“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbours the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
Ephesians 4:25 NLT
In this verse Paul highlights a seemingly-eternal human trait – the telling of lies. What’s the problem with lies, some might say. After all, telling the truth to someone can protect them from unnecessary worry or pain. Surely a “white lie” can be justified? Should I really tell a loved one the truth that they are suffering from an incurable condition? Wouldn’t a lie instead be the best way? Didn’t Paul really mean that we shouldn’t tell lies to excuse our bad behaviour or hurt someone? Difficult questions, but Paul writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, unequivocally stated that we must tell the truth. Lies must stop. Jesus warned us that lies originate with the devil, who He referred to as the father of lies. The words of Jesus were recorded in John 8:44 when addressing the people in the Temple, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”. So perhaps Paul was pointing out the truth that lies are of the devil. The situation is simple – truth comes from God, lies come from the devil.
So what does today’s pilgrim do about telling lies? Why do we tell lies in the first place? Some people seem to tell lies by default, to the extent that they seem unable to separate lies from truth. There is obviously an attraction to tell a lie if we can see it will get us off the hook for some misdemeanour. Or there might be an opportunity to gain a reward by lying. Some people will tell lies to make themselves look better than they really are, driven by some insecurity or other emotional problem. There are many reasons for why we feel the temptation to tell a lie. But in the end we have a choice. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to tell lies. He wants the truth.
There is a way to tell the truth in everything, because if there wasn’t God would have said so. We read earlier in this chapter in Ephesians, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love,….”. That’s the key – God’s love flowing through us will help us find the right words and deliver truths the right way. With God in our lives there is no reason to tell lies.
Paul finally reminded his readers about unity in the body, the church. And that is one thing which hasn’t changed over the years. Lies and deception will undermine and destroy the love that binds together our churches in unity. Jesus felt so strongly about the importance of truth, that He prefixed many a parable or teaching by the words “I tell you the truth“. Or, in the old King James version, “Verily, verily, I say unto you“. In John 14:6, Jesus affirmed that in fact He was the Truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”. So telling the truth is rather important don’t we think? We plod on in our pilgrimage the Jesus way, the way of truth.