TO WHOM ARE YOU LYING?

It would be a very rare person who could honestly say he or she has never lied. My sense is that anyone who says she or he has never lied would probably be lying. You’ve lied, haven’t you? I know I have.

How serious is lying? Most readers probably know that the ninth of God’s top 10 commandments in Exodus 20:16 is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (KJV). That wording seems to limit the context of a lie, but I don’t think that’s the intent. In the New Testament in Ephesians 4:25 the Apostle Paul instructs, “So stop telling lies” (NLT) and in Colossians 3:9, “Don’t lie to each other” (NLT).

Not to be judgmental, I’m guessing all of us lied to our parents on occasion; and I’m also fairly confident our parents lied to us at times. And chances are those of us who are parents did the same. I’m not accusing everyone, but think of the lies that have been told to teachers, police officers, friends, employers, spouses, and on and on. As unsettling as it may seem, we lie sometimes because we want to be kind and nice – are you always completely honest when someone asks how you like what they are wearing?

Some may try to lie to God himself, but that doesn’t work.

What got me to thinking about this whole idea of lying was something I read in the book of Psalms last night I had never read before. In Psalm 119:29a (in the New Living Translation) the writer asks God, “Keep me from lying to myself.”

That got my attention, and after some thought I began to wonder if that was a petition I too should present to God. Do I lie to myself and do I need God’s help to keep me from lying to myself? My answer – yes.

I think we lie to ourselves without even realizing it. And that’s why reading Psalm 119:29a in the New Living Translation got my attention. We often lie to ourselves when we make excuses for things we shouldn’t have done or said and when we don’t say or do things we should have said or done.

Sometimes we are like children protesting “it wasn’t my fault,” “he/she started it,” “she/he had it coming,” “I didn’t mean it,” “it was an accident,” and many more. We lie to ourselves to feel better about those times when in retrospect we wish we could have a do over.

Lying, of course, is something we are not to do as children of God and followers of Jesus. I do believe there are rare occasions when lying is probably the right thing to do, but I don’t remember a time when it was right for me to do so. Most of us know these things.

What I want to ask you is, do you lie to yourself? If you do, you may want to join the Psalm writer and me in asking God, “Keep me from lying to myself.”

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THREE BIG IFS

If is certainly an interesting word, isn’t it? It’s a conjunction that means “on the condition that” a certain condition is met, then there will be a certain result.

In a Bible study I am currently leading I am expanding on a series I did a few years ago I called “Standing on the Promises.” Each week we are exploring and applying one of God’s promises to us in the Bible with the goal of being encouraged. Not all the promises are conditional, but the one I was considering earlier today is. And the conditional promise comes right in the middle of three if statements.

The three big ifs are in I John 1:8-10, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

The results of the first and third ifs are not promises, but powerful statements about those who meet the conditions. Claiming to be without sin, or claiming not to have sinned, is both lying to oneself as well calling God a liar. Hopefully none of us meet those conditions, and are therefore not calling God a liar or lying to ourselves. We know better as we are well aware of many of our sins and freely admit them.

That’s why I am so comforted and encouraged by the middle conditional if in this trio: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

To whom are we to confess our sins to meet this condition? Perhaps, if it is appropriate, to the person or persons we sinned against. But especially to ourselves and to the Lord. Note if we fulfill the conditions of the first and third ifs, we cannot meet the condition of the middle one. One and three are the opposite of two.

In my experience I have found that the best time to practice the second big if is in connection with the observance of the Lord’s Supper. To my embarrassment, many times in my life I have found myself saying something along the lines of “here I am again Lord confessing the very same thing I have confessed before.” And I must be careful not to allow that realization to discourage me too much.

I’m not claiming the first or third if; I’m not saying I am without sin or that I have not sinned. But I am claiming the promise of the second if, that God is faithful and just and because I have confessed he will forgive me. And not only does he forgive me, the promise continues that he will purify (cleanse) me from all unrighteousness.

I remind myself that I have still have a long way to go in becoming the person God has called me to be; but with his help I am making progress. Thank you Father for the second big if in I John 1:9 and its promise.

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