Deceit and Lying
This is one of the special sins connected with the tongue, that unruly member which no man can tame. Over and over again it is emphatically forbidden and condemned by the God of truth (Col.3:9; 1 Pet.3:10; Prov.24:28; Prov.12:22, etc.).
No Deceit in Christ
When Peter speaks of the life of the Lord Jesus as an example for us to copy, he emphatically points out that no deceit was found in His mouth. Those who are deceitful are therefore evidently most unlike Christ. As we write for those who are professedly children of God, in looking at a few examples of this fearful sin in Scripture, we will only take those where a child of God, or at least, a professor, is concerned.
Lying Through Fear
We find in Genesis 18:15 Sarah telling a direct lie through fear. How often is this the case, resulting from having done or said something we are ashamed of. It may be a right thing, and we are thus ashamed of Christ; or, it may be a wrong thing, and we are ashamed of being found out. In either case a lie slips from our lips ere we are aware. The radical cure for this is not to do what we are ashamed of; or, if the thing is right, not to be ashamed of what we do. If, however, we have slipped into a sin, let us not add to it by another, but just as the lie is about to leave our lips, let the thought, GOD HEARS ME, instantaneously arrest it. A lie of this sort to screen oneself is, perhaps, the most contemptible kind, despised alike by Christians and men of the world. Having thus looked at it, let us resolutely avoid it, even in the smallest things, and never lend our tongues to such mean deceit.
Lying for Our Own Advantage
The next instance is in Genesis 27:19, when Jacob tells a direct lie for his own advantage—another despicable variety of this hydra-headed sin. Mark too, Jacob was a child of God, and the result is that through the next thirty years of his life he suffered from the consequences of his sin, by which too he gained nothing, for God would have given him all in due time. Have any of my readers fallen victim to this sin? Making haste to be rich, or improve their position, or in some way run in advance of God, have they ever, through selfish motives, told a lie? If so, I am sure they have suffered since; and there can be no real restoration until that lie is confessed not only to God but to man. Too often, alas, one lie leads to another, as in Jacob's case; and once embarked on this fatal course, who can tell what the end will be? O beloved reader, I plead with you; never, never allow yourself to tell a lie for your own advantage. Think for one moment what a horrible denial such a sin is of all that Jesus ever was or did.
Lying to Cover a Sin
Passing over several, we come to David, who was guilty both of lying (1 Sam. 21:2) and deceit (2 Sam. 11) of the most fearful character, by which he sought to cover up an awful sin, thereby making it twice as bad. Oh, how often some previous sin is the cause of a long course of deceit and lying. Beloved friends, let us, above all things, seek to be straight with God, with our fellow men, with ourselves; and should we fall into a sin, never, never seek to cover it up by another, still worse than the first. A course of deceit positively blights the soul, destroying all simplicity, all joy, all com munion. The result of these sins in David's case was a course of sufferings almost unparalleled in their severity, from the hands of his own children. Let not us, therefore, think to escape the all-searching eye of God.
Lying from Habit
We find in 1 Kings 13:18 a prophet of God lying in a most wanton manner, without any apparent reason. We find such characters now, even among God's people—some who apparently have no regard for the truth, and find it easier to tell a lie than to avoid it. The only remedy when the disease has so developed is to go straight to God, and cry to Him for strength and daily watchfulness to overcome it. One such case I remember. I noticed that a person was almost always silent, and one day asked the cause. He said that he had been so addicted to lying that he was determined now not to speak at all if he could not speak the direct truth; and, therefore, he seldom opened his lips, and always considered well before he spoke. Deep-rooted sins require some such radical measures.
Two Solemn Cases of Lying
In the New Testament the two solemn cases, one of lying and the other of deceit, in Peter and Ananias, stand out above all others. Peter, forewarned by the Lord, yet strong in his own strength, told three lies to save himself, actually going the length of denying the Saviour while He was standing dumb before His accusers. Such sins are, alas, not unknown even now. Many of us are ashamed of showing our colors, and when suddenly asked an unexpected question, through fear or shame, are betrayed into a lie, to the triumph of Satan and the grief of our Lord. Let us watch earnestly against this; and, if entrapped, let us follow Peter in his path of restoration. It is remarkable to see that the very one who fell himself, is so perfectly restored as not only to be able to charge home the very same sin to the Jews (Acts 3:14), but was also chosen by God to be the executor of His justice on the flagrant deceit of Ananias. This too was a wanton sin—a course of deceit being practiced merely to give others a false impression of his generosity, and to appear other than he was. This, alas, is another common variety of this sin. Anxious to stand well in the eyes of our fellow men, rather than in those of God, we do not hesitate sometimes to descend to deceitful practices to appear other than we are, and so get praise from men that we do not deserve. Surely, such a course needs only to be named to be condemned by every upright heart. All these instances have been selected from the lives of professing children of God, and will well repay careful consideration, giving, as they do, striking illustrations of the main causes of deceit and lying among Christians. Lies may be told without using the lips; we may act so as to deceive, and seek to excuse ourselves because we have not said what is untrue. This is a worthless subterfuge, and will not stand before God for a moment. All such refuges of lies will He sweep away.
The only way to be happy before Him, and to be in any degree like Christ, is to turn our backs firmly and resolutely on deceit in every shape and form by word or deed; and determine, in God's strength, that we will earnestly seek to say and do nothing that is not absolutely true, thus saving ourselves from reaping the bitter fruits of shame and sorrow that will some day follow. May God help each one of us that is tempted by this sin to overcome it in His strength, and to learn to abhor and hate it because it is so hateful to Christ, and so dishonoring to His name.
“The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Prov.12:19.
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