This article is about lying (ninth commandment), oaths, and truth in the presence of God.

Source: Clarion, 1994. 2 pages.

Tell Me No Lies

“Cretans are always liars.” Thus spoke the ancient philosopher Epimenides, a native of the island of Crete. It seems the Cretans were infamous liars. The word “Cretan” has even entered the English language as a synonym for liar. The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definitions. Creticism: Cretan behaviour, i.e., lying. Cretize: To play the Cretan, i.e., to lie; to outdo by lying.

Ancient Cretans may have been liars, but so are modern Canadians. If Canadians never lied, the courts would be empty. Instead, the courts are backlogged with cases to try. That people lie, evade the truth, colour the facts, and refuse to own up to what they have done, keeps the judges and the lawyers very busy.

The Father of Lies🔗

The devil is the source of all lies. In John 8:44 the Lord Jesus said: … “(The devil) has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The devil is the father of lies in that he spoke the first lie. This first lie ever uttered is recorded in Genesis 3:4 where the devil said to Eve: “You will not die.”

What does lying do? Lying breaks relationships. God has created us with the ability to speak and write. By way of speaking and writing, we communicate. When people begin to lie, communication breaks down and relation ships are destroyed. If a husband lies to his wife, their marriage is headed for the rocks. If a businessman is not truthful with his partner, they will not be in business together for very long. We all know people who have reputations for lying. We “doubt his word.” We think he is “stretching the truth.” We find such behaviour contemptible.

So did the apostles. Paul categorized liars and perjurers right down there with murderers, fornicators and sodomites (1 Timothy 1:10). John made a close association between liars and the Antichrist (1 John 2:22). Of course! All lying is anti-Christ who is the Truth. John saw in his vision that murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will end up in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

The Oath🔗

To counteract the lie, God gave the oath. He allowed men to swear by His Name. He gave His Name so that people could bind what they say to it to guarantee the truth. In Deuteronomy 6:13 God said: “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him and swear by his name.” Israel was not to swear by the names of other gods which were mere idols. If they had to underline and guarantee the truth of their words, they could only do so by swearing by the Name of the only true God who alone knows the hearts. Because the LORD knows the heart, he can bear witness to the truth, and He punishes those who swear falsely.

God was very good to man in putting His Name at man's disposal. On the basis of God's testimony, we can build and rebuild relationships. Our speaking to one another is placed on the firm foundation of the Name of God. An oath sworn in the Name of God is a mighty strike against the father of lies.

We can be thankful that we have the oath, and yet the need for the oath gives reason for sadness. The only reason God gave the oath is because men and women are, by nature, liars – children of the father of lies. If we never lied, there would be no reason for the oath. However, in the world, the need for the oath remains. Witnesses have to be put under oath. Because the lie is alive and well, the courts of the land need to insist that witnesses will “… speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help (them) God.” Because the words of man are lighter than a breath, we need to “swear in” men and women who hold political or magisterial offices in the land. They need to swear before God that they will be faithful to the duties of their office.

In the world, we need to assume that people will lie. “The world” has recently produced a movie called True Lies. In the world, antithesis between the truth and the lie is gone. The lie prevails. We need to suppose that men and women will speak according to the nature they inherited from their father the devil. As we confess in Article 36 of our Confession, we believe that God has ordained civil officers because of the depravity of mankind and to restrain sin. Besides the sword, God has given the oath as a tool to bridle the effects of man's evil.

In the Church🔗

We know from the Word of God and our own experience that the lie reigns in the world. But it should not, it cannot, rule in the church. We are no longer children of the father of lies. We are children of God the Father through Christ who is the Truth. We are recreated in the image of Christ, are we not? We are prophets by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Prophets of God speak the truth. In the church, we do not need the oath anymore. In our Christian families, the oath is unnecessary. When we communicate with one another, we do not need to call upon the Name of God once in awhile to guarantee the truthfulness of our words. Our Yes is always Yes; our No is always No. We know that we speak in the presence of God all the time. Every word we speak has the character of an oath. We always speak and act as people who've been “sworn in” and “put under oath.”

When you were baptized, then your parents made promises. They were not put under oath. When you make a public profession faith, you will be asked to make a promise. You will say: “I do.” No one will ask you to swear in the Name of God. In the church, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, the victory over the lie has begun. We know that every word we speak is spoken Coram Deo, in the presence of God.

Let us speak to one another conscious of the presence of God. He hears us as we speak. He reads our hearts like open books. Tell no lies. A person who always speaks the truth never has to remember what he has said. It is the habitual liar who must always remember what he has said to whom. Sooner or later he paints himself into a corner, hemmed in by his Technicolor lies. And he will be found out – if not today, then on the day of judgement.

Let us speak the truth in love. Let us speak as those who have been saved from the father of lies by the One who Himself is the Truth. Let us talk and communicate as those who speak in the very presence of God.

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