Many things in today's world just aren't what they seem. It's the era of the "sophisticated lie." Who can you truly believe? What is behind all this lying and duplicity? And where will it take us — unless we drastically mend our ways? Recently, when talking casually to a complete stranger, the subject of the "Watergate mess" came up. This individual showed much annoyance and indignation over the fact that much lying and deceit has been evidenced by various high officials who have testified before Senate Watergate hearings. This person could plainly see that "big lies" and outright perjury before the Senate hearings or before Grand Jury were utterly wrong and totally indefensible. Yet, paradoxically, this same individual, only minutes later, urged me to palm off my twelve-year-old son as an eleven-year-old in order to save approximately one dollar on the cost of a scenic tour on Catalina Island (just off the Southern California coast). Apparently, this person did not seem to feel that to deceive, lie and cheat in order to save one dollar would also be dishonest and immoral. But it is just as wrong (or sinful) to steal one dollar as it is a million — at least in the eyes of God. The Founder of true Christianity said: "He that is faithful [honest] in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10). He who would steal a postage stamp would likely steal money or other valuables also — if he got the chance! A lie often has to be covered by several other lies, which have to be covered by yet more lies. Such an intricate web of duplicity is woven that it becomes almost impossible to discover the real truth. Lying and stealing often go hand in hand. A person who steals will often need to lie to cover up his crime. Perhaps this is why the eighth commandment — "Thou shalt not steal" — is followed immediately by the commandment against bearing false witness (Deut. 5:19, 20). Elsewhere in the Pentateuch we read: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another" (Lev. 19:11).
Little White Lies
Most parents no longer teach their children to love, fear and obey the Creator God; they no longer teach their children the Ten Commandments. Children are seldom drilled in the old-fashioned virtues of strict honesty and integrity; they are rarely taught that little white lies are neither "little" nor "white" in the sight of God. Many of these children, permitted to tell little white lies (fibs) with impunity, will, as a matter of habit, grow up to become outright liars and perjurers as adults. But on the other hand, a child who is taught to tell the truth even if it hurts — and who sees his parents set the right example by constantly speaking and living the truth — will grow up to be an adult who tells the truth. A person who grows up to be a chronic liar — whose word is no good — is neither fit for God nor man. No one likes to deal with a liar — one whose word can never be trusted. Is it any wonder that we live in the age of the kickback, cover-up and the bribe? When we do not consistently teach our children the importance of being honest and
"For the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." Hosea 4:1
truthful, is it any wonder there are so many grown-up cheats with their thumbs on the scales?
A Deceitful Society
In such a deceitful society, are we shocked to learn that a "pregnant" woman at the checkout counter of a supermarket turns out to be concealing a turkey under her dress? When deceit, lies and hypocrisy have become a way of life — should we be amazed to find employees stealing from their employers — walking off with tools, company property, and literally anything that is not nailed to the floor? At one factory, all employees were asked to assemble with only a few minutes notice. Not being told that the purpose of the assembly was for a group photo, hundreds of tools and assorted items were found strewn over the factory premises. Fearing an inspection, the employees had hastily discarded the tools and other stolen items they had concealed on their persons. Surely everyone is familiar with the "big lie" so often repeated in the field of advertising. So much of salesmanship and business in this world is based on misrepresentation, half-truths and/or outright lies.
Fear of Getting Caught
Many lament the deceit and hypocrisy practiced by the average person in the Western world. They see this widespread duplicity as an indication that we have lost our spiritual and moral strength, and are going the way of ancient Rome — down the drain! But, sadly, all too many who bemoan the guile and dishonesty revealed in the lives of others, themselves indulge in fibs, cheating or other forms of hypocrisy — and think nothing of it! Such dishonesty has become so ingrained that it has become a way of life. In the view of all too many, it is not lying that is bad, but getting caught. Few today really believe honesty is the best policy. Many regard this as a Puritan ethic which has long since become passť. Inveterate liars do not understand that there is an absolute, living, spiritual law, which when broken exacts a penalty. But, most importantly, liars fail to realize that lying is a sin against the great Creator God — "and the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). These short-sighted people fail to understand that all forms of lying destroy character, in the long run hurting themselves as well as others.
"No Truth... in the Land"
The Prophet Isaiah long ago wrote of many of the sins which plague our nations so much today. "... Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear... your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth..." (Isa. 59:2-4). How does God look upon a nation of liars and hypocrites? "In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment" (verses 13-15). Truly, our Creator is displeased with any nation so given to deceit and falsehood. A prophecy in Hosea also reveals how God feels toward any nation of liars: "... For the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. [Many now even believe that God is dead!] By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood" (Hosea 4:1, 2). The Prophet Jeremiah decried a similar time of national faithlessness: "And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.... Take ye heed everyone of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant [deceive], and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive everyone his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies... " (Jer. 9:3-5). Speaking of the utter deceitfulness to which human beings can descend, Jeremiah continues: "Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait" (verse 8).
