Tag Archives: lying

Truth

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.(Psalm 5:6 ESV)

Why does God hate lies? When He spoke to the Israelites after He brought them out of Egypt He told them “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 ESV; see also Deuteronomy 5:20). To bear false witness is to speak deceptively about anything to your neighbor or before a group, such as a court of law. God hates lies because His essential, eternal character is truth. He created Man in His image, which means for anyone to speak something that is not true goes against His will in creation. Lying is first against God and then against others. It is one more way for people to reject God and His perfect design for them. In the Garden, the Deceiver lied to Eve, who believed the lie and acted in rebellion against God. Lying is an act of rebellion against the eternal nature of God.

Those who speak lies are anyone who tells a falsehood or deceptive thing about anything, including libel and defamation, slurs and slanders, making statements fabricated to lead another to an untrue conclusion. Deceitful  means treachery, and involves betrayal, treason, disloyalty and sedition.

There are two other words used to describe God’s justice toward those who lie. God will destroy those who lie, which means to perish, vanish and make go away, blot them out, sentence to eternal death, which is separation from Him, the source of life. God abhors them, which means to detest, loathe, to make an abomination, all ritually and ethically. God does not tolerate lies. He then equates lying to those who are bloodthirsty, or those who seek to put others to death for no reason. God equates lying to murder.

When Jesus violently drove the vendors and moneychangers from the Temple courts He was challenged by the religious leaders. They asked Him for a sign, a testimony, to establish His authority to clear the Temple. It was their Temple, in their minds, and not His. It had taken many years to complete and was still not finished. They were in charge of what occurred on the Temple grounds. Jesus’ actions were a direct challenge to their traditional authority. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  (John 2:18 ESV).

Jesus’ response made no sense to them. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). They thought He was speaking about the physical Temple, the structure rising around them. But He was speaking about His body. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21-22 ESV). He did not say He would destroy the Temple. He implied they would destroy the Temple, which is His body. He prophesied their actions in murdering Him and His accomplishment in rising from the dead.

How did they manage to condemn Jesus to death and destroy the Temple that was His body? They lied. Their lies revealed the thinking of their hearts and the bloodthirsty nature of their actions. They believed false witnesses.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”(Matthew 26:59-61 ESV; see Mark 14:55-56)

When Stephen was executed for his witness about Jesus and the gospel, those who condemned him used almost the same lies they spoke against Jesus.

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:11-14 ESV)

Their lies led to the murders of both Jesus and Stephen. They did not violate only one of the statements of God in Exodus 20, but many. By lying and murdering they dishonored God, heaping derision upon His name. Jesus was resurrected and Stephen will be resurrected. Those who lied will stand before God and then be driven from His presence, unless before they die they repent, admitting their sin and embracing the grace of God given through the Man they murdered.

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Honor

Meditations in the Psalms

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? (Psalm 4:2 ESV)

Jesus’ prayer, cried out in this Psalm, and the prayer of the Psalmist, is inspired by the thinking of the hearts of the people who rage against Him. They are wicked and ungodly people, the kings and rulers of nations, who surround Him, intent upon inflicting violence against His person. Their unrighteousness wars against His righteousness. God gives Him both grace and mercy when He answers His prayer and relieves His distress.

David, speaking for Jesus in this Psalm, asks those who dishonor Him with their lies, pointed, parallel questions. Honor means glory, glorious, abundance.Shamemeans disgrace, reproach, confusion, insult, ignominy, discredit. These combative people use propaganda to attack Jesus’ character and person. They embrace vanity or vain words, which are empty and idle speech, that lifts themselves up while tearing Him down. They seek and desire to believe and espouse lies, false, deceptive, untrue teaching and training. These are the same people who “plot in vain” (Psalm 2:1 ESV) against the “LORD and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:2 ESV). How long are they going to continue their rebellion and vilify, belittle and slander Him?

Throughout the Jesus’ earthly ministry He consistently confronted and opposed the Jewish leaders and teachers of the law. They saw Him as a threat to their power and authority over the people. He viewed them as false teachers, who led people away from God.

Jesus performed a miracle, raising Lazarus from death after four days in the tomb. Lazarus’ body naturally started to decay and decompose. People reacted to Jesus’ miracle in two ways. Either they embraced Jesus, convinced He was who He said He was, or they did not believe Him and denied Him. What did Jesus declare about Himself? In the presence of the people, Jesus declared to Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV). Even though Jesus’ miracle is undeniable, executed in public, witnessed by many people, some of those who could accurately testify to Lazarus being dead and then not being dead, denied Him. “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done” (John 11:45-46 ESV). They did not deny He performed a miracle. They denied His divinity, for only God can raise the dead.

