Ten Commandments Part 9
Who Are You Trying to Fool?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
February 27, 2005
Exodus 20:1-17 (NLT)
[Top section used at the
beginning of the service as a welcome/teaser]
Good morning. Welcome to
Sunrise this morning. We’re going to sing a few songs today as a way to
express our love and worship to God, and I would encourage you to
devote yourself to doing just that this morning. Glenda has a song
she’s going to share with us later on, and then we’ll be continuing
with our series on God’s Top Ten… the Ten Commandments. We’ve already
looked at the first eight, so today it’s on to number 9 which tells us
not to lie. So with that in mind, I thought we’d start today by looking
The Top Ten
Lies People Tell…
10. I just need 5
minutes of your time.
9. This time I’m sticking to my diet.
8. Leave your number, and the doctor will call you right back.
7. I’ll still respect you in the morning. (Okay, so not all the lies we
tell are laughable.)
6. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.
5. This hurts me more than it hurts you.
4. Your money will be cheerfully refunded.
2. Your table will be ready in just a minute.
2. I’ll start exercising tomorrow.
1. The check is in the mail.
That’s my Top Ten list for the morning. Later on we’ll be taking about
the lies we tell… why we tell them and some of the forms they take.
Right now, here are a few announcements…
Let me ask you a question… What do you look for in a friendship? What
quality or characteristic is most important to you when it comes to
choosing your friends? More times than not, the answer you’ll get to
that question is “honesty” or some variation of that word. (i.e.
truthfulness, openness, integrity, loyalty, trustworthiness). None of
us wants to be friends with someone we can’t trust. In fact, if at all
possible, we avoid those people.
Conversely, if you asked someone who has been hurt in a relationship
what caused that hurt, more times than not the answer will be
dishonesty. Oh, how we hate to be lied to! Most relationships can
withstand a few bumps and bruises along the way, but when dishonesty
and deception is involved, chances are the relationship is over. And if
the dishonesty has not been fatal to the relationship, it will at least
put it in the ICU for a long, long time. And it can take ages to get
past the dishonesty and rebuilt trust.
We value honesty in our relationships. We value truthfulness and
integrity and trustworthiness. And when that trust is broken, it can be
very difficult for any relationship to survive. We cannot tolerate
lying in our relationships.
But if you think we hate lies, you should consider how God feels about
them. Imagine if a world-class piano player came to Charlottetown and
you went down to the Confederation Centre to hear his recital. And
imagine that the lights dimmed, the spotlight came on, and he walked
out onto the stage for the recital to begin. He might take a bow, walk
over to the 9’ Steinway Grand piano, pull out the bench, walk around to
the other side, flip out the tails on his tux and sit down. Now imagine
that he gets all set to play and starts into his first piece only to
discover that the piano is badly out of tune. Not just a little out of
tune… badly out of tune. What would happen? Any musician with a good
sense of pitch would not be able to continue that performance. The
dissonance would be unbearable for him. And the better ear he had for
music, the worse it would be for him. He would bristle at every
out-of-tuned note, and even if the audience tried to convince him that
it didn’t bother them that much, he just wouldn’t be able to handle it.
I believe God has much the same reaction to our dishonesty. Our God is
a God of truth. And when He hears the lies we tell, it pains Him. Oh,
we may not think they’re such a big deal and they may not keep us awake
at night, but for a holy, righteous, and completely honest God, the
sound of our lies is unbearable.
John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth,
and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
God is complete truth. Nothing but that can ever proceed from Him, so
it’s no wonder that He can’t stand lies. It’s completely contrary to
I think another reason God can’t stand lies is because He realizes that
the whole reason the world is in the mess that it’s in can be traced
back to the telling and believing of a lie. If you go all the way back
to the beginning, you’ll find that sin entered the world because of a
lie. The very first chapters of the Bible in the book of Genesis tell
us how God created everything that exists. And He created the first
man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. And he placed them in the Garden
of Eden where they had free reign. There was only one thing that was
off limits to them… a tree. There was a tree, called the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil, that they were to never touch or eat the
fruit from. And God warned them that if they ever did, they would
And in comes Satan in the form of a serpent. And He begins to talk with
Eve. “God says that if you eat from this tree you’ll die. But you won’t
die. No, you’ll become like God yourself.” And the telling and
believing of that lie and the subsequent actions of Eve and of Adam are
the reason for the mess we’re in today. And God looks on our heartache
and on our pain and on the turmoil all around us, and He knows that
it’s all because of a lie. And so in addition to lying being against
the very character of God, He can’t stand it because He knows the
devastation that can result. Jesus said in John 8…
John 8:32 (NLT)
“And you will know the truth, and the truth
will set you free.”
