To Tell You The Truth

by William J. Stewart

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard folks use the words which appear in the title of today’s article, but I do know that it irritates me every time I hear it. The implication of such a statement is that perhaps at other times, the individual speaking is not really telling me the truth (and in fact, calls into question whether at that moment they are indeed being truthful also). What irks me even more, is when I hear a child of God utter these words. That folks in the world are given to deceit and falsehood is sad, but that a Christian should feel the need to confirm the truthfulness of his words is greatly disturbing.

The January 9, 1992 edition of USA Today, reveals very unsettling statistics on lying. Quoting a 1991 study, from the book “The Day America Told The Truth,”1 we are told that 91% of all people lie routinely, and that this practice begins in childhood, as 86% of children reportedly lie to their parents. The paper continues to tell us:

  • 81% lie about their feelings;
  • 75% lie to their friends;
  • 73% lie to their siblings;
  • 69% lie to their spouse;
  • 43% lie about their income;
  • 40% lie about sex;
  • 36% tell “dark, important lies”

One conclusion we might draw from these stats is that not only is lying common, but it is in fact widely accepted. When 91% of the population openly and actively engage in an activity, that bears witness to the acceptance of the practice by the masses. We have folks referring to some falsehood as “white lies”; we have musicians singing “…tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…” (Fleetwood Mac). Every indication from society is that lying is OK, even encouraged. But what does the Bible say?

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul pointedly said that those who have “…put on the new man which is created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness…” need to put away lying (Ephesians 4:24-25). This thought is echoed in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, where we read, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…” (Colossians 3:9-10).

The Scriptures reveal that the tongue and lips of those who lie is an abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 6:16-19; 12:22). Lying is an expression of hatred on the part of the liar toward others (Proverbs 26:28). It is a work of the devil, and those who engage in it make themselves sons of the devil (John 8:44). In Revelation 21:8 (cf. 21:27), as John records a list of those who will be cast into the lake of fire, he mentions, “…the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars…” How awful is lying in the sight of God? “…All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

May our lips always utter truth. Those who always tell the truth never need say, “To tell you the truth…” Their “yes” is “yes”, their “no” is “no” (James 5:12; Mt 5:34-37). Friend, let us do so.

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