TruthNovember 12, 2023 | Brandon Cooper
This sermon discusses the 9th commandment not to bear false witness. The pastor argues we should be honest because lying is hateful while truth-telling can be loving. Three reasons are given – lying hates, truth loves, and the truth (the gospel) saves. Hearers are encouraged to affirm others positively and speak hard truths in love when needed to build others up.
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All right, well, if you want to go ahead and grab your Bibles open up to Exodus chapter 20, well be in verse 16. This morning, Exodus 20, verse 16, the ninth commandment. As you’re turning there, you may remember from your high school English classes, the Arthur Miller play The Crucible, which dealt with the Salem witch trials, kind of a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials. And what happens in that, and it is, again, somewhat based on what happened in real life back then, in the 17th century, but you had a group of young girls who were caught dabbling in the occult. They mean it was a very silly thing, right? A 14-year-old girl who’s in love with a married guy. And so she’s just trying to put a curse on the married guy’s wife, you know, that kind of thing. But what happens is they’re caught dabbling in the occult, which is pretty serious back then. And so they make up a series of allies to get themselves out of trouble, eventually settling into accusations of witchcraft, hence, the Salem witch trials. By the end of the story, 19 people are dead. And the town is on the brink of anarchy, like open talk of revolution, all because this group of girls wouldn’t let the truth come out daggers and unconfessed affair earlier and all of this but then just the simple, you know, yep, we just we hired the Barbadian nurse to put a love curse on this person. All that damage because they wouldn’t let the truth come out reminds me wanted to take a biblical example be reminded me of David, you think of all that happened because of his sin with Bathsheba and his unwillingness simply to own it. And instead, by the end of it, Uriah and others are killed in the battle. Because of this, it’s it’s just not hard to see the damage that lies can do. broken trust, damaged relationships, wrongful convictions, even wars have started as a result of this. I’m sure I could ask any one of you at random. You know, tell me how a lie yours or another’s wrecked a day or a week or a season in your life and you would have a story. You’ll remember of course, we keep saying this set it week one and it’s been here all along as we’ve been in this series on the 10 Commandments, God loves us. And so he is seeking our good. He’s a loving father protecting us from harm when he gives these commands, especially the prohibitions. It’s not because he’s a killjoy. It’s because he’s a loving father. And so he’s looking at the damage that lion does. And of course, of course, He prohibits it then. So here it is the ninth word, the ninth commandment. Exodus 20, verse 16. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Straightforward. can’t play with the truth. In other words, it’s too important. Ben Franklin said all those years ago honesty is the best policy always has been still is today. And that really is our main idea. It’s pretty simple one all right. Be honest. Be honest. Why? Why does it matter? We’ll look at three reasons why this morning because lying hates truth loves and the truth saves. Just want you to know upfront whereas put a little more time on that first one. So if you’re getting really nervous looking at your clock after I’m done with point one, you probably should be nervous because you know how I go but hopefully it’s not totally off balance. But let’s dive in. Be honest, why first of all, because lying hates, so you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. The word false here means as you would probably expect, untrue. So we’re dealing with a deceitful content. Interestingly, in the repetition of the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy, chapter five, verse 20, the word false, there is slightly different and it means insincere. So you’ve got deceitful content, but deceitful purpose as well. Both are called out in the 10 commandments. Now remember that these 10 words that are given to Israel, they’re not primarily about individuals, obviously, they involve individuals, but this is about ordering a community. That is this is about the the social life of Israel in the most literal sense the life of the society, will it be a just and good society? And in order for it to be that kind of society, certain things need to be in place. And so God’s got to talk about how that society does worship or how they spend their time, dealing with authority and life and marriage and property and now, the courts of law, which are so important for a just society That is this command, as we have it here is not about lying in general, but about lying in the courtroom. Why? Because that’s the place where it counts most. Because it’s where lying costs the most. This is why witnesses have to take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, good biblical standard, by the way, because lies there can do so much damage. I read a story this week just in preparation for the sermon about a man who was released after 37 years in prison. Because he was wrongfully convicted because of false testimony. The detectives wanted to clear the case. And so they bribed someone to lie. 37 years in prison, God takes this seriously, by the way, it’s interesting, in the Old Testament, the penalty for perjury is very much the eye for an eye tooth for a tooth, which is again as a courtroom application there. And so the person who perjured himself or herself would receive the sentence that the victim would have gotten. That was the punishment for perjury. So if you’re going to jail for 35 years, and you find out your