Our freedom in Christ is based in truth. The converse is also true… if
the truth sets us free, then lies continue to bind us and enslave us to
sinfulness. You and I cannot live the life of freedom that we were
meant for and that God promises us if we continue to live with a lack
And so it’s out of this context that He gave us what we know as the 9th
Exodus 20:16 (CEV)
Do not tell lies about others.
Now let’s talk about this commandment, because the original meaning was
pretty specific. It dealt with what we might say about someone else
that would unjustly ruin their reputation and destroy their good name.
And even more specifically it refers to telling the truth in legal
situations. It dealt with perjury. You know, “Do you swear to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
This is a little clearer if you compare a few different translations…
Exodus 20:16 (CEV)
Do not tell lies about others.
Exodus 20:16 (NLT)
Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
Exodus 20:16 (NASB)
You shall not bear false witness against
Now let me expand a little on that. In Israel, a capital case could be
brought to trial only if there were two eyewitnesses to the crime. And
that makes a lot of sense. If someone’s going to be sentenced to death,
you’d better make sure they actually did the crime. Check it out in
Deuteronomy 17:6-7 (NLT)
But never put a person to death on the
testimony of only one witness. There must always be at least two or
three witnesses. The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then
all the people will join in.
Now let me ask you, why would the witnesses be the first to throw the
stones? Anyone see the significance here? If the witnesses had lied and
the accused was later found innocent, then the witnesses were
essentially guilty of murder. And so they would end up being punished
themselves. A couple chapters later in Deuteronomy 19 it confirms this…
Deuteronomy 19:18-21 (CEV)
If you are lying and the accused is
innocent, then you will be punished without mercy. You will receive the
same punishment the accused would have received if found guilty,
whether it means losing an eye, a tooth, a hand, a foot, or even your
The crime of perjury was taken very, very seriously. And whenever
people heard what happened to witnesses who lied, if they were called
to testify they were sure to tell the truth.
And so in its simplest form this commandment deals with perjury and
protecting people from being falsely accused of a crime. However, as
we’ve worked our way through these commandments we’ve seen that each of
them deals with principles that go far beyond the letter of the law. So
in the broader sense, this commandment refers to untruthfulness in any
form. We’ve even come to understand this commandment to mean “Do not
lie.” And when you look at the Bible as a whole, it is clear that we
are commanded to speak truthfully in all situations, and that God
absolutely detests dishonesty. To put this into perspective, listen to
what else the Bible says concerning lying:
Proverbs 6:16-19 (CEV)
There are six or seven kinds of people the
Lord doesn’t like: Those who are too proud or tell lies or murder,
those who make evil plans or are quick to do wrong, those who tell lies
in court or stir up trouble in a family.
Not only does God not like liars but listen to the end result of people
who constantly lie,
Revelation 21:8 (NLT)
“But cowards who turn away from me, and
unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those
who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars—their doom
is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second
In other words, they will spend eternity in Hell. And looking at that
verse, if it’s true that we are known by the company we keep, then
liars aren’t very well thought of in the Scriptures. But that’s nothing
new. You already know that. Most people know that lying is wrong,
regardless of what else they may believe. But does that stop us? It
doesn’t seem to.
I read a section from this book last week. It’s called The Day America
Told the Truth and it’s the result of the most extensive survey ever
done on moral issues. It’s an American survey, but I think the results
would hold true for us here, too. Let me read about some conclusions
the surveyors were able to reach regarding the lies we tell…
“Just about everyone lies—91 percent of us lie regularly.
The majority of us find it hard to get through a week without lying.
One in five can’t make it through a single day—and we’re talking about
conscious, premeditated lies. In fact, the way some people talk about
trying to do without lies, you’d think that they were smokers trying to
get through a day without a cigarette.
We lie to just about everyone, and the better we know someone, the
likelier we are to have told them a serious lie.
Lying has become a cultural trait in America. Lying is embedded in our
national character… Americans lie about everything—and usually for no
The majority of Americans today (two in every three) believe that there
is nothing wrong with telling a lie. Only 31 percent of us believe that
honesty is the best policy.”
~ selected passages from The Day America Told the Truth
So lying is part of our society. It’s at epidemic proportions. I do it
and you do it. But why? Why do we lie? Let me give you six reasons why
Six Reasons People Lie:
1. To Impress
Sometimes we make things
up or imply things that aren’t necessarily true just to impress people.
