We recently posted Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent by Clint Archer of The Cripplegate. Following is part 2 of Archer’s series on sin and repentance. He writes:
This is one of those math questions that doesn’t look like a math question, and when you see it on a test it makes you want to cry:
If you encounter two men in the forest, each one guarding a path, and all you know is that one of them always tells the truth and the other always tells a lie, but you don’t know which one is the liar, what one question could you ask to determine which path to take?
You could pause here and play around with possible answers, but that would feel like trying to not scratch an itch. So, let me relieve you of the frustration…
You could ask either of them: “What would the other man say?”
And then you take the opposite path.
Because the liar would tell you the opposite of the right path (which is the path the truthful man would have revealed), and the truthful man’s answer would be the opposite of the right path (as his answer would indicate what the liar would tell you.)
Sadly, having to sort through what to believe and how to respond to what people claim is not limited to hypothetical riddles. It can be just as mindboggling to deal with a counselee or a disciple you are holding accountable, or just about anyone in the church who has a secret to hide or a story to embellish.
What is the right path to repentance for lying? It depends on who you ask.
Last week we looked at what the Bible says about repentance in, “Instructions on how to repent.” Today we will consult the God of truth on what path to take to repent of lying.
3-Step Process To Untangling The Web Of Deceit
- REFRAIN: PUT OFF FALSEHOOD
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, …
Call it fibbing, bluffing, dishonesty, duplicity, misdirection, insincerity, or being economical with the truth, the sin of lying is as ancient as speech itself.
Satan lied to Eve, Cain lied to God, and this infection is still corrupting conversations today. Advertisements exaggerate, politicians obfuscate, and we deceive each other as we try to look younger than we are and drive nicer cars than we can afford.
The only way to stop lying is found in Scripture: Therefore, having put away falsehood …
The command is simple enough. We would all agree that lying is wrong, but perhaps we don’t realize how subtly deception can flavor our speech.
a) Half-truths: it is a lie when you tell part of the truth and withhold part of the truth to deliberately create a false impression. In Genesis 20 Abraham told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. Well, she was technically his sister (half-sister), but she was also his wife. If you tell your wife you are late from work because of a business meeting, but you neglect to tell her the meeting was held over drinks and a pool table at the bar – that is a half-truth – aka a lie.
b) Omissions: it is a lie when you leave someone in ignorance in order to mislead them or deliberately allow them to come to an inaccurate conclusion. For example, when you’re admiring the flower arrangement in the church lobby and the pastor walks past and says, “Thanks for your service in providing such lovely flowers.” And you just smile. You might think you haven’t lied, but you have…by omission. In Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira both said they sold their land and gave the money to the church. But they neglected to mention that they were fuzzy on the details, keeping some for themselves (which was their right to do), but creating the impression that they had given it all. Peter called that obfuscation, “lying to the Holy Spirit.”