I believe I was in junior high the first time I heard the term perjury. It must have been civics class, and we were learning about the branches of the U.S. government.
Specifically, that day we were discussing the judicial branch and how the court systems worked. I don’t remember how it came up, but I was surprised when I heard there was a law against lying under oath. I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine that we needed a law against putting your hand on the Bible, swearing to tell the truth in front of an audience of witnesses and then lying through your teeth. Who would dare?
It turns out that many would dare. That’s the problem, so we have laws against it. It seems that we have come to expect people to withhold, stretch and bend the truth—especially for self-preservation.
Those who will be in God’s Kingdom will spend a lifetime of pursuing purity—a lifetime of seeking and living out a life of truth.
Consider what we have seen in the news over the last few months—mud-slinging elections at all levels when candidates said whatever was necessary to undermine their opponents. On the morning after every speech or debate, news sources would analyze the statements made and give a report on what was true and which statements were lies. Of course, you often can’t trust the news analysts to present matters truthfully either. Still, we’ve all seen that politicians will say whatever it takes to reach office, and they always have. This past year is even bigger proof of that.
Also in the news this summer, Olympic swimming medalist Ryan Lochte told reporters that he was mugged at gunpoint during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It didn’t take long for investigators to discover that a drunken Lochte and several of his fellow swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom and that the owner was demanding payment for the destruction.
It was embarrassing. I was embarrassed as an American to have a representative of our nation be a guest in another country and act like a child—then lie about it to cover up his bad behavior. It’s shameful.
Does the truth matter anymore? These high profile people don’t seem to think so. We can see it by their actions and their lies. Can we live successfully in a world where everyone is telling their own versions of the truth? What is the negative impact of this reality? How does it affect our personal relationships if we are comfortable with a world full of half-truths?
Most importantly, how does this affect our spiritual growth and relationship with our Father in heaven?
God commands us to be truthful
God has much to say about the importance of speaking the truth. The Israelites shook with fear while God boomed from the mountain as He spoke the Ten Commandments. God, with all authority, gave the foundation of the law and then personally wrote the commands on stone tablets for Moses to bring to the newly freed nation.
One of those commands deals with speaking the truth: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 Exodus 20:16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
American King James Version×).
God’s command on the subject is clear and concise concerning lying against your neighbor. As you study God’s Word you realize that it is an all-encompassing command. God’s plan for you and me is transformation. God wants our Christianity to be a total effort. This command about not bearing false witness is so much more than avoiding lying. It’s about living a life of truth.
King David asked in Psalms 15:1-2 Psalms 15:1-2 1 Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? who shall dwell in your holy hill?
2 He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.
American King James Version×: “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” He then answered: “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”
Those who will become part of the Kingdom of God will speak the truth in their hearts. Truth in your heart means that you embrace truth to the very core. Truth should be deeply a part of us.
Those who will be in God’s Kingdom will spend a lifetime of pursuing purity— a lifetime of seeking and living out a life of truth.
What makes this process so difficult is that we live in a culture that doesn’t value the truth. We have come to accept half-truths, spin and misinformation as normal. Consider broadcast and cable news as an example. We have become completely fine with versions of truth. Whether conservative or liberal, we can choose the flavor of truth that is most pleasing to us. We have to understand that even half-truths also include a portion of deceit.
Can we choose our own truth?
In the Bible we see that the people of the Kingdom of Judah were tired of the condemnation that the prophets of God were proclaiming to them. They didn’t want to hear the truth or God’s judgment. In fact, they wanted to keep living a life contrary to God’s instruction and ignore what He had to say about it. “They tell the seers, ‘Stop seeing visions!’ They tell the prophets, ‘Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies’” (Isaiah 30:10 Isaiah 30:10Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
American King James Version×, New Living Translation 2015).
When we pick only the flavor of the truth we want to hear, we are essentially doing the same thing. There are different sides of a matter. Of course, it’s okay to have strong opinions once we have deeply sought truth while investigating all sides. Consider the various sides, yes, but know that what God has to say in a matter is supreme.
So can we ever get to the bottom of what is true? Because it’s not just the news media that provides a slant. A slant can creep into all aspects of our lives. Ryan Lochte gave a heavily slanted version of events to keep his image intact. Two presidential candidates have spent months telling their slant of who they are and what they want to do as leader of the United States.
Who, really, believes every word they said? Probably no one. No one believed them because we have become familiar and perhaps even comfortable with the fact that we are lied to on a daily basis. From a little child to the leaders of our nations, we know and understand that what we are receiving is a version of “truth” that may or may not be accurate.
Proverbs 22:1 Proverbs 22:1A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
American King James Version×tells us, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (NLT 2015). There was a time when honesty and integrity were highly valued characteristics. But now bullying your way to the top, stepping on others and saying whatever gets you there is what we see in our society. Characteristics that once seemed good and wholesome can now come across as weak and complacent. Honesty, humility and patience aren’t characteristics of a go-getter.
Are you willing to seek and live the truth?
I remember watching the first season of the TV show Survivor . It was the only season that I watched. I’ve caught a few episodes here and there since then, but that first season we saw something new. It was a game show like no other. Survivor showcased human nature, deception and greed as contestants competed to win. It took cunning to win, not honesty. The honest people are among the first booted from the show. The honest person doesn’t make the cut in a cutthroat world.
So why isn’t a good reputation held in high esteem like the proverb says? The winner of Survivor was given a million dollars and touted around all of the talk shows as a champion. We have slowly conditioned ourselves into a way of life that is tolerant of the fact that dishonesty is a part of how to get ahead in life.
We have lost sight of and even rejected the source of truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×). The ultimate truth is of God. It’s His realm. God speaks truth. But that’s not what people want to hear. Everyone wants their own perspective or version of the way things are or should be to be truth.
Man has not always appreciated the truth of God. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Romans 1:21-25 Romans 1:21-25 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.
24 Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
What about our relationship with God? Do we value the source of truth? Do you worship Him in a spirit of truth? That’s what is required from you (John 4:23 John 4:23But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
American King James Version×).
The fact is, real truth is out there. If we are following God and seeking to live a life acceptable to Him, we have to seek out His truth. The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2 Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
American King James Version×). His very being is truth.
He sent His Son to live a perfect life for our example. We too should be seeking to live a life of truth. Leaving God out of our lives doesn’t lead to a life of truth. The opposite will eventually happen if we’re not careful. We should look to God because He is truth. He sets the bar for us—the signpost of truth. Truth should be an ever-growing part of us. Truth should be in our hearts, to our very core. It’s a highly valuable characteristic. Truth does matter. Truth matters to God, and it should matter to us.