How difficult it is for us to admit when we are wrong! How easy it is, instead, to justify our mistakes – to deny the facts; or to shade the truth; or to set forth a “multitude of words,” when we want to avoid speaking the plain and simple truth.
Many years ago, when reading about Cochise, the war chief of the Chiricahuas, I was appalled by his cruelties and murders, but, at the same time, I was impressed by his sense of honesty. In his book, “The Apache Indians,” (copyright 1938), Frank C. Lockwood quotes on pp. 111-112 a conversation between Cochise and his white blood brother and Indian agent, Thomas Jeffords: “‘The following will illustrate a point in Cochise’s character: He said to me once, ‘Chickasaw [i.e., Brother], a man should never lie.’ I replied: ‘No, he should not, but a great many do.’ He said: ‘That is true, but they need not do it; if a man asks you or I a question we do not wish to answer, we could simply say, I don’t want to talk about that.'”
When I read this statement for the first time, I wondered how an unconverted so-called “heathen” could know or appreciate, what many professing “Christians” seemed to have forgotten. And then I began to ask myself, What about true Christians? Are we always willing not to lie – no matter what the consequences?
Do we always know, and live by that knowledge, that “no lie is of the truth.” (1 John 2:21)? Following the living God, we must become perfect as He is perfect – and God’s perfect and holy will and character make it impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19).
Lies can appear in many different forms and shapes. They can be blatant denials of guilt, as was the case with Adam and Eve; or they can be more subtle. Abraham claimed that his wife Sarah was his sister (Genesis 20:2). This claim was partially true, as Sarah was indeed his half-sister (Genesis 20:9-13) – but since Abraham made the statement to deceive Abimelech, it was a complete lie.
Whenever we lie, we follow Satan’s lead (John 8:44). Unless we repent of lying, unless we stop lying and change, we will end up in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). God wants us to be true, honest and sincere. We must put away lying, and speak the truth with our neighbor (cp. Ephesians 4:25). Our words must be as good as gold – better than any written, notarized, sealed and delivered contract could ever be. We don’t need to verify the truthfulness of our words with an oath (James 5:12), as people will know, in time, that our words are true. They will be able to rely on us — they will know that when we say that we will do something, we will do it (cp. Psalm 15:4). Rather than being forgetful hearers, we will be known as doers of God’s work (cp. James 1:25). There is never a need to lie. We don’t have to say everything that we know – but everything that we say must be true.