by Ullas Nair
Once again it is a great pleasure for me to be here among the saints meeting at the Eastern Shore congregation. I count it a great joy to have been able to be with you in the lectureship since 1996, as you are probably aware this will be my last year of army posting in Australia.
The subject allotted to me is the subject of lying, sins that produce strife and friction; to show that the Christian should be able to be trusted at all times. if I was to begin by asking who among us has never told a lie, I believe they will be no hands raised. Is it a serious problem, a sin that needs to be addressed? The answer is yes.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Those terms and adjectives clearly define the term lie or a liar. As you can surely see, it is a serious sin. Untruths or lies need not necessarily be in the oral form, they could also be in the written medium such as documents or letters, forgeries etc. In the Malay language there is a term call "surat racun", literally "poison letters".
Contrast for a moment a lie with its opposite, the truth. Speaking the truth means that you trust a person's words or deeds. Compare this with mistrust / distrust. Basically we must take responsibility for our words. These are things that we need to teach our children from an early age.
When we say a person is a man of integrity, we think of a man who is honest, trustworthy and a man of truth. Christ our Lord was such a man. Having defined the terms, I will now show from the Scriptures the forms or types of lies and what the Bible has to say about this matter.
FORMS OF LIES
This false witnessing is a lie, it is a deliberate lie. When one goes to court one is required to "say the whole truth", that is take an oath. Telling lies in court is perjury, a crime which is punishable. False witness is so serious that it is the 9th commandment of the commonly termed 10 commandments. Christians cannot partake in false witnessing, we should let our yes be yes and our no be no. We are to be of good reputation.
B. Another form of untruths or lies is slander - an untruth with a malicious intent, a false statement that damages a person's reputation. In Psalm 109: 1-3, the writer has said that "they have spoken against me with a lying tongue". Slander seems to be one of the favourite hobbies of the politicians.
Let us not forget that it was the slandering remarks and connivance of the Jewish plotters that sent our Lord to the injustices of the Roman cross. In this instance, we also discover lying to be not an individual expression but instead involving group of people lying. Psalm 101: 5 "Whoever secretly slanders his neighbour, him will I destroy". God does not take slander lightly. Have we Christians been guilty of slander?
C. Gossip - Gossip is another form of propagating lies. All we need is an itching ear to catch whatever is carried by the wind. It is rumour mongering. 1 Tim. 5: 13 - "and besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house. . ..but also gossips and busy bodies, saying things that they ought not to". This gossiping is almost an art form among some people, it occurs with neighbours, in our work place, in schools, and the church is certainly not exempted.
The juicier the gossip the faster it spreads. More often then not the innocent party is not "in the know" about what is being said about them. I will term it as a disease that must be eradicated. It stirs up trouble.
D. The next form of lie is what the Bible terms as "they delight in lies, they bless with their mouth and curse inwardly" - Psalm 62: 4. Hypocrisy if you please. Are we guilty of this sin? Some people can be so smooth that you think they are your buddies or mates, but watch out for the sharp edged sword.
Let us at this point remember that what we do as adults and as parents will have a profound effect on our little ones. Children and teenagers see what their dads and mums say; if we are the lying type very soon we will have our kids lying to us. Some people can tell _a lie without blinking an eye, with a straight face: perhaps they have become professional liars.
WHY DO PEOPLE LIE?
B. Ulterior motives - Some people lie because of ulterior motives, hidden agendas if you please. To gain an advantage over another person. Even flatterers are liars. Then there is the lie and taking credit for something that they did not deserve. Some of us have encountered this in our working lives. The innocent party suffers.
C. Lie because of hate or hatred.- Prov 26: 28 "a lying tongue hates those
who are cursed by it". There is a lot of hate in this world and Christians
should not be part of it, we are to love our neighbours. This is the second most
important commandment after "love the Lord".
When Abel murdered Cain he too attempted a cover up. King Saul gave such an excuse when he did not comply with God's commandments to kill everything in 1 Samuel 15. First he lied then he tried to cover up by shifting the responsibily to the people. Again the brothers of Joseph lied to their father after selling off Joseph by saying that he had been killed by a wild beast (Gen. 37), a cover up. What was the end result? - in King Saul's case he was to lose his kingdom; for the brothers of Joseph, they suffered famine and humiliation.
E. Lie because of fear - many lie because they are afraid to take responsibility for their words and actions. Let us pause for a moment and consider the good Lord who could have escaped the Roman cross if he had not taken responsibility for his actions. He could have wriggled His way out by some persuasive arguments, but he stood for the truth. He was not afraid of those who could kill the body but not the soul.
