Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Things the Lord Hates, Part 2

"Truth ripping out the tongue of poor Lie"
Photo Credit: Marko Vallius
Flickr Creative Commons
Children have a way with words. Do you remember that old childhood chant that started out, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?” I’m at a loss to remember how the rest of the chant went, but that much I do remember.

I don’t want to read too much into it, but I could not help but wonder at the “fire” part. Were the children chanting this making reference to the hell-fire that religion often tried to scare its adherents with? Probably not. Likely it was simply nothing more than a cute childish rhyme.

Still, to continue the series we began here,
“a lying tongue” is the second thing on the Proverbs list of things that God hates. 

In the previous post I began with a caveat that may bear repeating. I said, “Hate” is a strong word. Does it bother you to think about God as “hating” something? I am not suggesting that God hates people, for God is a God of love who loves you and me dearly, and thus the cross of Christ. But just as a parent who loves a child can still hate it when the child does something foolish or dangerous, so too God can hate it when you and I do certain foolish, dangerous or sinful things, and yet still love us dearly. Again, I am not talking about hating the person; rather I am talking about hating the sin in the person.
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness that pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6: 16-19; NIV)
When we speak of “a lying tongue,” what are we talking about? Does it not have to do with a person’s character? Is it true to say, “Once a liar, always a liar?”

Though I hate lying as much as most people do, it doesn’t really surprise me when non-believers lie. What surprises me is when Christians lie. Why? Because lying comes from the devil and, according to Jesus, is actually his native language. Should it then surprise us if non-believers, children of the world, speak the same language as the prince of this world does? Harsh words, you say? Yes, but then again, consider what Jesus once told a bunch of people. He said,
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44; NIV).
Why does God hate a “lying tongue?” Ultimately, I suspect, because it is the devil’s language. Lying is not God’s language. God’s language is based on truthfulness, and as Christians, it is assumed that we will also adopt God’s language as our own. Now that we are Christians, why would we even want to speak the devil’s native language any more? If all connections with the devil have been severed now that we are in Christ, then one would think that all lying tongues would be gone too.
“Surely you desire truth” (Psalm 51:6). “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22). “I, the Lord, speak the truth” (Isaiah 45:19). “Speak the truth to each other” (Zechariah 8:16). “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “And the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
You get the point. God is interested in truth.

Why do people lie? I suppose there are all sorts of reasons from attempting to cover up guilt to trying to protect the feelings of another to somewhere in between. Sometimes, given the circumstance, we even justify lying by calling our lies “little white lies,” as if to suggest that they’re not really that bad. However, in God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a “little white lie.” Color it what you will, but is not a lie always a lie, and is not a white liar still a liar?
Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37; NIV). James said of the tongue, “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8; NIV).
For many today lying is no big deal. Even if people get caught in their lies, they often shrug their shoulders as if to say, “So what!” Lying is as old as the Garden of Eden. It’s found everywhere from political leaders to schoolyards, and from work places to (dare I say it) pulpits. Even respected Christian leaders have been caught in lies. We are all capable of it, but at the end of the day, no matter what else we may call it, lying is still a sin.

We can try and justify it if we will, but we would do well to remember that one of the things that God HATES is “a lying tongue.”

A few other questions to ponder:
  • In your books, is lying as big a deal as I’ve painted it?
  • Is it OK to tell “little white lies” if they’re designed to protect others?
  • Have you ever heard lies from the pulpit? How did that make you feel?
  • What do you think of the biblical connection between lying and the devil?
  • Is there a way to guard one’s self from lying? How?
  • Is an untruth uttered inadvertently through ignorance still a lie?
That's the way I see it anyway. Peace.
In Part 3 we will consider the third thing the Lord hates; “hands that shed innocent blood.”

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