God and Lies


 
We Americans live in a culture that has grown comfortable with lies.
 
Turn on the television, and you’ll see slickly produced lies every few minutes, otherwise known as commercials. Listen to politicians, and they’ll make all manner of campaign promises in order to get your vote. What’s worst, pay attention to certain televangelists, and they’ll tell you God will reward you financially if only you give generously to their ministries. (If they’re seeking financial reward themselves, why don’t they give their millions to ministries serving the poor?)
 
God is not comfortable with lies. He never has been and never will be. In fact, according to Proverbs 6:16-17, God “hates” a “lying tongue.” It is an “abomination” to him. Verse 19 adds perjury – “a false witness who pours out lies” – to the list of things God hates
 
Proverbs 12:22 goes on to contrast God’s responses to lying and truthtelling:
 
The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.
 
Notice the strongly emotional language in these passages: “hates” and “detests” versus “delights.” God is not impassive between truth and falsehood. He loves one and hates the others. Created in God’s image, we should have the same visceral response to lies that he does. And we should please him by telling the truth.
 
God’s emotional response to truthtelling and lying results in a twofold judgment: reward for those who tell the truth, punishment for those who lie. Consider these proverbs:
 
Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment (12:19).
 
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who pours out lies will not go free (19:5).
 
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who pours out lies will perish (19:9).
 
A fortune made by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare (21:6).
 
A false witness will perish,
and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever (21:28).
When does this judgment occur? For some, the judgment occurs in this life. When a liar is found out, his credibility is destroyed, and the fortune he amassed through dishonesty is taken away from him. For others, however, judgment occurs in the life to come. Such liars will “perish” and “be destroyed forever.” These are harsh terms, I admit; but they also reveal how deadly serious God is about telling the truth and avoiding dishonesty.
 
Given God’s emotional response to and judgment of lying, how should we live – especially in a culture that is so comfortable with lies? Proverbs 30:7-9 gives an answer:
 
Two things I ask of you, O Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
 
Our comfortableness about lies is the direct result of our desire for a comfortable life. Commercials, politicians, and televangelists speak to that desire. We should desire God more than comfort, and truth rather than self-gratifying lies.

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