Resisting Our Temptation to Lie

God tells us not to lie. Telling the truth is one of the 10 Commandments, which places lying as a no-no right up there with murder or stealing your neighbor’s new car. Why is the truth so important to God? Could it be that our very salvation hinges on whether we can believe God’s promises to us? He takes great pains to impress upon our feeble minds that He is telling us the truth when He says our salvation depends on our believing in Him. To make that clear to us, He wants us to practice that same trait.

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)

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“YOU SHALL NOT GIVE FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR.”

That verse, from Exodus 20:16 (NIV), is the Ninth Commandment.

61. God-Writes-TenCommandmentsOne 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.”61. Rich-young-man

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.

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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.

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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.

61. Garden-of-Eden-EveIn 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)

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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.61. God-gave-them-over-Romans-1

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)

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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).

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THE ‘TRUTH’ IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES GOD from other sources of enlightenment. God is not just trustworthy; He is the very epitome of Truth.61. Jesus-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).

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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.

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PRAYER:  LORD, our faithful redeemer. You have told us that You are Truth and that we 44. Cross_on_Biblemust 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

QUESTIONS:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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? 

About This Blog …

LoveAndGrace is starting a new feature: “Today’s Meditation.” A short meditation will be based on a Bible passage, with a prompt for reflection and a closing prayer.

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” — Revelation 1:3 (NIV)

GOD’S WORD was never meant to be hidden. When we receive the glory of God in our hearts, we were meant to share it with the world. We know that God sent His own Son to preach the gospel of salvation, of God reconciling the world to Himself.

Cross Over BibleThrough God’s grace, this blog has grown in readership, but reading the blog is not enough. We invite you to share it with someone you love who needs a word of encouragement.

We’re beginning a new feature. “Today’s Meditation” will be short meditations based on a Bible passage, two to four short paragraphs, a question block to stimulate reflection, and a closing prayer. This feature will supplement fuller meditations that have formed the basis of this blog.

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Host: Ward Pimley

Blind to Our Sinful Nature

Thankfully, our LORD takes us to the mountaintop from time to time, that lofty place of rest, where we can fellowship with other believers and just feel good all over, bathed in the Holy Spirit; but God, in His wisdom, never leaves us there for more than a moment. The real work is done in the valleys, where conflict reigns. We need to leave the mountaintop and engage in Kingdom-building. He strengthens us for the task and reminds us to abide in Him and He will abide in us. Once He shows us the sin in our hearts and our total dependence on Him, then and only then can He use us to be His ambassadors.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? — Jeremiah 17:9 WEB

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. — Mark 7:21-22 ESV

You say, ‘I’m rich. I’m wealthy. I don’t need anything.’ Yet, you do not realize that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. — Revelation 3:17 GW

All of us are dirty with sin. All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth. — Isaiah 64:6 NCV

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WE DON’T STAY AT THE MOUNTAINTOP FOR LONG, DO WE?

Nothing is more energizing than to join in Christian community in a weekend retreat. Without fail, retreat centers are strategically placed along mountain ranges, or beside pristine lakes, or shaded by a forest of bright leaves.

58.Men-Spiritual-HuddleThe joyful sounds of praise and worship ricochet off the walls, as celebrants eagerly jot down telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of newfound friends and pledge to keepin touch, just to encourage one another in their faith walks.

It’s all great stuff.

But a few days later, if that long, the bubble bursts, and we’re thrown right back into the midst of real life.

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ON THE MOUNTAINTOP, we can forget our sin for awhile. Sin takes a back step when we’re feeling alive in the Holy Spirit.

But Satan is watching our drive home, just waiting for his chance to pounce. We won’t see it coming; we’re still resonating to the joy of our holy huddle.58.Ways_Satan_Attacks

Temptation will creep in, and we’ll be a little slow in batting it away. Then it will grow and sprout its evil leaves, and we’re thrown into a head spin.

What happened?

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LIFE HAPPENED.

The Bible is clear that since the Fall — meaning the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3 — when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, sin has encased our hearts. We are driven by our love of sin … and we’re usually blind to it, even as it eats holes in our soul.

