Recently I have had to deal with a habit of lying by some students in the Titus 2 program. This is a fundamental pre-requisite for recovery. One must be willing to accept the requirement to live according to truth….telling it, living it, and calling out those who try to avoid it. Some lie to avoid consequences. Some lie to continue in behavior that is not acceptable. Some lie to make themselves look better. Some lie to make others look worse. Some lie to express their rebellion against authority. Some lie to “protect” others. Some just lie because they have done so for as long as they remember. As God would have it, the Colson Center for Biblical Worldview has published a study entitled “To Stop the Lie.” Good food…..meat and vegetables stuff for growing Christians.
Excerpt from T.M. Moore’s “To Stop the Lie”
“It’s surprising how often the Bible speaks of “lies” and “liars.” It’s enough to make you wonder whether the Bible could have been written in our day, when lying is something nearly everyone does, and it isn’t considered polite to suggest that people may be deliberately bending the truth or passing on untruths as part of their normal daily routine. We are a much more “tolerant” generation than folks were in the days when prophets and apostles were taking down the Word of the Lord. When it came to those who trafficked in lies, half-truths, and outright deceit, the Spirit of God called it like it was and didn’t hold back.
In Biblical terms, all those who do not embrace, submit to, live for, and proclaim the Truth of God, and all those who ignore, deny, or neglect the Gospel of the Kingdom, are living a lie, or, more specifically, as Paul indicates, the Lie. Thus, at least to a certain extent, such people may properly be regarded as liars, and the Bible is not reluctant to describe them as such.
Judge with righteous judgment
Now I know this isn’t going to sit well with some of you. Who does he think he is, calling people liars? Who made him judge and jury over what are lies and what is truth? Well, the answer to the first question is, it’s not me, but the Word of God calling people liars. And the answer to the second question is, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has called us to judge with righteous judgment (Jn. 7:24), and presumably that means being able to distinguish, by sound reason, truth from the Lie in all aspects of human life. We shouldn’t be surprised by the straightforward manner in which Biblical writers speak of lies and liars. After all, lying is a sin, and we live in a world of sinners, including us. We have all been guilty of lying at some point and, if we haven’t yet faced up to that, well, now might be a good time to start. Further, since the devil is the father of lies, and Jesus plainly taught that some people are ever under his sway (Jn. 8:44), it shouldn’t surprise us to think that there are people in the world whose agenda is colored more by lies than by the Truth of God.
Finally, the Scriptures teach that, at certain times in history, lies can become so much a part of everyday life that a whole generation can be led astray and not even realize it (cf. Pss. 12, 58; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-9). I submit that we are living in just such an age, an age in flight from God and His Truth, an age steeped in and inebriated with the lies of unbelief.
The hurtful effects of the Lie
Every day we see the hurtful effects of the Lie: relationships shattered, fortunes wasted, lives ruined, tyrants empowered, the needy and helpless oppressed, trusting people duped, swindled, or robbed because the Lie motivates the choices and behaviors of so many in our day.
But we need not despair in the face of such a situation. For, as the psalmist tells us, and Paul, echoing him, those who promulgate policies and actions on the basis of lies will not make much more progress; rather, their lies will be exposed and their mouths will be stopped (cf. 2 Tim. 3:9).
But how does that happen? How does God plan to stop the mouths of liars so that their ruinous schemes will be brought to an end? Those who know the Truth in Jesus Christ cannot simply stand by while the Lie ravages churches, communities, families, and individuals. Paul says we must be prepared to issue a sharp rebuke to those who are leading others away from the Truth of Jesus, whether they are in the church or outside it. As I mentioned previously, a sharp rebuke does not mean an angry, nasty denunciation. It is instead a rather more careful, pointed, and effective way of rendering those who promulgate the lies speechless, having nothing left to say.
Of course, the first line of attack in dealing with those who promote lies is patient listening coupled with gentle persuasion (Jms. 1:19; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). At all times we need to treat people with respect, as human beings made in the image of God and, thus, always susceptible to the in-breaking of truth when it is offered in a firm, clear, and gracious manner (1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:6). But when persuasion fails, the sharp rebuke must be our next recourse in silencing the Lie.
The sharp rebuke
The goal of a sharp rebuke, as I mentioned before, is to reach to the very soul of a person and expose the lies and folly informing his worldview and motivating his behavior. Like those to whom Peter preached in Acts 2, our objective must be to prick the consciences, alarm the minds, and deliver a blow to the hearts of those who dare to stand up against the truth of Jesus Christ. Thus, we must not shy away from exposing folly, identifying sin, or calling people to repentance. We must be bold to say to people that they are in danger before the Lord for rejecting His truth and preferring their own chosen path in life (Rom. 1:18-32). And we must shine the bright, warm light of truth on their souls with the precision of a surgeon’s laser scalpel (Heb. 4:12).
At all times we will want to use sound reason so that the person we’re confronting can be led to examine his views or practices rather more objectively than is his wont, and be walked through the teaching of Scripture in a way that can overcome previous prejudice (Is. 1:18-20). Reason is not the tool we hope will finally enable them to come to their senses and escape the grip of the father of lies; reason is the tool we use to clear a path for the teaching of Scripture, which is quite able on its own, thank you very much, to bring conviction, contrition, and silence to boasting mouths. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction and repentance. Reason may open the door, but revelation, in the mighty hand of the Spirit, will deliver the healing thrust.
Powerful to open the heart
Obviously, our ability to issue a sharp rebuke depends on growing maturity in God’s Word. We must press on to know the Scriptures and to improve our use of them in discerning between good and evil, right and wrong, wisdom and folly (Heb. 5:12-14). Reason can engage the conversation; winsomeness can set the tone; patient listening can earn the right to be heard; but only divine revelation – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – is powerful to break the hold of the Lie and open someone’s heart to the truth of God. We should not expect everyone we rebuke to receive our words gratefully. Let’s face it: this way be dragons.
To Stop the Lie
But if the Lie is what we believe it is, not only a source of harm to people but of offense to God, then wecannot turn away from it when it comes to light before us. We must be ready with reason and rebukes to help those who are trapped in the Lie consider the option of God’s truth. And the only effective tool for bringing the Lie to silence is the living and powerful Word of God (Heb. 4:12), wielded by those who know and live it, and who are bold to proclaim and teach it to people who are in the grip of the father of lies.”