You’d probably be surprised if you realized how much we do this. Like
when we drop names… you know, when we imply that we know someone
important when we are just barely acquainted with them. Or when you
make your job out to be more than what it really is or when you kind of
move your kids’ marks up when you’re bragging on them. Or when your
golf score mysteriously drops a few points. Pastors do it when they
stretch their statistics, like when people ask how many people attend
Sunrise and I say, “Oh between four and five hundred. After all, 30 is
between 4 and 500.”
In the Bible, Ananias was a man who lied to impress people. And he
didn’t do it alone… his wife joined him in the lie. Let me read about
Acts 5:1-5 (NLT)
There was also a man named Ananias who, with
his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to
the apostles, but he claimed it was the full amount. His wife had
agreed to this deception.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart? You lied to
the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The
property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after
selling it, the money was yours to give away. How could you do a thing
like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God.”
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died.
And if you keep reading, you discover that his wife came in a few
minutes later, told the same lie, and suffered the same fate.
2. To Please
We want them to like us.
Did you ever disagree with someone, but you said you agreed with them
because you wanted to make them happy? You lied. Ever hide the truth
from someone because you didn’t want to hurt them? Then you lied.
Sometimes we do this by our silence. Like when you hear someone
spreading lies and slandering someone else. Instead of stepping up and
saying “No, that’s wrong,” or, “I disagree,” we reinforce the lie by
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a
room for hours and not opened his mouth, and yet come out of that room
a disloyal friend.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Psalm 12:2 (NLT)
Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with
flattering lips and insincere hearts.
Proverbs 28:23 (NLT)
In the end, people appreciate frankness more
Do you understand that? We spend so much time justifying what we
describe as “little white lies”, but in the end people would prefer to
know the truth. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you prefer for people to just be
honest with you, even if it hurts a little, than for them to feel they
have to lie to you?
I used to justify these “little white lies” myself, but more and more
I’m convinced that God wants us to be honest in every situation.
3. For Revenge
You want to get even
with someone so you purposely deceive them. Or someone has done
something to you so you tell a lie about them. Or you spread a story
that you know is untrue, just to get back at them.
Why do you think Jesus was murdered? The Religious leaders of the day
felt threatened by him and so they had him charged falsely with
blasphemy and treason. They lied about him. And they coerced others to
do the same…
Mark 14:55-59 (NLT)
Inside, the leading priests and the entire
high council were trying to find witnesses who would testify against
Jesus, so they could put him to death. But their efforts were in vain.
Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each
other. Finally, some men stood up to testify against him with this lie:
“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands,
and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’ “
But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!
4. To Make a Profit
One government study
came to the conclusion that 1 in 3 people are hired with educational or
career credentials that were altered in some way. In other words, they
lied on their résumé. About a decade ago (1993) the Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey ran a help-wanted ad for electricians with
expertise at using Sontag connectors. The response they got was
interesting. They received 170 applications from people claiming they
had expertise with Sontag connectors, even though there is no such
thing. The Authority had run the ad to find out how many applicants
falsify résumés. And as someone said, the closest any of us will come
to perfection is our résumés. (Leadership, Vol. 15.1)
So when you apply for a job, is your résumé just a work of fiction?
When you’re trying to sell something, do you ever misrepresent it? For
example, if you’re trying to sell your car do you let the prospective
buyer know about all the work it needs, or do you let them worry about
it after the deal is done? Ever deceive someone so they thought they
were getting a better deal than they actually were? Or when you’re
bargaining to buy something, have you ever exaggerated your financial
pressures or played up your family to get a better price? Speaking to
people involved in commerce, the Bible says…
Proverbs 11:1 (NIV)
The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but
accurate weights are his delight.
5. To Escape
“I didn’t know I was
speeding officer, my speedometer must be broken.” “I didn’t know this
was a no parking zone. I didn’t see the sign.” It’s the old, “The dog
ate my homework” kind of excuse. Kids do this all the time… they lie to
get out of trouble. You remember what it was like, don’t you? I mean,
you knew that you weren’t supposed to take a cookie from the cookie
jar, but you took one anyway. And just as you were pulling your hand
out of the jar, remember how your mother walked into the room? What did
you do? You hid it behind your back! Your mother saw what you did, but
she gave you a chance to fess up. She asked you, “Did you take a cookie
from the cookie jar?” And what did you say? “No, I didn’t.” You were
hiding it right there behind your back, but you still tried to deny it!
