“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4 ESV)
“There is nothing more contrary to God than a lie.” (Thomas Watson)
How do you think about truth and lies? Is lying that big of a deal? Is telling the truth really all that important? While there are endless debates on Joshua 2 and whether it is ok to lie to enemies, the Bible on the whole is rather straightforward and clear on telling the truth and lies.
Referring to politicians, a certain radio host announced to a caller: “No one expects promises to be kept these days”. Such a claim is of course difficult to verify, but it does seem to have a ring of truth to it. In any place where the Ten Commandments are not pressed upon a society, there is bound to be the increase of all sorts of sin, including lying. While lying is not the specific sin forbidden in the 9th Commandment, it is certainly in its purview. The whole of Scripture has something to say about it.
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22)
Lying is always connected to wickedness in the Bible. Lies, deceit, treachery, falsehood – these are all attributes of those who are of the devil (Jn. 8:44). “Where there is a lie in the tongue, the devil is in the heart” (Thomas Watson). Lying and falsehood are things the Lord despises (Ps. 5:6,9; 7:14; 58:3) and even hates (Prov. 6:16-19; 19:5,9; Jer. 14:13-15). Certainly true believers will struggle with such acts of defiance against the Lord; yet, lying will never be their delight. The righteous want to be delivered from lying lips (Ps. 120:2). Hatred of falsehood is a unique characteristic of those who are united to and trusting in the Lord Jesus who is the Truth (John 14:6). Loving the truth and hating lies and falsehood is the result of the work of the “Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 Jn. 4:6; 1 Jn. 5:6). Jesus, who is the Truth, came and dwelt among us being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). True believers, in union with Christ and by the power of the Spirit, thus pursue the truth (Ps. 25:5; 43:3; 86:11; 119:43; Prov. 23:23).
The Lord never lies (Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2) and every word of God proves true (Prov. 30:5). Truth comes from God and any desire for the truth and declaration of it is the work of God. Thus, Paul was concerned to speak the truth and not lie to the churches (Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 11:31; Gal. 1:20; 1 Tim. 2:7). Truth is to occupy our thoughts (Phil. 4:8) and govern our worship of God (Jn. 4:23-24). It is “truth” that will set a sinner free from sin and death and the devil. Moreover, it is only the truth that will sanctify the saints (John 17:17). Hearts full of heavenly love rejoice with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6) and are found to be “walking in the truth” (2 Jn. 4; 3 Jn. 4). Speaking the truth is to be the aim of all believers (Eph. 4:25) as they fasten on the belt of truth (Eph. 6:14).
Pilate and this world might be confused about “truth” (Jn. 18:38) but those who know Him who is True (Rev. 3:7,14; 19:11) are not easily confused or deceived. Many will seek to suppress the truth, but the Church must be unwavering and bold in her declaration of the truth since it is the truth alone that will set them free. Let us seek and stand firm in the truth. And may we as the Church ever remain a “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).