Let Go of Untruths

November 16, 2014

(Begins with clip from Frozen where Hans tell the Leaders that Elsa has killed Ana)
A couple of weeks we
got a glimpse into Han’s character when we watched him reveal his duplicity to
Ana, his fiancé.  It appears that he
wooed her simply to become Prince and then kill the queen to assume the throne of
Arendelle.  And I asked the question
“What isn’t this man capable of?”  And
now we know.  Now he takes his bad
behaviour to a whole new level and the lies he tells culminate in a death
sentence for the queen.   And we know that what he did was wrong, we
know that because he is a liar that he can’t be trusted and should be
punished. 
One of the things we teach our
children is to not lie.  When God set
down his law in the 10 Commandments which forbid things that would tear society
apart he commanded us to not break our marriage vows, not to kill people and
not to take things that don’t belong to us. 
And we understand those things. 
We don’t have to look very far
into our society to see what happens when people fail to heed those
commandments. The prophet Hosea made this statement about the actions of Israel
almost three thousand years ago that seems to apply to our society today,  Hosea 8:7 NKJV
“They sow the wind, And reap the
whirlwind.”   But that is a
message for another day. 
And while we see the
dangers of people cheating on their spouses, killing people and stealing, lying
seems so petty in comparison.  After all,
to quote the infamous Dr. House “Everybody lies”.  And it was Will
Rogers who said ‘The income tax has made liars
out of more Americans than golf.”
But if we go back to the
scripture that was read earlier we read the words of Jesus in regards to lying
when he said Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus said “You have also heard that
our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the
vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows! . . . Just say a
simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’”
What is Jesus saying?  He is telling us that his followers should be
people of integrity.  The concept of vows
go clear back to the Old Testament, Deuteronomy
23:21
“When you make a vow to the LORD your
God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised him. For the LORD your God
demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin.
The Jewish teachers
had always insisted on the paramount importance of a person’s word. It is in
the Talmud, the collected wisdom of the Rabbis that we read “One who gives his word and changes it is as bad as an
idolater” 
As a matter of fact
the Rabbinical school of Shammai even forbade normal polite courtesies, like
complimenting a bride on her looks when she was in fact plain.  And so to allow people that courtesy the
Rabbis decreed that “All brides are beautiful on their
wedding day.”
Two things brought vow
swearing to a head during the time of Christ, the first was making vows about frivolous
things, and we do that today don’t we, “Honest, I
swear, that truck almost hit me”  The
second problem was even worse and that was evasive swearing.  People had decided that some vows were
binding and others weren’t.  So if you
made an vow on God’s name it was binding, but if you swore by heaven, or earth
or Jerusalem then it was less binding. 
The thought being that if God’s name was used then he became a partner
with you in the statement. 
Just a little pet
peeve here, I think that some people, believers included, use the name of God
much too lightly and I don’t just mean cussing. 
But I mean when we use God as an exclamation in mark our conversation.  Keep it simple, the only time you should use
the word God is when you are talking about Him or to Him.  By the way that was free.
Have you ever sat
down and listened to someone seriously trying to explain the difference between
lies, white lies and fibbing?  When I
first went to Bible College, as a new believer, I had that conversation with
someone who had grown up in the church and they told me “No really, a fib isn’t
really lying, it’s more like a white lie.”  
Jesus recognized
that an unredeemed society needed to have something to govern them other than
their innate honesty.  Order cannot be
maintained without some kind of legal machinery to insure that promises would
be kept.
Christ didn’t come
to destroy or change law for society, instead he came to fulfil it through the
Christian.  Not only should the Christian
always keep their word they shouldn’t have to swear an vow to make sure they
keep it.  The thought shouldn’t be going
through their minds, “Did I actually promise to do that? Or did I just say I
would?”  It doesn’t matter if you
promised or not if you said you would do it then you need to do it.  Christ told us in Matthew 5:37
Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is
from the evil one. Does that mean that Christians are never to take
oaths?  If that was the case then how do
we explain Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:23 Now I
call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. and again in Galatians 1:20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a
lie.
There are times that
you will have to take an oath, if you are on a witness stand in a court of law
you swear to tell the truth, if you join the armed forces or a police
department you swear to serve.  I realize
that sometimes they will let you get away with saying I affirm instead of
swear, but really isn’t that just semantics?
Christ explains in the last
part of Matthew 5:37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything
beyond this is from the evil one.
Very simply if it is necessary to take an oath then it is
because of the evil in mankind.  If there
was no evil then there would be no lies and no need to take an oath.  We are warned in the