How did the Jewish leaders react? “From that day on they made plans to put him to death” (John 11:53 ESV). But Lazarus was still walking around, a living proof of the miracle performed by Jesus. People came from all around to see him who had died and been raised. They wanted to see both Jesus and Lazarus. Not only did the religious leaders plot to kill Jesus, they also arranged to kill Lazarus, the living, undeniable evidence of the power of God flowing through the Man from Nazareth.

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11 ESV).

They plotted and schemed to murder two people who had done nothing against the law of God deserving of death. What was their motivation for premeditated murder?

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation’” (John 11:47-48 ESV).

They, who wanted the Roman occupiers to suffer the wrath of God, were afraid the Romans would remove them from power. They were afraid the Romans would remove their place, which is their temple, and their nation, already dominated by the enemy occupiers. Comfortable in their position in the world, the Jewish leaders did not really want to obey God and trust Him. People rumbled about making Jesus their king so He could defeat the Romans and feed them (see John 6:15). Jesus would not let them. This attitude of the people was not unknown to the Jewish leaders. They were afraid of Jesus, who represented a corrosion of their authority. At least under the Romans they had some control. They loved vanity and by their plotting to murder Jesus, sought to shame Him whom they should have honored.

God’s Ninth Statement

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. [Exodus 20:16 ESV]

God’s ninth statement demands we never bear (respond, sing, shout, testify, announce) false (that which is not true) witness (testimony, to record) against your neighbor (anyone). We are to tell the truth because this is the way we are created, as part of the image of God, and is expected by God.

These statements are explicit requirements founded on the eternal character of God and the laws under which we have been created. We cannot fulfill His expectations or be who we eternally are without naturally living according to God’s moral law. We are a reflection of His character, having His image.  Sin did not destroy the image but corrupted the vessel containing the image, making everything we do unacceptable. Still, God created us, sustains us, governs us, and gives us purpose.

Jesus began His sermon demanding we acknowledge the truth of sin and our absolute poverty of spirit before Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:3 ESV]. One of the characteristics of those who are poor in spirit is their love for the truth and their hatred of the lie. This is the driving motivation behind their confrontational lifestyle. They first confront the lies which have been trained into them, the lies of sin and self-righteousness. Then, they confront the lies of the world, which seek to remove God completely from the equation, from the pieces and sum total of self. If we can get Him out of one of the pieces then we can remove Him from the rest. He will not be removed from any part.

Those who persecute the followers of Christ because of their righteous relationship with God  attack truth, desperately trying to change it, demanding “truth” conform, not to God but to their sinful, arbitrary, even anarchist standard. Truth is integral to the eternal character of God. No one will come into God’s presence who has believed, taught and demanded rebellion against God by following a lie.

Just as murder tries to destroy the image of God in man and adultery the relationship of God with man, as stealing tries to devalue God’s authority over all things, so lying is an attempt to remove God from the equation of our lives. What we do reflects who we are and dictates what we will become. If what we do is based upon a lie then the evidence of who we are shows we are liars and will only reinforce and solidify us as those who hate the truth. God’s statements to us reach deeply into the heart of our relationship with Him, reflected in the relationships we have with everyone. But it especially reflects how we think of ourselves. We do not have the option to divorce our lives from those around us or from God. It is a whole package.

God gives an explicit statement. Do not lie to anyone about anything. He is not a liar and He did not create liars. Yet, we are liars. He tells us to not lie. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves we will see that all we can do, have done and will do is lie about every facet of our lives, our relationships, our thinking within the world. When you lie you are not doing what is eternally natural to God and showing the evidence of a corrupted nature.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (cited from Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3)

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” (cited from Psalm 5:9)

“The venom of asps is under their lips.” (cited from Psalm 5:9)

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (cited from Psalm 140:3)

“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery,  and the way of peace they have not known.” (cited from Isaiah 59:7-8, see Proverbs 1:15-17)

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (cited from Psalm 36:1]  [Romans 3:9-18 ESV]

Jesus tells us to expect persecution because of our relationship with Him, because of the righteousness given us by Him. We are compelled by the Spirit of God to see and know truth. Yet, we remain ensconced in a temporary but corrupted body which tends to rebellion. Our hope is only in the truth of Christ’s person.