I am a bit scared of discussing the theme of truth an lie as I understand that it is a very serious theme – one of those that shape our lives. God Himself as the highest representative of truth and righteousness wants us to be like Him in our character as much as possible. How seriously he takes the issue of truthfulness can be seen from the fact that it is included in the Ten Commandments of God: Exodus 20, 16 (ASV): Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
The Hebrew language uses a word אמת (emet) for truth, which is derived from the word אמן (aman), which means reliability, truthfulness, soundness. And truth and reliability are really closely interconnected. It is understandable that a liar cannot be relied.
To be truthful and reliable is a matter of character and as Jesus would say, it is recognizable in little things:
Luke 16, 10 (ASV): He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.
The old covenant (Old Testament) focuses primarily on the recognition that truth, truthfulness and reliability are substantial attributes of God and that God hates lie.
The Hebrew word for lie is שׁקר (sheker), for the verb lie it is כּזב (kazab), כּחשׁ (kahash) and שׁקר (shakar). People usually lie out of fear or because of personal gains. Also some well-known biblical figures lied, which usually brought about problems. You must know the story of Abraham (Abram), who used to tell that his wife was his sister because he was scared and because he wanted to gain a benefit from it. And Isaac followed his track.
You may know the term “compassionate lie”; however, God does not know it – or better to say, does not use it. Most things in our lives are not black or white, we must try to strike a balance, but it does not hold when truth is concerned. What holds good here is that whatever is not true is a lie! For instance, exaggeration (hyperbole) may look like fun; in fact, it is a lie!
As lies (false testimonies) can do much harm, they are used by evil people as means to an end, e.g. revenge. However, we are often unable even to guess the consequences of a lie. For instance, the 13th chapter of the 1st Kings has a story of a prophet who falsely claimed that he had a message for another prophet. As a result, the other prophet later lost his life. You surely know the story of Ananias and Saphira, who wanted to look better than they were (they lied) and paid for it with their lives. A lie is really a serious thing and we should take it as such.
Greek word for truth is αληθεια (alétheia), for lie ψευδος (pseudos). The new covenant (New Testament) contains much more information about truth and lie than the old one. Most of the information come directly from Jesus Christ as recorded by the apostle John.
It is said about Jesus Christ that he was full of grace and truth (John 1, 14); he himself bore witness about himself that he is the way, the truth, the life (John 14, 6) and that he had come to testify to the truth (John 18, 37). Jesus confirmed that God’s word is truth (John 17, 17). He also said that if we knew the truth, the truth would make us free (John 8, 32).
Jesus spoke about that the promised Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth (John 14, 15-17; John 15, 26; John 16, 13) and that whoever wants to worship God should do it in spirit and truth (John 4, 23-24).
And what about lie? On one occasion when Jesus spoke to Jews who did not believe him, he said among other things:
John 8, 44 (ASV): Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.
Thus Jesus identifies Satan as a liar and as the “father of lie”. It is a rather disturbing thought that whenever we lie we give room to the evil one, which makes him our spiritual father. Lying is really a serious problem. It is also listed among the reasons (sins) why some people are ineligible for the Kingdom of God:
Revelation 21, 8 (ASV): But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
Revelation 22, 15 (ASV): Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.
We need to understand how grave the issue of truth and love for truth really is. It is not only the fear of Gehenna (the lake of fire) that should concern us. The key factor in finding the truth is love for truth! The apostle Paul alerts us to the fact that the evil one will come in the power of Satan; doing miracles he will lead astray and deceive people who do not have love of the truth:
2 Thessalonians 2, 9-12 (ASV): even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Paul also brings to our attention that the time will come when people will find their teachers not to teach them the truth but to tell them what they like hearing:
2 Timothy 4, 1-4 (ASV): I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.
I think there is a lot to mull over. It is not easy to make our way through life, determined to stick to truth; nevertheless, if we want to please God, it is a necessity. We may be considered fools but we will bear a resemblance of God’s character. If our love for truth prevails over our fear (e.g. of rejection), God will protect us not to fall for a lie that could bring us a catastrophic result.
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