Talmud, “This is the punishment of a liar:
he is not believed, even when he speaks the truth.”  And so when the world believes the
words of Dr. House, then there needs to be a way to assure truth.  And so vows were put into place to assure the
truth in an untruthful world. 
So, if it is necessary to take a vow it is not a reflection
on you but on this evil world. 
Christ is saying however that those who know you should know
that you word is always good.  Is
it?  Remember that your actions, the way
you live your life, should not only be salt to preserve society but also needs
to be a light to point people to Christ.
But we aren’t just here to fulfil the law; we are here to
top it up, to go beyond what is required for society.  And so it shouldn’t just be expected that a
Christ follower will not lie when they make a vow but that a Christ follower
won’t lie, period.  And so those who
follow Jesus must be known for their integrity and for being a person of their
word.
Listen to what else the bible says concerning lying:  Proverbs 6:16-19 There are
six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying
tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race
to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a
family.
Here is a list of “Top 10
Liars’ Lies”: 10. We’ll stay only five minutes.
9. This will be a short meeting. 8. I’ll respect you in the morning. 7. The cheque
is in the mail. 6. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help. 5.
This hurts me more than it hurts you. 4. Your money will be cheerfully
refunded. 3. We service what we sell. 2. Your table will be ready in just a
minute. 1. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
But apparently the thought that
everyone lies doesn’t make it right.  .
So the first question is Where Do Lies
Come From?
  The original plan didn’t
include lying, humanity was created to be in fellowship with God. And it was a
lie that separated man from God.  The
first lie didn’t come from God or even man it came from Satan.
Jesus was explaining our
natural state when he told the crowd in John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you
love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He
has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it
is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And that goes back to the very beginning, we talked about
this before, when God created man and woman and he told them “You can do
anything you want you just can’t eat from that tree over there” and that set
down the concept of free choice.  That
allowed humanity the ability to choose to do what is right or to do what is
wrong. 
And into the story comes Satan
who begins his conversation with the first woman with a lie.  He asked Eve, Genesis
3:1
. . .One day he asked the woman, “Did
God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the
garden?”   You see what he
did?  He took what was a gift, free will,
and turned it into something burdensome. 
From the one tree he expands it to all the trees of the garden.  And Eve responds with a half truth Genesis 3:2-3 “Of course
we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only
the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to
eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will
die.’”   The original command
didn’t say anything about touching the tree.
And then Satan adds to the lies
saying Genesis 3:4-5 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows
that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God,
knowing both good and evil.”
And you know the rest of the
story, “Fruit salad for lunch.” 
And lies still come from the Father of Lies. 
Most people know that lying is wrong, regardless of what
else they believe most people understand that it is not right to lie.  So why, Why Do People Lie?
There are actually several reasons why people lie: To
Impress People
That would never happen would it?  But that’s what it is when we drop names, you
know imply that we know someone important when we are just barely acquainted
with them.  Pastors do it when they
stretch their statistics, like when people ask how many people attend Cornerstone
and I say oh between five and six hundred, after all 300 is between 5 and 600.  You do it when you make your job out to be
more then what it really is, and so the “Garbage Man” becomes a “Sanitation Engineer.”
or when you kind of move your kids marks up when you’re bragging on them. “My
Kid’s on the honour roll.”  Sure if the
honour roll starts at 53. 
Someone said that the closest any of us will come to
perfection is on our resumes.  A
government study in the States came to the conclusion that 1 in 3 working
Americans is hired with educational or career credentials that were altered in
some way, that means lying they lied on their resumes. 
I read a story a while back that in
1993 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ran a help-wanted ad for
electricians with expertise at using Sontag connectors; it got 170 responses
even though there is no such thing as a Sontag connector. The Authority ran the
ad to find out how many applicants falsify resumes.
To Please People When you agree with strong
personality people, even though you don’t agree with them. You’re lying.  Ever happen to you? You just go along with it
and then afterwards you’re thinking “I don’t know why I did that, I don’t
believe it.”  Sometimes we do that by our
silence, instead of stepping up and saying no that’s wrong, and especially when
it concerns someone else.  You know where
I’m going here, someone slanders someone but to keep the peace you don’t step
to the other persons defence.  Robert Louis Stevenson   “The cruelest lies are often told in
silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his mouth, and
yet come out of that room a disloyal friend.”


