It is right and proper for us to consider the dark side of things, but only after examining that which is bright, shining, and inspiring. Last time we examined TRUTH, with its power and practice. This time it is THE LIE. Before going any further, notice that whereas the word TRUTH stands gloriously alone, even if we find it echoed by such words as veracity, honesty, integrity and fidelity, THE LIE, and LYING have had to spawn a galaxy of terms to cover the complexity of that which only exists as a denial of THE TRUTH. So we find Falsehood, Equivocation, Prevarication, Delusion, Deceit, Deception, Fraud, Duplicity, Guile, Underhandedness, Dissembling, Cunning, Evasive, Dodgy, Tricky, Wily, Two-faced, Hypocritical, Impostor, Cheat, Charlatan, Rogue, Knave, and Pretender. All these and more are terms that have been used to describe the actions of people who espouse THE LIE.
One often hears that old saying, “A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble.” It always produces a smile, because in our innermost being we know that we are all able to use lies to extricate ourselves from awkward situations. It doesn’t do us proud though. We say, “But we are only human,” and expect everyone to nod their heads with approval, thus to excuse themselves. To denounce falsehood unequivocally, and publicly, is a dangerous policy. It means that you have comes to terms with this malignancy of humankind, and are at war with it. Other people slink off, and prefer to remain “only human,” in case you have obtained some other-worldly intuition to see inside their locked cupboards and embarrass them.
Yes, all forms of falsehood are indeed an abomination to the Lord. Let us see what the Bible has to say about it. “God is not a man that He should lie,” declared the Lord Himself through Moses, in Numbers 23:19. If God is the ultimate standard of honesty and integrity, then He is the One who is able to see inside all our “locked cupboards”. The result is rather too awful to contemplate. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, and try the thoughts, to give every man according to his ways, even the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10. So the Lord not only knows about our lies and deceit, but also reckons on their outcome in other people’s lives, the “fruit of our doings,” for which He holds us responsible. The power of the lie is indeed a malignant disease that has far-reaching repercussions. It is like a clinging vine that grows around us and poisons us the more we use it.
In the later days of Israel, Isaiah was given a vision of his people and their waywardness. He wrote as follows. “Our transgressions are multiplied, . . . in transgressing and lying against the Lord . . . conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. . . . Truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter. Yea, the truth is found missing and he who departs from evil is likely to be outlawed. The Lord saw it and it displeased Him.”Isa.59:12-15.
See how Alexander Solzhenitsyn depicted the USSR in 1974, in his letter to the Soviet leaders. “The universal, compulsory, force-feeding with lies is now the most agonizing aspect of existence in our country – worse that all the material miseries, worse than any lack of civil liberties.” In that same year he was “outlawed”, expelled from his country and went to live in America. Shortly after his arrival he was interviewed by TIME magazine. “In our country,”he said, “the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State. In recoiling from the lie we are performing a moral act, not a political act.”
The Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler was permeated by lies. One of its foremost exponents was F. W. Nietzsche, that rejecter of Christianity and proponent of the Superman. He said, “We need lies . . in order to live.” An outspoken remark of this kind betrayed the very dark nature of the Third Reich and all that it stood for. If allowed to grow and propagate, it would have engulfed the whole world and subdued its people with a relentless purge characteristic of theUSSR under Stalin. Hence the Second World War. Truly did Francis Bacon say, “Nothing doth more hurt in a State than that cunning men pass for wise.”
Britain and America often boast of their democracy, and their love of freedom. But in these sad days there is an undercurrent of falsehood and lies which every now and again surfaces sufficiently to be grabbed and publicised by the media. Many modern films from Hollywood depict situations behind the scenes where secret falsehood is first shown, and finally uncovered and corrected. We may enjoy seeing justice triumphing over evil in celluloid, but in real life things do not work out so nicely. Falsehood in high places is a most heinous crime against humanity.
Although evil in high places is the work of men and women who hold executive positions, the man in the street is no better in his own little world. As R. D. Laing said, “Human beings seem to have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive themselves, and to deceive themselves into taking their own lies for truth.” The same line was taken by John Henry Newman when he said, “It is not in human nature to deceive others for any long time, without in a measure deceiving ourselves too.” Sir Walter Scott, writing poetically in “Marmian” said, “O what a tangled web to weave,When first we practise to deceive.” But once having set about a scheme of falsehood, we find ourselves ensnared by it, as Abraham Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” And as for being able to uncover falsehood and freeing one’s self from its tentacles, the English lyric poet A. E. Housman once wrote, “If one cannot distinguish between grammar and solecism, sequence and incoherency, sense and nonsense, one has no protection against falsehood, and believes all the lies one is told.”
