HONESTY (Lesson 2)
Our topic for the month is honesty. Last week we talked about stealing. Tonight we are going to focus on the 9th Commandment. Does anyone know what the 9th Commandment is? It is "Thou shalt not bear false witness," which is another way of saying thou shalt not lie. As we will see, God's word has some serious things to say about those that lie and deceive.
How many people here learned to lie from their mother or father? For example, maybe the phone would ring, and your mom would tell you to answer it, and she would say, "If that is so-and-so, tell them I'm not here." Yes, from a young age we learn to lie from those around us, or we just lie on our own.
And the world would have you believe that lying and cheating are okay as long as you don't get caught and nobody gets hurt. For example, how many people call in and lie about being sick because they want a day off from work? Or lie and pretend you hurt yourself in a car accident or at the grocery store if you want to collect some quick insurance money. The world wants you to believe that lying is harmless. We've even given lies categories. We'll call some lies "little white lies," which to us means they are just small lies, unimportant lies. But as we will see, God gives us stern warnings about all of these things. God's word tells us that God hates lying and those who lie.
Proverbs 12:22 reads, "Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight." And Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us, "These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." God hates liars. Now let's see what happens to them: Psalm 101:7, "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight."
In Revelation 21:7-8, God puts liars in the same category as murderers. We read, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." That is a serious warning! The world (Satan) would have you believe that there is no harm and everything to gain by lying. But God's word warns you that to God, lying is a very big deal.
Is there ever a good reason to lie? Maybe you lied about something because you thought you had a good reason: you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings or you wanted to protect someone. Well, let's read about two people who thought they had a good reason to lie and see how it backfired on them. Their lying got them into trouble. It's the story of Sara and Abram. Genesis 12:10-13. "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee."
Abram was afraid that one of these Egyptian men would take one look at beautiful Sarai and then kill him so they could have her for themself. But they reasoned that his life would not be in danger if they told the Egyptians that he was Sarai's brother. They agreed to lie, thinking they had a good reason to. Let's see what happened.
Genesis 12:14-16, "And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
At first their lie was working. Abram was safe. He was even given gifts. But lies only make a situation worse. And God knew that Sarai was in danger being in Pharaoh's house. What if Pharaoh, thinking she was a single woman, made sexual advances towards her? Would Abram and Sarai's lie have been worth it then? Let's see how God intervened.
Genesis 12:17-20, And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram's wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that they had."
What was Abram thinking? Instead of trusting in God to protect him and Sarai, Abram tried to be clever. But his plan backfired. His lie hurt God, him, and Sarai. Similarly, when we are dishonest, we hurt God, ourselves, and potentially our family. And our lying only shows that we don't trust God.
Fortunately for Abram, God intervened and didn't let him lose his wife because of his lie. God knew that although Abram sometimes made bad decisions, that he was a good man. And God had earlier promised to bless Abram and to make his descendants into a great nation. But we might not have God's blessing in our life to keep our lies from getting us into trouble. So it would be better to just follow God's commands and trust in God's protection and not lie at all.
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We're not saying it's always going to be easy to live an honest life and do what's right. The world is so twisted that if you try to do the right thing, the honest thing, you might even be ridiculed for it. Here's an example. Let's say you happened to be walking along and you found a sack full of money that somehow fell out of an armored truck. Let's say there was $50,000 in the bag you found. But you knew who the money belonged to because it said "Bank of America, Manchester branch" on the bag. I bet if you returned that bag to the bank and told your friends what you had done, they would tell you what a fool you were. They probably wouldn't compliment you or tell you what a man after God's own heart you are. Society tells us "Finder's keepers." "Look out for number one."
But we can't live for our friends or the world or even for our own selfish pleasures. We've got God to answer to. Proverbs 15:3 reads, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Yes, God watches to see if you are doing wrong, but he also watches and wants to see if you are doing the right thing when given the opportunity. Does the knowledge that God is watching you make you feel secure, or does it make you feel guilty because you know that you aren't being as honest as you should?
Now, I know someone here is thinking, "But I'm not that bad. I tell a few small lies here and there. I've gotten a few things for 'free,' but surely God wouldn't hold that against me." But, yes, it is a big deal. Either God is ruler in your life 100%, or He is not Lord at all. God doesn't want you to compromise in any area of your life. He wants you to honor Him with your tongue by not lying or talking about people behind their back. He wants you to honor Him with your hands by not stealing and instead by working hard. And He wants you to honor Him with your heart by not cheating or scamming and instead by being productive and trustworthy.
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So in closing, we wanted to ask you this question: Who is your father? God or the devil? Do you love Jesus and do you try to live in a way that is pleasing to Him? Or do you lie and cheat and love those things that make the devil proud of you? Let's read what Jesus said about this. John 8:42-44, "Jesus said unto them, If God were your father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he 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."
The verse is telling us that if you say that you love God but continue being comfortable with lying and cheating, that you are only fooling yourself and that Satan is really your father. Satan is the father of lies and evil lusts. And Jesus said if God were your father, you would love Him and keep His commandments. You wouldn't be living and lying like the devil.
Whose standards are you going to live by? Don't be deceived by the devil. The Bible warns that your sin will find you. Proverbs 19:5, 9, reads, "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish." If you choose to lie and cheat and you have no fear of God, you are not a child of God. And when you die and face God, He will not be your Heavenly Father. He will be your Judge.
So, in closing, if you have lied in the past and now see that this is not the way you ought to be living, make today the day that you stop lying. Ask God to give you a new heart, an honest heart. If you realize that you have broken God's commandments and laws and know that you are unrighteous and deserve hell, ask God to forgive you, turn from your sins, and ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. Then show that you love the Lord by living in a way that would make Him proud.
The temporary riches that lying and cheating will get you are nothing compared to what God has in store for those who love Him and obey Him. In Psalm 91:14-16 God says, "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation." Set your love upon the Lord. It is the least you can do for the One that died upon the cross to save you.