Pulpit Today Sermon
Robert D. Pace
(Quote) A USA Today poll found that only 56% of Americans teach honesty to their children. Awhile back a noted physician announced the following on a television talk show: “Lying is an important part of social life, and children who are unable to do it are children who may have developmental problems.” We’ll, that’s not what God says about lying. Let’s read Ephesians 4:25.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you
speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
The question people ask is the age-old question that Pilate asked Christ in the Judgment Hall: “What is truth?” They want to know if there’s an absolute, unwavering standard of truth. This is important because there’s great danger when people are led into error. What we have to understand is this: There are two sources that claim to be the fountainhead of truth—God and Satan. God has given us the Bible as the reference-point of truth while Satan uses the secular world system as his reference point.
(Transition) I want to clarify something at the outset of this message. And I ask the younger generation to take special note of this.
Facts About Lies
A. It doesn’t matter how compassionate the world appears, it does not contain the truth nor does it have your best interests in mind! God has carefully chronicled the dangers of getting too friendly with the world:
Isaiah 59:14 when it says: “truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.”
In Ephesians 6:12 Paul said that this planet is ruled by “powers of this dark[ness] . . . and spiritual forces of evil.”
The apostle Peter emphasizes that the world is filled with “corruption” (2 Peter 1:4). And that corruption contaminates everyone that attaches themselves to it!
1 John 5:19 says: “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” That doesn’t mean God has lost His sovereignty. It means there’s a profane world system that Satan controls and it’s diametrically opposed to God and His goodness.
Jesus went on to say in John 8:44 that this “evil one” that is manipulating events on earth is “a liar and the father of lies.”
When you understand these Scriptures you see that there is no way that Satan has your welfare in mind. He’s perpetrated nothing but chaos and corruption, and death and disease.
B. The world not only fails to have your best interests in mind, it’s totally incapable of handling truth! Government, enterprise, secular journalism, news-casting, and much of secular education can’t handle truth. That’s the meaning of Isaiah 59:14 when it says, “truth has stumbled in the streets, [and] honesty cannot enter.” The world doesn’t always welcome or want truth. And history verifies this: When God sent His spokesmen to the world it stoned the prophets, crucified the Lord, and fed the Christians to the lions. The world hates truth!
That’s why there’s nothing wrong with Christians maintaining a healthy skepticism toward the world’s claims. 1 John 4:1 says: “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Think about some of the world’s lies:
Politicians insist that nothing is more important than our economy. Not morality or national security or soundly educating our children. “It’s the economy . . . !” But Paul said: “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
The social engineers maintain that all cultures are equally valid. They insist that even cultures rooted in atheism, Satanism, or a Religion that that contradicts the grand truths of the Bible are equally valid cultures. But God said: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
The “truth” according to Science insists that man evolved from primal “goo” that somehow spawned all forms of life: plant life, animal life, and human life. But Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Then there’s truth according to consumerism. The lie here says our contentment comes through material possessions. It says, “Greed is good. Get all you can and “can” all you get!” But Jesus said in Luke 12 that those infested with nothing but a greed will suffer eternal loss.
And don’t forget the lies we tell ourselves. Many people become a law unto themselves and determine what’s right and wrong by personal fiat. To these people, the Bible doesn’t matter; civil law doesn’t matter; and the innate law of nature doesn’t matter. But the first of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” And that means don’t make yourself a god! Jehovah is the ultimate authority at every point of life.
I am convinced the Antichrist will rise to power and mislead the world once man cannot discern truth from error; right from wrong. And the Bible strongly implies this when it warns of the mass, worldwide spread of deception in the last days. This warning is threaded throughout the New Testament when it characterizes the Endtime:
In Matthew 24:4 when Jesus answered the Apostle’s question about the “Terminal Generation” the first thing He said was, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
2 Thessalonians 2:9 characterizes the Endtime this way: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, (10) and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (11) For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”
Did you hear those sinister words? “Counterfeit,” “deception,” “delusion,” “lies.”
