The world is saturated with lying and liars. Always has been. Most people tolerate this behavior unless it affects them adversely. After all, we don’t like being deceived and cheated and lied about no matter who’s doing it.
Sometimes we bring it on ourselves. Sometimes we want to be deceived. We don’t want to know the truth. We’re willing to believe lies because we want to believe they’re really true.
Advertisers lie all the time. Fast food hamburgers look huge on TV and in print advertising. Funny how they’ve shrunk to half the advertised size when you’re handed one at the counter.
Sometimes advertisers beg our indulgence and stretch our credulity to the breaking point.
My wife and I were at a farmer’s market in a small, Southern California coastal community when I saw the sign: “Fresh Organic Seafood. Caught Locally.” I knew the organic craze had exceeded all bounds of truth-telling. Some products labeled “organic” cannot honestly by any stretch of one’s imagination be organic.
People want to believe it because it makes them feel better believing they’re eating food that’s free of chemicals and toxins—even if these products do cost more.
I couldn’t resist pestering the counter sales people about their fishy claim.
“Fresh organic seafood,” I mimicked. “And these fish are being caught off the Southern California coast?”
“Most of them,” a lady stated matter-of-factly.
“How do you know that wild fish are truly organic?” I asked skeptically.
“They have ways of assuring that,” she countered.
“Really!” I laughed. “You mean to tell me that they can keep fish from foraging in waters contaminated by pollutants like oil, sewage, garbage, and mercury. And they don’t eat fish who’ve ingested those toxins?”
“Absolutely!” she insisted.
Perhaps she really believed that and wasn’t lying. But their signs told me an absolute lie. A lie that some consumers will believe because they want to believe it–if they don’t stop to think about the absurdity of the claim.
The seafood vendor is by no means unique. You don’t have to watch TV commercials—if you can stand them—for too long before you hear or read outright lies. Unfortunately, that may not happen until after you try a product.
But product manufacturers are by no means the world’s most notorious liars. Politicians have a well-deserved reputation for that title.
Silly me. I led our church in prayer some time ago that those who call themselves Christians in the 2016 presidential race would at least act like Christians and not humiliate the rest of us believers and hold Jesus Christ up to contempt.
But the prayer no sooner left my lips then some of the worst lying I have ever heard in a presidential race started flying out of the mouths of people who claim to be evangelical believers.
Some liberals are known liars, even though they may claim to be Christians. They lie about everything from their accomplishments to what they intend to do for their constituents. They invent phony numbers and outrageous scenarios to back up their lying. The Clintons are legendary liars. President Obama has perfected lying to an art form. Everybody knows he lies, but many people don’t seem to care.
But in the 2016 presidential race senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have far exceeded the lies of even the most polished liberal politicians.
To their shame they claim to be evangelical believers in Jesus Christ, who never spoke a word that wasn’t the truth.
Even worse than politicians, however, are ministers who lie. Pastors and TV evangelists lie about who they are, what they’ve done, what they intend to do with your money, and how God has blessed their lives. Some even lie about how many angels they’ve seen and what God says to them—his “special” servants to the world.
TV evangelists tell theological lies, trying to convince us that they are the only ones who really know the truth of God’s Word. “If you’re not getting rich, you’re not really living the Christian life,” more than one of them has said in different ways over and over.
I knew a pastor of a local congregation who was notorious for his lying. He lied about his past accomplishments, his present status, his future plans for the church, and how he and his church were better than other ministers and churches.
He lived his life by lying.
What must Christ think about those who claim to believe in him with lies continually rolling off their lips?
Make no mistake about it! The Bible plainly condemns lying and liars!
Lying started early in biblical and human history. God told Adam and Eve they could eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they ate of that tree they would die. The devil came along as a serpent and told them God had lied to them, that they wouldn’t die. Rather, their eyes would be opened and they would know good and evil—just like the God who had created them (Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-5).
You know the rest of the story. They fell for the devil’s lies and disobeyed God. Forbidden fruit always looks good.
Adam tried to blame his sin of disobedience on both God and Eve: “The woman you gave me handed me the fruit to eat. It wasn’t my fault!” Eve blamed the serpent for tricking her.
God didn’t believe either lie and kicked them out of their garden paradise.
