I once heard the story of a mother who’d been lied to by her 6-year-old son. To make the point that lying is bad news and destroys the joy in relationships, the mum said, “OK, for the next whole week you won’t know whether I’m telling the truth or lying.”
The next day, driving him to school she promised to pick him up after school and take him out for fish and chips afterwards—a major treat. Later that day when driving home he excitedly reminded her of the fries.
With a deadpan expression, she said: “I lied.” He lost it. He yelled, he cried and then he said, “You’re not nice, you’re not fair!” After two days he had enough. He had learned a major lesson.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight (Proverbs 12:22)
The Commandment to, “not bear false witness” is derived from the positive command to love your neighbour as yourself. Simply put, lying is not love. Lying is an expression of hatred toward your neighbour. So is flattery.
A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:28)
While they may concede their lies can be hurtful, most people would object to the idea that their lies are hateful.
The same applies to oaths, promises, commitments and the boasts that we make. Oaths are a subset of the 9th Commandment to not bear false witness. Moreover, all oaths are taken with God as a witness.
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn’. (Matthew 5:33)
The point of this verse is not that we should never give an oath. The problem is that we have a fine way of not keeping our promises—and an even finer way of excusing ourselves of any guilt when we break them.
Jesus commands truth. Simple, plain speech which cannot be condemned. And so Jesus said,
Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37)
God loves honest lips and so we are to be a people of honest lips. One place we can start (if we have not already) is with an honest confession to God and to those we have hurt. A confession that begins with the admission that we have not always been honest.
Repentance is never a decision to lie just that little bit less. Repentance means saying no to lying on your tax return from now. Repentance means walking away from the temptation to bear false witness about others.
Repentance is not a decision to walk a little slower in the wrong direction. Repentance is turning around at God’s command and walking away from whatever is untrue, unlovely and unfaithful.
Because He is kind, Jesus commands you to repent. Because He is patient, He gives you fair warning. Because He is just, He will cast out from this world all those who do not repent. And because He is good He will receive all who come to Him and He will pardon their sin.