Exaggeration, falsification, misrepresentation, spin or stretch or whatever you want to call it, it is lying. And that brings us to the ninth commandment. God literally forged these words in stone in the high altitudes of Mt. Sinai. I am reading from Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
But I ask you. What do you say when your back is against the wall? What do you say when you have to close the deal? What do you say when you really want to impress somebody? What do you say when a mistake has been confronted? What do you say? Do you give an exaggeration, falsification, misrepresentation, spin or stretch? Do you lie or do you tell the truth in an open, honest, transparent and authentic way? What do you do?
God, throughout His word talks about truth telling. God loves for us to speak words that are honest because truth is tied into the very nature and essence of who God is. Thus, if God is truth, and the Bible says that God is truth, if truth did originate with Him, which I believe, then untruth or lying is contrary to His character. It swims against God’s current. It goes against the grain. I believe God gets upset and hurt and burdened when we lie because He realizes our predicament on this planet was the result of the telling and the believing of a lie, the telling and the believing of a lie way back in the garden.
Our culture doesn’t share the truth very much. It takes teams of lawyers and reams of contracts just to make a simple agreement. Psalm 52:3 is so relevant to our world today. “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.” In Proverbs 6: 16-19 God says that there are seven things that He hates. And two out of the seven deal with verbal dishonesty. We can track the scent of this sin all the way back to the evil one himself. Jesus described his tactics and He gave us his resume in John 8:44. “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.”
Satan is a liar and a lot of us sit at Satan’s feet and we take his course. We become bilingual and we lie. Every time we lie, every time we say something is untrue or dishonest, every time we exaggerate or misrepresent something, every time we falsify something or put a spin on it or stretch it, every time we tell a little white lie, we are linking ourselves with Satan.
Speaking of white lies, why do we color this sin? “Hey, I am just telling a white lie.” I have never heard anyone say, “Yeah, I am having a purple affair.”
I want to expose today some lies because, if the bold truth were known, a lot of us are incredible liars. There are layers and layers of lies that we tell. And to understand the depth of our lies, we have got to expose the lies for what they are.
The first kind of lying that we do is something that I call POWER LYING. When you power lie you make up accomplishments and act like you know celebrities or power brokers real well even though you might have just passed them in the hall or given them a high five after a game. You drop their names and talk about them because you think that others hearing you will be impressed. Somehow when we power lie we think it will elevate our self-esteem. We think it will put us above another person. Any time that you are around someone who is always talking about his accomplishments, about people they know or rub shoulders with, two things ought to hit you in your spirit.
Number one. You have got to realize and understand that they are probably making the stuff up. Number two. You have got to realize that they are a walking billboard advertisement of a poor self-concept.
The next is the vigilante type of lying, REVENGE LYING. When someone has hurt you, damaged you, maybe a co-worker, maybe an ex-spouse, maybe a “friend”, you may get into vigilante lying. You can trump up a lie as quickly as a tabloid reporter. You will make up something and kind of float it out there. You will advertise it, put it out in headlines. And it hurts and damages the other person.
In the book of Genesis a man named Joseph is described as an individual who loved God. Joseph was also described as someone who was handsome in form and appearance. In our modern vernacular we would say that Joseph was buff, was ripped. One day, Mrs. Egypt, Potifer’s wife made sexual advances toward Joseph. Her name in Hebrew is rendered Cindy Crawford. That’s a lie, its just a little joke. As Joseph pushed away from her sexual advances, as he left the scene, she became so upset that she got into vigilante lying and trumped up a lie about God’s man. It caused Joseph to spend some serious time in prison. Do we have any vigilante lying happening in your home, at the health club, in school?
Another form of lying is 7Eleven LYING. It is one of the cool things about our society, isn’t it? We know that 24/7 there are always convenience stores open. We can just walk into a 7Eleven and pick up the basic necessities of life, Twinkies and a Diet Coke. What happens, though, when we lie for convenience reasons? What happens when we 7Eleven lie? We say, “I will be there at the party.” We say, “I will help you move.” We say, “I will pray for you.” We say, “I will be there next weekend to serve in the Peaceful Kingdom nursery.” But beneath our words are lies. We say them, but we have no intention of following through. 7Eleven lies. It is easy to get into this stuff, isn’t it?