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (2) Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
The Bible says the Endtime will be rife with deception. Every layer of society will be permeated with deceit and falsehood.
I want to tell you something about lies. It doesn’t matter how crafty the lie or how slick the liar, each one will eventually be exposed! In the end, nobody will escape the consequences of lying. Even Satan and the Antichrist will be exposed! Revelation 12:9 says: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Praise God! Satan will be judged and doomed to an eternity in the lake of fire and it will all happen in full view of humanity.
(Transition) But if lying is such a heinous and pervasive sin, why is it we are tempted to lie?
The Temptation to Lie
1. One reason we lie is because they’re so easily told!
(Illustration) I know a man that struggled for years to keep down his weight. He bounced from one diet to the next. Awhile back he found a diet he really liked. It was a high protein low carbohydrate plan. As he explained the concept to me he said it allowed a person to eat large portions as long as the carbohydrates are minimized. So, shortly after he started the diet he phoned me. “Hey man, this diet is fabulous. I went to an “all you can eat” buffet today and ate sixteen pork chops!” I said, “Sixteen? Why so many?” He said, “They went down so easily!”
You see, some people tell lies because they are so easily told. They are convenient. We tend to mimic Simon Peter’s actions at Christ’s crucifixion, where it was easier for him to deny Christ than risk suffering with Him. Peter wasn’t ready for a death-sentence.
It doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, boy, or girl, everyone will be held accountable for their words and actions. The Bible says we will stand before Christ and give account for every word we utter! God has our words on record and that’s why we need to walk in truth!
(Transition) That leads us to the next fact about lying.
2. Another reason we’re tempted to lie is to avoid the pain or discomfort of truth. We do something we shouldn’t and we immediately start fabricating a story to avoid the consequences that truth brings.
(Illustration) I heard the story of four students that decided to skip a few classes. For hours they cruised the streets and had a great time. When they checked into school they told the teacher they had a flat tire and the excuse was accepted without hesitation. There was only one requirement. They had to take the makeup quiz. And to take it the teacher had each of them sit in a different corner of the room. When they were seated she said: “This is a one-question quiz. If you each write the correct answer you’ll get an ‘A’ . . . Which tire was flat?’”
You see, some lies are exposed now, but be assured, all lies will eventually be exposed!
And let me say another thing about lying. Dishonesty doesn’t always occur through skillfully crafted words. Sometimes it happens by saying nothing. There are times when we can conspire with another’s dishonesty by remaining silent when we should speak. I realize what I am about to say can’t be characterized with a strong black or white assertion so I want to speak cautiously.
There are times when the Holy Spirit will lead us to expose waywardness regardless of how we feel. And if we don’t the prophet Ezekiel says we’re held accountable (33:6)! This doesn’t imply that Christians should go on “witch hunts” or sneak around trying to expose others. Absolutely not! There’s a loving, gentle, way to help others deal with sin. And it starts with a gentle, personal, private face-to-face approach! Employing this approach has a higher success rate of bringing reconciliation rather than separation. Ephesians 4:15 says to “speak the truth in love.” Be kind when you have to impart truth, especially to unbelievers.
(Illustration) One of my favorite stories is related by John Maxwell in his book, Be A People Person. He tells of Mr. Myrick that went to Chicago on business who had to persuade his brother to care for his cat. Although his brother hated cats he agreed to help. When Myrick returned home he phoned to check on the cat. But his brother blurted out: “Your cat died!” and hung up. The news crushed Myrick, but equally as disturbing was his brother’s insensitivity. So he called again. “Brother, there was no need for you to be so blunt.” “What was I supposed to say?” asked his brother. “Well, you could have broken the news gradually,” explained Myrick. “You could have said, ‘The cat was playing on the roof.’ Then, later in the conversation, you could have said, ‘He fell off.’ Then you could have said, ‘He broke his leg.’ And then when I came to pick him up, you could have said, ‘I’m so sorry. You’re cat died during the night.’ You have to learn tact.” “Now by the way, how’s Mom? After a long pause, his brother replied, “She’s playing on the roof!” He was a fast learner!
