Sunday Sermon: ‘Little Fox #1 – Lying’

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It was Solomon who said that it is the ‘little foxes that spoil the vine.’ Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary – “The “little foxes” represent those things that quietly destroy relationships.’ (Bible Exposition Commentary/ Old Testament.)  In today’s passage of scripture, Paul begins to list a number of the ‘small sins’ that can cause big problems. Little Fox #1 – Lying.

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Someone has said that Paul at this point stops teaching and starts meddling. Yet there is a reason for Paul’s meddling. He begins this section with the word – ‘wherefore’ which links us back to the things Paul has just said.

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

As a believer we have put on the new man, which has been created by the Holy Spirit in the likeness of God. In Romans 13:14 we read, ‘… put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.’ Honesty and integrity should be a part of our new nature as a believer because it is a part of Christ’s nature.

A simplest outline of today’s passage would be:

1. What we should not do – Lie

2. What we should do – Speak the truth

3. Why we should do it – We are a part of the body of Christ

I. What We Should Not Do – Lie

A. What is a Lie?

1. Lie – {Intentional falsehoods with the intent of deceiving}

2. Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary: “If I tell you it is noon, and then discover that my watch is wrong, I did not tell a lie. But if I gave you the wrong time so you would be late to a meeting and I would benefit from it, that would be a lie.”

3. We find in John Gill’s commentary: “A lie is a voluntary disagreement of the mind and speech, with a design to deceive; it is to speak that which is false, contrary to truth shining in the mind; and it is spoken knowingly and willingly.”

4. How do we know that we are telling a lie or the truth?

a. Every man has a conscience

Romans 2:15 NKJV – ‘who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them’

i. Every man has a conscience

ii. Yet the conscience of the unsaved man can become completely insensitive to the truth. In 1 Tim 4:2 Paul refers to those who – “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Hebrews 3:13 tells us that ‘sin hardens us.’ James 1:15 says – ‘sin, when it is finished , bringeth forth death.’ Habitual lying hardens and deadens the conscience and causes us to become insensitive to God and His truth. 

b. The believer has a renewed conscience

We read in Hebrews 9:14 that salvation ‘purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.‘ The new birth cleanses and renews our conscience.

Within this new conscience the  ‘Spirit of Truth’ comes to guide us in all truth. (see Jn 16:13) Paul said it best to the Romans – I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 9:1) When a Christian lies, they know in their spirit, by the Spirit, that what they are speaking against the truth. James writes to believers – ‘lie not against the truth’ (James 3:14)

B. Lying is a Terrible Sin

Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Note – of the seven sins God hates, lying is listed twice. “Thou shalt not bear false against thy neighbor’ is the 9th Commandment. (Ex 20:16) In Revelation 21:2 we see that God groups liars with murderers, the sexually immoral, idolaters and those who practice witchcraft.

C. Lying and the Child of God

Can Christians be guilty of lying? Albert Barnes suggests in his commentary some of the ways we might guilty of lying. Let me list three in particular:

1.  When we ‘color’ the facts with exaggerations

2. When we fail to keep our promises

3. When we help circulate gossip and false rumors

Barnes says something else that is very important – “No professing Christian can do any good who has not an unimpeachable character for integrity and truth.” Even those who are non-believers realize that a child of God should never be guilty of dishonesty and deception.

II. What We Should Do – Speak the Truth

A. What is Truth?

The Greek word for truth is – Aletheia. I mention that only because many of you are familiar with the Christian camp that is nearby called: Aletheia Springs. The word aletheia means – {without concealment  / out in the open}. It is an accurate representation of the facts. It is being honest. God wants us to be honest; but He does not want us to be ‘brutally honest.’