Sin is so much a part of who and what we are that Jesus, Himself God in human form, told us 

that what defiles us is not the food groups we  should avoid or whether we wash our hands or cups before eating, but what comes from out of our hearts, our minds, our 58. Sin-Stained-Heartinner selves.

God sees the filth that we hide, or at least try to hide, from ourselves and from one another, even while we recognize — at some conscious level — that it resides within us and that we’re not being honest with ourselves when we deny its existence.

The apostle John hit this one hard when he wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8 ESV).

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IN HIS BOOK THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS, Jerry Bridges says “One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is making us spiritually blind—unable to see our sinful character.” Bridges goes on to describe the cure that God has provided for us: “No one can understand it [sin] and expose it except the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, it is God’s Holy Spirit that exposes our sinful selves to us and stirs within us the desire to be holy, to be Christ-like in our thoughts, words, and actions.

It is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts us of our disobedience, whether it’s  the commission of an immoral act, a casual conversation that slips into a slanderous or judgmental remark, or even a careless thought or fantasy.58. Holy-Spirit-Shines

As Bridges says, “The Holy Spirit opens the inner recesses of our hearts and enables us to see the moral cesspools hidden there. This is where He begins His ministry of making us holy.”

It’s an uphill climb, but the “good work” that Christ has begun in us will continue until the day Jesus returns or calls us home (Phil. 1:6). Bridges notes that our sinful natures, combined with the evil powers of spiritual warfare, “are too strong for us to persevere unless the Holy Spirit” is alive and working within our souls.

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GOD IS SO MERCIFUL.

The immortal, merciful, invincible God could, if He wanted to, blot us all out as a horrible experiment gone wrong from the first. He washed away the first bunch of humans for their unrestrained evil (Genesis 6:5), so He could do it again.

How fortunate we are that He promised not to resend the floodwaters to wash mankind away (Genesis 9:15). Instead, he sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the evil we do and thereby give us the promise  of reconciliation with Him (John 3:16; Romans 5:9).

We’ve seen this “mountain top high leads to valley low” before in the Bible.

58. Golden-CalfRemember Moses, spending 40 days and 40 nights on the mountaintop with God, who gave him the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets? When Moses began the long trek back to the Israelite community, as recorded in Exodus Chapter 32:7 (NIV), God said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.”

Moses returned to the camp to see his countrymen dancing drunk around a golden cafe they made to worship. He was so angry, he smashed the two tablets.

Then, in Matthew 17, we see Jesus take three disciples with him to the mountaintop to witness the Transfiguration, where the LORD’s appearance was changed to reflect His glory. When He and the three disciples began their descent, it was to find a commotion among his remaining disciples and a man who had brought his epileptic son for healing.

Jesus was so distraught, He said, “O unbelieving and perverse generation, … how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17 NIV)

58. Spiritual-GrowthThe mountain top may be where inspiration and emotion reign, but it’s only in the valleys that we encounter real life — that’s where the growth occurs.

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THE APOSTLE PAUL TELLS US that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, counsels us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV)

God gives us those blessed moments on the mountaintop to reassure us, to comfort us, and to pour His love and peace on us in an unhindered way. It’s really the closest to Heaven we experience in this world. It’s just a sample of what lies ahead.

God will take us to the mountaintop, but He doesn’t leave us there. He has work for us to do and work He has to do in our hearts to prepare us for those tasks that lie ahead. Paul tells us, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of  Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)58.Witnesses

Paul goes on to encourage us. “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” (Philippians 2:1 NLT)

If that’s the case, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit from your time on the mountaintop, then go, you believer in Christ, as He calls you to minister to a world hungry for His message.

Leave the mountaintop and mingle with the world. “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 CSB)

God wants us to leave the mountaintop and do the Kingdom work to which we are called: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8 GW)

Once He can show us the sin in our hearts and our total dependence on Him, then and only then can He use us as His ambassadors.

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PRAYER: Heavenly Father, too often we are content to stay on the mountaintop, where we can huddle with fellow believers, hear inspirational testimonies, praise You in song, and engage in spirited discussions, when the real work of Kingdom building is done in the valleys after we descend. Forgive us our hesitation to leave the good feeling of that peace — and thank You for allowing us that respite. Please quicken our hearts to engage the world with our witness with eagerness and humility. In Jesus Name, Amen