Do you get the message: “Speak the truth in love”!
3. Another reason people lie is to further their selfish purposes. Sometimes people use lies to empower themselves; to create a sense of importance.
“Oh yes, I have met the Senator”! I have been inside the White House. I have been there and done that!”
“Yes, I had three Rolex’s, but I gave away two of them.”
“I have made a six-figure salary since graduating from college.”
Lies are so self-serving. We use them to make ourselves look good.
(Insight) Here’s the problem with lying. Genesis 1 reveals that we’ve been “created in God’s image.” And one of His great attributes is this: “God is truth.” There’s no shadow of His turning. He never equivocates. There’s not a hint of impropriety with God. He’s the essence and epitome of truth. And when we lie we distort God’s image that’s been stamped upon us. Lying strikes against the very attribute of truth that God wants radiating from our lives. Moreover, lying causes us to conform to the image of Satan, “the father of lies”!
Ultimately, lies aren’t self-serving; they’re self-destructive! Unless corrected, lying will destroy your soul! While one white lie won’t consign you to Hell one white lie makes it easier to tell a more crass and damnable lie. That means we need to esteem truth above ego; truth above personal gain; truth above comfort and accept whatever opinions are formed about us for living in truth!
That means cheating on a test or on the job is wrong!
Embellishing a story or resume is wrong!
Exaggerating or stretching the truth just to make an impression on others is wrong!
That’s why the Apostle John said: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
(Illustration) Years ago a grouchy old man boarded a train, took the best seat, and tried to reserve another for himself by piling his luggage on it. The train was crowded and just before leaving, a teenager jumped aboard and claimed the seat. The old man barked: “This car is full and the luggage belongs to a friend that’s grabbing a sandwich.” The youth ignored him and said: “It’s All right, I’ll stay here until he returns.” And he scooped up the luggage while the old man glared. The “friend” didn’t appear, and the train began its departure. As it glided from the station, the boy rushed to the window and hurled the bags outside. He looked at the man and said: “Apparently your friend missed the train. We can’t let him lose his luggage too!”
Let me tell you something about lying: ultimately, lying will cost you your soul. Revelation 21:8 says: “all liars—[will have] their place . . . in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” And the lake of fire is the ultimate place of loss because everything perishes—including your soul!
4. A fourth reason people are attracted to lies, especially widespread cultural lies, is because they furnish people with a sense of acceptance. In other words, when the masses believe a lie, we would be odd if we didn’t accept the lie, too.”
If you really examined yourself you might be surprised at what cultural lies you believe. Some of you may be saying to yourself, “I don’t believe any cultural lie that’s wrecking lives.” Are you ready to find out?
(Illustration) It’s my guess that when secular history records the world’s most respected woman of the twentieth century it will be Mother Theresa. She was a selfless person that ministered to lepers, the impoverished, and the needy. As far as benevolence is concerned, she demonstrated devotion, sacrifice, and good works. We’ll never know how much good she did until Heaven’s records are disclosed. But guess what? If Mother Theresa never personally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into her heart and was born again by God’s Spirit, despite all those good works, she’s not in Heaven today!
Some people don’t believe that. They say, “How narrow-minded. My God wouldn’t treat people that way.” And they are right. Their god wouldn’t send a “good” person to hell that was never Born Again. But their God isn’t the God of the Bible! Their god is a figment of their imagination. They’ve dreamed him up because they’re a law unto themselves and want to feel good about what they believe.
I know what some of you are wondering: Why, of all people, did I choose Mother Theresa to illustrate this? I chose her because she is a public icon with worldwide respect. There’s hardly a more qualified person of the 20th Century to help illustrate this point.
