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Saturday, July 1, 2017

White lies matter


When presented with the truth that Jesus will save all humanity, some people wrongly assume that this means it doesn't matter how we live. They say, "Sin it up if we're all going to be saved in the end!" (Did I mention that they assume, and they are wrong?)

Related imageOne important area of life that affects us all is honesty, or its flip side, lying. I'm going to assume that we've all lied, and that we've all been lied to. Raise your hand if you like being lied to. I see. Either everyone has smelly pits today, or it's universal—people don't like being lied to. But for some reason we can easily justify lying to others.


Why do we lie?


We stretch the truth (sometimes to the point of breaking it) for many reasons. But the underlying motives are usually selfishness and/or fear, or we're running for political office. We predict that the truth won't benefit us as much as a lie, so we're dishonest.

Sometimes we fear punishment because we've done something wrong, so we lie to escape the consequences of our actions. But if our wrongdoing is discovered, the fact that we lied to cover it only adds to our punishment.

I remember when my kids were young and would do something wrong, whether intentionally or by accident. Sometimes they would lie to cover up their dastardly deed. But if I discovered their deed, it would often pale in comparison to the fact that they lied to try to cover it. Their dishonesty was much more serious to me than the fact that they ate my whole container of Oreos.

When you sit at the poker table, you expect to be lied to. Poker players quietly lie out of necessity—the bluff. It's part of the game.

Spies lie for patriotism, and because they prefer to remain alive.

Lies kept Anne Frank and her family safe from the German police for two years during World War II. Was this wrong? No. The motive was to save lives. And when the Franks were discovered by the Germans, they were sent to concentration camps, where some of them died.

The motive for deception is key as to whether the lie is justified or not.


A Biblical catch-22


Sometimes lying is justified if it's the lesser of two evils. Yes, the lesser of two evils is a thing that even Jesus talked about. Jesus said to the Jews in John 7:22–24,
22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. (NIV)

The Jews were constantly accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them that they circumcise on the sabbath to keep the circumcision law which said a newborn male was to be circumcised on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3). This catch-22 was solved by choosing the law of circumcision over the law of doing no work on the sabbath. One law was broken so that a greater law could be upheld.

Can we apply this principle to lying? I think so. There are definitely times when lying is the lesser of two evils. The problem arises from misapplying this principle and overusing it for selfish reasons.

You'll have to determine what to do in the situations that arise in your life. It would be impossible to list all the scenarios that could come up and what you should do in each. When faced with a situation where you could lie, checking your motive is always a good place to start.

God will eventually judge whether you made the right decisions or not. But you should be the first line of judgment for your own actions—"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31 AKJV).


Biblical examples of "legal" lying


Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho, lied to keep two Israelite spies safe (see Joshua 2). She and her family were spared when Jericho fell (Joshua 6:16–25). Rahab is also mentioned with some of the heavyweights of faith for her work, which included lies (Hebrews 11:30–31; James 2:25).

In a very interesting Bible story, God sent a lying spirit to deceive Israel's evil king Ahab (2 Chronicles 18). This deception used by God led to Ahab's judgment and death. 

His Israelite slaves were multiplying too fast, so Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all male Hebrew babies immediately after they were born by throwing them into the Nile. One of these babies, Moses, was saved and hidden, and a clever deception put him back with his mother until he was weaned (Exodus 1:15–2:10). Plot twist: then Moses grew up as a son to Pharaoh's very own daughter.


Diplomatic immunity


In Deuteronomy 13:1–5, God sends false prophets and enables them to do signs and wonders to test Israel's love for Him.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 2:8–12 tells us God will send a great deception in the end times,
then will be unveiled the lawless one (whom the Lord Jesus will despatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard by the advent of His presence), 9 whose presence is in accord with the operation of Satan, with all power and signs and false miracles 10 and with every seduction of injustice among those who are perishing, because they do not receive the love of the truth for their salvation. 11 And therefore God will be sending them an operation of deception, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 that all may be judged who do not believe the truth, but delight in injustice. (CLNT)

Throughout Scripture God uses Satan (see previous passage), who is described by Jesus in John 8:44,
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. 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.

Do these methods used by God give us a license to do the same? No. There are things God does that we can't do—send His Son to die to save all, sit on the judgment seat of the universe, flood the earth, destroy the earth by fire, kill 185,000 Assyrians in one night, and on and on.

God is the potter, and we are the clay (Romans 9:14–21). God is King, therefore He has full diplomatic immunity to do whatever is necessary to run His universe.


Liar, liar, pants on fire ...


In Proverbs 6:16–19 we see some things that God hates,
Image result for lying with fingers crossed behind back imageThere are six things the Lord hates. There are seven things he cannot stand: 17 a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, 18 a mind that thinks up evil plans, feet that are quick to do evil, 19 a witness who tells lies and a man who causes trouble among brothers.
International Children's Bible (ICB)

Two of the seven things listed have to do with lying. I think this should make it clear to us how God feels about lying, regardless of the color of the lie. God says in Revelation 21:8,
But those who are cowards, who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who are sexually immoral, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (ICB)

It's not looking good for liars. Repent.


Why do the right thing?


Jesus died for all of our sins. So who cares how we live? God does. And so should you.

"Why would I obey God if He's going to save me anyway?" The answer? Love.

When a person begins to truly understand God's love for them, he will love Him. "We are loving God, for He first loves us" (1 John 4:19 CLNT). God is the initiator of love. We are the beneficiaries and responders to His great love for us. Obedience based out of fear and obligation is still obedience, but it's not God's goal. His goal is a harmonious relationship with His children based on love.

And that's no lie.

Sincerely,
Wes

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