Lies, deceit, falsehood, what a tricky lot we are. But behind all the human temptations to perpetrate untruths there is the Unseen One, who enjoys our twisted ways, and given half a chance will be on hand to help us along the tangled path we tread. His name is Satan. Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote in this vein,
“The infernal Serpent; hee it was, whose guile
Stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankinde.”
To recognise the Devil as the arch-proponent of the lie is to begin the long journey to the fair haven of truth. An ancient proverb said, “Tell the truth and shame the Devil.” But as we saw in the last article, it often takes courage to declare the truth, and sometimes we draw back from declaration lest we should be vilified as an accuser, an agent of the Devil. It is a difficult path to tread, the road of truth. But all truth-seekers, all those who have uncovered the Treasure and found our Lord to be “the way, the truth, and the life” will want to pursue this path regardless of personal cost.
Now it is important to know and to understand that God has said, “He who speaks lies shall not tarry in my sight.”Psalm 101:7. Likewise, at the end of Revelation we are told that “Outside [the Jerusalem above] are all those who love and make falsehood.” Rev.22:15. Speaking to the lying prophets, the Lord said, “With lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad.” Ezek.13:22. The Psalmist speaks of “Those who delight in lies, who bless with their mouth but curse inwardly.” Ps.62:4. Such statements should be sufficient to cause an abhorrence in the elect to all forms of falsehood.
We saw how lies can begin as a creeping vine, and grow round the tree of truth, strangling it. One such lie that began in earnest in the mid 19th century was the theory of evolution. Since then it has grown abundantly, and so engulfed the truth of creation, that for many the Creator no longer exists. This was spelled out with great clarity by the Apostle Paul, long before Darwin’s day. He wrote to the Romans, saying that some had “Changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creation more than the Creator.” Rom.1:25. But that was not all. Paul went on to say that all those who espouse this lie are given over to “a reprobate mind, to do that which is inconvenient.” It is true that evolutionary theory tends to warp the human mind into other channels of falsehood, and other activities of darkness. A friend of ours, who happened to be at University at the same time as two young believers, said about them, “They were active evangelical Christians, part of the University Christian Movement, until they took evolution on board. Subsequently they became liberals.” One of those men was David Jenkins, who became Bishop of Durham, and whose notoriety was an abomination to all committed Christians, when he declared his disbelief in the Virgin Birth and the literal bodily resurrection of our Lord.
In these last days we are warned that the power of falsehood and deceit will reach a crescendo never before known. Daniel was told of it in his day. He was shown in visionary form a shadowy figure called “The Little Horn” who would arise from small beginnings and grow into a major world power. One of his activities would be to “Cast truth to the ground, and do it with effect and succeed.” Dan.8:12. The Apostle Paul received a clearer image of this figure.“His coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all forms of deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. Because of this, God shall send them strong delusion to believe the lie, that they might all be condemned who believed not the truth but were well pleased with unrighteousness.” 2 Thess.2:9-12
Isaiah was referring to these people when he recorded their sentiments, “We have made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves” But the Lord’s judgment is spoken by the prophet. “Hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Isa.28:15-17.
Those who use falsehood and deceit are employing the tools of the Devil. There is a power source acting behind all such activities of darkness. No Christian should contemplate any form of falsehood in his behaviour. Our Lord said of the Devil, “He was a liar from the beginning and the father if lies.” Just as Adam was the father of all mankind, so the Devil is the father of all untruth, deceit and falsehood. The practice of deceit will lead a Christian into a vortex of misery from which he may find it difficult to emerge unscathed. Those who have recently seen the first two parts of“The Lord of the Rings” will have witnessed the strong dark force of the Ring on those who hold it. It had a power of its own, responding to Sauron, its master. Similarly, those who hold deceit in their hands will find the power of Satan at work in their lives, will be drawn to him, and will not find release until they let it go, denouncing it by “Telling the truth and shaming the Devil.”
The veil of darkness that surrounds this world is a thick impenetrable layer shutting out the truth of God from mankind. The Little Horn has trampled truth underfoot, and made it scarce here on earth. But all is not lost. Pray for the demolition of the “canopy of lies”. Pray also for the germination of the seeds of truth, trodden underfoot, that the glory, brilliance, and power of THE TRUTH will once again flood the earth, and bring men to understand righteousness. Pray that the Gates will open, the Doors swing wide, that “the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle”will enter in and inaugurate His reign on this earth. Let all “those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who have not sworn deceitfully,” present this strong petition, and the Lord will send His blessing. (Psalm 24)