Another form of lying is FIRE ESCAPE LYING. One of my favorite songs while growing up was by the Ohio Players. Fire. What happens when it gets hot? What happens when the flames begin to leap up around you? What happens when the pressure is put on you? What do you do when the policeman pulls you over? What do you say when the Board really looks at you and locks eyes with you? What do you say? What do you say to that professor about the exam? A lot of us when we feel the fire just look for that lie escape and we bound down the fire escape and get out of it by tossing a fire escape lie out. If you fire escape lie, and we all have done that before, you are in good company. There was a man in the Bible in the New Testament by the name of Simon Peter. Simon Peter walked up to the Lord one day and said, “Jesus, I am with You. I am the man of the hour, to sweet to be sour. I am the tower of truth-telling power. I will never turn my back on you. I will never misrepresent you. I am with you, Lord.” Jesus looked at him and said, “Simon Peter, you are going to lie about me several times over the next few hours.” The New Testament describes Simon Peter as a person who began to follow Jesus at a distance. I like when the Bible articulates that. He kept some land between himself and the Lord, and we always get in trouble when we follow Jesus at a distance. That night a little girl asked this man, “Hey, aren’t you connected with Jesus? Aren’t you kind of hanging out with Him? Aren’t you one of His followers?” Three times he lied. He felt the flames, didn’t he? He felt the fire.
We also get into RUBBER BAND LYING. We stretch and elongate things. We embellish when telling that story at the party or on the platform. The problem with stretching and elongating and embellishing things, one day, pop, it will hurt you.
In Galatians 1:7, the Bible talks about the danger of distorting the gospel. Back in Biblical times a lot of false religions stretched and did the rubber band thing with Christ and with the word of God just like the Mormons do today, or the Jehovah Witnesses, or the Scientologists and others. They are cults. They are false religions. And these cults and false religions pour what I call an out-of-context cocktail. They mix a little bit of truth in with a little bit of error. They mix in a little bit of falsification and misrepresentation in and stir it over the rocks. And a lot of people drink it and believe it. But it is a lie, a distortion.
It is one thing to distort someone’s word, a teacher’s word, pastor’s word, spouse’s word, friend’s word or boss’s word. But it is another thing to distort God’s Word. But on top of that, Christians stretch the Bible to fit their lifestyle. Some people right now are living in sexual sin. You are having sexual intercourse outside the marriage bed. The Bible is crystal clear about this one, ladies and gentlemen. Sexual intercourse is reserved for the marriage bed. But we read God’s word and we try to embellish and stretch it so it can fit our lifestyle. We don’t want to read those verses that convict us. We don’t like to read the verses in the Bible that tell us we are working for the Lord. We don’t like to hear the scripture that says that whatever we do, we should do it for God. We kind of elongate and stretch and get into rubber band lying.
There is one more layer, I call this EXTREME LYING. Extreme lying is when we paint everything as the best. This is the absolute best steak you have ever had in your life. It will melt in your mouth. We paint everything as the best or the worst. It was the worst. This was horrible. It was a joke. Extreme lying.
So what do we do because of this commandment? I am going to give you some insight right now that I believe if you apply it will change your life. This commandment was written for life change.
First of all, I want you to critique all of your conversations. I challenge you to write out your prayers. “God, I want to ask you a question. Have I embellished something today? Have I elongated something today? Have I exaggerated something today? Have I put a spin on something today? Have I lied today, God.” Then wait. Because God says in His word to be still and know that He is God. Then you will begin to see some areas where you have embellished, exaggerated or lied. Don’t just say, “OK, I have messed up.” And then go to the next subject. Stay with this one. God tells us that if we have lied, have wronged someone, we are to go to them, lock eyes with that person and admit that we have spoken an untruth. All it takes is for you to do that four or five times and you will think a long time about lying. I have had to do that before and it is not fun.
Let me tell you the benefits of doing this. First of all, you can look in the mirror after doing it and you will have a blemish free conscience. Not a mark, not a scar. You are clean before God and you can say, “God, I am doing your stuff your way.” Critique your conversations.
Number two, install several lie detectors in your life. Find some people who love you for who you are, some trusted confidants and ask them to hold you accountable. Ask them to confront you if they ever see you embellishing or exaggerating or putting a spin or a stretch on something. Do that. And a great person to do that with is your spouse. If you are in a social setting and you see a husband and wife together, watch the wife hold that husband accountable. It happens just naturally. Women just have that in them. The husband will say, “Yeah, when this thing was coming at me and I jumped eight feet out of the way….” “It wasn’t eight feet, it was two feet.” “OK, two feet. Anyway, it was the size of an eighteen wheeler.” “No, it wasn’t. It was the size of a VW bug.” I will stop and go to the next one.
The third way to make this real and relevant in your life is to follow God’s guide. The guide is talked about in John 16:13. “But when He, the spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” The Holy Spirit works on the inside to turn you and to turn me into truth tellers.