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.
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:1–2, NKJV)
I just read an article about data mining that began with this provocative statement: “Everybody lies.” Is that statement true, or is it a lie? The author’s declarative statement is different from saying, “I have never lied.” And, it is different than saying, “I will never be tempted to lie.” His statement implies ongoing action. He asserts everyone always lies. We object to this over-broad pronouncement. Yes, the world is full of liars. But, you do not have to be one of them. The gospel calls Christians out of a life of lies, into speaking truth: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). The Scriptures tell us that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Will everyone be lost? If not, then at least some liars are no longer liars. Some have repented of lying, obeyed the gospel and no longer lie. They were converted to Christ, and put away their lying. If you are a liar, then stop your lying and speak the truth. Your incentive is eternal life; your warning is hell’s eternal death.
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.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:9–10, NKJV)
Yes, it happens. Christians, lying to Christians. And so, the apostle give a blunt and direct commandment not to lie to one another. Lying can take different forms, every one of which belongs to the “old man” of sin that was cut away by the circumcision of Christ (Col. 2:11-12). Lies may be verbal, but lies may also occur through deceitful actions. Lies mislead, conceal, divert and deceive. Lying takes place in order to deflect personal responsibility. It is of particular importance that Christians are characterized by truth and truthfulness, not deception, because we are new creatures in Christ. We are to bear the moral likeness of Jesus, not the immoral likeness of the world (v. 10). When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see someone who speaks truth with his neighbor (Eph. 4:25)? Or, are lying eyes looking back at you? Build godly character, put away lying and speak the truth.
37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–39, NKJV)
Lying, cheating and stealing are widespread in America and around the world. Over one-half of 2012 American high school students surveyed admitted cheating on an exam, 55% to lying to a teacher, and 20% to stealing (2012 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth). At the same time, “99 percent agree that “it is important for me to be a person with good character” (Ibid). Their challenge (and ours) is a total commitment to honesty and integrity. The Bible is clear on this matter. Lying, stealing and cheating are sins against God and against one’s neighbor. Stealing is sin: “Let him who stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28). Lying is sin: “Put away lying, ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (Eph. 4:25). Cheating is sin: “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him” (Lev. 19:13; Prov. 11:1). So, when we lie, cheat and steal we are not loving of God and we are not loving our neighbor. Commit yourself to loving God and others by being honest in your every word and deed.