Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord.’” Two months later the prophet Hananiah died. – Jeremiah 28:15-17.
Is honesty always the best policy? Or are there times when it may be best to lie? Ethicists may debate whether certain circumstances justify deception, but Scripture seems clear that lying leads to trouble. Deceit turns on its source, exacting a high price in the long run.
For example, Hananiah the prophet misled the people of Judah by denouncing Jeremiah’s prophecy and then giving a prophecy of his own, preceded by the words, “Thus says the Lord.” But in fact, the Lord had not spoken to him. That kind of false prophecy was a grievous sin, punishable by death – Deuteronomy 13:1-5; “Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love Him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him. The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the Lord your God, who redeemed you from slavery and brought you out of the land of Egypt. Since they try to lead you astray from the way the Lord your God commanded you to live, you must put them to death. In this way you will purge the evil from among you.” Not surprisingly, the Lord called Hananiah to pay for his deception with his life as we read in Jeremiah 28:15-17.
THE WORD OF GOD LYING
A. The Bible gives numerous other examples to show that “A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed.” – Proverbs 19:9, and that the Lord hates dishonesty; “There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent”– Proverbs 6:16-17:
1. Sin and death were introduced into the world because a lie was told and believed – Genesis 3:1-7; Timothy 2:14.
2. Cain tried to lie his way out of accountability for killing hos brother Abel. The result was a lifetime of running from others – Genesis 4:1-16.
3. Rebekah engineered a lie for her son Jacob to tell his father Isaac in order to gain the family blessing. The result was estrangement in the family and generations of hostility between the offspring of the two brothers.
4. Joseph’s brother’s lied to their father about selling the boy to slave traders, resulting in profound heartache for their father – Genesis 37:28-35.
5. Potiphar’s wife crafted a lie to frame Joseph with attempted rape, resulting in an unjust prison sentence – Genesis 39:7-20.
6. David practiced a gruesome form of deception by arranging for the murder of Uriah to cover up his affair with Bathsheba. Through Nathan the prophet the lie was exposed. Bathsheba’s child died, and a lifetime of painful relationships ensued in David’s family – 2 Samuel 11-12.
7. Peter denied that he even knew the Lord when asked by several bystanders in the courtyard of Caiaphas’s house, resulting in great shame and sorrow. – Matthew 26:69-74.
8. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the early church and the Holy Spirit about a financial gift, which brought about their untimely deaths – Acts 5:1-11.
Jesus spoke clearly about the nature of lying when He declared that lies are of the devil – John 8:44. By contrast, Jesus is the source of all truth, and those who speak and practice the truth show that they belong to Him. Are you a person of truth and integrity, or is lying a way of life with you?
B. Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
a) Good words do not prove good intentions. Liars and flatterers are out to destroy you, no matter how good their words sound, no matter their excuses – Proverbs 26:24-25. A wise man rejects both kinds of men, just as David did – Psalm 101:3-8. If you tolerate these deceitful people in your life, they will take you down – Proverbs 20:19; 29:5. They are hiding hatred and destruction behind their lying words, and noble and prudent men will stay far from them.
b) A man lies for advantage or to protect himself. He is selfish and wicked, so he feels no guilt about deceiving you in order to advance himself. It does not matter what his relationship is to you or how kindly he speaks at other times. If he has lied to you, then you should run far from him, whether it is a slander about you or a lie to your face. His deceit proves that he hates you. He is out to hurt you or use you. True friends never lie.
c) Flattery is praise designed to deceive you into doing what the flatterer wants you to do. It is a form of lying, but it is harder to detect and resist. Men love praise, so they are easily lulled to sleep by flattery. It is poison in a spoonful of honey. A flatterer is more dangerous than a slanderer, for he is crafty, friendly, and subtle in working his deceit, while liars are more easily detected by their open malice and wickedness.
d) Are you vigilant and intolerant against deceivers? Aggressive salesmen may lie or flatter to sell an inferior product. Many girls have lost their virginity or women their marital fidelity to lying flattery of whoremongers – II Samuel 13:1-13. Many men have been led to hell by flattering lies of whorish women – Proverbs 2:16-18; 5:3; 6:24-26; 7:5,21-23. Many citizens have voted for corrupt politicians due to flattery and false promises, for the election process in most nations is based on words rather than character or performance.
e) Parent, you must punish lying and flattery, and you must teach children to reject liars and flatterers – Job 32:21-22. Teach them that God hates liars, He will judge them, and liars are going to hell – Proverbs 6:16-19; Job 17:5; Ps 12:2-3; Rev 21:8. Teach them that friends who tell the truth even when it hurts are better than kisses from an enemy – Proverbs 27:5-6. Teach them that men should be judged by their actions and lives, not words – Proverbs 20:11.
f) Religion has many lies and flattery, for the devil has used it since Eden – Genesis 3:1-13; John 8:44. The Jews flattered and lied to Jesus to trap Him – Luke 20:20-21. False teachers use good words and fair speeches to deceive simple hearers – Romans 16:17-18. Rome tells the lies of abstaining from meat and marriage – I Timothy 4:1-3. But God’s faithful pastors and teachers never use flattering speech or lies – II Corinthians 2:17; 4:2; I Thessalonians 2:3-6.
Jehovah is God of truth, and so is His Son Jesus Christ, Who is Faithful and True – Revelation 19:11. He expects honesty and truthfulness from His children, and He punishes all liars and flatterers. All who take His name must make sure their every word is honest, sincere, and true – and obviously so in the ears of all others – Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 12:17; I Peter 2:12.
John 8:44 – You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. 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.
Lying is specifically mentioned as a characteristic of the devil; he is the source of dishonesty and deceit – Genesis 3:1-6; Acts 5:3; Revelation 12:9. This means that lying, cheating and other forms of dishonesty are totally opposed to the mind and nature of God, who is truth – Revelation 19:11. An unconcerned attitude about the sin of lying is one of the unmistakable symptoms of an ungodly condition. It is sign that the person is not “born of the Spirit” but is under the influence of Satan. Where do you stand?
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