1 You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. (Exodus 23:1–2, NKJV)
Israel was strictly charged not to 1) Spread falsehoods, 2) Support unrighteous witnesses, 3) Join others in committing evil, and 4) Affirm what is false and influence others to pervert justice. Honest people continue to earnestly avoid speaking and promoting falsehoods against others. So, shouldn’t we be just as concerned with not advancing falsehoods about God? Yet, untold millions of otherwise honest people see no problem with accepting and spreading false teachings as if they belong to God. By affirming doctrinal error as truth, they influence many others to twist the truth. False teaching in the name of God is a sin of injustice against God. We are sure this does not go unnoticed by the Almighty (Matt. 7:21-23). Before you assign a doctrine and a practice to “the will of God” you must be sure His word supports it (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Examine the Scriptures to see if what you or others are saying about God and His will is true (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1, 6). Accept no counterfeit gospels. They are false reports that bring souls under divine condemnation (Gal. 1:6-10).
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight. (Proverbs 12:22, NKJV)
Some folks lie as easily as they tell the truth. It seems as if they lie when telling the truth would be easier. Why is this? I suppose there are many reasons why, but basically lying occurs because one’s heart is not honest. Words mean something, and when one speaks falsehoods it reveals a dishonest heart. Not only does today’s verse plainly say that God detests lying, it also teaches that our honesty is shown by our actions (how we deal with others). Solomon also said, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1). A scale is an inanimate object that measures weight. In buying and selling, how one used the scales revealed either honesty or deceit. You see, dishonesty, whether it takes the form of lying words or deceitful actions, comes from a dishonest heart. An honest heart does not stop to judge whether or not to speak the truth to its neighbor (Ephesians 4:25). It instinctively tells the truth. If that cannot be said of you, then cleanse your heart of its deceit and treat others honestly. This will please God.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19, NKJV)
Jesus continues to discuss the fact that sin proceeds from the heart by taking note of the sins of “thefts” and “false witness.” The first word discusses stealing material property, while the second describes false testimony that steals a person’s good name. Thievery takes any number of forms, including pilfering, extortion, shoplifting, robbery and pillage (Titus 2:10; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Nahum 3:1). An honest heart refuses to take that which does not belong to it. And, it is precisely such honesty of heart that refuses to tell a lie about another person. Lies not only cover up for one’s evil motives and actions, they do so at the expense of others. The “lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies” are abominations to God (Proverbs 6:17-19). False witnesses led to the murder of Jesus and Stephen (Matthew 26:59-61; Acts 6:13-14). Stealing and lying takes advantage of others. Loving our neighbors and treating them like we want to be treated helps us treat others with integrity and decency. Respecting the rights and property of others is a hedge against these sins of dishonesty.
“In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;” (Psalm 15:4, NKJV)
The sweet psalmist of Israel is in the middle of answering the question he posed in the first verse of Psalm 15: “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” David draws our attention to the person who makes a pledge and keeps it even when, by doing so, it hurts him instead of benefits him. God accepts into His presence the person who measures honesty as a mark of integrity and personal honor. Truth is sacred to this person. This person does not pledge himself to honesty only if it results in a personal advantage. Are you such a person? How important is keeping your word to you? For Christians, our word is our bond (Ephesians 4:25). We keep our word, even if it disadvantages us to do so. The person who loves truth and fears God more than personal advantage dwells with God. Pledging our word and then breaking it because it puts us out, displays a lack of integrity that does not go unnoticed by God.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)
The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).
A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28, NKJV)
Lying does not build up others; just the opposite. Lies hurt, harm and crush the spirit and lives of those to whom they are told. Christians put away lying and “speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). We do not tell the truth only when it helps us, but then resort to lies when the truth is inconvenient. To think that way is not honest; it is self-serving deception. Note from today’s verse that telling a lie shows hatred toward the one to whom it is told. If you lie to someone, you are hating them, not loving them. Did you ever stop to realize that before telling a lie? Flattery is of the same nature; falsifying one’s true attitudes in order to gain an advantage with a person. Lying is a sin that crushes others, but most tragically, it finally crushes the liar with the eternal punishment of hell (Rev. 21:8). So, don’t be a hater; tell the truth.
“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:20, NKJV)
Good seed, planted in good soil, produces good fruit. This simple principle is used by Jesus to illustrate the type of heart that listens to the word of God, accepts it and bears abundant fruit. According to the parallel verse in Luke 8:15, this is the “noble and good heart” that also patiently keeps the word of God. We must be honest with ourselves when we hear the word of God. Otherwise, God’s word will not convict us (of our sins), correct us and save us. Notice that Jesus does not assume the heart is filled with total depravity and therefore incapable of hearing, receiving and keeping the word of God. The “noble and good heart” bears fruit when it hears God’s word, and so obtains divine approval and blessings. Such were the hearts of the Bereans in Acts 17:11-12. Our hearts must be good soil that receives and keeps the word of God. Let us refuse to have a hardened heart (like the wayside soil), or the rocky soil (shallow and ungrounded), or the thorny soil (choking out God’s word due to other cares and concerns). What is the condition of your heart?