Proverbs 16:28 “Truth”

Devotional by Pastor Joshua Hall; Faith Presbyterian Church, Quincy, IL; June 18, 2020.

Transcript

Good Morning, Brothers and Sister!

Today we continue our series of devotionals on the themes from the book of Proverbs by examining the theme of truth.

If you have your Bible, follow along with me as I read Proverbs 12:22 from the English Standard Version’s translation of the Bible and consider this teaching on truth telling.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Let us pray…

Beloved, if we are to delight the Lord, we must be faithful with our words and avoid lying at all costs. In order to do that, we must understand what the Bible teaches about lying. Some lies are easy to spot such as statements which are intentionally and directly untrue. When a child steals a cookie and then denies it saying “I didn’t take the cookie.” That is an intentional and direct lie. But there is another form of lying which is more subtle and more destructive. Statements which deceive or give an inaccurate impression or misdirect people from the truth are also lies.

Where do lies come from? They come from the heart. All sin comes from the heart. Matthew 12:34 says, “How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all. Our hearts deceive us and from that deception we speak lies. This is the human condition apart from Christ.

Some people believe that as long as they do not consciously make a decision to say something which they know is not true, they are not lying when they say something which is false or inaccurate. Still others believe that spinning the truth is not only acceptable, but also desirable. I have come to detest the statement “put a positive spin on it.” For the simple reason that it glorifies our natural tendency to lie in order to escape responsibility for our own actions or put others down.

The first lie in the Bible was an intentional lie. Satan lied to Adam and Eve, he wrapped the lie in enough truth to make it believable. He twisted God’s words and deceived Adam and Eve. We would all recognize this as a lie. But Adam and Eve also lied. They lied by only telling part of the truth. They lied to place the blame for their sin on someone else. Adam told God that his sin was Eve’s fault, and Eve said it was the fault of the serpent! They also wrapped their lies in some truth, for while they hid their own culpability, they were telling truth when they pointed out the sins of others. 

So why did they sin? Because they were ashamed of what they had done, and rather than admit their sins to God and ask for cleansing and forgiveness, they hid their sins and blamed others. We do this all the time.

I regularly read the news. Almost every story is told by liars, people who put a spin on their story in order to make their favorite politician look good and their political opponents look bad. Nearly every word which comes out of the mouth of our politicians is praise for themselves and condemnation for their opponents. Exaggeration, character assassination, name calling, spin, these are all lies. And they do not honor God, for God is a God of truth and light. And we were created in His image to reflect His good character so all creation could see how good He is. But we defile God’s Holy name when we corrupt the truth in our hearts for our own glory and present lies to those around us.

I have many lies in recent days in our own community and church. In the last few weeks, I have been confronted with several lies going around about our church and ministry. These lies are spread through the gossip chain. Our hearts are sick. We love hearing about how other people have sinned, and we love to spread those rumors. Somehow they make us feel good. For they condemn others and hide our own shame. We are just like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

I regularly read the news. Almost every story is told by liars, people who put a spin on their story in order to make their favorite politician look good and their political opponents look bad. Nearly every word which comes out of the mouth of our politicians is praise for themselves and condemnation for their opponents. Exaggeration, character assassination, name calling, spin, these are all lies. And they do not honor God, for God is a God of truth and light. And we were created in His image to reflect His good character so all creation could see how good He is. But we defile God’s Holy name when we corrupt the truth in our hearts for our own glory and present lies to those around us.

I am sure we are all familiar with the telephone game. Youth groups play it all the time. Someone whispers something in the ear of their neighbor who whispers it in their neighbor’s ear, and so on and so forth. It’s a fun game because of how twisted the original statement becomes by the time it gets to the end of the gossip chain. But when it happens in real life, people get hurt.

I am sure we have all been hurt by rumors. Someone says something about us which they perhaps assume to be true, but it isn’t. Before long lots of people believe the lie. Rumors damage relationships. So what should we do when we think someone has done something wrong or when they hurt us? Well, if we have evidence that a brother or sister has sinned, we should go talk with them. We must not spread rumors about them, for we may well be telling lies. How can you know? Instead, ask them directly. In my experience, most of the time it’s a big misunderstanding! And if not, the person often apologizes and makes things right. But if the person really is in sin and is not willing to deal with it, then we must follow the steps laid out for us in Matthew 18. Jesus told us that if we see a fellow Christian in sin, we are to go and confront them. We must show them their sin from the Bible. If they disagree or do not repent, then we are to take someone with us who can confirm this sin, and confront the brother or sister together. If there is still no repentance, then we must take the case to the elders. They must then confront the sin and call the brother or sister to repentance. If they still refuse to repent, then they are to be brought before the congregation and exposed. If they still refuse to repent, they are to be removed from membership in the church and treated as an unbeliever, a beloved guest, but not a brother or sister in Christ.

Now some of you will say that what I have just described is unloving. But I ask you this, which is more loving? Would it be more loving to confront someone directly or to go around spreading rumors about them? Satan whispers in our ear that confronting someone is harsh and unloving. But beloved, it is far better than slandering them behind their back. Almost everything we hear about someone else is a lie with a little truth attached. You can count on this, if you listen to, believe or share rumors, you are listening to, believing, participating in, and spreading destructive lies. And God is not pleased with lying lips.

Beloved, I am not innocent. I have also participated in the gossip chain. I have come under conviction this week again about it. And I know how hard it is to consistently tell the truth. James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” And again, in James 3:2, “For we all stumble in many ways.” 

And James 3:4-6 “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”

It is no wonder that Isaiah, when he saw the Lord in Isaiah 6, cried out in anguish, “Woe is me! For I am dead! I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips!”

Beloved, today I confess that I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. And this is very bad news, for we hurt each other with our words when we gossip and tell lies. We do not bring glory or honor to our God, nor can we be a light to our city of Quincy so long as we are known for the rumors and the lies which we spread.

But the good news is this. When Isaiah saw the Lord, as soon as he confessed his sin, he was forgiven. The angel took a coal from the altar and touched his lips with it. And he said, see your sin is paid for, and your guilt is taken away. And beloved that altar in heaven is a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. He died, and his blood cleanses us from all sin! Won’t you confess today that you are also a person of unclean lips? Won’t you take up this christian confession as your own, that you are in need of a Savior today? That you, along with me, need to be forgiven and washed in the blood of Jesus? I hope so!

Not only do we need to be forgiven, but we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. For out of our hearts our mouth speaks. And Jeremiah told us that our hearts are deceptive. But the Holy Spirit is light and truth. He does not lie. And when we walk in step with the Holy Spirit, we will not spread rumors or point fingers in order to escape blame, rather, we will speak the truth in love to the one about whom it concerns. We will confront sinners directly with the intent of making things right, of reconciling, of living in peace and unity. And when we do, we will not be liars, we will be faithful. And this, beloved, will please the Lord.

Let us pray…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s