The Bible is very clear concerning God’s attitudes towards lies. He despises both the lie and the one who tells it. They are included in the things that God finds to be an abomination (cf. Proverbs 6:16-19). Those who tell lies have their part in the lake that burns with fire (cf. Revelation 21:8). The apostle Paul tells us “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25) There is never any excuse to tell a lie and there are no such things as small lies. All lies are going to get you in trouble, one way or another, either with God, or with men. Therefore, seriously consider the following prohibitions.
1) Do not make a lie.
2) Do not take a lie.
3) Do not repeat a lie.
4) Do not love a lie.
Concerning the first, “Do not make a lie,” it should be simple enough to understand the reasonings thereof, especially if we wish to be pleasing to God. Jesus taught that lies were of the devil, for he told the first (cf. John 8:44), and those who themselves tell lies are walking in the footsteps of the devil. There is never a justification for saying something that is not true. Some tell themselves they are doing it to make others feel better about themselves, but self-delusion is no blessing and we are all better off if we hear the truth. Too often however, we tell lies, not out of a misguided sense of politeness, but because we are afraid the truth will do us harm. We are in bad shape if we think the truth is against us, and the best thing to do is to fess up, repent, and take our medicine before things get worse for us.
Understanding the second admonition, “Do not take a lie,” we understand we are well advised to be cautious concerning those things that we believe. God tells us that we should affirm things by the mouth of two or three witnesses, especially when dealing with information about other people (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1). How often do we believe the first thing we hear, only to find out after that we believed wrong and misjudged another. Even more important, we must make sure in matters spiritual that what we have heard is indeed the truth God wants us to learn. There are many false teachers in the world who tell people what they think people want to hear, instead of what God wants them to hear. Thus John tells us to “test the spirits,” (1 John 4:1) and we are commended to the Bereans who searched to make sure that they things they were being taught were so (cf. Acts 17:11). We do ourselves, and others, no favors by believing falsehoods.
The third, “Do not repeat a lie,” is part and parcel of the first and second combined. When we hear a lie and then tell it, we are just as guilty as the one who made it. We should never consciously repeat anything we do not know to be the truth, having verified it, either through witnesses, or a study into the matter. We are going to have to one day stand before the Lord and give an account for, not only our deeds, but our words (cf. Matthew 12:36-37). It is often tempting, when you hear something interesting, to want to share it, but we should avoid the temptation of gossip. Furthermore, if we know something to be untrue, but we still repeat it, we do wrong doubly. Let us guard our ears and our tongues.
Finally, the four admonition, “Do not love a lie,” is particularly important. There are many people in this world who are very much in love with their world-view, their philosophy, their religion, their politics, or what have you. They are comfortable with what they believe even though what they believe is contrary to wisdom, the truth and sound judgment. Yet anything that is not true is not of God, it is of the devil. When we love the truth, we are of the Lord (cf. John 1:6). When we love the truth, we are on the road to true freedom (cf. John 8:31-32). It is through the truth we are saved (cf. 1 Peter 1:22). And it is when we reject the truth that we are in danger of judgment (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10).
It is a sad reality that the world is full of lies and liars, but if we are mindful of the truth, we will do nothing to add to this situation. God’s people must always be a people of the Truth, knowing it, loving it and sharing it.
If you would like to learn more about the Truth that Christ teaches, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.