language, and you go to jail for 35 years, this is a serious, serious business. But as we’ve seen throughout our series, here, there’s a broader application, of course, and we are looking to live out and expensive obedience, as we mentioned before, in fact, if you look at the commandments, and again, especially in the second table, you know, commandments, six to 10, we’re given the worst way to break each command. You shall not murder that’s that’s the worst form of what you know, Jesus says is actually anger at its root unrighteous anger. And so you’re given the worst form of adultery, the worst form, but of course, that would include pornography or even just lustful thoughts and here, false testimony. Because false testimony in a courtroom is the most likely place that a lie is going to lead to somebody being executed. I love Colin Smith’s image as he talks about this, this whole idea, he says it’s a little bit like train lines, these commandments like we’re on different train lines. So up West, you know, it ends in Elburn. Right? There are a lot of other stops along the way, Elmhurst, Villa Park and Lombard Well, that’s the ninth train line here, it ends in false testimony. But you might never have been to Elburn, you might never have given false testimony, you might never have had to give testimony in a court of law at all. In fact, we’ve all been on the line. We’ve all gotten off somewhere on one of those stops, just like we’ve seen in the last two, three weeks as we look at these other issues. So what are what are some of those stops on the line? What are some of the ways we can lie without breaking a courtroom oath? And by the way, I’m not hitting every stop that would take us a long time. This is an express train, okay, we’re just gonna hit some of the key ones, you can work it out from there. One way that we would break this is just a twist people’s words. You retell a story so that the other person comes out looking worse than they really are. Maybe just miss reading, body language, tone inflection, and things like that. A famous example here was Kathy Newman, who’s a television host, and she was interviewing Jordan Peterson, and she actually sparked a meme, because she so completely disagreed with Jordan Peterson that every time he finished saying something she would butt in. So what you’re saying is, and then give the most unflattering inflammatory take on whatever he had just said. And so now it’s a whole meme. So what you’re saying is no, that’s not what I’m saying. That’s not what I said, you should have caught that. Why would we do that. It’s uncharitable. It’s attempting to kill a reputation, of course, and someone that you disagree with It’s a common tactic in politics, of course. So this is bad twisting someone’s words. And of course, it’s even worse when that twisting gets repeated over and over and over again, which takes us to another stop on this train line, which is gossip, passing along an unsubstantiated rumor, or really even passing along a true report, unnecessarily. It can always be hard to discern when exactly you should share information that you’ve been given. I deal with this a lot. Of course, as a pastor, you know, this, is this a situation where this is something I talked to Amy about, you know, she helped me processor is this one where no, this is. This is totally confidential. Do I need to bring this to the elders so that there’s a group of people who are involved in this response? And you all deal with this, too? I mean, you may even be thinking, do I share this as a prayer request? Or am I sharing this as a prayer request?
You know, you know that difference? Of course, the heart-check question of course. As with the other person be happy if they knew I was passing this report along. And keep in mind this doesn’t always involve words even like this could just be subtle insinuation. You know? Did you hear so and so got fired? Oh, really? Why? I mean, I don’t know. But like, yeah, of course you’re not saying anything, I’m sure. But even worse than gossip, another stop on the line would be slander. Slander is deliberately sharing what you know is false. Remember, these are dealing with social life, right? The life of a society. I mean, our society takes us seriously enough that there are forms of slander that are illegal, of course, things like libel. Why would we do it? Because we are intending to wound an enemy. And the problem with a whole lot of this today is social media has not made this harder for us. And we feel like we can probably duck a little bit some of the accusations because I didn’t say anything. I just liked it or retweeted it or something like that. But we’re so quick to pass along. Information that knocks down our enemies, whoever they may be personal or more likely, you know, political, cultural, something like that. But if it’s unsubstantiated, we need to pause. We need to do a check. And we need to check sources in particular. Because of course, any time a story comes along that confirms our priors. Well, we know that one’s true. Whereas anyone that comes along that you know, challenges our favorite narrative, well, that one’s probably a lie. Let’s check the source kind of thing. And we want to check all the sources as we do this. And that brings us to a related point, of course, which is judging without getting a hearing. There’s the substantiation piece. You know, our courtroom standard is innocent until proven guilty. And that probably is a good way to approach when we hear bad things about people, we should be slow to believe it, because love believes all things, hopes all things Paul tells us in First Corinthians 13. Plus, it just saves you the embarrassment of being wrong later. Proverbs 18 Verse 17, in a lawsuit, the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. And then all of a sudden, you got a real quick take down that post that you share, but it’s too late. Everyone