For Revenge 
Someone has done something to you and so you tell a lie about them, or
you spread a story that you know is untrue. 
Just to get back at them.  Why do
you think Jesus was murdered?  The Religious
leaders of the day felt threatened by him and so they had him charged falsely
with blasphemy and treason.  They lied
about him.

To Make A Profit  This one is a Two’fer kind of a two for one deal,
when you misrepresent something to sell it you’re not only lying you’re also
stealing.  Ever have someone offer to
give you a receipt for less then you paid for a car to reduce the tax you’d pay
on it?  Ever have someone offer to give
you a larger receipt for something so you can claim it on your expense
account.  Two commandments for the price
of one. Lying and stealing.

To Escape Punishment “I didn’t know I was speeding
officer, my speedometer must be broken.” 
“I didn’t know this was a no parking zone.”  “My assignment’s not done because the dog ate
it, or more up to date the computer ate it.” 
“I wasn’t in class yesterday because I was sick.”  Love the story about
the four college guys who were on their way to an exam but it was a gorgeous
day so they kind of got waylaid and so at the next class they told the teacher
they tried to make it but had a flat tire. 
The teacher seemed to accept that and said they could rewrite the
test.  He put one in each corner of the
room with a copy of the test, and said “now to start there is an extra
question, without speaking to the others or looking around, what tire was it?”
For Convenience You write a sick note for your kid at
school, they’re not sick but it’s easier than trying to explain. You have your
secretary tell callers you’re not in when what you mean is you don’t want to be
disturbed, you call in sick to work, but you’re still well enough to go
shopping, or play a round of golf. What about when you say you’ll serve on a
committee, go to a meeting or attend a party when you have no intention of
doing it but it’s easier to say yes and not show up then to try to think up an
excuse.  (video on lying)
It was Walter Scott who
wrote: “O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we
practice to deceive!” more to the point might be the addition made by
J.R. Pope who wrote “But when we’ve practiced quite a
while, How vastly we improve our style.”
You see lying can become a pattern that is very hard to
break.   Lying has two cousins as well, one is
distortion the other is exaggeration. 
It’s easy to distort the truth. 
It’s often done in character assassination, how simple it is to subtly
let something slip like, When someone says “Boy her career has really taken
off” all you have to say is “Yeah, but how do you think she got where she is?”
don’t have to say anything else.
And then there are those who boast or stretch the truth like
a contorted piece of Silly Putty that’s called exaggeration, you ever see the
bumper sticker that says “The older I get the better I
was”?  When we aren’t speaking the
truth then we are speaking a lie, or as one Yiddish proverb says, “A half truth is a whole lie” Sometimes it’s not even
intentional, it was said of one person, “He doesn’t
exaggerate, he just remembers big.” It’s still lying.
So What Is the Cost
of Lying? 
Well first of all it
colours people’s perception of the person who lies.  If we go back to the Talmud we are told “This is the punishment of a liar: he is not believed, even
when he speaks the truth.”
Which is what Friedrich Nietzsche meant when he wrote “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now
on I can’t believe you.”
But it goes deeper
than that, because not only is the liar no longer believed but because he knows
he’s a liar he presumes everyone else is and that colours how he sees the world.  Like Dr. House he presumes that everyone
lies. 
But to not be
believed and to have our world view distorted is only temporal.  There are eternal consequences as well, remember earlier we read from Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the
innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness
who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
Not only does God not like liars but listen to the end
result of people who constantly lie, Revelation 21:8 “But cowards, unbelievers,
the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol
worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death.” If it’s true that
we are known by the company we keep, then liars are aren’t very well thought of
in the scriptures.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a buzzer in our soul?  You know so when you lied you got a little
jolt.  Actually if you’re a Christian,
you have that buzzer it’s called the Holy Spirit, and you’ve felt that
jolt.  And when it happens you have one
of two choices, you can catch yourself, and correct yourself or you can let it
go.  And if you let it go, then that’s
called sin.
And you cannot continue in sin and maintain a healthy
relationship with God. In John 8:32  Jesus said And
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  The converse is true as well, if it’s
the truth that sets you free, you will be enslaved by lies.  God’s very being and nature was and is
truth.  To substitute a lie for the truth
is like embracing a false god at that point in time. 
So, today, will you choose to let go of untruth and embrace
the truth that will set you free?