Summary: Jesus not only spoke truth, He lived truth. He was truth incarnate, and truth in action.
The story is told of how years ago a hard shell Baptist returned to
his community after visiting Jefferson, Texas, and he reported to his
neighbors that he had seen ice made there in July. It is claimed that
the first artificial ice in the United States was made in Jefferson.
When the word of this got back to the church he attended, he was
promptly charged with lying, and was going to be expelled from the
church. One of the brothers suggested, however, that in all fairness
they should make an investigation first. So the deliberating body
appointed this concerned brother to go to Jefferson and investigate.
When he returned he reported that as amazing as it sounded he
actually saw ice made there with the temperature nearly 100 in the
shade. The church voted to expel both members for lying.
They were certainly uncharitable and unfair in the this decision,
but they were wise to be so concerned about the matter of lying.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Sin has many tools, but a lie is the
handle which fits them all." We generally think of Eve's sin of
disobedience as the first recorded sin of the Bible, but there is one
before that. The first sin in the Bible is a lie. It was the lie that they
would not die, as God said, if they ate of the forbidden fruit. The
significance of this is magnified when we go to the last chapter of
Revelation and discover that the very last sin named in the Bible is
also the lie. In verse 15 we read of those who are shut out of heaven,
and the last on the list is "Whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
In between the first and last reference there are many texts
warning about the sin of lying. In Prov. 6:17 a lying tongue is
among the 7 things God most hates. In Prov. 12:22 we read, "Lying
lips are an abomination to the Lord..." Many were the miseries
suffered in the Old Testament because of lying prophets. Satan is
the father of lies, but man has been of considerable help in
multiplying them. It was so much a part of the pagan way of life,
out of which the early Christians came, that it was a sin yet wrestled
with in the church. Paul in Eph. 4:25 admonishes them, "Wherefore
putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor." A
Christian is one who must shed the rags of deceit and falsehood, and
be clothed in the garments of truth.
The Apostle John is very concerned about this matter because the
Gnostics, like many false teachers since, were masters at the use of
the big lie. John does not hesitate to expose them as liars, and warn
believers that if they follow this false doctrine, they too will be liars.
In verse 5 John laid down the fundamental concept of God that
becomes a standard by which to judge all truth and conduct. God is
light and in Him there is no darkness at all. In reference to the
current problem in that church it would mean-God is truth and in
Him is no lie at all. The Scripture clearly states it is impossible for
God to lie. He has nothing in common with a liar, therefore, a liar
cannot have fellowship with God.
Who then is the liar that John has in mind? He is the one whose
profession does not match his practice; whose claims do not coincide
with his conduct; whose words do not harmonize with his walk. The
man who says, "I have fellowship with God," but who walks in
darkness, is a liar, says John. The son of thunder has not lost his
forthrightness, but now it is under control, and serving the purpose
of warning believers in love. The danger is a real one yet today, and
it will be for our profit to do some self-examination on this matter.
We want to consider first the danger of the lie in our talk, and then
the demand for truth in our walk.
I. THE DANGER OF THE LIE IN OUR TALK.
John says, if we say we have fellowship with God, we are making
a great claim, and if we do not back it up with action, this is where
the lie begins. If the man who walks in darkness does not profess to
be in fellowship with God he is still a sinner not doing the truth, but
at this point, at least, he is not a liar. The lie that John is exposing
here is the one that is most dangerous, and we can see this by
considering what the Gnostics taught. They said that spirit is spirit
and flesh is flesh. God as Spirit is concerned only about the spirit.