already saw it. And you’re guilty of slander and also have embarrassed yourself, we need to wait. When you hear the other side. mean, Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven that we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others. Makes you want to be a little bit slower to judge. Alright, I know I’d rather someone took the time to figure it out, asked me directly instead of just believing the worst. Another stop on the line. It’s a small one. This one’s close to the city. Right? Right. There’s maybe even in the train station. So it’s just exaggeration. exaggeration. Usually that involves painting ourselves in the most flattering light possible. You’re talking about your GPA or your LSAT scores, and you kind of round up, you’re talking about your weight, and then your round down. And the money that you make, or you think, nah, I don’t need to, you know, those sorts of numbers don’t matter to me. But you know, the stories come out. So maybe it’s just the hours you worked on something? Do you want somebody to be impressed with how much you did to help them out? You know, that’s took me all day. No, you were done before lunch. But it’s so easy to share it that way. It’s so tempting. Why? Because we can win either praise or sympathy, depending on how we tell the story. And we love both of those. I gotta tell you one spot where I’m always tempted to exaggerate is anytime I’m left home alone with the kids, which is terrifying, of course, but Amy will come home and she will say how did things go? And if I say they didn’t go, well, she’s going to feel bad for me. And then do nice things for me. So the temptation is there, right? But the kids are usually fine. And so it’s like no, it’s good. It was fine. It’s no big deal. I’m happy to help in this way. Same idea of shading the story just slightly Of course another stop on the line would be to shift blame or steal credit. You know, same same sort of thing. You know, like that wasn’t me, but that one that one was me. In fact, this one is there from Eden, right all the way in the beginning, Adam, why did you eat the fruit? What was the woman that you gave me a whole lot of blame to be passed around? It’s just not here. Okay, it’s out there. Things are different. That was from David though, when Nathan finally confronts him with his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. And David says, I am the man. I am the one who sinned right But that’s not our fleshly response, right? Our natural response is to go it’s not my fault, but it’s circumstances or people conspiring against me. Or maybe it’s not shifting blame, but again, accepting praise you didn’t earn it’s usually just leaving other people out of the story. I was able to help her get back on her feet. No, no, that was the your whole community group that did that, in fact, but it was nice of you to take credit. Lastly, and again, lots of others, I’m just hitting a few stops as we go, you get a sense of it, is flattery. Flattery is another way to give false testimony. Even though it’s positive testimony, it is still false. Especially remember that the word false can mean insincere. And that’s what’s happening here. It’s not sincere praise but manipulative praise, because you’re using not loving the people around you. The Bible, by the way, refer I know we have this big cultural debate today, the Bible calls that hate speech. That’s what hate speech is Proverbs 26, verse 28, all of this that we’ve been talking about a lying tongue hates those it hurts, and flattering mouth works, ruin. You know, this is hate speech, by the way, because you want a really clear example of what this looks like in Scripture. It’s the religious leaders trying to entrap Jesus, so that they can kill him. They come to him and you know, Rabbi, we know that you are, you know, a wise teacher, you speak with authority, you’re totally immune to flattery. And they go from there. So they’ve got praise on their lips, but murder in their hearts. So there’s hate speech and hate is really a key word in this whole discussion. Liars hate the people to whom they’re lying. Which is part of why God hates lying. Because it is hate filled, it is truly satanic. And Jesus calls Satan the father of lies. You think so why would we do it then like what is going on inside of us, it’s almost always driven by pride or malice. Both really satanic tendencies. By the way, either, you know, I want to promote or protect myself, there’s the pride piece, or I just want to harm somebody else. That’s the malice piece. Either way, it treats the other person as lesser than you. I’m just using this person to make me feel good. Or if I push him down, then I can rise up. So it hates the person it also hates God Of course. J I Packer points this out he says lying insults not only your neighbor whom you may manage to fool, but also God, whom you can never manage to fool. So not even smart play their god who can’t lie, hates lies. Proverbs chapter six, it’s got one of those wisdom themes. Where it says there are six things the Lord hates, and seven that the Lord detests. And it goes on to list them. And it’s interesting of the seven things that the Lord detests. Two of them are a lying tongue, and a false witness who pours out lies. Because a pretty significant percentage of what the Lord says he hates there. Which is why when we get to Revelation 22, verse 15, we’re talking about the New Jerusalem. It says that everyone who loves and practices falsehood will ultimately be left outside the city. To have to be of course, because can’t bring hatred into heaven. Heaven is a world of love. If we brought hatred into it in the form of lying, then heaven would very quickly become hell. Be honest, be honest, because lying is a form of hatred, that damages and destroys people and so God hates it. And there’s a better option. Second reason, we should be honest, because truth loves, truth loves.