Ever since Adam and Eve, human beings have tried to lie their way out of the plain guilt of their sins. It starts early in life. I knew a young teenager who was in trouble for being one of two boys who was caught trying to make their school fire alarm go off by attaching a book of matches to the alarm and then lighting it. “I didn’t light it,” one of them insisted. “I just picked the matchbook up and put it back when it fell to the floor.” Funny thing is, no one bought his story, especially not his father.
Nor did God buy Adam and Eve’s story. The serpent was right that they didn’t die a physical death in the day they disobeyed God. But they did die a spiritual death.
Human beings have been lying and deceiving people—just like the devil–ever since.
But the Bible from Genesis to Revelation tells us that God hates lying. It defiles the liar and often harms the innocent.
That’s why the 9th Commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16). Yet how many millions since the days of Moses have been lied about and murdered or jailed or executed or destroyed physically and financially because someone lied about them?
The prophet Jeremiah complained about people in Israel who plotted evil against their neighbors by lying to them (Jer. 9:7-9). The prophet Nahum tells us that in his time the city of Nineveh was “utterly deceitful” (3:1). Zechariah writes that God said through him, “Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord” (8:16-17).
Perhaps the direst judgment in the Old Testament is Jeremiah’s prophecies against the lying prophets of Jerusalem in Chapter 23. They will face the wrath of God and “everlasting disgrace” because they continually lied to the people about their lives and about the God of heaven and earth.
And so they did when the Babylonians conquered and vanquished Judah and Jerusalem in the early 6th century B.C.
Evidently no one in the Greek, Roman, and Jewish worlds of the 1st century learned anything from history about lying and liars, because the New Testament is replete with the same warnings the lying prophets of Judah and Jerusalem were given.
Jesus told his fellow Jews not to swear falsely, but to tell the truth (Matt. 5:33-37). There’s a lot of false swearing under oath in our courtrooms today, but nobody seems to do anything about it unless it’s so outrageous it can’t be ignored.
Paul told the Ephesians to put away falsehoods and speak the truth to one another because we are all members of Jesus Christ (4:25). What a sad commentary. For Paul to write that tells me he must have heard some false swearing and outright lies and gossip when he was among the Ephesian Christians.
The apostle Peter gives us the greatest reason of all for not lying. In Chapter 2 of 1 Peter he writes, “Rid yourselves of all malice and all guile, and insincerity, envy, and all slander.” His rationale is that Jesus Christ himself was not a liar, and we are living and walking in his footsteps if we really believe in him (2:1 and 21-22).
Why do people lie? Some lie out of greed. They think it will get them money. And sometimes they’re right. Most people lie because they’re afraid of getting in trouble with a boss or a spouse or a friend. Others lie to falsely implicate another person, a direct violation of the 9th Commandment.
In an interview with Donald Trump on The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly chided Trump for calling Ted Cruz “lyin’ Ted.” But Trump has every right to call Cruz a liar even if it is not considered polite to do so. Cruz has told lies about Trump and continues to do so.
Although I don’t like calling people liars and never do so unless I know they’re lying, I would not hesitate to call someone a liar who told deliberate lies about me.
Jesus Christ said that when people lie they are serving Satan. (Yes, there is such an evil entity as the devil!). In John 8 he told some people who were falsely accusing him, “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (v. 44).
God is disgusted with liars and will not hold them guiltless because God is a God of truth. Numbers 23:19 declares, “God is not a human being, that he should lie.” In Isaiah 45:19, God is quoted by the prophet as saying, “I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right.” Jesus reiterated this attribute of God in his prayer at the Last Supper: “Sanctify them [the disciples] in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Liars have no place in heaven because it is a perfect place, far superior to the Garden of Eden. Revelation 21:27 says “Nothing unclean will enter it . . .” And earlier in the same chapter “all liars” are among a list of sinful, faithless, and cowardly people who will not be allowed to enter heaven (v. 8).
Does this mean anyone who ever tells a lie will never enter heaven? No. Otherwise no one would enter heaven. The Greek word means those whose nature has become perverse by falsehoods. They live their lives by lying.
Yet even they can enter heaven by repenting of their lying and letting Christ change their natures, for he is our “wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Don’t let the devil trap you into lying like he did Adam and Eve and countless others. Let Jesus Christ truly live in your life so you can be a person of truth, made righteous before God by the power of Jesus Christ.
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