Read Ephesians 4:25
1. How important is speaking the truth to most people in our world?
I guess there might be some people who say they think speaking the truth is important but if you look carefully at how they live you find even most of those people are lying. There are some things people do that they still feel guilty about, but lying is becoming so common, that there are many people who lie and they barely even think about it, it is almost like breathing to them, they value the truth so little.
2. What are some examples of the low value that people put on the truth?
3. How important was speaking the truth to you before you became a Christian? When were some times that you were most tempted to lie?
4. What danger do we as believers face living in a world that is filled with so many lies and such little regard for the truth?
When there are so many people around us who put such a low value on the truth, it can be tempting, and we may not even know that it is happening, but it can be tempting for us not to value the truth the way we should.
5. The first thing Paul brings up when he talks about what it looks like to live our lives as believers is that we need to be people who speak the truth. That shows it is important to him. Why do you think this is such a significant issue to the apostle Paul?
• We discover one reason in the verses around this one. Paul says in verse 22 that the truth is in Jesus. He says in verse 24 that the new self is created after the likeness of God in the righteousness and holiness of truth. That is the literal translation. Whereas the old self, he says in verse 22 is being corrupted through deceitful desires. One of the reasons speaking the truth is so important is because one of the primary differences between the old unbelieving way of looking at the world and the believing way of looking at the world has to do with truth; the unbeliever is dominated by lies, lives in a world of lies, and the believer is saved by truth, changed by truth, and transformed by truth.
• In fact this is a second reason Paul gives us in Ephesians for the importance of truth. Where unbelievers are getting worse because of deceitful desires, believers grow through truth. If you look back at verse 15 of chapter 4, he tells us there that it is as we speak the truth in love that we grow spiritually. Truth is important because it is one of the primary means God uses to produce growth and change in the Christian life. We are serious about truth because we know God uses the truth to help us become more like Jesus. The ultimate reason truth is so important and that is because truth is an essential characteristic of God.
• A third reason truth is so important is because God is a God of truth. He’s called that in Psalm 31:5. In Psalm 86:15, the psalmist says He is abundant in truth. In Psalm 108:4 that his truth reaches to the skies. John says that Jesus came to earth full of grace and truth. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus is the truth. The truth, Paul has told us here is in Jesus. In John 14:17, 15:26 and 16:13, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. God’s Word is called the word of truth, the gospel is called the message of truth and Christianity itself is actually called the way of truth in 2 Peter 2:2. Truth is important because God is important. And you know we might add to that, the opposite, that while God is a God of truth, the devil is the source of lies.
• A fourth reason we should be so serious about the truth as believers is because lies are a characteristic of the devil. He’s actually called the father of lies. And part of what makes lying so awful is not simply that it is bad form or not good manners, but that lying is ultimately of the devil.
In fact if you think about how sin came into the world, you remember that it was a consequence of listening to a lie from the devil himself.
• A fifth reason truth is so important is because of the devastating consequences of lies. All the pain we see in the world really flowed out of lies. If we want to know how important it is we speak the truth we only need look at all the misery and unhappiness that lying has produced. Just take a step back and think about how lying complicates life. This habit of lying is one of the main reasons for how complicated life gets. We can’t trust anybody so we have to have all these crazy rules and administrative procedures to keep us from stealing each other blind. In our own lives, we do something wrong, we lie about it, and then the moment we do that, we have to tell another lie to cover up that lie and then all of life becomes more and more complex and complicated until we are caught up in this whole web of lies and deceit. This is why, God judges lies.
• A sixth reason we know truth is important is because God hates deception and he will judge it. Psalm 5:6 says that God abhors the liar. In Proverbs 12:22 we read, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” Revelation 21 and 22 sum it all up. Listen to this frightening warning in Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake of fire and brimstone. “ Or quoting Revelation 22:14 and 15 which speaks of heaven, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and” get this “everyone who loves and practices lying.” Unrepentant lying has eternal consequences.
When you begin to think about all the emphasis the Scripture places on the truth, it is really no surprise that Paul thinks that speaking the truth is important enough to list as the first characteristic of the radical transformation being saved should make in the way you live your life. Truth is an essential difference between the new way we look at the world as believers and the old way we used to look at the world as unbelievers.
6. Do you think of truth as that important? On a scale of one to ten, what value are you currently placing on the truth? What should you do if you don’t think of truth as important as you should?
If you don’t, pray that God would renew your mind by the Word of God and that you would come to value truth the way God does.
7. What is falsehood? Try to think of some of the less obvious ways people lie and give Scriptural examples of those kinds of lies.
I think most children know the first way falsehood shows up and that is when you directly contradict the truth. I think Cain is an example of this. Cain had killed his brother but when God came to him and asked him where Abel was Cain responded by saying he did not know, which was the opposite of the truth. A husband comes home. Were you at the bar? And he says no when the fact is, he was. That’s a lie.
There are many other kinds of lies, however.