So it’s clear that God takes truth seriously. It’s here in the 10 commandments, it’s repeated. The whole train line is repeated throughout the New Testament. Jesus Himself holds up truth and a very high standard for our truth-telling says you shouldn’t even have to swear you should just you know, yes, yes. No, is no James picks up his teaching. Here’s James fibers 12. Do not swear not by Heaven or by Earth by anything else. All you need to say is a simple yes or no. That’s the standard. There should never be a reason for us to give a you know, a heightened truth-telling, like you always get nervous right when your kids are gonna I swear, I swear, you’re like, well, first of all, what did you mean last time then? Because you didn’t swear last time so you rely on them? Or is this one where you’re really trying to make it look like you’re not lying? And actually you all I like it. And the first time somebody says, I swear, and then it turns out, they’re lying. There’s all trust gone. That’s not the standard for Christians, the standard for Christians is people should know that Your Word is true. You should never have to add anything to it. Of course, we know you’re telling the truth, because you’ve never said anything else. Because lying is a form of hatred. But also, because telling the truth is a way to love. Our truth-telling should be an act of love, in fact, that one word Love should filter all of our other words, that’s the filter to figure out what you know, what gets out of our mouths. Is it loving to the person right here in front of me? If yes, speak, if not don’t. It’s an important filter. The truth isn’t always nice, loving and nice, and not quite the same thing. We’ll come back to that in a moment. But also, because there are ways to tell the truth that aren’t loving, that isn’t true is not enough of a reason to say it. “I got a higher score than you on that test” may be true, but it is probably not a loving thing to say to your classmate, not necessary. To Colin Smith. He refers to what he calls truth, terrorists, terrorists destroy. And so truth terrorists are people who use the truth to destroy people. He says there are two ways you can do that by being naive or by being brutal with the truth. So, the naive approach is to believe that self-disclosure and emotional expression are premium values. Just whatever’s in my heart, should it come out, say what you’re thinking? There’s definitely a current in our culture that says absolutely like, I think that’s a big part of the reason why social media exists. I just need to let everyone know what I think about every issue. So it’s not the biblical approach. Proverbs 10, verse 19, sin is not ended by multiplying words. Scripture counsel is often, ” just Zipit, okay, don’t need to say it.” So Smith actually tells the story of his father and mother were invited to be a part of a group that’s gonna be kind of like an experimental group, where they were just going to say all the truth all the time. And he said his dad, like, ran away from like, No way, not a chance. Four or five couples were a part of it. By the end of the year, all five couples were divorced. And there’s at least one instance of adultery because two of the people got married after the divorce kind of thing. Not helpful. We don’t need to say everything that’s on our mind all the time. So there’s the naive approach. But there’s the brutal approach. And you guys probably know this one, this is the person who’s I’m just saying it like it is. Which is almost always I just send with my mouth. Like that’s what that means. Just saying it like it is without regard to what the truth is doing in the lives of the hearers. It’s not kind or edifying, or helpful. It’s just painful. So what are we supposed to do with the truth Paul gives it to us gives us the really, really clear language here Ephesians chapter four speaking the truth in love. That’s key right there. Right speaking the truth in love, we get the content of our speech, but also the atmosphere of our speech, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become an every respected mature body of Him who is the head that is Christ. And then he gives us a specific command Ephesians 429. Just a few verses later, do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. So there’s the question, right? Is this going to build the other person up according to their needs? That it may benefit weeds literally, that it may give grace to those who listen? Or that’s the standard. So what does it look