Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences

Have you ever heard these statements?

- The check is in the mail.
- I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
- This offer is limited to the first 100 people who call in.
- I just need five minutes of your time.

Most of the time, these statements are lies, because we are not serious about doing what we say. Instead, we consider them normal, unimportant, or even humorous statements. Unfortunately, careless speech like this leads to habitual lying.

Exodus 20:16,You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

This is the ninth commandment. It is God’s will that when we speak, we speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This is serious, because God hates lying and those who lie. Yes, God does hate. He has righteous hatred.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (2/7 are about lying)

If we tell the truth, we have nothing to fear. God is on our side. We can stand on the truth and not worry about recalling everything we said or did to make ourselves look innocent. Whereas, a lie cannot stand because it has no legs, since it originates from the old serpent, Satan. It requires other lies to support it. Tell one lie and you are forced to tell others to back it up.

We say we don’t lie. We give lies another name, but that doesn’t make it agreeable to God. Stretching the truth won’t make it stronger. It only weakens it and creates a lie. Those that think it permissible to tell white lies soon grow colorblind, unable to distinguish the difference any longer.

The ninth commandment may be an old law, but it represents our new life in Christ. Honesty and truthfulness are crucial to the walking in the Spirit and being like Christ.

The details of this ninth command are given in Exodus 23:1-3 "You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 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. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.”

Most people understand that this commandment warns us not to give a false testimony against another in court, but there is much more to this commandment. This passage speaks against circulating a false report (gossip), leading people to believe a lie either by words or by facial expressions, following a crowd to do evil, following the culture that perverts justice, and even showing partiality against someone, regardless if he is rich or poor.

I heard an illustration that compared our words to a tube of toothpaste. It is easy to get the toothpaste out of the tube, but impossible to get it back in. Once we say destructive words, the damage is done. Even if we apologize and retract the comment, the wounded trust does not immediately heal because we have revealed what is in our heart.

Jesus said in Luke 6:45,The good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, produces good, and the evil man, out of his evil treasure, produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.”

The Bible warns us not to lie or gossip, and also not to trust a gossip. If someone will gossip to you about others, you can be sure they gossip to others about you. It is best not to associate with them, for they are not your friend even though they act like a nice confidant to you while they are gossiping.

Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.

Gossip is based on false words, either by being an outright lie or an embellishment of the truth, which is still a lie. Good news travels at a snail’s pace but gossip spreads like a wildfire.

James 3:5-6 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Once we start that fire, it is very, very difficult to put it out. We should heed the warning of Proverbs 10:18-19 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Why does the Bible call the liar or talebearer a fool? Because Jesus warned us that we will give an account for every word spoken.

Matthew 12:36-37 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

While we try to defile other people’s reputation with our words, what we really are doing is defiling our own reputation. While we are trying to make people judge others with our gossip, we are bringing judgment upon ourselves. We are exposing what is in our heart.

Again, Jesus explains in Matthew 15:11,What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

He continues in verses 17-19,Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

No one can tame the tongue except the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, our tongue is full of deadly poison because poison is what is in our heart without God. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, from our mouth will come the truth, spoken with love.

2 Corinthians 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways (repented); we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

Regardless of the consequences for speaking the truth, Paul spoke the truth to bring glory to God and to convince people of the Gospel. And he exhorts us to do likewise, as it is written in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Pilot, the Roman governor, asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Unbeknownst to him, he was looking at the Truth. You see, Truth originates from a person and His name is Jesus, the Word of God. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” He also said, “when the Holy Spirit comes, He will lead you into all Truth.” Therefore, if the Truth lives in us, we will be truthful people.

If a church is to live the way God designed, we must have truthfulness in all things. Truthfulness builds confidence and trust. These lead to respect and honor. We must be truthful with our failings and deal with the consequences. We must not blame others for our sins and shortcomings, for this is false witness. Personal responsibility for what we have done eliminates lying.

Therefore, there is only one cure if we have lied or borne false witness against someone. That is go back and confess the lie and tell the truth. Yes, we will suffer the consequences of what we have done, but the truth will set us free and God will forgive our sin.

If we do not confess our sin and repent, consider what God says about false witnesses, gossips, and liars. And consider the consequences He promises to those who do not repent.

Psalms 5:4-6 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.

Proverbs 12:19-22 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace. No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

1 Peter 3:10 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

Proverbs 19:5A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.”

To a nation that has rejected God and spews forth lies, God says in Jeremiah 9:3-9, "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the LORD. "Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me," declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit. With his mouth, each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart, he sets a trap for him. Should I not punish them for this?" declares the LORD. "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?"

Psalms 101:6-7 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

By God’s Word, we can see that America is in danger of God’s judgment, and so is everyone who lies, is deceitful, and speaks falsely.

Every day, we witness the politics of personal destruction by political parties and the news media. They are not discussing issues and trying to solve them. They attack a person’s character if that person does not agree with them. Lies, innuendos, false testimony, inferences, guilt by association, and deception are used to destroy a person’s reputation. While politicians consider this fair play, Christians are to have no part in this behavior!

What liars fail to realize is that lying causes their own personal destruction. It allows the enemy into their lives to defile them, destroy them, and condemn them for eternity.

Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Can you see how serious lying is? Lying has the consequence of eternal death! So, how do we keep God’s command to not bear false witness and always speak truthfully.

1. Spend time with truthful people. You become who you hang out with. Remove yourself from the place of gossip. Don’t sit at the “gossip table” at work or school. Yes, they will talk about you and consider you unsociable, but do you really need to be in their society?

Psalms 26:4-5 I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company ruins good morals."

Even when you don’t sit with gossipers, they will come up to you and ask, “Did you hear about…?” When that happens, ask them if this is something they would tell in that person’s presence. If not, then you do not want to hear it.

2. Think before you speak.

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

We cannot trust our emotions. Most of the time, we regret things we say when we are angry, hurt, or excited. Always listen to the Holy Spirit before you speak.

3. Do not forget that lying is a sin. It is part of our old sinful life. Repent immediately when you have lied. Lying is the character of Satan. As God’s children, we are to have the character of Jesus Christ. Therefore, be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak truthfully.

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (This is a process we are all going through)

Proverbs 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Zechariah 8:16-17 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

The world is a cruel place and full of lies. Let us not be a part of the problem. Do not be one who tears apart another person with your speech. It is the most cowardly form of destruction because the person who is being attacked has no means of defense.

Make sure your speech is pure and that it builds up people. Let people know you as a person of integrity, a person who can be trusted. There was a time when a person’s word was their bond. Make sure you are one of those people.

Our God is a God who can be trusted at His word. If God is in us, our words should be His words, trust-worthy and true.

In a moment, we are going to have a hymn of invitation. If you are guilty of breaking this commandment, confess your sin and repent, so that God can forgive your sin and purify your heart.

If you have never given your life to Jesus, sadly, you will be condemned by your words to an eternity in Hell. The good news is Jesus has provided the Way to change your destiny. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly confess Him as Lord and Savior. Ask Him for grace to repent of your sin and give your life to Him by dying to self through baptism. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you and guide you into all Truth.