You see, there’s nothing wrong with benevolence. God expects Christians to practice good deeds. But Isaiah said our ‘works of righteousness’ are as “filthy rags” if we try to get to Heaven with them. Our salvation depends on what place Jesus has in our heart; not the good works we do with our hands. We must accept Christ as our sacrifice for sin and trust Him alone to transform us and forgive us.
Good works have no ability to convert the soul.
Good works can’t regenerate our defiled human spirit.
Our good could never pay the redemption price for sin’s penalty.
Good works can’t cleanse our soul or liberate our guilty conscience. The Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation!
Regardless of what anyone says, it’s faith in Jesus that brings salvation. It’s Jesus and His death on the Cross that brings eternal life! Jesus said: “straight is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to eternal life and few enter through it.” So you see, a widespread cultural belief doesn’t necessarily mean the belief is true.
(Transition) Turn to Judges 16:22 and let’s illustrate this.
Judges 16:22 says “But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. (23) Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” (24) And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” (25) And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars.”
The Widespread Belief of the Philistines
Judges 16 examines a widespread, convenient lie that thousands of Philistines believed about Samson. Here was a man that led Israel with sheer supernatural brawn for twenty years. He was unassailable in battle. And as God would have it, his strength pertained to his hair being unshorn. But in a weak moment Samson revealed the secret of his strength, his hair was cut, his eyes were gouged out, and the Philistines conscripted him to a treadmill. That brings us to Judges 16 where we see the mainstream lie of the Philistines. Let’s examine this passage.
“However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off. (23) Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice, for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.” (24) When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hands, Even the destroyer of our country, who has slain many of us.” (25) It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars.”
Here was a coliseum of Philistines amazed by Samson’s performance. How do you think he performed? Do you think he juggled wooden balls or walked a tightrope? No, this wasn’t a circus act. Samson performed heroics! His hair had re-grown and he had regained a great measure of his strength. And everyone in the arena witnessed it.
Now here’s the lie that the thousands in that arena believed: according to verse twenty-three they assumed their god Dagon had captured Samson and subdued him. That was the widespread cultural misgiving of this spiritually dulled nation. But remember something: the popularity of a lie never validates a lie! It doesn’t matter how widely accepted it is! Believing what the masses believe may keep you standing among your peers today but the world’s pillars are about to collapse and crush the crowds. And the lies will be exposed when that happens!
The Bible says a boy led Samson between the pillars of that coliseum and with one fierce shove destroyed the Temple of Dagon and killed more people in his death than in all his previous exploits. Thank God for the grace and forgiveness of the Lord!
You see, lying is destructive because it contaminates your character and injures your soul. And one day you will account for every word you speak. The Bible teaches that God will bring all men before His Judgment Seat and scrutinize their life. That’s what Romans 14:12 means when it says: “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” While Christ appeared 2000 years ago as our Savior He’ll return as our Judge. And the writers of Scripture have graphically detailed that dreadful Day of Judgment when Christ will determine man’s fate.
Two sets of books will be opened at that judgment. One set is called, “The Books,” and everyone’s name is recorded there. It’s an exhaustive second by second, minute by minute biography of your life. Everything you ever did, every thought that passed through your mind, and even your intentions are written in “The Books.” Some people will try to deny their sentence but “The Books,” will have the final word and attest to everything you did—exposing your whole life. And there won’t be any mistakes because years ago God assigned a scribing angel to write about you with unerring accuracy. That’s when the Bible says many will bow and exclaim, “My Lord and my God.” But it’ll be too late!
Then there’s another Book Scripture calls “the Book of Life.” That Book contains the names of every person that acknowledges Christ as their Lord. If you accept Christ as your Savior, God will blot out your sins from “The Books” and remove every trace of them. Think about that. Completely blotted out! God will discharge and erase your trespasses because of Christ’s work at Calvary.
But the Bible says, “whoever’s name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.” Are you certain your name is written in the “Book of Life”? You can be certain now. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”