We like to think we’ve grown out of lying to avoid the consequences,
but I’m not so sure.
Maybe you’ve heard about the four college guys who were on their way to
an exam but it was a gorgeous day so they decided to skip the exam and
head to the beach. The next day, they told their teacher that they
tried to make it to the exam but had a flat tire on the way. The
teacher seemed to accept that and said they could rewrite the test. He
put one in each corner of the room with a copy of the test, and said,
“Now to start, there is an extra question. Without speaking to the
others or looking around, what tire was it?”
Earlier I mentioned how the serpent deceived Adam and Eve. He lied to
them, and as a result they chose to disobey God. But what happened
next? Well, God knew exactly what Adam and Eve had done. He had caught
them with their hand in the cookie jar. He knew that they had disobeyed
Him and had eaten from the tree that was off limits to them, and when
He confronted them about it, it’s as if they hid the evidence behind
their backs and said, “No, I didn’t.”
First, He asked Adam. And, well, Adam didn’t exactly deny that he ate
the fruit, but he did try to place the blame on someone else. When God
asked if he had eaten it, he said…
Genesis 3:12 (NLT)
“Yes… but it was the woman you gave me who
brought me the fruit, and I ate it.”
So God moved on to Eve. What did Eve say?
Genesis 3:13 (NLT)
“The serpent tricked me,” she replied.
“That’s why I ate it.”
They both tried to deceive God and thus avoid the ramifications of
their actions. How many times do you and I do that? We lie to God or we
lie to others, we make them think that it was someone else’s fault, all
so we can escape the consequences of our actions.
Like when you have your
spouse tell callers you’re not home when what you mean is you don’t
want to be disturbed. Or when you call in sick to work, but you’re
still well enough to go shopping or play a round of golf. What about
when you say you’ll serve on a committee, go to a meeting or attend a
party when you have no intention of doing it but it’s easier to say
“yes” and not show up then to try to think up an excuse?
Proverbs 12:22 (NLT)
The LORD hates those who don’t keep their
word, but he delights in those who do.
It was Walter Scott who wrote:
O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!
~ Walter Scott
More to the point might be the addition made by J.R. Pope who wrote:
“But when we’ve practiced quite a while, How vastly we improve our
~ J.R. Pope
So we lie for a variety of reasons. And God screams, “Stop it! You
don’t realize what you’re doing! You don’t realize the harm it can do.
And you don’t realize how it breaks my heart each time you tell a lie.”
Four Steps to Becoming a Truth-teller:
So the question is, how
do you stop telling lies? I was thinking… and it’s always dangerous
when I do that… but wouldn’t it be great if we could rig something up
to give us an electric shock every time we told a lie? Kind of a
polygraph buzzer that gave us a little jolt? Actually if you’re a
Christian, you already have something like that. We call Him the Holy
Spirit, and if you’ve got Him in your life, then you’ve already felt
that little jolt. And when it happens you have one of two choices: you
can correct yourself or you can keep on lying. And if you keep on
lying, then you’ve chosen to disobey God. We need to be sensitive to
the correction of the Holy Spirit. That’s the first step…
A. Be sensitive
to the correction of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:8, 13 (NLT)
And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will
convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the
coming judgment… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into
B. Work at
becoming ruthlessly honest yourself.
Don’t allow yourself to
justify even the “little” lies, if there is such a thing. When you
catch yourself saying something that isn’t exactly true, then stop and
correct yourself. Apologize for it. Say something like, “I’m sorry,
that’s a lie. The truth is…” And yes, if someone asks you, “Do these
pants make me look fat?” and you can’t find a tactful way of answering
that doesn’t involve lying, the go ahead and tell them the truth. Maybe
they’ll stop putting you in that situation in the future. Besides, if
they ask you a question like that, then they deserve to hear the truth.
others to challenge your lies.
Talk with two or three
of your trusted friends and explain to them that you want to be a
truth-teller. And ask them to confront you when they catch you
stretching the truth a bit or telling a bold-faced lie. And please,
remember you asked them to do it, so don’t get ticked off at them when
they follow through with it.
what lying does to God.
When you’re tempted to
lie, I think if you will just stop long enough to recognize the
dissonance it causes in the ears of God and understand the complete
disdain He has for lies, and if you can contemplate the consequences of
your lying, then you will start to break the habit of dishonesty and
find yourself committed to being a God-honouring truth-teller.