Deceitful Religious Fables
Nowhere has deceitfulness been practiced with more cunning than in the arena of organized religion. The Bible warns that "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:13). "... The time will come," said the Apostle Paul, "when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:3, 4). Isaiah prophesied of a rebellious, lying generation which would "not
"And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.... they have taught their tongue to speak lies." Jeremiah 9:3, 5
hear the law of the Lord" (Isa. 30:9). These people would say to their preachers: "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (verse 10). Today, we live in a world where basic honesty is not properly exalted in the home, schools, or even in many churches — strange as that may sound. A Christian-professing world has turned its back on the Word of God, has turned away from the truth and embraced fables. It is a simple fact, unadmitted by most, that many of the cherished beliefs and practices of mainline Christianity are not biblical truths, but are in fact rank fables. It is high time that the peoples of the Western world awoke from their slumber. It is time we realized that we have turned away from the laws of God.
The Father of Lies
But who is responsible for this wholesale religious deception? Most Christians profess to believe both in God and the devil. But few professing Christians understand that Satan the devil has the power to send out evil, seductive, lying thoughts. He broadcasts his attitudes of deceit and hypocrisy. These "spiritual emanations," like spiritual radio waves, are planted by Satan in the minds of those who are receptive to his cunning, crafty deceits. Satan does not believe in truth and integrity. Christ said: "... He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). Satan is the invisible ruler of this world. He is, in fact, "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). He is also called "the god of this world" who "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not..." (II Cor. 4:4). This cunning spirit being is referred to as "the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9).
A God of Truth
In contrast to Satan, Moses described the Eternal God who manifested Himself to the nation of Israel: "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he" (Deut. 32:4). There is no character trait which better exemplifies God than that of truthfulness; One whose word is dependable and reliable always. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). God loathes deceit, lies and hypocrisy! He says: "... He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight" (Ps. 101:7). Further, He declares that the "joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment" (Job 20:5), and the "hypocrite's hope shall perish" (Job 8:13).
Good and Bad Examples
What kind of a person was Jesus Christ when He walked on this earth in human flesh — being tugged at by the pulls of the human mind just as we are? (Heb. 4:15.) The Apostle Peter said Christians should follow Christ's "example, that ye should follow his steps" (I Pet. 2:21). "Who did no sin, neither was guile [deceit] found in his mouth" (verse 22). One of the character traits of Nathanael, chosen to be one of the twelve apostles, was his honesty and integrity. "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" said Christ of Nathanael (John 1:47). King David said: "I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love" (Ps. 119:163). Christ could overlook (forgive) horrible sins — adultery, stealing, etc. — but one sin was especially repugnant to Him. He could not stand the sin of hypocrisy, deceit and falsehood (see Matt. 23). Through9ut His entire ministry, you find Him speaking out candidly against sins, customs and practices of those around Him. He never indulged in flattery or insincere praise! When Ananias and Sapphira "agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord" and connived to "lie to the Holy Spirit," the power of God struck them both dead for their blatant hypocrisy (see Acts 5:1-11). Later, when a deceiver and a hypocrite named Simon, a sorcerer, feigned repentance and was baptized (because he thought this was the only way he could obtain the miracle-working power which he had seen mightily demonstrated by the apostles), he had a terrible curse pronounced upon him by the Apostle Peter (see Acts 8:9-24). These are just a few of the many instances in the Scriptures which reveal just how much God detests lies and hypocrisy. Anciently, God's servant Joshua revealed to Israel that those who worship and serve God must do so "in sincerity and in truth" (Joshua 24:14). David said he who would be privileged to dwell on God's holy hill must speak "the truth in his heart" (Ps. 15:2).
The Doctrine of Truth
Jesus Christ was not teaching a new doctrine when he said: "... The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23, 24). The Founder of true Christianity said: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). But the question is — do we really want the truth? Pontius Pilate once asked: "What is truth?" (John 18:38.) We need not be in ignorance. The Word of God declares: "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). The Bible also reveals: "Thy law is the truth" (Ps. 119:142), and "thy commandments are truth" (verse 151). The Bible contains those essential and eternal truths which, if followed, would show man the true path in which he must walk.
Truth Will Yet Flourish
How can the nations achieve true peace and happiness? We can never achieve a Utopia until we learn to love truth and mercy and follow God's way of righteousness: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven" (Ps. 85:10, 11). This will occur in the world tomorrow! This Utopian prophecy will only be fulfilled when the "Prince of Peace" establishes truth and judgment upon this earth worldwide. "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isa. 9:6, 7). We can thank Almighty God that Satan, the father of lies, will not be permitted to mislead the nations or lead them in the ways of deceit, lies and hypocrisy in the soon-coming, thousand-year millennial age (see Rev. 20:1-3).
What About You Now?
Present trends do not indicate that our nation will voluntarily turn from this spirit of deceit and hypocrisy. But you, as an individual, can repent of the guile and dishonesty in your own personal life — and you will be greatly blessed for so doing. Do not take lying lightly! God says that "...All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8). Of course, God can and will forgive even the most inveterate liar — if he really repents and begins to tell the truth. The Patriarch Abraham — normally a man of truth — told the same lie twice under heavy temptation. God forgave him, and he is assured of a very high office in the Kingdom of God. Do you want to live forever? God promises: "The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment" (Prov. 12:19). Follow Paul's exhortation: "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9). True Christians are to follow Christ's example: "We are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ" (Eph. 4:15, Phillips). Begin, right now, thinking, speaking and living the truth!