The Deadly Sins of Proverbs 6:16-19: A Lying Tongue
The fall of mankind began with a lie. “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” This was followed by a second lie. “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”[i] Sadly, we know how the story ends. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and sin entered the world. They were expelled from the Garden, and the sin of lying spread in the hearts and out the mouths of their descendants.
Cain lied to God about murdering his brother Abel. A father and son each lied about their relationship to their wives to protect themselves. False prophets arose telling the people of Israel, “Peace,” when there was no peace, putting words in God's mouth. Jesus warned of wolves infiltrating the flock of God with false teaching.[ii]
Today, we get phone calls from scammers impersonating representatives of legitimate organizations to steal confidential information. Conspiracy theories abound on social media and are shared by friends, family, and even ourselves, unwittingly passing on falsehoods. When a scandal erupts in any sector, including Christian ministry, not only is the leader exposed but a network of enablers who lied to keep this person in power. And how many “little” lies do we excuse as not so bad? Yet the Bible is crystal clear that to lie is to sin. But before those lies are told, two lies need to be believed - a lie about God and a lie about ourselves.
The original deception in the Garden consisted of two parts. First, the serpent lied about God, attacking his nature and character by putting them in question. “Has God said...?,” implies, “Can you trust God's word? Can you trust him?” Second, the serpent lied about our identity, sowing doubts as to the goodness of God's purpose for mankind. “God must be withholding something from you. These restraints are keeping you from reaching your full potential. You know what's best for yourself. No one has the right to tell you what you can or cannot do.” Once we fall for this deception, God is demoted whether in outright rejection or subtly through unbelief. He no longer is the sovereign ruler of our lives. We are not content to be creatures dependent on our creator. He is an impediment to achieving what we believe is best for ourselves or merely a means to that end. But no matter the scenario, we violate the first commandment before we violate the ninth.
There is something we desire so desperately, material or immaterial, that we will silence our conscience and speak falsehood to gain it. There is something so crucial to our identity that we must have it at all costs, even the price of a lie. Whatever that something is, it is an object of worship, an idol we are willing to lie for.
What then? Are resolutions and determined self-effort to stop lying enough? No. The seriousness of the problem requires a serious remedy. We need more than behavioral change. We need a change of heart. We need a savior.
God sent his Son who had no deceit in his mouth, full of grace and truth.[iii] Jesus never broke the first commandment or the ninth or any of them. He lived a righteous and holy life, the life we could never hope to live. He took our record of lies, large and small, and paid the penalty for them on the cross. When we place our faith in him alone, we receive his perfect record of truth-telling and a new nature that loves God and the truth.
As Christians, we will still be tempted to lie in this life. Idols will still try to woo us, but we do not struggle alone. When we sin, we can run with repentance to God knowing that he forgives and receives us in Christ. And the Spirit of truth dwells within, changing us from glory to glory. From liars to truth-tellers, making us like our Lord.
Persis Lorenti is a member of Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, VA where she serves as bookkeeper and deacon of library/resources. She blogs sporadically at Persistent Thoughts, and you can follow her on Twitter @tea_et_books.
[i] Genesis 3:1-5 NASB
[ii] Gen. 4:9, Gen. 20, Gen. 26, Joshua 7, Jer. 6:13-15; Matt. 7:15-16
[iii] Isaiah 53:9, John 1:14-17