Saturday, May 15, 2010

Truth

The longer I look around, the more I am reminded that truth means little in today's society. At my workplace, children (even the smallest of them) lie with ease and gusto, even about the pettiest things. I have never really understood the motivation to lie... that's not to say I have never lied, because, of course, I'm no more perfect than the next person. Maybe what I mean is that because I have never been a "good liar", I have never had a desire to be. I grew up in a home where the truth was told, even if it hurt to say it and it hurt to hear it. In fact, my mother has sometimes called herself "honest to a fault", because she tends to tell people much more of the truth than they even want to hear.

I remember when I was a teenager and some friends wanted me to stay the night with them at a male friend's house. He was then and always will be a completely platonic friend... we used to call him our "girlfriend who's not a girl" or something like that. Anyhow, I told my friends that I probably couldn't stay the night because he's a boy, and some of them said, "Just tell your parents you're at (insert female friend's name here)'s house." "I can't do that!" I said. I didn't even have to think about my reply; it was automatic. I've just never been much of a liar. As I said before, I still have my faults. I have withheld plenty of truths, or said things that made what I was doing sound one way when it was another, so I admit that I have been plenty deceptive in my life. I will also admit that I feel terrible about those times and all of the things I did that destroyed my credibility.

Anyhow, I wrote all of this to get down to another point: What is truth? Is it OK to lie? What if it's just a little white lie? I have struggled with these questions throughout my life and continue to struggle with them, but in order to help some of you who may not have come to this realization yet (or who may have a different take on it) I offer my opinion freely to you. :)

As with anything, I would like to see what the Bible says on this subject. God is the author of all wisdom, and any insight we gain on the subject ought to be based on the Lord's perfect knowledge, not on flawed human reasoning. In Psalms 31:5, the Lord is referred to as "the God of truth". Jesus verified this when he came down to earth and said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). We see clearly that the Lord is truth. If He is truth, He cannot be deceiving. In fact, it says that He hates deceit (Psalm 5:6).

God is truth and Satan is his opposite, thus making Satan the ultimate liar. The Bible backs this up in John 8:44, in which Jesus refers to the devil as the father of lies, even going so far as to say that lies are his "native language". I was pondering this verse quite some time ago, and it struck me what He said to those he was addressing (namely, the Pharisees, but it can apply to anyone) about being the children of the devil. Here's the passage in context: John 8:42-45 "Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. 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. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!"

A liar can't even understand God's language! I've come in contact with a few compulsive liars in my life, and you can't even tell them the truth about their own lives. They have completely rewritten their life stories, and if you were to try and correct their versions of the story, they would become indignant. I believe that something terrible happens to a person when they repeatedly lie to people. They start out lying to people but eventually lie to themselves. These lies become so ingrained in them that they start to believe it is the truth.

When I came to this realization, I wondered whether God would accept a person's lies as truth based on their belief that the lies ARE the truth (I hope I'm not losing you out there!). The more I weighed this question, the more I came upon the realization that truth is not relative and God's standards are the same for everyone. God gives grace to everyone, and all who ask for it. My main concern (and the danger here) is that a person will not receive grace because they will not ask for it, believing that they have not sinned in a certain way or fooling themselves into believing that they don't need God's grace. And what about the unconfessed sin of lying? These are some of the questions that grew more daunting as I thought on about them.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

I wonder how many self-assured, "holy liars" will be in this position. How many self-professing (yet lukewarm) Christians will be in this position? In addition to that, though, how many people will be in this position who were truly "spiritual superheros" in our minds? The ones who cast out demons and do great things for the Lord? How do they get in that position? Perhaps it has something to do with lying to themselves, letting Satan in and convincing them that two lives are appropriate and acceptable, as long as someone wears the appropriate masks.

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (1 Corinthians 11:13-15)

How many people in our churches are working as double agents for Satan, without even realizing it? I don't know, but I hope and pray that I'm not one of them!