ROGERS, Texas (BP) — There is an old Hindu law which says lying is justified in only two cases: in saving a person’s life and in paying a compliment to a lady. It gives us cause to chuckle, but most often lying takes on a more ominous nature.
Lying is one of the most fascinating of sins. It is denounced and often despised by those on the receiving end, whereas it is commonly brushed off as no big deal by those on the giving end. Lies are easy to justify in the human mind. There is always someone to protect, someone to avoid disappointing or some reason to try to achieve what one believes is “the greater good” in a given situation.
Christians historically have believed it sinful to lie and that it somehow simultaneously displeases God while actually pleasing Satan, who is identified in Scripture as the “father of lies.” Longtime Southern Baptist pastor Adrian Rogers said, “A man is never more like the devil than when he lies.”
Throughout Scripture the concepts of “truth” and “lies” are contrasted. It begins as early as Genesis 3 when sin first entered the world. It was God’s “truth” which was “lied” about by Satan who then helped lead Adam and Eve astray. Sadly, mankind has been lying ever since.
In order for there to be a lie, there must first be truth. A lie is nothing more than a distortion or denial of the truth. Truth is the objective standard and the lie always falls short, conceals or attempts to change/pervert truth.
Most often, lies are about self-preservation or self-promotion. Perhaps the worst lies of all are those we tell ourselves and actually believe. People will not be honest with God unless or until they become honest with themselves. Many lies have been contrived to protect one’s self from the harm of consequences, whether it be shame or anything else. Quite often it seems another purpose, another agenda is in view.
The Lord Jesus stated He is the Way, Truth and Life in John 14:6. We are actually most like Jesus when we stretch ourselves to be as truthful as possible and hold “truth” in high regard. Lies demand tolerance, understanding and creative interpretation of facts, whereas truth calls for as close and as thorough examination as can be given. Truth never has fear of having the brightest of lights turned on it. It is always able to stand the test.
The problem is that the “looked to” standard has changed. God’s Word was once the standard in American and European culture, but no more. Now, it seems, serving other interests is the primary objective. That makes it easy for the standards of truth to change. Truth essentially now is seen as whatever someone says is the truth. No longer are people “servants” of the truth, they have instead found ways by which to make the truth subservient to them.
But it simply never works. It always blows up somehow if given enough time.
When a person makes the declarative statement “this is true,” what does it mean? One must determine what standard is being used. Is it the biblical standard or another standard? The Bible was given as a foundation to mankind. Scripture asks us quite pointedly, “If the foundations be destroyed, what will the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
The good news for Christians is that we do not have to live enslaved to lies. God has promised, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). The truth is incredibly liberating and unencumbering, whereas lies constrain, entangle and ultimately control. Believers need not wander around in the darkness and constraints of lies. There is the light of God’s truth to illumine our path. In John 17:17, the Lord Jesus appealed to the heavenly Father on behalf of His disciples, “Sanctify them by your truth. Your Word is truth.” Jesus desires for all people to identify themselves with Him by identifying with all that is true.
Allen Raynor is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Rogers, Texas. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).