Proverbs 14:5 ESV
A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.
This proverb seems like a set of two truisms everybody already understood, but it highlights an important truth: people, even in the most important circumstances (especially in those circumstances), lie. Sometimes this lying seems inconsequential, like whether or not you did indeed eat the last cookie; sometimes it’s a lie about where you were four minutes before a double murder (as per the recent Murdaugh trial), which seems a bit more weighty. Today, as I’m sure some are glad, we’re not going to try to get (all the way) into the weeds of when lying and ‘bearing false witness against your neighbor’ aren’t the same thing (try here) if you’re interested in a bit more on that). Instead, we’re going to consider first what the problems and results of lying are for the man and second the mercy of God in redeeming us from those results.
At the root level, lying is, like other sins, a violation of a fundamental part of our reflection of God as His image. Truth is, after all, a integral and oft-emphasized part of God’s character, one foundational to our understanding of all the rest because without it we could not trust that the rest were, well, true. Jesus identifies Himself as “The way, the truth, and the life,” in John 14:6; in 1 Kings 17:24 the word of God is identified with truth (as the woman determines that Elijah is a true and not a false prophet); the origin of saving truth is repeatedly in the Psalms identified as God (Ps. 25:5, 43:3, 86:11). Psalm 119 further identifies God’s word, the Bible, with truth, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (160). The word ‘amen’, usually translated ‘truly’ when it is not simply transliterated (and derived from the Hebrew word meaning, ‘faithful’), appears over 100 times in the New Testament, up to 130 depending on your translation, including 36 appearances in the first three Gospels, 48 in John, and 9 in Revelation. Clearly truth is an utterly essential part of the witness of the Bible- again, if we can’t trust the Bible’s truth, we can’t trust anything.
Because truth is so important, when we depart from truth we commit a sin of grave import, even aside from the wholeness of the law (James 2:10). God made us in His image (Gen. 1:26), and sin breaks that image. To borrow some phraseology, sinful man is in a degenerating state, going down the drain towards Hell; lying, in this scenario, is like acid in our spiritual bodies, tearing apart that which God has made. Lying is contrary to the nature of God (though, I will note, the withholding of information is not (Rom. 8:18)), and therefore we who are made to reflect that nature in a creaturely way are rent apart by the sin of it in a destruction which can be called trivial only comparison to the destruction it would wreak upon our relationship with Him, save for the mercy of His Son in taking the sins of His elect upon Himself.
Of course, lying is like all other repeatable sins: self-reinforcing. The more you lie, the more you want to lie. Some people lie enough that their first instinct is to lie, even when the truth is pragmatically the better option, short term and long term. Regardless of whether you’ve gone that far (odds are you haven’t, thankfully), you’ve definitely made a bad habit at some point. Lying can easily become a habit just like any other behavior, but the fact that the habit makes it easier doesn’t make it better. If I lie five times, I’ve lied five times, no matter how little thought I put behind it. Sin corrupts, and habitual sin corrupts just the same. The perfection which God requires in faithfulness, broken once, is easier to break again. As Paul reminds us, we who trust in Him have therefore a duty to fulfill His law (Rom. 3:8,31).
Unfortunately for all of us, we are sinners (1 John 1:8), by inclination (Ps. 53:1) descended from our forefather Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). We break faithfulness. Almost inevitably, we lie, whether to ourselves or to others or, most gravely, to God Himself (Acts 5:1-11). Even the most saintly of His redeemed, on this earth, sin (Rom. 7:19). Sin, were we alone, would condemn us all to hell, and that with justice unimpeachable, for are we not those who sinned? Yet, for those upon whom God has mercy, it does not. He has promised to His elect salvation; He has promised to them the imputation of His righteousness, that He takes from His elect their sins, that He suffered the punishment for those sins in their place (Is. 53:4-5,12). Is this not a glorious truth, that the God who calls the sojourner and the childless to Him, that they may have a home and a name greater than all they can find (Is. 56:3-7), that this God cares for them even when they, by their lies, spurn His grace, that He promises even then to bring them to glory by the deeds of His Son (Rom. 8:29-34)?
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.