like then to love truthfully? Give you a few thoughts, but I need to take a quick excursus before we get there. Is it ever okay to lie? It is does love ever compel us to tell a lie? Usually not of course. Sometimes we might think white lies here it’d be a good anymore of course, there’s the hurt of feelings by Senate. What was actually you know, true there something white lies usually don’t require lying what they require is a deeper truth. So give you the very stereotypical one. Does this dress make me look fat? The proper response there is not No of course not. You know, the proper response is like I think you’re beautiful. All of the time. You’re the most beautiful creature on God’s green earth in my eyes because of covenanted with you don’t really care or what the dress looks like, all right, like I love you. Like that’s the more important truth that needs to be said there. I think it’s also true with kids. The other place where attempted to lie is with our kids a lot because it can just make life easier. Blippi is not working today, sorry, they took it off Amazon Blippi is dead, actually, it’s over would make life easier because then you’re not going to deal with the tantrums and things like that. But there’s a breaking of trust there, of course. And again, usually what’s required is a deeper discipleship. Like, I get that we don’t ever want to make our kids throw tantrums, but sometimes you got to go through it, so that they can grow up. So I don’t think those are good spots. But there are situations where the truth would lead to injustice. You think of Corrie 10, boom, for example, tiding Jews in her home during the Holocaust, or you want the biblical example, it’s the Israelite midwives, after Pharaoh had said that all these babies were to be put to death. And they lie to Pharaoh, the babies are born before we get there. We don’t know what’s happening is Hebrew women that really hardy or something like that. And what’s interesting is that the Bible actually names these women, like they’re held in honor because they lied. In order to protect life. That is there is a moral hierarchy. These commands are given an order, you know, you’re not murder. Why? Because life is more important than marriage. A marriage is more important than property. So if we need to lie to preserve life, well, it’s better that than the truth and murder. Here’s the RC Sproul sums it up. I think he’s right here. He says we are always in everywhere obligated to tell the truth to whom the truth is do we are to speak the truth where justice and righteousness requires the truth. There are occasions where it would be a sin to tell the truth. There just aren’t a lot of them. Alright, so let’s go back though. What does it look like to love? Truthfully, so few thoughts again, I could give a lot more. But hopefully, it’ll give you a sense of it. And you can kind of work this out in your own life. When the truth is positive. Just say it. Like this is the time to go yep, can open my mouth, I’m going to speak we should always express affirmation and delight, gratitude and praise, to just pour out like I struggled to think of any situation where that truth wouldn’t be loving to speak. This should be our native tongue. It’s not mine. So like, I’m up here feeling convicted in all of this, like, I need to work on this, but we have no reason to withhold good words. Most people don’t get enough of this in their lives. So get in the habit of writing notes, or pulling people aside, especially to affirm the stuff that matters, you know, like, Oh, that’s a nice shirt. That’s not an important thing. It’s fine. Say it. That is a matter but I’m talking about affirming the like God’s grace at work in people’s lives. We should be doing this constantly. Journey groups, community groups, you know, oh, just conversations went you know, I saw you I saw you sir, I saw you do that. I know you didn’t think anyone’s looking. I noticed and I appreciate what you’ve done. You have such a servant’s heart. Or when you opened up the other night like that took real courage to be that vulnerable. I just want you to know that like Thanks, Kyle, you’re in my head now. Sorry. Like that took such real courage and vulnerability to to express that and that’s what our lives should look like. Paul tells us in Romans 12 We should outdo one another in showing honor to we should outdo one another and showing honor. Like let’s let’s look for for an opportunity even today. When the truth is positive say but the truth isn’t always positive.
