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.


Colossians 3: 9

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

This third chapter of Colossians is Paul’s instruction regarding how one’s life changes after accepting Christ. The context is dying to the old self and putting on the new self which is in the image of Jesus. Within that context Paul wrote identifying those things which are part of the old life, the dead life, if you will. He also contrasts those dead things with the characteristics which accrue to the new life in Christ. We have been stripped of that old person with its dead, corrupt ways and lying is one of the traits which must be buried.

It is not a surprise that lying is one of the old dead habits of an unregenerate soul. If asked, most people, even non-believers would identify lying as an undesirable trait. However, if you listen to unguarded talk and watch the actual behaviors of people, you will very likely conclude that lying is not as abhorrent in actual practice as it is philosophically. In fact, I believe you will discover that lying is actually acceptable in many circles, especially in certain circumstances.

My purpose in writing about this today is to suggest that there is no such thing as an innocent lie. Clearly Paul’s teaching leads to this conclusion. Additionally, Jesus’ teachings are definitive in this regard. There is no such thing as a white lie. They are all black, ugly, and destructive. It is not acceptable to lie and then say, “Oh, I was just kidding.” Truth is a value, and a necessary Christian value.

Having written all this, I readily admit that I am preaching to the choir. You are the people who already know this and who model Jesus’ truths. However, we need to extend our reach. We need to encourage one another. Telling the truth isn’t always convenient and sometimes there are consequences we wish not to face. None the less, God always knows when we lie and lying in His face is an even greater consequence. So you might be the person who needs to help someone else tell the truth when it is uncomfortable to do so. You are also teachers and leaders and so you have a voice which influences others. As we influence others, we all need to encourage, and teach people to speak truths. Teach, train and expect others to value truth too.

Do not lie to one another because that is part of the old self which is supposed to have died and been buried. We have been raised up with Christ and are putting on the new self, which is redeemed in his blood and reflected as an image of his character. Strength, truth and grace to you today!

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.

Half Life

Psalm 55: 23

Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. But I will trust in Thee.

Now I don’t think most of us know “men of bloodshed” but I am willing to bet that everyone of us knows someone who is deceitful. Deceit is defined as: misrepresentation, deception, falseness. To deceive someone means to intentionally mislead. Of course it includes lying but one doesn’t have to lie to be deceitful. Deceit can be achieved by failing to disclose a pertinent fact such that someone is misled. It can be couching a situation in terms meant to cast one in a favorable light though the hearer is, in fact, shadowed from the whole truth. We may reveal only those facts which cut in our favor so that we intentionally mislead another. Deceit may even be achieved through our word selection. Perhaps the whole truth is that we are going to meet someone after work for a beer but we say we are going to a meeting out of the office in order to mislead someone.

No doubt you can think of other ways we can intentionally mislead others and yet allow our conscience the freedom of having not lied. Well, I don’t think Jesus is going to buy into that one. There are two points here. First, we are cutting our lives in half. Not good! Second, many times, perhaps most times, people see through our misrepresentations eventually. Then the trust and respect they have for us is damaged. Surely this isn’t what we want for our lives.

Part of the problem is that there actually is a social acceptance of lying. I have heard many people talk about lying to the IRS as though it is okay. There seems to be a general consensus that it is okay to lie if it furthers a reasonable purpose. Case in fact – there is a television commercial running right now for an intriguing new product. The product is called the Ring video doorbell. It is really a great idea. The idea is that one can view, from their smart phone, whoever is at the front door. In the ad, a woman answers the doorbell while sitting at what appears to be a sidewalk café. She tells the person at the door that she is bathing the kids. Wow! That is a blatant lie. She is not even home. You see, the people who put together that ad seem to think that it is okay to lie. What is even more disarming to me is that a lie was not necessary. The woman could have simply said, “I am sorry, I am busy right now,” or “I am not able to come to the door right now.” She didn’t have to lie in order to guard her security. This ad isn’t unique. It simply represents social acceptance of misrepresenting the truth.

We almost act, these days, as if people don’t deserve the truth. Well, maybe they do and maybe they don’t. I was raised that truth has its own value and I am glad I was. It makes life easier now. The real key here is that you deserve the truth. Your life and health deserve truth coming out of your mouth. Remember the principle of sowing and reaping. What do you think the harvest is of lying seed? God hears every word we utter and He knows all truth so He knows when we lie. That is deterrent enough for many. Cutting our life span in half might also be a pretty good constraint. Honor the truth.

Well, Satisfied . . . I’m Satisfied

Psalm 34: 12-13

Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.

Do you desire good life? Do you desire to have a long life filled with the goodness of God? David tells us in this psalm how to get just that. He instructs us to keep our lips holy unto God. Speak words of life and healing rather than words of death and destruction. Don’t indulge in telling lies or even telling half truths because that is also deceitful.

Every time you open your mouth about a situation you can either give a report on what the devil is doing or you can report on what God is doing. You can say, “Oh, my knee hurts,” reporting on the hard work of the devil. Or you can say, “By his stripes, I am healed,” telling of the good works of God.

If you desire a long life filled with the promises of God, then you need to fill your mouth with the good news of the Lord. Speak out of your own mouth all that he says regarding every situation in your life. Are you broke? Or are you rich? Are you sick or are you healed? What does God say about your situation? Find out if you don’t know and then repeat what he says.