Truth matters to God.
In James 5:12, he shows us how much, when he writes, “let your yes be yes and your no be no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”
This word judgment is intense.
Obviously, as Christians, we know God disciplines us and prunes us to make us more like Him. That’s a kind of judgment.
But that’s not the judgment James is referring to here.
Apparently, the particular term he uses is never used in Scripture to refer to the judgment of believers. Instead it’s always used of the judgment of unbelievers. In fact, James uses it back in 2:13 to describe God’s merciless judgment of those who refuse to repent and turn to him.
And so his warning here is very obvious.
If you are characterized by a casual attitude towards the truth, if you are not consistently honest, you are showing the characteristics not of a believer, but of an unbeliever, and therefore you need to be warned because if you refuse to repent you are going to experience God’s everlasting judgment.
So again it comes down to this, you better pay attention to the way you speak, whether or not you speak the truth, because how you speak and whether or not you speak the truth is a test of whether or not you are truly a Christian.
You see, how can you claim to love God and yet continue to do what He hates? If you say you love God but you are continually weaseling out of the truth without repenting and changing, not only are you untrustworthy, you may not even be a Christian.
John MacArthur explains, “Lying…demonstrates utter disregard for God… throughout the Old Testament, you have this little phrase “lying lips” and wherever it appears, it’s linked with disdain for God. You could really care less about God, about God’s love for truth, about God’s requirement for truth—there’s a disdain for that and a love of lying and deception…” Satan is the father of lies, and so when you lie you are doing Satan’s will not God’s.
God is absolutely against the liar. Psalm 5:6 says God abhors the liar. Abhor is a strong word. It’s closely related to the word horror. It means to shudder with hatred. To treat with extreme repugnance. Lying is an abomination to Him.
That’s made real clear over in Proverbs 6:16-19, turn there with me, “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies and one who spreads strife among brothers…” And Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord but those who deal faithfully are his delight.”
Again MacArthur explains, “The worst thing that can be said about a person is that they are a habitual, inveterate liar because a person who is adept at lying and who has run roughshod over conscience and no longer feels the shame and remorse that normal people feel about lying, someone who has developed such a skill as a liar—the worst thing about that is that their ability to cover up things makes them vulnerable to every temptation. That’s why we have so much to fear from people who are chronically deceptive.”
In other words, lying isn’t just about lying.
You lie to cover up other sins.
Revelation 21 and 22 sum it all up.
Listen to this frightening warning.
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…” Revelation 21:27 speaking of heaven, makes the distinction very clear,“…and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” And then in Revelation 22:14,15 quite a picture, “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 “…and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
If you are a liar, and this is the warning of James, watch out, judgment is coming.
What you need is a new nature. You need to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness and of lies into the kingdom of God’s precious Son, the kingdom of truth. Because while, true Christians, may lie sometimes, and may seriously struggle with it, they don’t love and they don’t practice lying.
You know how I know that?
Because John says that those who love and practice lying won’t be in heaven.
They’re going to hell.
Which means, today, when you are tempted to make promises you aren’t intending to keep, to say things, that are not actually true, remember the priority God places on truth, your relationship with the One who is truth, and the dangerous consequences of not speaking the truth, and make a deliberate decision to honor God.