The truth is not necessarily nice. And that’s okay. Do you know that nowhere in Scripture are you commanded to be nice. I don’t even know what niceness means. Okay, that’s like a weird thing. We are commanded to be kind. But those are different things. Jesus was not always nice to his opponents, and yet Jesus was the kindest man who ever lived, of course. So if we’re going to love Well, we may need to speak hard words. You can see this I’m put on the screen but Leviticus chapter 19, verses 17 and 18. You’ll recognize some of these words so it begins with don’t hate your neighbor. And then it ends with one of the most quoted Old Testament verses Love your neighbor as yourself. So don’t hate your neighbor but love your neighbor. You know what sandwiched right in the middle there. rebuke your neighbor frankly. Don’t hate your neighbor, love your neighbor, which means speak some hard truths to your neighbor as needed. It is absolutely loving to call out sin. Nathan wasn’t nice to David, when he shared a little story that entrapped David so that David finally came clean. He wasn’t nice, but he was definitely loving was the most loving thing he could do. And I know some of us don’t like this. Again, some of us we got the brutal truth thing going and we’re like, Great, I’ll tell people they’re saying no, that’s probably not good. But some of you are like it’s not loving to hold back here Peter lighthearted, he speaks a little fire, but I’m gonna read it to you. He says we say we’re tolerant and want to avoid triggering, but we’re cowards and hateful cowards to boot. And it is it’s hateful not to speak the necessary truth. Because you’re keeping someone from what they most need to hear what will help bring grace into their lives. Jen Wilkin even speaks of the sin of silence in her chapter on this one. And that makes sense. Again, usually silence is a great choice. Unless there are word you are supposed to speak to your neighbor, James for 17. If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it. It is sin for them. So if you know the good you’re supposed to do, and you don’t do it, that is sin. We think a lot about sins of omission. But they’re also sins of omission. So you’re not supposed to do these, but you’re supposed to do these and then you don’t do them. It is a sin of omission not to speak, loving truth. Whether that’s blessing, an affirmation like we talked about, or rebuke, or even support, people who are working for justice. Dr. King said, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. That was sinful silence. And the church, by the way, is was rebuking there because the white church was so complicit in the racism of that day. We didn’t speak the necessary truth. To say this is wrong. This is lie. This is evil. This is injustice. Of course, the most important truth that we speak. And the most unloving place to be silent, is the gospel. When Paul says we’re to speak the truth in love, that’s the context. We should be gospel-weighing each other all the time. That takes us to our last point, so be honest, because lying, hates and truth-telling is an act of love. But last point, the truth saves. So be honest, be honest, because because God is truth. Jesus said, that didn’t me I am the truth. Kyle read it for us earlier that he who is the glory of Israel does not lie, for he’s not a human being when we tend to be liars. One point in Romans, Paul is kind of Fending off accusations that God wasn’t faithful to His promises. And he says, Are you kidding me? Like that’s not God at all. He says, let God be true, and every human being a liar. Truth is God’s very nature. And so of course, truth matters. But it’s more than that. Because Jesus doesn’t just say I am the truth. What does he say? I am the way and the truth and the life. God’s truth is gospel, saving truth. The truth is a way for liars to live. Jesus is the way for liars, to get to live, to put away their lying and be reconciled to God. The Gospel tells us the truth about who we are and who God is. And there’s some bad news in that truth. We are sinners. There’s some good news in that truth too, though, he is a savior. So that humbles us on the one hand, the truth that Scripture tells us the truth that’s we’ve been talking about in this whole series right humbles us like I’m more sinful than I ever dared. Imagine. How many of you kind of had that experience in these last few weeks? Like I’ve been living that one for sure. Like, okay, I thought only broke like three of these I’m, I’m like 11, for 11. There are other commands, I know, I broken at this point that aren’t even in there. So it humbles us. But the truth also heals us, or at least it can heal us if we will let us more sinful than ever dare to imagine, but I’m more loved than I ever dared hope in Christ. So the Bible not only tells us the truth about ourselves, but the Bible also frees us. The Gospel frees us to tell the truth to so we get to tell the truth. If we understand the gospel, there’s no need to lie any longer. It Why Do We lie? Set it already? Usually it’s to protect or promote ourselves. We don’t want people to figure out who we really are. I’m worse than you think in this area. And I’m not nearly as good as you think in this area. I think of oppressive regimes here anything that is like, you know, Soviet Union kind of stuff, like oppressive regimes traffic in lies, they falsify the past. They falsify statistics, they falsify their falsification, they just everything is why to maintain an image to maintain an image. And here’s a hard truth for you. We’re no different. We’re no different. We are running a relentless PR campaign in our lives, we are pushing out propaganda as far as as fast as any totalitarian regime that you can imagine. But if we believe the gospel, we don’t need to do spin all day, every day. Because here’s the truth about myself. I’m a sinner. saved by grace, get an