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The DEEP

Sweet Little Lies

Witnessing for truth in a world of falsehood

Proverbs 6:19

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,

18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,

19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

 

Proverbs 12:17

17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.

 

Do you know how many popular songs are about lying? Well, a lot. And that’s no lie. 

Just spin the radio dial back through the past several decades and I guarantee you will soon be humming several of them. Some notables are “White Liar,” by Miranda Lambert, “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles, “Don’t you Lie to Me” by Chuck Berry, and “Little White Lies” by 1940’s sensation Dick Haymes. One that immediately comes to mind for many people is, “Sweet Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac: 


Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
Oh no, no you can't disguise
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies 

It was the 80’s: the hoop earrings were big, and so was the hair. Speaking of hair, nobody beat the King of Rock and Roll, even when it came to hit songs about lies. The song “Suspicious Minds” was written by songwriter Mark James, but was not successful until 1969 when Elvis Presley recorded his album “From Elvis in Memphis.” It became one of his most memorable songs:


We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Because I love you too much, baby
Why can't you see
What you're doing to me
When you don't believe a word I say?

Perhaps Elvis should have been more concerned about what all the fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches were doing to him, instead, but I digress.

Why does the theme of lying tap so rich a vein in our song appreciation in our body politic? Perhaps, because it is a timeless theme that goes all the way back to our earliest beginnings in the garden. There, in paradise, our first parents were tempted by the serpent, who whispered to them that old lie of the Devil: “did God really say…?” 

Eve lied to Adam and Adam lied to himself–before lying to God–and the curse came thundering down in divine wrath and heartache. 

Solomon reveals in Proverbs that lying is one of the seven “deadly sins” that God hates. Lying is so abhorred that it is mentioned twice: 

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,–Proverbs 6:16-17

Solomon brings you back to the Fall of Man, and is also hand-holding his young pupils through the Ten Commandments and the law of God. This is a direct reminder of the ninth commandment: 

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.–Exodus 20:16

It would be easy to simply say, “Do not lie.” This is a good rule to follow and even the sinful world recognizes that lying is a destroyer of reputations and relationships. Welsh pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes “On one thing the whole world can agree: telling the truth is preferred to lies.”

God does not merely hate lying, He hates the specific purposes to which we employ our lies. This is why He spells it out in 6:19: 

19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.–Proverbs 6:19

What is a false witness? The image is a courtroom scene and you are brought to trial over some accusation of wrongdoing. In ancient days, two credible witnesses were required to convict you of a crime. As an innocent person, you are secure in what you are certain will be a favorable verdict. But suddenly, your accuser produces a witness that offers a lie–or maybe a bent truth–about you to sway the judge. The lying witness takes his toll, the gavel falls and you are off to be stoned, or forfeit your property. 

Not an ideal scene. One which (as Elvis would say) was filled with suspicious lies.  

The importance of private property in ancient Hebrew society was paramount, and this commandment is a warning against those who seek to take it from others through chicanery. Bearing false witness is deeper than simply lying, it is willfully abandoning the truth in order to take from another, or to protect yourself. 

Now, chances are, you are feeling pretty good about this, since you are not anticipating any future court dates where you might run afoul of this racket. But like everything Solomon seeks to impress upon you, there is a deeper meaning than simply courtroom drama. 

This is about the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or so help you God. Commentator Bruce Waltke echoes this and reveals the blessings and curses the loving or hating of truth will have on those around you:

A conscientious witness tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and so strengthens the community; an unreliable person aims to mislead and damage others.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs” 

Telling the truth, and bearing witness for the truth builds the community of God’s people, and through them, the community of the world around them. In Noah’s day, mankind had grown so bad and evil so widespread, God saw that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Not bearing false witness thus means more than simply not lying on a witness stand, it means becoming a lover of truth. It means tuning your heart and mind to pursue truth in every exchange you have with others, and even in your own heart–for the worst lies are the ones you tell yourself: 

You are too sinful to save. 

Jesus forgives you, but not for that incident in 1992. 

You are really a good person deep down and do not need to repent. 

Listening to this gossip is not bad, after all, you need to know how to pray for them.

The reality is, you follow the King of Kings, the One who is the true Word made flesh. As Jesus stands before Pilate and speaks of truth, the Roman politician utters that most modern of sentiments: “what is truth?” Jesus reveals to him that He is the Truth:

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”–John 18:37

If you are of Jesus, then you must be of the Truth. If you are not, then you are not in Him. It is that simple. 

Can you speak the truth, every time you speak? This does not mean being opinionated or even self-assured, for these can mislead. This is about desiring above all else to know and speak only what is true. You do this, first to give glory to the God, the author of truth.

Joseph, in Egypt was young, fit and his star was on the rise. As a servant in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was faced with a great temptation of the wantonness of his master’s wife. When Potiphar’s wife finally cornered him in her lust, Joseph refused. Not only did he wish to preserve his master’s and his own honor, he exclaimed, “…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Can you stand for the truth that God has given you, even in a world that calls you to live in a realm of “little lies” where it is acceptable to withhold the truth, to promote yourself over others, or to idly stand by when reputations are destroyed by slander and hearsay?

Part of not bearing false witness is not being a receiver of false information: 

“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.–Exodus 23:1-3

It can be hard to turn away a friend who has a “warning” for you about someone that he simply must share. Pastor and author Tim Challies offers advice about being a witness for truth. First in the murky, inescapable world of social media:

So here’s the challenge: Think of the people you follow on Twitter, the blogs you read, the news sites you browse, the videos you watch on YouTube, the friends you engage with on Facebook. Think of the topics you discuss with your family in the home and friends in the church. Think not only of what you say, but also what you read or listen to; the ninth commandment is not just meant to govern your mouth, but also your eyes, your ears, your heart, and your mind.-Tim Challies

Can you do this? It is easy to get swept up in the drama and mud-slinging of politics and entertainment. But this can be more than harmless fun, for this disregard for truth has taken a toll on our culture. Tim continues:

Do you ensure that every bit of information you share about another person is the whole truth? Do you do your best to verify that information you learn about another person is nothing less than the whole truth? Do you assume damaging information you learn about another person is true or do you demand evidence?-Tim Challies 

Demanding evidence can be difficult or even seem hostile, but would you not want someone demanding the same of one of your detractors? 

Being a witness for truth glorifies God, protects you, and benefits your fellow believers. The Heidelberg Catechism provides instruction on the ninth commandment in Question112: "I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.” 

In seeking to avoid being a false witness, you become a promoter of truth, and even have the best interest of your neighbor’s good name in mind. This is perhaps, one of the greatest contrasts that the believer shows in this darkened world: that you care enough about others to preserve their reputations at all cost.

This can be hard, for you wish to protect yourself, and may utter a lie or omit the truth in order to do so. Whenever you do, you are placing the wellbeing of others at risk. To stand by and not help someone who is being slandered, or to simply not wish the best for them can bring them lasting harm. 

Telling a lie or abiding those who do, will never defeat the father of lies, the devil. For you cannot destroy him with his own tools.

There is a moment in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam are captured by Faramir, prince of Gondor. Faramir learns of the One Ring that Frodo carries and comes to a moment of truth: Faramir could succumb to the ring’s deceitful power, take it, win the favor of his bitter father–and perhaps win a victory that would save his own city. But he is aware of the ring’s evil influence and how it betrayed his own brother to his death. He makes a choice:

I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.

In a world where politics is prime time, where the end justifies the means, it can be difficult to be a witness for the truth. But to do so, even at great cost to yourself, is to witness for Jesus and glory in His truth.  

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The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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