You are speaking falsehood when you distort the truth in order to protect yourself. Abraham did this. Technically Sarah was his half-sister, but she was also his wife and yet there were two times where he told her to say that she was his sister and not his wife and actually allowed her to get married to someone else because he was afraid they would kill him if they found out he was married to her. Sometimes we ease our conscience about lies by saying technically if you look close at what I was saying there is a little bit of truth to it, but we know that what we are actually doing is distorting the truth in order to manipulate others and protect ourselves. And there are some people who are really good at that. They only tell half the story, the part of the story that makes them look good, but leave out the parts that would help you understand better what really happened because they know that part would make them look bad. I have known experts at that. People who if you looked at what they actually said closely, you couldn’t say there was anything absolutely untruthful about it, but if you looked at when they said it or how they said it or why they were saying it, they weren’t really giving an accurate representation of what actually happened and that’s a lie.
You speak falsehood when you misrepresent someone else’s intentions in what they said or what they did. This is what Satan did to God way back in the Garden of Eden, actually. God had given a command to Adam and Eve for their good, and Satan talked about that command and tried to get Adam and Eve to think that God’s purposes were actually something else, to harm them instead. That’s falsehood.
You are speaking lies when you misrepresent the truth in order to gain a personal advantage. Jacob did this. He got all hairy so that he could fool his father into thinking he was his brother Esau in order to get Esau’s blessing for himself. Sometimes we do this by presenting a “prettified” version of events. We know what really happened, but we can speak of what happened in a way that puts ourselves in the best possible of lights in other people’s eyes and puts the other person in the worst.
You speak falsehood when you say things as absolute facts that you are not certain of at all and which in reality aren’t actually true. Some people do this as a means of self-promotion. They want to look like the smartest guy in the room and so instead of saying I think something is true, they say they know something is true when in reality they don’t know that at all, they are just guessing. Other people do this in the form of slander. I can just imagine and you can someone saying to someone else for example that they saw you at church and you gave them a bitter look. Now, they passed that off as the truth but how do they know that is the case, and in fact it very well might not be truth. What does a bitter look look like anyway? Who can be smart enough to be able to look inside someone’s heart and know from a glance at church that someone is bitter, but they speak falsehood when they say they are sure that’s what was in your heart.
You are speaking falsehood when you say one thing to a certain person and another opposite thing to someone else about the same situation. Sometimes you are speaking to one person and you know what you think he wants to hear and so you say one thing; and then you are speaking to someone else and you know that he wants to hear something else, so you say pretty much the opposite thing.
You speak falsehood when make promises you don’t keep. In Jesus’ day this was so common that people had to come up with all kinds of funny ways of proving to people that this time they were really telling the truth. They would swear by certain things and Jesus says you shouldn’t have to swear to make people think you are telling the truth when you make a promise, when you say yes it should be yes and when you say no it should be no and there should be no question about it. Now we all know that is a huge problem, where people will look you in the eye and they are afraid to tell you something you don’t want to hear, so they tell you exactly what you want to hear when they know very well that they aren’t going to do what they are saying.
You are being false when you start trying to lay traps for people through your words. There are many people who are incredibly sneaky and so when they are speaking to you they are not really caring first about what is good for you and they are not caring first about how to glorify God as they speak to you, but they are asking you questions or attempting to manipulate the conversation in order to entangle and ensnare and either get you in trouble or try to get something out of you by speaking the way they are.
8. Try to apply the gospel to falsehood. How is speaking lies, anti-gospel?
At the end of the day, if you want to summarize the kind of falsehood that we need to be turning from and putting off, there are two main characteristics of the kind of speech Paul’s talking about.
First, falsehood, is the kind of speech that doesn’t flow out of faith in God but instead trust in yourself. Lying is a form of self-salvation. Can I say that again because really we could spend all day long identifying specific examples of lying but, this pretty much sums most of it up. We need to put away all the kinds of talking that doesn’t flow out of faith in God but instead is a form of self-salvation. Because where does lying come from, what is it really, it is when we don’t believe God is for us and we don’t believe that God can protect us and provide for us and so we use our words to try to do for ourselves what God has promised to do for us through Jesus Christ. This is one of the big differences between lying and simply making a mistake in what you said, lying is connected to manipulation, you are trying to manipulate the situation because you don’t trust God to take care of you. We use our words to promote ourselves, we use our words to gain advantage for ourselves, our words aren’t motivated by faith in God but by trust in self.
And second, falsehood, it is the kind of speech that is not based on the truth of the gospel and God’s Word but instead on the errors and lies of the world. That’s the one kind of falsehood I haven’t really mentioned yet and it may be one of the most common and dangerous and that is when we talk about things that God has talked about in the Bible and we either change or distort what God says or we present human ideas and opinions instead. It is what Satan did in the Garden of Eden ultimately. God gave certain counsel and Satan gave the opposite counsel, and he’s been doing the same thing ever since. Whenever you sit down with your friend and you talk about marriage and you give counsel that twists the Scripture or that is from the world and not true to what God says in His Word, you are speaking falsehood, and really that is falsehood of the most dangerous kind. We have to be putting that kind of falsehood off. Lies go with the old self and truth with the new self.
9. When are you most tempted to lie? What kind of lies do you often tell? In what ways and when is lying a habit to you? What are the circumstances in which you are most tempted to lie? What is going wrong with your thinking when you are lying? What do you need to actively seek to believe in order to overcome lying?