amen. When I said, I’m a sinner. It’s fine. It’s true. It’s okay, I can acknowledge it. Just gonna have to close in prayer now. Here’s what this look like. I had a conversation this week on our new digital evangelism platform. I mentioned Sunday night and revision that we use and so been having some good conversations with people but talking to a young man was actually while I was writing the sermon, which is probably number one, why the sermon wasn’t as good this week. And number two, why this story is in there, it was just like, in my brain, as we were going through this young man, he reached out because he said he’s angry all the time. And just everything set him off. So I’m trying to ask open-ended questions and stuff. We’re having this conversation. You know, what sorts of things are tricky is like, No, everything is a trigger. I’m like, Okay, so we’re probably dealing with a root issue then. Right? And he’s like, yeah, probably I’m like, Okay, what’s the root issue? You know, you know what it is? Like, immediately right there. Yes. There’s unforgiveness, right? There’s bitterness. It was an issue with his parents, all that kind of stuff. So he needed gospel truth in that moment. He needed humility. Right? Like, yeah, your parents did bad things. Guess what, you do bad things, too. You’re also a selfish sinner. But he needed humility and love. Because God loved him at his worst. which frees him to love people at their worst. And so I’m having this conversation again. It was like non-stop, like just text, text, text, text text, I send that one to him. Silence. I’m like, alright, you know, he figures, right? I got a little too religious kind of thing. I’m supposed to be a listening ear. When all pastors like whatever, at least the gospel went out, you know, is in God’s hands. Now I can only scatter seed. It’s up to him. A few minutes later, he chimes again, though. He said, You know that, like I had to read that a couple of times. Because that really unlocked something deep inside of me. Like, you’re right. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. You see what the truth did? What gospel truth did for him? He could be honest about himself, and his mistakes. Which then freed him to be honest with others as well, like towards his parents. But what was done, it will do the same for us. That’s the point it will do the same for us. Are you tempted to protect yourself? You know, kids maybe got caught sneaking Halloween candy this week. And you want to lie; you don’t want to get in trouble. We all have that. I don’t want to lie. I don’t wanna get in trouble. Whatever it is, you’ve been caught doing, you’ve done far worse. Because you are complicit in the murder of the Son of God. And everybody already knows it. We talk about it every week. There’s a reason why there’s a cross behind us behind me right now. Right? The cross just outside us. That’s how bad you are. That’s how bad you are. That’s how bad I am. Jesus had to die for us. No need to protect yourself, your sinner. We know it.
You’re tempted to promote yourself, tempted to shade the story, the truth so that you’re that you’re the hero of the story? Why? What are you seeking from that? You already have the approval of God Almighty. If you’re in Christ, when He looks at you, he sees Christ’s perfection. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Jesus said of Jesus, who God’s that of Jesus. And so that’s what he says of us if we are hidden in Christ. We don’t need to lie any longer. And Jesus was on trial because of false testimony given against him. He has a little sidebar with Pilate, the governor at the time. And he wraps up by saying the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify To the truth, to the gospel, to embody the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. And I bring up this story not just because it shows, again, Jesus’s commitment to the truth and how necessary it is for us. But because of Pilate’s response. Because Pilate, you’d think you’d hear this. Knowing what you know about Jesus, knowing the false accusations though your wife had a dream being like, don’t mess with this guy like this guy is important. You’d think maybe he’d pay attention. Alright, I want to be on the side of truth. But Pilate doesn’t say that. Pilate’s response is a shrug of the shoulders. And the question, what is truth? And I mentioned it because that’s how our culture responds so often today, what’s truth? How can we possibly know? You got your truth, I got my truth. What we’ve seen this morning is that truth matters, the truth can save, but only if we’re open to hear it. And so one of the loving but hard truths, I need to speak to some of you now, if you’re here and still playing around with Christianity, or still on the outside, go on I don’t know about this is do the hard work. But don’t just shrug your shoulders and move on. Do the hard work. Be honest about the bad news that the Bible says about you, but the good news the Bible offers you in Christ, the truth can save you even today. Be honest. His lying is an act of hatred. And truth-telling can be an act of love and the truth Jesus saves. Even liars like us. Let’s pray. God of truth. We stand before you now and confess our lies. How often we have used our words and even our facial expressions and body language to express untruths? Not loving our neighbors but loving ourselves. First and foremost. We confess it, Lord; we turn from it and turn to a better way. We turn to the truth. And that is we turn to Jesus, who not only told us the hard truths about ourselves, that we are selfish sinners and liars, but came to make a way for us to receive the good truth so that we can be reconciled to you. Would you even now strengthen us by your Spirit to once again turn from sin and trust in Jesus, that we might bring you the glory you so richly deserve? In Christ’s name we pray, amen.