We must take responsibility for our actions. As Christians we must be
prepared to face the firing line if that is what it takes. Banish fear with the
truth, not with lies. Stephen was martyred because he spoke the truth. If are
wrong we accept the repercussions that go with it. This is a hard saying, but
that's the only way. People are more forgiving if one says the truth and accepts
responsibility. Daniel and his friends spoke only the truth and were cast into
the furnace to be burnt alive, but God saved them.
IGNORING THE TRUTH, OR REMAINING SILENT
To conceal the truth means that one has the aim to deceive another as defined in the introduction to this lesson. The truth can hurt, no doubt about it, but it can also heal and comfort.
When we think of deception we think of the first lie in Gen. 3: 13, when the serpent deceived Eve. So can we conclude that Eve was innocent? Eve was guilty because she believed a lie. In John 8: 44 Satan is said to be the father of all lies. Eve had chosen not to obey God but instead to believe a lie. God made man with one tongue, the serpent has a forked tongue. None of us are born with a forked tongue. The book of James chapter 3 has a lot to say about the small tongue that can cause so many problems.
EFFECTS OF LIES
In Genesis 39, Potiphar's wife lied that Joseph had tried to seduce her, and the result of that lie caused Joseph to be imprisoned. However, God's providential care made Joseph the second most powerful man in Egypt. God cared for His servant.
Isn't it true that lies and halftruths have caused so much sorrow and grief to so many, with families broken up, relationships severed, reputations blemished and tarnished, marriages broken up and rocked, relations between countries affected, between races and groups of people affected by such lies. even the Lord's church is not exempted from the chaos. Some people have suffered imprisonment because people colluded and lied about them.
One of the most severest warning in the Bible for liars is found in Rev. 21: 8 ". . . all liars have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone".
I would also like to draw your attention to Proverbs 6: 16-19. Here we read of those attributes that God hates. Six things he hates, seven are an abomination to him. Two out of seven things mentioned there have to do with lies, that is, a lying tongue and false witnessing. God does not condone lying under any circumstances.
Today most of the advanced nations have authorised the use of polygraphs or lie detectors in criminal cases. A suspect is asked to undergo this detector test that is able to read a persons response to questions to gauge if he is telling the truth or lying. For Christians our lie detector is our link to God: we can fool everyone but we cannot fool the spiritual person in us that is linked to our spiritual God.
SWEARING OATHS - TRUTH AND LIES
What the Lord was teaching here was that the Pharisees were being hypocritical: they permitted all kinds of oaths (lies) except what they regarded as deliberate false swearing or perjury. They also made distinctions between oaths, stating that some were binding while some were not. This is what the Lord was implying in Matt. 23: 16-23 "woe unto to you ye blind guides which say whosoever shall swear by the temple it is nothing, but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple , he is a debtor". Jesus was exposing their lying ways and their hypocrisy.
For Christians the Lord was teaching us not to take the name of the Lord in vain (Exod. 20: 7). We hear such swearing in the mass media, movies and in loose conversations. The Lord is teaching us to abide in the truth. There should be no need for oaths to convince others of a Christian's worth except his word and his deeds.
PUSHING THE EXTREMES OF SWEARING AN OATH
Today we have fundamentalists of various religions backgrounds engaging in the same acts and killing innocent people, all in the context of swearing an oath. Fortunately for the apostle Paul those Jewish plotters had to continue their "fast" indefinitely since the Lord delivered the apostle from their murderous hands.
ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA
THE LIE OF RAHAB
Rahab the harlot protected the two spies sent out by Joshua to spy on the city of Jericho. When the men of the king of Jericho enquired of her whether the two spies were lodging in her home, she denied it. Later she helped them to escape. Rahab lied, no doubt about it, and in so doing she saved the lives of the two Israelite spies.
She lied to save herself and her household. She made the two spies swear an oath that they would show kindness to her and her household. Their lives were saved and they repaid the kindness shown to them (Joshua 6 : 17), but more importantly we know from the Scripture that Rahab's actions were inspired by faith in the God of Israel. Heb. 11: 31 also mentions this. The case of Rahab cannot be used to justify lying. It was the providence of God that sent the spies to shelter in Rahab's home in the first place. She acknowledged that the God of Israel was the true God. It was her faith and God's providence that also saved her, not her lying.
As we conclude, we Christians must endeavour to be people of good repute, people who can be trusted, people whose words are always true. We don't need to swear oaths to convince others. We must be prepared to take responsibility for our actions, there is no need to cover up or shift the responsibility by lying. Teach our young ones to tell the truth always.