Summary: God hates a lying tongue. The 9th commandmant is amplified throughout the Bible as God warns against untruthfulness.
AMBUSH AT CREDIBILITY GAP
In David Letterman style, Rick Warren identifies Ten Great American Lies:
#10 Your table will be ready in a minute.
#9 One size fits all.
#8 This will hurt me more than it hurts you.
#7 I’m sorry I’m late. I got stuck in traffic.
#6 The check is in the mail.
#5 This offer is limited to the first 50 people who call in.
#4 It’s not the money. It’s the principle of the thing.
#3 I just need five minutes of your time.
#2 I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
#1 I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you.
He suggests that we “Fight truth decay this week” [Rick Warren, The Fax of Life August 27, 1995].
Truth was an early casualty in the drama of humanity. Satan inferred an untruth about God with his question, “Did God really say?”. The question was neither true nor false, but it deliberately created a false impression about God. Eve’s response was also untruthful. She exaggerated what God had actually said. In these and so many other ways we lie. There is no real freedom when truth is trivialized. That is why one of God’s Statutes of Liberty says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
I. WHY GOD PROHIBITS LYING
The ninth commandment provided protection from false testimony in courts of law. In ancient days, a judgment of guilt usually meant the death penalty. Just as God bans the theft of personal resources in the eighth commandment, He bars the theft of personal reputation with the ninth commandment.
Human society has always hated deception. Even thieves have a code of honor that will not tolerate truthlessness. In primitive societies, those who thought nothing of massacre and mayhem, rape and robbery, regarded lying as an offense against the gods.
God is clear in His evaluation of deceit: 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 (Proverbs 6:16-19). The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful (Proverbs. 12:22). No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence (Psalm 101:7). A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will perish (Proverbs 19:9). Along with the unbelieving, the vile, murderers, and the sexually immoral, God says that all liars shall have their place in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
II. WHY WE LIE
Time magazine once identified lying as an epidemic plague in the national character of the U. S. The writer claimed, “everyone does it” and viewed lying as the norm rather than the exception. Lying has become a way of life. Some circles even encourage it. The impression is given that we can’t survive without it. Cheating is widespread in the classrooms of our finest universities. If degrees are gained by dishonesty, can we expect that graduates will suddenly become honest and ethical in the practice of their professions? I want my physician, my accountant, and my lawyer to learn their lessons in school, not at my expense.
We all have an in-born tendency to lie. Jesus described the Evil One as a “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This crafty liar was at work in the Garden of Eden:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
The contagion of lying has infected the human race ever since. Adam and Eve’s immediate response was to hide from God; to deceive Him by feigning absence when He came calling. Sir Walter Scott expressed it well:
“O what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.”
Our central problem is alienation from God. The Bible says, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies” (Psalm 58:3).
Deception is not just an American phenomenon. Nikita Khrushchev, the former Soviet leader, once told that an epidemic of thievery in the USSR became so bad that guards were placed at all factory gates. At a plant in Leningrad, a man named Petrovich came out with a wheelbarrow carrying a huge, suspicious-looking sack.