A few years back, we had a neighbor who was suffering from a medical condition which her doctor thought would be helped if she left off chocolates.
The lady was a chocolate lover, and found a way around the doctor’s order. She moved her box of chocolates off the table and tucked it behind the pillow in the side of her living room chair. It was out of sight, but whenever she wanted a chocolate she could easily slip one from the box.
Who was she fooling? Only herself. She was really lying to herself.
Isn’t that the way we do sometimes? We might make ourselves believe the lie, but we only fool ourselves.
Hebrews 4:13 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Absolute truth is a rare and endangered species. It is the quality of a thing that is exactly what it purports to be, in complete accordance with the facts.
The Psalmist described inward truth as God’s highest desire from his earthly children.
Psalm 51:6 6Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
This text presents a difficult situation. We might not countenance lies or liars, yet at the same time be a long way from having truth in our inward parts.”
God wants us to be true, and isn’t this reasonable?
But inner honesty has a very high price, which many do not want to pay.
It demands a great amount of moral courage to refuse to be swayed by popular opinion. It requires a sacrifice of personal advantage that would pull in the opposite direction.
At times, fidelity exacts a fearful price, and we want to say, why be so different? What’s the point? Who gains? What is wrong that I have to be so different from other people?
At that very moment we start lying to ourselves for the sake of our own comfort, and like the serpent in the garden (Eve’s own heart) we begin to question the need for all the little denials in our lives. We forget for the moment the high standard of truth that God is training us for.
Truth in the “inward parts,” in our heart of hearts, requires strenuous work on the part of the person striving to reach that point. Recall what Peter said:
Acts 10:34–35 34Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
To crave truth in our inmost being we must set our ideal on getting God’s approval. This means we will want
1- Truth above excuses,
2- Truth above cover up.
3- Truth above any lie that might seem to justify us
4- Truth above anything this world could offer us in approval, recognition, or reward.
The Moffatt Bible translates Psalm 51:6,
“Tis inward truth that You desire. Grant me then wisdom in my secret heart.”
If God’s wisdom is that deep in our hearts, deep below anything visible on the surface, it will show us what kind of person we are. We will see the spiritual sores we are covered with, and go about to find remedy. We will see ourselves as Jeremiah saw himself when he said
Jeremiah 10:23 23O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
Can’t you hear Jeremiah’s plea for “HELP!” Because we can’t direct our own steps. No, not without the law of God to teach us how to discern between good and evil. That is what Paul prayed for that his disciples would have:
Philippians 1:9–10 9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
Love abounding more and more in KNOWLEDGE and in DISCERNMENT. It is all about learning what is good and what is not. Continuing in Phil. 1:10,
10that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
Approving what is excellent—nothing sub-standard here! Excellent every way. Like Peter described:
1 Peter 2:12 12having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Returning to Paul, notice the reason for checking what is approved: so that you can be “sincere and without offense.”
For how long, Paul?
“Till the day of Christ.”
In the meantime, let’s look at another summary command from the Old Testament prophet Micah. Here is the whole law in one statement.
Micah 6:8 8He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
What is good? Three points of our responsibility:
First, what we do in obedience to God’s law:
1- Do justly, (upright, right to God’s standard)
Second, how we relate to others, how we judge them:
2- love mercy,
Third, our mindset toward God:
3- walk humbly with your God
Not challenging but accepting, humbly, gratefully.
There is more to a life of obedience to God than it first seemed. Zechariah the prophet puts it in clear detail. Notice how parallel it is to Micah’s statement.
Zechariah 8:16–17 16These are the things you shall do:
The prophet says: “LISTEN! You need to hear this.” He continues:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of peace and truth in our gates
17Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”
The requirements are the same. And all of it goes against our natural mindset and FOR TRUTH. We can’t lie, even to ourselves. Look at each phrase:
1: “Speak every man truth to his neighbor.”
Speak only that which is absolutely TRUE—true to our faith in God.
2: “Execute the judgment of peace and truth in our gates”
Judge by TRUE facts. Don’t be swayed by prejudice or sympathy but stand always and only for the facts.
3: “Let none of you imagine evil in your heart against your neighbor
Don’t even let yourself IMAGINE an UN-TRUTH. Don’t go beyond the facts, even in your mind.
If we tend not to like a certain person or think well of them, how easy it is to misinterpret just about anything they say or do! Or I should say, it is hard not to misinterpret anything they do. What is the root cause? An evil imagination!
4: “Love no false oath”
Hold to the TRUTH. “Love no false oath” is much more than avoiding falsifying in court. We say we believe God, and will do as He says? Just let someone rude or hateful to us cross our path, and how do we respond? It is a test of our stand for TRUE facts.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 15See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Do we always return good for evil?
Do we always return a soft answer to what comes to us as wrath? It is another MUST from Scripture:
Proverbs 15:1 1A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Can we let go cutting retort remembering James tells us,
James 1:4 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
If we’re going to work righteousness, we have to constantly speak the truth. That it be audible truth is not the only factor, because the old adage is,
Actions speak louder than words.
The book of Samuel tells us that God is a God of knowledge who does something really strange. What does He do? and by him actions are weighed
1 Samuel 2:3 3“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.
If we would both act and speak the truth, we must have “truth” within.
Job tells us what that “truth” is and how we must apply it when he says,
Job 36:3 3I will fetch my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
Proverbs tells us how wisdom comes:
Proverbs 2:10–11 10When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,
This knowledge is not found in the archives of the learned of this world, but only in the unfailing Word of God. It will not only give us knowledge of ourselves but knowledge of the wisdom of God, which we must live by. This knowledge will bring happiness and in the end long life in which to enjoy that happiness.
Proverbs 3:1–2 1My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.
Inward truth. Truth that opens the door to LIFE.
Inward truth that means keeping out everything God cannot endorse and approve. Not lying to ourselves to cover anything, but being honest and open.
Where there is no lie, there is no need to hide. Let TRUTH join hands with MERCY and KINDNESS, and know that God will bless. ETERNALLY.
Don’t Lie to Yourself.
Of all sins, it would seem that self-deception is the most dangerous. Why? Because we will never repent of a sin, unless we know we are guilty of that sin. Remember Jeremiah’s warning, “the way of man is not in himself,” he cannot direct his own steps. That is why David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24).
To lie to ourselves is easier than you think. Ever hear the expression, “Never say never?” Whenever you walk down temptation’s lane, you are courting disaster. You lie to yourself to think you cannot be tempted. Walk down that lane often enough and what seemed wrong is less wrong and more attractive.
We need help and where can we turn, who can we trust? If we REALLY want eternal life, we will turn to the Words of the Lord. Remember, as Paul tells Timothy, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)