By Ron Courter (Excerpt from Article Originally Printed June 15th, 1982)
Our last lesson introduced the problem of honesty today and the need for the child of God to be very conscious of the need for honesty in every aspect of life. The necessity of truthfulness to establish trust is an apparent reason for realizing truth is right.
Jesus made it clear that what God declared about man was true and to be heard by all. The smallest untruthfulness in a testimony casts doubt on the whole testimony. We do not doubt God’s testimony. Why? He is always true. We recall Luke l6:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Read Matthew 25:21-23.
Why should the Christian always bear true testimony? The answer is found by looking at our trust in God. We trust him, because he was and is always faithful and true. An occasional distortion of truth soon casts a long shadow over all of our words. If God had done with truth, as many children of God do with truth, we would not trust God today. This is sufficient warning to beware of dishonest and deceitful words. Read John8:26; Romans15:8; 1Thessalonians1:9.
The necessity of truthfulness to establish trust should encourage us to live and speak what really is. This truth aids us in laying aside deceit and dishonesty. God’s truthfulness is not a question to the Christian (Hebrews 6:17,18; 2Samuel7:28; Psalms 33:4) and his faithfulness leads us. “Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant (1 Kings 8:56).” This reality is the foundation of our trust today (Romans 8:28).
Men may speak of truth and still not be true. The hypocrites said to Jesus, “…Master, we know that thou are true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.” Their words declared several truths about Jesus, but they, themselves were untrue. The fact men attempted to ensnare Jesus did not permit Jesus to speak dishonestly. We should pray for wisdom and courage, that we always answer the hypocrite with truth and be not ensnared. Let us ask for the strength not to dabble in lies, when dealing with liars. Why tell the truth, even when others don’t? Do we desire for all to improve in character or do we desire to help all become worse. Dishonesty improves not the life of anyone.
Jesus was not only true in character, but also in what he taught. We find in life a difficult, but necessary discernment. Men may be true in character, but untrue in what they teach. This is a great problem where men use feelings for authority. We must strive to be true in character and true in what we teach. Again, men may be untrue in character, but true in what they teach. Let us always strive to keep true character and true teaching together. Truth without true character makes a hypocrite and true character without true teachings makes for shame and disgrace.
Trust, peace, and joy of life are dependent upon honesty. We shall live best when we act according to what really is. The most beneficial things of life do not develop without the practice of honesty. A partial removal of truth or truthfulness hinders the kingdom and its glory or blessings (Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22,23).
The price for dishonesty is always paid. Truthfulness involves being faithful or true to one another (Ge. 42:16). Being untruthful to preserve a friendship has no merit. Paul said, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth (Galatians 4:16)?” There is no opportunity for growth in Christ without truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15). “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
A Christian is not to give place to falsehood in life or teaching. The apostolic way is clear. Galatians 2:4,5 reads, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” See also Galatians 2:11-14. John praised the brethren. 3John 3 reads, “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” The truth was in them and they walked in the truth. Let us realize. We must know the truth. MANY DO NOT! We must live the truth we know. MANY DO NOT!
The Lord’s kingdom is to be known for its truth and for its people walking in truth. In contrast, consider Satan’s domain. John 8:44 says, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Satan always has and always will labor by deception. He did not remain with the truth and seeks for others to depart with him. He speaks whatever matches his lust and fulfills his nature. He utilized the power of lying to bring death to Adam and Eve. Therefore, whence cometh lying? Surely it is not from God, but from Satan. He is the father of lying (Revelation 12:9; 2Thessalonians 2:9) and we desire not to be his children.
People who continue to lie and deceive for their own good have the nature of Satan. They are not the children of God nor can be, for their fruits reveal their true nature. The resistance of truth and the seeking to fight the way the Lord declares one a child of the devil. Acts 13:10 says, “And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Jesus taught to know God and then to not say I know him would be lying. When we know God’s way and then do not stand for that way, what have we become? (John 8:55).
The practice of deceit and guile means only one thing. God is not our father. Why? Because God does not deceive. His children will not deceive. Israel claimed Abraham as their father, but they sought to kill Jesus. Abraham saw Jesus day and was glad (Jn.8:56), so evidently Israel was not Abraham’s children. Our kinship is revealed by our lives and words of honesty or dishonesty.
Men are resisting God when they say his character and words are unreal. 1John 1:10 reads, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Again 1John 2:4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Read 1John 1:6; 2:22; 5:10. We can not claim to be true by disobeying the will of heaven found in the New Testament.
1John 4:20 reads, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” It is folly for men fighting one another to claim they love God. How shall we love God, whom we have not seen, if we cannot love the one made by him? Loving God while hating his creation reveals a divided heart and mouth. Men singing God’s praises while filled with disdain for their brethren is sin.
The Bible sees things honest and good, as being admirable and becoming. They are fair, right, honorable and to be esteemed. Dishonesty in the Bible is usually translated shame. Where does the fruit of heaven grow on earth? Luke 8:15 answers “…in an honest and good heart…” How can you further the kingdom? Romans 12:17 urges, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
We must be honest with more than just the Lord (2Corinthians 8:21). Read 2Corinthians 13:7. We cannot influence others without honest actions (1Peter 2:12). We should be associated with honest occupations (Titus 3:14). We should live to magnify the way of truth always (Romans 13:13). 1Thessalonians 4:11,12 reads, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”
The renewed mind realizes dishonesty must go. It is wrong to hear men speak of true worship, but be careless with truth in their living. The man who lies should recognize that eventually his words shall not be heard, even when true. Why? Because when will men know to believe him?
Let us hear every warning about lying, guile, and craftiness. Ephesians 4:25 reads, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” The new man must be different from the old man. Colossians 3:9 reads, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” Read 1Peter 2:1. Now 1Peter 3:10 declares, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.”
Guile refers to a baited trap, a snare or deceit. Men lay traps for others hoping for self gain. This is not the way of Christ (2Corinthians 11:3), but the way of Christ’s enemy. Mark 14:1 reads, “After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.” Read 1Peter 1:22; 1Thessalonians 2:3; 2Corinthians 4:2.
Craftiness is unscrupulous behavior and always condemned. Jesus faced it, but never committed such a sin (Luke 20:23). Men will use craftiness to try and confuse people about the doctrine of Christ (Ephesians 4:14). The man, who gives a partial report to leave a false impression is practicing craftiness. Read 1Samuel 21:1-22:17.
The word of God leaves no doubt the Christian must be truthful. Let the new man control your life, so the kingdom of Christ can go on to the greater things in Christ.