The Sin of Lying
by Samuel Sprunger
``A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.'' (Proverbs 14:25)
``Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'' (Exodus 20:16)
``I hate and abhor lying but thy law do I love.'' (Psalm 119:163)
As best as I knew how when I was in the fifth grade, I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior when Dr. M.R. DeHaan came to my hometown. I went back to school, and during the fifth grade schooling time, my heart began to burn within me. I became deeply convicted about having lied to my teacher back in the fourth grade before I was saved. I lied to her about having read a book which I had not read. I saw the other kids go up to the desk and say that they had read the book, and I did not read as fast as everybody else. (I still don't.) I said to myself, ``Brother, you had better get with it.'' So I leafed through the book, looked at the pages, and told her that I had read the book. I had no more read that book than I could have given aspirin a headache.
So in the fifth grade I become deeply convicted about that, and, finally, I went back to that teacher and told her what I had done. I told her that I was sorry, and I apologized. Little did I realize what I was doing. From that day on, I never wanted to cheat in school again. I never wanted to cheat on an exam. All the way through high school and all the way through college, I never wanted to have to go back and tell somebody that I had lied to them.
To some of you who have the problem of being truthful, I will give you an early clue on how to cure yourself. Go confess to those to whom you lied. Henry Lou, the one-time editor of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines once said, ``The most dangerous fault in American life today is the lack of interest in the truth.''
Now Jesus is the Truth, and the devil is the liar and the father of lies. The conflict through the ages is the conflict between the truth and the liar, between honesty and falsehood, and between dependability and deceit.
The greatest use of speech today is to tell the truth the Truth is Jesus and the Gospel story and the worst use of speech today is to tell a lie.
Through his sneaky, slithery, subtle lie, the serpent, Satan, brought all sin into the world. I want you to sense today how terrible a lie can be. A lie killed Uriah. A lie caused Peter to deny Jesus three times. A lie killed Ananias and Sapphira. A lie led to the death of Abel by his brother Cain. A lie brought God's Son to His death. And through lies, the world, the flesh, and the devil imply that all the sin in the world is God's fault.
God gave us the power of speech to communicate. Oh, the power of a word! It can communicate truth or lies. Now a half-truth is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie, and a half-truth is a lie, like Joseph Smith, Mormonism, Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, Herbert W. Armstrong, and all the others.
Words are seemingly endless and unperishable. There are lies from Bible characters recorded in the Word of God that will live for eternity and will never be erased. Do not think for a moment that your dishonesty goes untouched just because people have not been discerning. God knows about it. No other human being was there when Satan lied to Adam and Eve, but all of us know about it. Do you realize that your lies could be magnified like those of the serpent? Yes, words are powerful!
It gladdens our hearts when a lover says, ``I love you,'' or the jury says, ``Not guilty,'' or the boss tells us that we have a raise, or our mother-in-law says that she is going home. It gladdens us that God says, ``Today is the day of salvation.'' On the contrast, it saddens us and our heart breaks when the telegram says, ``Your loved one has passed away,'' or the boss says, ``You're fired,'' or the broker says,``You have lost all of your money in your investment,'' or the policeman says, ``Your son is in trouble.''
The conflict of the ages is the conflict between the truth versus a lie.
I want to ask you today on whose side you are. Now I know, for the most part, most all of you tell the truth most of the time. But let me tell you, you only need to tell one lie to really hurt. The words that you speak and the suggestions and insinuations that you make tell the world where you stand. ``For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.'' If you are not concerned about being honest concerning a grade on a test, then you are not concerned about your future influence.
Our words reveal our inward nature. Jesus was perfectly right in heart, so all of the words that He spoke are perfectly right. People judge us by our words as they judged Peter when he denied Christ. If our speech is true, pure, and clean, the world will know that we have something of the nature of Christ in us. Our words reveal our inward nature.
One of the things that makes it so easy for me to believe the Bible is Jesus. Jesus believed it, and He endorsed the writings of Moses. Jesus endorsed the prophets. Jesus endorsed the Psalms. He rose from the dead, and He was there when everything happened, so He ought to know.
This thought has been cooking in my mind in relation to the problem of dishonesty and slander. It amazes me the way people will believe slander and lies and will turn around and doubt the Word of God.
Look what the Bible has to say about our words. Psalm 19:14 says, ``Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O, Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.'' The Psalmist says again, ``Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.'' Proverbs says, ``The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life.'' Again the Proverbs writes, ``Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.'' I want you to catch today the definition of a lie, the damnation of a lie, and the divine cure of lying. First, the definition what is a lie? A lie is a designed attempt to deceive. Any species of designed deceit to try to make impressions contrary to simple truth is a lie. To cheat on a test is a lie. To deceive by false impressions whether by appearance, by statement, or by mere influence is a lie. To lead astray and to lure to deceit is a lie.
Some say that it is all right to tell a white lie. There is no such thing as a white lie in God's eyes. Some say that we have to do a little bit of lying in business, or we will starve. Then it is better off to starve! We lie by slander. What does it mean to slander? Slander means to accuse falsely, but another definition of slander is to tell the truth about someone with the intent to hurt them. I Timothy says concerning the pastors, and the deacons' wives that they are not to be slanderers. II Timothy tells us that in the last days there will be slanderers and false accusers spreading innuendos and criticism and reporting things unjustly about others. Scorpions carry poison in their tails, snakes carry it in their cheeks, and slanderers carry it in their tongues.
