Discipleship II

Colossians 3:9

Do not lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices.

This is in keeping with yesterday’s Word of the Day on discipleship. We said yesterday that discipleship has a great deal to do with transformation. Transformation is the process of letting Jesus reform us into versions of ourselves that reflect his image. We are still us, but a new and improved model, if you will.

If we have stripped off our old selves, then we have replaced them with our new selves. These new selves are not compatible with lies. Face it, we live in a culture which embraces lying. Frankly, I find that most people accept lying. At a minimum people think it is okay to lie on their tax forms. I don’t see how Christians are convincing themselves lies are acceptable in any form. One person I know claims to be born again, but even when he “tells the truth” he chooses words which taint the truth. That is not okay. His speech is colored in such a way as to mislead. Followers of Jesus are, of necessity, followers of the truth and, therefore, speakers of truth.

Another person I know lied about her health in order to qualify for her booster shot. She gave herself a malady so as to get the shot earlier. First, I doubt she truly had to lie. The truth is what sets free. She has a sick husband which would have likely qualified her, but to speak negative words about your health is to call Jesus a liar and a hypocrite because he is the healer. Never pronounce negativity about your health, even if there are facts which support it. In no case should you claim ill health when Jesus has blessed you with good health. That is just crazy, really, and an insult to the healer who is also the truth.

If we are disciples of Christ, then we shall have embraced transformation. Transformation strips us of our old selves in favor of a new self, redeemed in the blood of Christ. The redeemed self has put away evil practices. The author, Paul,, identifies lying as a symptom of the corrupt old man. We cannot be both renewed ambassadors of the Messiah and liars. Choose! If we are to be disciples of Christ, then we must allow ourselves to be transformed by the power of his grace. In this transformation Jesus helps us to strip away the deceiving old man and put on the glory of God’s goodness. As seen from today’s verse, Jesus does not do this work on his own. Transformation and true discipleship can only be accomplished through our will and God’s grace. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and put aside the evil practice of lying.

The Simple Truth

Proverbs 19:22

What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it Is better to be a poor man than a liar.

I appreciate when God is very clear about what He wants in and from us and this verse certainly meets that litmus test. Obviously there are two parts to this. First, kindness is a premium value in God’s heart. We saw from our study of 1 Corinthians 13 that one of God’s characteristics is that He is kind. He wants us to be people of kindness too. Maybe He even expects it of us.

Kindness is one of those things which can be demonstrated in many ways. Often, kindness is found in the small matters. I think of it as preferring others’ comfort. Some people seem to have a talent for doing the small things that just make you feel better. Others of us are going to have to be purposeful about kindness. Sometimes kindness is found in the way we speak to others and well as the way we behave. The thing we can do is to ask our Father to teach us about His kindness and then be sensitive to how He leads us.

The second part of this verse really amazes me. One might expect that this is a message which never need be spoken and yet I am continually amazed at how Christians will bend the truth, avoid the truth, deceive, mislead and even outright lie. If you looked up the things God hates last week then you know that two of them are liars (Proverb 6: 16 – 19). With that staring at us, how can we still play around with this. God tells us it is better to be poor than a liar, this coming from a guy who paves His driveway with gold. Jesus told us that lies and lying are of the devil (John 8: 44) so we must do whatever is necessary to walk in the truth.

Do you think it odd that these two ideas are contained in the same sentence? It is as if God says to us that we cannot accomplish the first directive, to be kind, without first abolishing lies from our lives. And here is a news flash, just in case you didn’t know, many times, most times probably, people know when you are lying to them. They may not say anything to you (probably because they are exercising kindness) but they know. Think of that the next time you are tempted to lie. Just think, “This person is going to know that I am lying to them”. If that does not help you restrain yourself, then we need to have another discussion and that one will also involve the word kindness.

Because we truly love our Father, we want to please Him. Well, today’s verse is a prescription for doing just that. Honor others around you by telling them the truth and being kind. Remember, you do not have to do it on your own. Your Dad is happy to help you.

God is . . . joyful in truth

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 6

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.

I hope you are enjoying this series on the characteristics of God. We continue with 1 Corinthians 13, delving into the very nature of God. Our Father is a God of truth. Jesus taught us that the devil is the father of lies (John 8: 44). He said of himself “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6). So, Jesus told us that he is the truth and we discover from 1 Corinthians 13 that God (love) rejoices with the truth. Well, that is a no-brainer when you put the pieces together like that. Of course the Father rejoices with the truth because the truth is Jesus.

This is why lying is one of the things God hates (Proverb 6: 16 – 19). You can see why. Not only is Jesus the truth but Satan is the father of lies. Therefore, when people lie it is almost like worshiping the devil. It truly is choosing his lifestyle over Jesus’.

God rejoices in the truth and so should we. It isn’t always easy to tell the truth. I think we are afraid of the consequences of telling the truth but when you think this through, it becomes clear that the consequences of lying are higher. One cannot abide in Jesus and not also abide in truth. God speaks truth and in the truth there is freedom and power. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8: 32). It seems obvious that God would rejoice in truth because love will always want you free. Abide in the truth. Abide in Jesus and rejoice with the Father.

