Speaking the Truth

I have felt it needful to republish an article I wrote 2½  years ago. Please read it again even if you had read it before – this is such an important subject:

Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another.
(Ephesians 4:25)

Once again, I hear many say that it is insulting to Christians to be admonished about these basic issues. “We are Christians and we always speak the truth”, I hear you say. Are you sure? So why did Paul feel the need to caution first-generation believers to speak the truth? (Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9, 1Timothy 4:2). Is it any different today? I do not think so. Moving Christians to be honest on all fronts remains one of the biggest challenges that faces any godly Christian leader. I will not bore you with countless stories of the blatant dishonesty and lies by Christians and Christian leaders that I witness almost weekly.

The first thing we need to recognize as we approach this subject is that lies and truth are not the finer points of Christianity, it is the essence of it. The Devil is the father of lies and his whole operation is grounded in falsehood. “He (Satan) … does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) On the other hand Jesus said “I am… the truth” (John 14:6).

Jesus does not just dispense truth, He is Truth itself. The Devil is rooted in lies and his whole operation is that of lies. Yet the very nature and essence of God is that of truth. Thus truth should be at the very heart of who we are and what we do once we become born-again. Surely it should be in this that it should be most evident that we have come out of darkness and into His marvelous light?

Many believers draw a distinction between every day truth (the sun is shining, I am a man etc) and divine truth in the form of doctrine. But the Bible draws no such distinction. There is no difference between, or different words for, day-to-day truth and doctrinal truth. It is all the same. Truth is truth and a lie is a lie. Why is that important? If we cannot be truthful in every day matters, how can we be trusted to speak the truth when it comes to divine and eternal issues?

I am amazed by preachers who make a habit of lying and yet think they are qualified to handle the Word of Truth. If you cannot be trusted to be truthful about common things, how can you be trusted to speak the truth about God? May I strongly suggest that if your preacher, teacher or pastor does not speak the truth in everything, then you should not be listening to anything he is saying. How are you going to know when he speaks the truth and when he is lying? Truth is not to be sold, traded or exchanged for anything or at any price. (Proverbs 23:23) Those who have met with The Truth and claim to have Him inside of them must walk in absolute honesty and integrity no matter what.

Truth begins within ourselves. I think many Christians don’t actually think they are lying because they have lied to themselves so much that they actually believe the lies. What a terrible deception. It is bad enough to lie to others, but when we lie to ourselves, that is the worst.

David said: “You desire truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). Yes, truth has to begin in the very depth of our being. It cannot be something we paste on to the outside as so many Christians do. That is really what hypocrisy is all about. It is living a lie, trying to act out a role, which is very different to what we really are inside. When you buy furniture, you will often be confronted with furniture that has a thin veneer of real wood on the outside, but inside it is cheap chipboard. It looks very good for a while, but as soon as it is knocked or scratched the true nature of the deception becomes evident. After a few years the veneer wears thin and the junk has to be thrown away. A piece made of solid wood which is the real thing throughout will be the real thing no matter how deep you scratch. So it is with people who have a front of Christianity and truth. Just a little bump and scratch and the true nature of what is inside becomes evident.

We cannot learn to be truthful, we need to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, from the inside out, and it begins with us being honest with ourselves. Only when we can do that, can we begin to be honest with the Lord. Being honest with the church and the world will follow being honest with ourselves and with God. Very few believers are able to face the truth about themselves, but choose to live in denial of the truth. Oh, yes we can see the splinter in our brother’s eye so well, but seeing the beam in our own eye is very very difficult. Many of us are quite happy to do delicate eye surgery on our brother, with a two-by-four in our own eye!

As I quote from 2Thessalonians 2:9-12, remember that Paul draws no distinction between different kinds of truth:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The work of salvation begins the moment I face the truth about my sin and my inability to save myself. The work of sanctification is halted the moment I lie to myself, the Lord and others around me.