B. Speaking the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love

We learn from 1 Corinthians 13 that love is not rude. Some believe that if you don’t speak your mind, you’re sugar-coating the truth. God does not want us to sugar-coat the truth, but He does want us to season our speech with grace. ‘Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ (Col 4:6)

God’s purpose for speaking the truth:

1. Spiritual Growth

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Many years ago a mature Christian man pulled me to the side and showed me something important from 2 Timothy. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.  (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

2. Set Us Free

Our Lord said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:32)

a. Free from the penalty of sin

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14:6) Salvation is faith in Jesus as God’s truth concerning salvation and eternal life.

b. Free from the power of sin

Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

During the days of the early church, many were selling off extra portions of land in order to help care for those in need. Apparently a man in the church by the name of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold a portion of land and pretended to be giving all of the proceeds to the church, when in reality they were only giving a portion. Their sin was not in the amount they gave or didn’t give, but in the fact that they lied about it.

Acts 5:3  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

III. Why? Because Lying Goes Against the Nature of God

A. Lying affects a believer in at least three different ways:

1. It affects our relationship with God

3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost… 4 … thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

In Ephesians 5:18 we read that a child of God should be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit.’ The word filled doesn’t mean that a believer can have more or less of the Spirit, but that the Spirit can have more or less of the believer. It actually refers to be under the control of the Spirit. “Do not be under the control of alcohol or worldly lusts, but instead be under the control of the Spirit. The word Paul used for filled is the same word Peter used when speaking to Ananias. ‘Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie…’ In other words, why have you allowed the devil to control you and cause you to lie?

Why do people lie? Lying is always attached to other sins. For Ananias and Sapphira, it was greed. For some it is lust, or pride, or hatred, or selfishness. God hates lying because lying is not only a denial of the truth, but also a denial of God’s authority over our lives.

2. It affects our relationship with others

Peter said, “… thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Most likely Ananias had lied to both. I wasn’t there to hear the tone of Peter’s voice, but it seems that he was pretty upset. Paul wrote to the Ephesians –

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

a. Lying and dishonesty – destroy relationships within the church

b. Lying and dishonesty – destroy relationships within the home

i. Husband and wife relationship

ii. Parent and child relationship

c. Dishonesty can have a very negative effect upon a relationship

d.  Honesty can have a very positive effect upon a relationship

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Think of how wonderful it would be if families and fellow believers could be as open and honest with each other as we are with God.

3. It affects our relationship with ourselves

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost… 4 … thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Wayne Barber writes that ‘a lie always protects the flesh.’ There’s a reason why we lie and it’s always has something to do with our old fleshly nature.

B. Importance of Honesty and Integrity

The pastor of a large church was one day riding a city bus. When he went to pay for his ride, the driver gave him back too much money. At first the pastor didn’t notice, but then when he began to count his change, he realized that he had received 25 cents too much.

As the bus started to drive off, the pastor waved him down and made the driver stop. “You gave me too much money”, the pastor said. “I know”, the driver said. “You know? You mean you did this on purpose? Why?” “You’re the pastor of the large Baptist church aren’t you?” “Well yes I am”, the pastor answered. “But what does that have to do with it?” “Some of your people have been inviting me to your church, but before I attended, I had to know if you are real. I believe that a real Christian will always be honest. See you Sunday!”

As the bus drove off the pastor prayed – “Oh Lord, help me. I could have sent that man’s soul to hell for a measly 25 cents!”

C. Practical Advice For Being More Honest

1. Keep a check on the motives of your heart

a. Ps 15:2 – ‘he that speaketh truth in his heart’

b. Ask yourself – “Why am I tempted to lie?”

i. Do I have sin that I’m trying to keep hidden?

ii. Is this an issue of pride and self-centeredness?

iii. Is there bitterness and anger in my heart towards someone?

iv. Why am I afraid of the truth?

2. Value honesty and integrity

Pr. 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

a. Resist the temptation to tell – ‘little white lies’

b. Remember that exaggeration (positive and negative) is also form of lying

3. Recognize that Satan is behind all lying

Jn 8:44 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.

4. Refrain from too much talking

1 Pt 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

Mt 5:37  But let your communication be , Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

5. “Tell the truth and shame the devil”

There’s nothing wrong with saying:

a. I don’t know

b. I”m sorry but I can’t

c. To be honest, I forgot

d. I don’t agree

e. Can we talk about something?


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