The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
Lying is incredibly common in our society today. Personally, I think that lying has gotten worse today than in the past due to the exposure we have to ‘bad people’ and ‘bad behavior’ as a result of the internet and mass media. We all have far more examples of ‘bad behavior’ at our fingertips today than we did 20 or 10 years ago. Lying is undoubtedly the least ‘severe’ of the bad things we see each day which leads us to an important question: is lying really that bad?
Most of us would admit that lying is “bad” if we were really pressed for an answer. It’s something that we’ve been taught since children and just seems intuitively wrong. Aside from just saying “lying is bad because the Bible says it is”, why does God tell us lying is bad?
First, lying presents others with a false reality different from the reality created by God.
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)
“How can you claim, ‘We are wise; the law of the Lord is with us’? In fact, the lying pen of scribes has produced falsehood. …” (Jeremiah 8:8)
If God is infinitely good, than what does that mean of the alternate reality we sell others? Is there such a thing as “not God’s good but not a bad thing either”? The Bible says otherwise. God’s creation is a spark of his divine Will and eternal plan. Presenting a version of that creation that differs from what God really created is sort of like saying “the creation God made is alright, but this perspective is better”.
Second, lying often causes a cascade of pain and sin for ourselves and those around us. Just look at the story of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 27). Esau was far from a saint, but Jacob engaged in lie after lie to steal something from his brother. Esau was owed a blessing from his father, Isaac. Jacob, being the younger brother, envied Esau’s right to their father’s blessing and conceived a plan to deceive Isaac. The plan worked, but only after Jacob was forced to roll his mother into his lie and to tell several other lies to cover his first. By the time all was said and done, Jacob’s lies had led to a stolen blessing and a broken family. Was the lie worth it?
Third, lying interferes with God’s plan. Often times, our lies are designed to change the world around us in a deceitful way. At best, it’s petty and at worst it’s deliberately trying to change God’s Will. For an example of this, look at Acts 5.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. 2 However, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.” 5 When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard. 6 The young men got up, wrapped his body, carried him out, and buried him.
7 About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 “Tell me,” Peter asked her, “did you sell the land for this price?”
“Yes,” she said, “for that price.”
9 Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
10 Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in, they found her dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband. 11 Then great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard these things. (Acts 5:1-11)
This is an extreme case, but it shows the degree to which God detests deceiving others. Ananias and Sapphira may not have thought they were really hurting anyone. After all, if everyone else was selling their home and giving the money to the poor, what did it matter if they kept a little more for themselves? After all, it sounds like they didn’t completely hold back from giving to the less fortunate in the church! The way the account in Acts words it, Ananias and Sapphira had lied against the Holy Spirit. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God’s face. Why wouldn’t someone earn death for that? Is every lie this serious? I think the world would show us that people don’t simply drop dead every time they lie. With that said, the story in Acts does tell us that we can not compare our standard of how much ‘truth’ is worth against God’s plan. Only God knows his Will and only God knows the plan for creation and eternity. When we lie, we open the door to stand against God’s Will and when that happens, people tend to get woken up extremely fast!
The bottom line is this: lying is contrary to the nature of God and the glory of the Gospel. 1 Timothy places lying on par with homosexuality, slander, and murder. That’s tough and should highlight how much God detests not telling the truth.
9 We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for slave traders,[a] liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:9-11)
I don’t want to give anyone a reason to think this lesson doesn’t apply to them, but don’t think I’m saying you’re going to Hell if you lie. What I am saying is that lying is just as bad as many of the other sins we all universally agree are bad. The only reason we give lying a pass is because it’s so easy and it often times seems so victimless. Who cares if I lie about what I did last summer? Who cares if I lie about whether I did all my chores? Even these ‘little lies’ stand in contrast to the standard of truth and good that God represents. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the standard we seek to achieve when confronted with lies that seem ‘so easy’ to spread.