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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

False Witness, Lying, Deceit, etc. - it's usually wrong

In previous posts, I considered the Ninth Commandment (against false witness), first by quoting from some old commentaries on the subject, and suggesting that perhaps this Commandment means what it says, rather than that it's a blanket condemnation of deceit, then (in a single post) considering the definition of a lie, and also nine cases in the Bible where it appears that God may have approved, or at least allowed, some act of deceit by a character who was commended by God.

If deceit is sometimes all right, it usually is not. The Ninth Commandment, itself (Exodus 20:16) is one evidence for that. There is other evidence. I thank my pastor for a sermon where he presented some of these additional verses. (There are others, which I have not cited)
In Joshua 7:11, when Achan took loot against God's command, his disobedience, his taking, and his lying are apparently all sinful.

Leviticus 6:1-7 says that lying and deceit which result in loss of property to another are sins, and restitution must be made.

Leviticus 19:11 says, in part, "you shall not lie to one another." (all quotations and links to the ESV)

Psalm 5:6 says that God destroys liars and abhors deceitful people.

Here's Psalm 101:7:
No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

Proverbs 12:22 says that God abhors lying lips.

Proverbs 19:9 condemns false witnesses and liars.

Proverbs 21:6 says that getting property by deceit leads to death.

in Jeremiah 27:12-16, Jeremiah condemns false prophets for their lies.

These, of course, are all Old Testament scriptures. The New Testament also has harsh words for deceit.

In John 8:44, Jesus says that the Devil is the father of lies.

In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied to the Holy Spirit.

In Colossians 3:9, Paul tells Christians not to lie to each other.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 includes both liars and perjurers in a list of types of sinners.

1 Timothy 4:1-5 says that the time will come when some believers will "depart from the faith" due to the influence of demons, deceitful spirits, and liars.

Revelation 21:8 places "all liars" into the lake of fire, with murderers and other sinners.

This is not a pretty picture. It is possible that deceit is sometimes allowed by God, generally to protect someone else from evil, but generally, it is not. There is no scriptural evidence that it is ever all right to selfishly advance your own interests by lying, or that it is ever all right to harm an innocent party by lying.

I may return to this subject.

Thanks for reading.


Mirtika said...

I have to agree with this assessment. We tend to think daily lies are essentially harmless, but we usually lie to cover our own butts or to make ourselves look good (ie, those of us who aren't lying to cover up an outright sin or to cause harm to another).

It also makes for non-genuine relationships. If we constantly tell "white lies" to someone because we'd rather not be honest and be put on the spot, then we are admitting that we'd rather be liked than real. We tell ourselves it's to protect another's feelings, but it's more about protecting our rep, methinks.

I think back on the lies I am most ashamed of, and they always relate to covering up sin. Always. I didnt' want the repercussions or the harm or the grief (on myself or anyone else), or to lose an image in someone's mind.

It is a selfish thing, mostly, a lie.

So, unless it actually keeps someone from danger or genuine harm, we should pretty much discard lying.

And that includes those ebullient, praising reviews when someone wasn't all that crazy about a book. :)


Martin LaBar said...

Wow! Yes, book reviews can be a big, and sometimes important, lie. (Either way -- saying you liked something when you didn't, or that you didn't when you really did.)