Who’s Your Daddy

 John 8: 44

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

Putting aside for the moment all of Jesus’ vitriolic comments about lying, let’s look at an interesting little phrase in this passage. Jesus calls the devil a murderer and says that he has been a murderer since the beginning. Okay, so Jesus, who did the devil murder? Can you think of one instance, especially early on where the devil murdered anyone? I wish to suggest that Jesus was referring to the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 2:16 – 17 God said, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” Enter in the devil. I am sure he was able to hear what God said and plotted a way to get to God’s people. Fast forward to Genesis 3: 4; “And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Now, how much of what the devil said was a lie? Look back at today’s verse. What did Jesus say about Satan? He said he is a liar. We have taken some of Satan’s words to be true. Eating from the tree would not make then like God, nor would it give them the complete knowledge of good and evil. How do I know? Look around you. Do you think humanity has always known right from wrong, good from evil? The real point of the story, though, is that God said that eating from the tree would cause death. Then the devil came along and twisted it and lied. He said, “You surely won’t die.” Wait a moment! God just said they would die. The devil lied to Eve and she believed him.

Jesus, thousands of years after this event, doesn’t just call Satan a liar for what he did to Eve and Adam. He also calls him a murderer because of the deception he created. Whatsmore, he says of the Jews who were attacking him that they are just like their father, the devil, and effectively calls them liars and murderers too.

Recall that this is a passage on lying. It is intriguing that in a discussion about truth, Jesus goes all the way back to the first lie. He doesn’t stop there though. He holds the devil responsible for the murder of Adam and Eve, and in fact, of all humanity. Then he convicts the Jews that were plotting against him, pronouncing them as liars and murderers. Further, their lying ways makes them, in Jesus’ eyes, sons of Satan. That is pretty steep. Jesus had tolerance for all sorts of people but he showed none for liars.

Living Long

Psalm 55: 23

But Thou, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in Thee.

So, do you want to live a long life? Well, there is a hidden pearl of wisdom here. Men of deceit will not live out half their days. Ouch!! Now you see what is happening to the life span. Honesty has life in it. Deceit carries death with it. 

Deceit is interesting. I think of deceit primarily as not telling the truth but that really does not represent the thrust of the definition. According to the New American Heritage Dictionary deceit is misrepresentation, deception. It is characterized by trickiness and falseness. Deceitful means: Given to cheating or deceiving, misleading or deceptive. Some of the words associated with this idea are deceive, betray, mislead, beguile, delude, dupe, hoodwink, bamboozle, outwit, and double-cross. So what is the point? 

Deceit is not simply telling a lie. That is part of it, of course, but the greater part of deceit is to be intentionally misleading. One could tell a truth then, answer a question true technically and yet mislead the hearer. This deception is often seen in how we couch our facts. It is deceitful to represent the facts in a way which best paints the picture you want perceived when you know it is not really truthful. It is a twisting of the truth in order to mislead someone. This is a manipulation of the truth and of the person being addressed. It is reprehensible to God and will limit the number of days of the speaker. Just ponder this for a moment. We have all seen this and some of us even been guilty of it. We speak what is 10% true and leave out the other 90% of the truth because we do not like how it reflects on us or that it won’t bring about the desired result. I have watched people completely reframe an event in order to look guiltless. They will argue they did not lie because they spoke a bit of the truth but the reality is that in cloaking the greater part of the truth they are attempting to deceive someone. Now I want you to search your gut at this moment and see if you can tell how incensed this makes God. “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes seven which are an abomination to Him” (Proverb 6: 16). Out of the seven two are about not being truthful. This deceitfulness is right in the middle of all that God hates. I am guessing that is not where we want to hang out.

Jesus is truth. We are called to be the people of Jesus, therefore people of truth. It is a slap in God’s face when we mischaracterize something even it if is not a bald-face lie. In the eyes of our Father it is exactly the same thing. And why do people lie and deceive? In the end of things it is because they do not trust the Lord, their God. How much more can we insult God? Do you want to live a long and fruitful life? Be people of the truth.

Truth Be Told

Proverb 21: 28                God’s Word Translation

A lying witness will die, but a person who listens to advice will continue to speak.

What an uncommon comparison. The first phrase of this sentence talks about a liar. We would expect, then, for the second phrase to reveal the result for a truthful person. First, is there a presumption that the person who listens to advice will necessarily be a person who speaks truth? Is that why his life and voice will continue? Is there something about a person who will humble themselves and listen to the advice of another which makes them less likely to lie? 

No one is surprised to learn that the life of a liar is in peril. There are some things which open the door to the devil getting to run around in one’s life. Anger is one. It opens the door to the devil. Speaking words of fear is another. It is an invitation. I don’t think there is anything we can do that invites more interference in our lives by the evil one than lying. Lies belong to the devil. Jesus called him the father of lies (John 8: 44). He said that there is no truth in the devil. Satan is a murderer and a liar. So when we lie we align ourselves with the devil. We have just invited him into our homes. The result is death. Once the devil gets into your house his objective is to kill you. It is what he does. He deceives lies, kills and destroys. Which part of that do you want?

Conversely, the wise person will listen to advice and will live on to speak the wisdom that she gleans from those to whom she has listened. The way of truth is life. Again, no big surprise here. Jesus said, “I am the way; and the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6)  Truth and life go hand in hand. The surprise is that so many of us have not made a quality decision to live by truth. When Jesus speaks truth into your life you receive healing in your spirit, health in your body, prosperity and well-being. All things work together for your good. So, Solomon could end his proverb with this simple statement, choose truth and live.