Shakespeare writes, ``Slander, whose edge is sharp, sharper than the sword, whose tongue of venoms all worms in the Nile.'' He was trying to make the impression of how terrible it is. If the devil has any servants that he values the most, are they slanderers or gossips? I believe they are! Spurgeon said, ``A lie will go around the world while truth is still putting on its boots.'' Think of it!
To show you just how terrible gossip and slander really is, when Charles Spurgeon was just a teenager, he went into his house with his friend. He said, ``Mother, can I eat a few eggs?'' His mother said, ``Sure, but remember to put the money in the box.''
His friend went out and told everybody that the Spurgeons were really tight. He said that they were so tight with their money that Charles had to pay for the eggs that he ate in his own home by putting money in a box. Little did he know that the Spurgeons had a little program in their home that promoted missions. All of their egg money went to missions, and they even paid for their own eggs and put the money in the box to send that money to missionaries. That came out years and years later after the neighbor had spread his garbage, his talebearing, his slander. How wonderful and how comfortable it is to just tell the truth and live with it.
So many times we lie by evil insinuations. It is not an out-and-out accusation but just to insinuate and suggest. It is just a deceit. John Wesley said, ``(1) Listen or enquire after no ill of others, (2) be not quick to hear or speak of others (just don't listen to it), and (3) if absolutely necessary, speak or write to the individual involved about it rather than spreading it.'' What a simple little formula. It is so comfortable to live with that kind of an atmosphere.
Let me ask you. Are you telling the truth to the people with whom you live, and to your parents? Are you truthful on your exams?
Gossip can be a lie. What is gossip? I was an adult out of college before I ever really learned what gossip is. Someone said that gossip is saying nothing and leaving nothing unsaid. That is kind of humorous, but it is not really what gossip is. Gossip is sharing private information with someone who has nothing to do with the problem or the solution. You get short-circuited. You get all frustrated because you cannot do a thing about it.
Let's consider condemnation what is the punishment for lying?
``A lying tongue is but for a moment; deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil and lying lies are an abomination to God.''
(Proverbs 12:19b-20a) Do you want to get your prayers answered?
Be truthful. Again Psalm 63:11, ``The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.'' Again the psalmist says, ``Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off. . . he that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.'' (Psalms 101: 5a, 7) No wonder many people run away from church. I will be honest with you. I am 61 years old, and I have been going to church all of my life. I need church desperately as much now as ever before. You know, you tell those little lies, and before very long, you want to slither away from God's people. You do not want to be in God's house. That's what it says here, ``. . .he that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house.''
Proverbs 6 tells us that these six things ``the Lord doth hate.''
Would you like to know the damnation on a lie? God hates it, and God will judge it! It says, ``A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imagination, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies.'' Twice in that list it mentions lying, and it also says ``he that soweth discord among brethren.'' It also will shorten your life. Listen to this in Psalm 55. ``But thou of God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee,'' says the psalmist.
Again Revelation 21:8 which we use in the Romans' Road says, ``. . .liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.''
You know it pays more than it costs to be honest. It may cost a little bit at the moment to be honest, but the long-range program pays well. What's the cure for lying? Confess your lying. Cry about it. You are ten times better doing that than holding it in. It will give you ulcers.
It will give you disease psychosomatic disease. ``If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'' (I John 1:9)
You say, ``Well I thought that I just needed to confess it to God.''
Well, I am glad you did, and He forgives, doesn't He? But He keeps prodding on you to confess it to the person you wronged. Oh, the therapeutic value of confessing. Genuine confession means to admit it and to agree with God that it is sin. I mean some of you even have the problem of agreeing with God that some of your lying is sin. Confess it, admit it, and agree with God that it is sin. Then adjoin in alliance with God. True confession says, ``Hey, God. I can't handle this sin myself.'' Trust Him to give you victory.
Make it right. Go to that person you wronged and say, ``Would you forgive me?''
``I lied to you. I just flat out lied to you.''
Now I am not talking about going to some meeting where you say that the room was full, but there were a few chairs empty. In essence you were giving the atmosphere of the meeting. A lie is a designed attempt to deceive.
If I tell my wife that it was around 9:00 when I got home when really it was about 10 minutes till, it was not designed effort to deceive. A lie is a designed effort to deceive.
Confess it. Make it right. Jesus said that if you offend your brother, go to him. Ephesians 4:25 says to put it away or stop it. ``Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor.'' (Zechariah 8:16)
Be helpful to those whom you know have the problem. ``If a man be overtaken in a fault, go to him.'' (Galatians 6:1) Restore him.
Before giving a test, Dr. Madison Surret, who taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years, would always admonish his class something like this, ``Today I am giving two examinations: one in Trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail Trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who cannot pass Trig, but there are no good people in the world who can't pass the examination of honesty.'' If you want to mount up with wings as eagles, if you want to run and not be weary, if you want to be the kind of godly wife that you ought to be, the kind of godly husband that you ought to be, and the kind of servant of God that you ought to be, then let's be honest.
``The most dangerous fault in American life today is the lack of interest in the truth.''
Our words reveal our inward nature.
``A lie will go around the world while truth is still putting on its boots.''