January 26, 2017
When I was a child, we could be pretty self righteously brutal to our friends whom we caught lying. I’m not clear on whether I first heard the saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire” from one of them, or if I first heard it among my children and their friends when one of them was caught lying. Either way this many years later that little saying was was more on target than we realized.
There is an epidemic of lying going on in our national conversation, most obvious among those we have to listen to the most (e.g. media personalities, government officials, and ex government officials), but it certainly is not limited to them.
Two years ago, my wife had a very sobering experience with her mother, who has lived with us for over eight years. It began with repeated episodes of denial and resistance on her mother, Carol’s part, that resulted in serious health upsets for Carol, and extra work for Anne in caring for her. In praying for Carol, Anne sensed the Holy Spirit telling her to read John 8. Jesus is talking to the religious leaders, and as the passage progresses, these leaders go from liars to murderers, and being sons of the Devil. Anne asked the LORD, how is it that people who know the scriptures so well can be liars, murderers and sons of the Devil, and get offended when they are presented with that truth? The Holy Spirit said to Anne that everyone wants to be on the Jesus Team because they know in the end He is going to win, but in the meantime, they do not truly want to know Him intimately. And if you do not “know” Jesus, then you are not His child. Anne had a feeling this might be part of her Mother’s dilemma, and she began to pray for Carol to be freed from Denial and Lying.
Soon after that, after Carol had woken up from a nap, Anne’s mother looked intent and was sweating. She said to Anne, “If I have ever offended you, hurt you or sinned against you, please forgive me”. Because this unusual apology seemed to come out of nowhere, Anne asked her if she had had a nightmare. But her mother quickly replied “No”! Then Anne tried to lighten the mood and heaviness on her mother, which her mother wanted nothing of. So Carol repeated again her apology. At which point Anne assured her that she was forgiven for any real AND perceived offense against her.
Two weeks later, Anne probed a little more as to why Carol had been so intent on apologizing to her. Carol said that God had spoken to her very vividly, though not audibly, that if she didn’t repent to Anne He was going to throw her in the Lake of Fire.
Shaken by this incident, the theology behind it, and a sobriety and heaviness on her mother she had never seen before, Anne went upstairs and grabbed her Bible, and said, “Lord you really need to help me see what’s going on here.” She opened her Bible “willy nilly” (or not to a specific intended place), and landed at Revelation 21:8 which reads, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (my emphasis)
Now Anne was not familiar with this passage, nor been reading the book of Revelation any time recently, but had been praying for her Mother in regard to lying. It was “revelation” to Anne as well: the fact that lying was listed among and considered equally evil with murderers and sorcerers. She also noticed the fact that its penalty was the horrors of the Lake of Fire, which confirmed the validity of Carol’s account of what God said to her!
Anne was visibly shaken and reminded the Lord that her mother was born again, read her Bible every morning, memorized scripture, watched the 700 Club every night, yet had resisted being baptized. At which point the Lord helped Anne see that her mother had practiced a lifestyle of lying for much of her life that went along with her lifestyle of prescription drug addiction.
Please know I do not share this story (with Anne’s permission) to in any way reflect negatively on Carol. She has truly repented and has begun to hear and respond to the voice of the Lord and the scriptures in very tangible ways since this incident. She also was baptized in front of the whole church on her 88th birthday. And considering how awful her childhood and even some of her adult life was, she is a living miracle for how she has allowed Jesus to heal and make her new. Soon after her repentance, Carol heard God, in her spirit, tell her that she was forgiven and that she would be in Heaven with Him. He also gave her a vision of heaven, that when Carol reported it to Anne, Carol’s countanance was brilliant.
I share this story because God used it with both of us to help us see how very serious a lifestyle of lying is. When it first happened, after Anne landed on Rev. 21:8, she continued to read on only to discover Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” And then she read a little more and discovered Revelation 22:15, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” (my emphasis)
The more Anne and I listen in on the national conversation over these last months, the more we understand why King Solomon said in Proverbs 6:16, 17 – “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood.” When leaders or parents or spouses or teachers or coaches lie as a pattern, the necessary trust that holds relationships and families and organizations and even nations together is blown apart. It was Jesus that said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And one of the things that has caused this deadly division in our nation is an epidemic of lying.
In the last few days I read this quote, but didn’t note the author, “A democratic republic, in which ultimate authority and power is derived from the citizens, is viable only if people can, on the whole, rely on our elected officials to tell the truth.”
So what can we do to see this epidemic identified and healed or eradicated? Well one thing I did this last week is trace every reference of the words “lie”, “lies”, “lied”, “lying”, “liar”, “liars,” from Genesis to Revelation. I’ve listed those under “Studies” on my website if you want to get familiar with them yourself.
Here are some of the conclusions I drew from that study:
– Only God is utterly honest and trustworthy, and can be trusted to never lie. A number of passages speak to this, such as, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19
– Human beings are innately liars until Jesus saves and heals and sanctifies us. Again a number of passages speak to this, such as, “I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” Psalm 116:11 (see I John 2:27 re: the difference the Holy Spirit makes in our lives in this regard)
– God hates lying lips regardless of whose lips they are, but is especially intimate and close to those who uphold truth and righteousness.” “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22
– Being honest may at times seem to get us nowhere, and liars may seem unscathed by their lying but both will be rewarded or judged in time. “Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.” Proverbs 12:19
– God will gladly cleanse and deliver and protect us from a lifestyle of lying if we consistently in faith cry out to Him for such. I love David’s example as seen in Psalm 120:2 – “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue.”
– God expects Government leaders to tell the truth as a way of life: “Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, Much less are lying lips to a prince.” Proverbs 17:7
– God will deal with liars among the media, government, Hollywood, etc., if we cry out to Him in persistent faith for such. David again is our example of this, as seen in Psalm 59:12 – “On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which they utter.” David grew confident of God’s faithfulness to act in this way as seen in Psalm 63:11 – “But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.”
One of our concerns as we watch how believers have responded to events of the last few months nationally is how little we seem to expect God to do anything about the rampant lying (e.g. “fake news”) going on. When we don’t expect Him and rely upon Him through prayer to “….exercise …justice and righteousness upon the earth” as He Himself says He will do in Jeremiah 9:24, then we open ourselves up to anger, fear, bitterness, hopelessness, and all kinds of other fleshly emotions.
So in closing, our plea is that you would pray for us to be ever more honest, that you would pray for yourself to be ever more honest, and that you would not be passive in praying for those in our nation who have great influence and thus great responsibility and stewardship to be ever more honest with those they lead or inform. Only then will we see any real breakthrough in this epidemic of lying.