is true simply because no man or woman is perfect when measured against God’s perfect standard (Romans 6:23).
However, in this discourse on the rich young man, Jesus’ focus was less on earning salvation — which we cannot do — than it was on being obedient to God’s commandments. Jesus also used the occasion to signal the importance of honest dealings with one another.
The commandment to be truthful — that is, not to deceive — is part of a package of commandments, including not to steal from another, not to covet another’s possessions, not to destroy another couple’s marital bonds, as well as not to kill someone.
The rule against deception undoubtedly refers back to Genesis 3, when the serpent
deceived Eve into eating the “forbidden fruit,” which she then shared with Adam, her husband.
We easily can see the chain of malevolent events kicked off by that deception, from our forebears being kicked out of the Garden, to Adam tending soil that bears thistles as well as food, Eve suffering more in childbirth despite the joys of motherhood, and the frequent conflict between husband and wife caused by human sin.
LYING IS A BIG DEAL TO GOD.
Most of us see lying as a bad thing, but certainly not the type of wrong we would equate with murder or armed robbery. Yet God is focused on lying like He was eradicating cancer.
In one of the first books in the Old Testament, the LORD declares, “God is not a man, so he does not lie.” (Numbers 23:19 NLT)
In one of the latter books in the New Testament, the writer declares “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18 NIV)
Then, there’s this commandment from Paul to the church in Colossae. “Do not lie to one another,” he said, “since you have taken off the old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:9 BSB)
In other words, since your heart has been changed by the LORD through your salvation, you must act differently; you must be more Christ-like; you must not lie to one another.
Then there’s Paul’s strong condemnation of lying in his letter to the Roman church, when he said “God gave them over” to their sins, why? “because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25-26a NIV)
WHY IS LYING SO IMPORTANT TO GOD?
Because our salvation depends on God’s faithfulness.
The whole point of God’s message to us is that we can trust Him.
- When He tells us that Jesus so loved us that He gave His life to atone for our sins (John 3:16), He meant it.
- When He tells us that salvation is found in Jesus and in Jesus only, that His is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12), He meant it.
- When He tells us that all who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved (Romans 10:13), He meant it.
God went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate His faithfulness and veracity to us. He loves us and wants us to know that He will make good on His promises no matter how we respond.
The first covenant God made with mankind was with Abraham (called Abram, at the time), and it was one-sided. God ordered Abraham to dissect a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, and a three-year-old ram. Traditionally, both men entering the agreement walked between the split animals.
The Bible tells us when darkness came, Abram fell into a deep sleep, during which God — and God alone — walked between the two halves, signaling that God was bound to His side of the covenant regardless of Abraham’s obedience.
The Bible describes it this way: “After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals.” (Genesis 15:17 CEB)
GOD’S GREATEST DISPLAY of love for mankind was in sending Jesus, His Son, to bear the punishment for our sin. To make that equation work, that exchange of the Sinless One sacrificed for the redemption of the sinful many, required complete trustworthiness.
Jesus emphasized that in His ministry. Recall these words:
- “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37 ESV) (Jesus appearing before Pontius Pilot), or these:
- “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV), (Jesus teaching His disciples), or these:
- “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17 BSB) (Jesus praying to the Father before His arrest and crucifixion).
- “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:32 MSG) (Jesus talking to his followers).
THE ‘TRUTH’ IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES GOD from other sources of enlightenment. God is not just trustworthy; He is the very epitome of Truth.
We base our salvation on this … on being able to trust the living God, the God of the Bible, for our very souls. Here are words of assurance that God purposed to include in His Word to us:
- “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:81 NIV)
- “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35 NLT)
- “But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.” (Galatians 5:5 NLT)
- “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NASB)
- “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10 NKJV)
- “Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NLV).
WE CANNOT ESCAPE IT.
Our salvation is based on God’s faithfulness, and we must trust Him.
In turn, He demands that we be faithful and trustworthy in all our dealings.
Seems only fair.
PRAYER: LORD, our faithful redeemer. You have told us that You are Truth and that we must be truthful in all our dealings with You and others. It is through Your truth that we know of our salvation, that we will be with You in Paradise. LORD, we pray for the strength and courage to be honest and faithful in all of our actions. We praise You, LORD, and give You all the glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
- Does telling the truth as a commandment rank with refraining from committing murder, as you see it? Why do you suppose God equates the two sins? Is it to show us that breaking one commandment, regardless of how insignificant it might seem to us, violates God’s holy and righteous standard and renders us in need of a Savior?
- Can you see instances where you think shading the truth a bit is the wiser course of action for everyone involved? If so, are you as confident of that position now as you were when you began reading this meditation?
- Based on the Scripture shared in this meditation, how would you counsel a friend or young person who asks you for advice? Would you remind him/her of God’s commandment not to lie? Would you take your own advice?