Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;…
I. The NATURE of the sin of lying. The youngest of us knows the thing too well — the intentional leading of others to understand as true what we know to be false.
1. It may be by a lying word — a sin of the tongue, telling a lie, speaking a lie.
2. It may be by a lying LOOK — a sin of the eye — looking a lie.
3. It may be a lying ACT — a sin of the hand — acting a lie. This is one of the most common forms of it, and least thought of. Still to keep by school-life: It is the hour for arithmetic. You have got some hard sums to do — too hard for you to master without more time than you have got now. You ask your neighbour to show you his slate, or you look over the shoulder of the boy before you who is always correct, you see you have been mistaken, rub out the wrong figures, fill in the right — in a moment you are on your feet as having finished your work, read off your sum, get your mark, and, with it, credit for being one of the few who are correct. That is a theft, but it is also a lie; it is stealing, but it is also lying. It was not the tongue, but the hand that did it. And here let me warn you against being parties to the lies of others. You are a young servant. You have broken accidentally a favourite china bowl. You do not know what to do. It is the first time such a thing has happened with you. You fear your mistress will be angry; perhaps you will have to replace it out of your half year's wage, small as it is, just on purpose to make you more careful for the future. So instead of making an immediate and full confession, explaining how it took place, and saying you will be more careful in time to come, you take up the pieces, and lay them aside till you have opportunity of getting them out of the way; or you join the broken piece in as neatly as yon can, set the bowl in the press, and the discovery is never made that you had any hand in it, till you are in another situation. You have been acting a lie; and I can hardly over-estimate the wrong you have done, most of all to yourself. When Jacob put the kid-skins on his hands and neck, and served up dainty meat to his old blind father Isaac, passing himself off for his brother Esau, he acted a lie; in was lying kindness. Before leaving this head, let me say a word regarding equivocating — that is, saying what has a double meaning — what may be taken up in two ways — the mere word true, the thing false — a kind of half-lie.
II. The CHARACTER of this sin. It would take long to bring out all the bad features of it. Take the following:
1. It is a cowardly thing. No brave boy would lie. Cowards tell lies. Fear lies at the bottom of falsehood, and no liar need pretend to be brave. If I were in search of courageous boys, I would seek truthful ones. Our Scottish martyrs, the good Covenanters in olden times, were bright examples of strict adherence, not only to the truth, but to truthfulness; and There shall we find any more brave? A lie would have saved their lives — a single lying act — one lying bow of the head — but they would not.
2. It is a mean thing. It is not manly, Some of the cases I have mentioned, showing utter disregard to the feelings and interests of others, are base, shabby contemptible in the extreme. Never expect much at the hand of liars. They would sacrifice your interests to their own any day.
3. It is a God-dishonouring thing. How much is said of God in connection with truth! He is called the "God of truth." It is said, He "keepeth truth for ever." Every word of His is so unchangeable that His "truth" is just used for His "word"; they mean the same thing. He is called "God who cannot lie." His people are called "children that will not lie." Lying lips are said to be "an abomination" to Him. Truth is part of God's likeness — God's image. What dishonour, then, must be done to the God of truth by lying! You don't like lying things; a lying apple, beautiful and inviting without, but rotten within; a lying penny, bright but bad; a lying cat, that invites you to make much of it, and seems ever so friendly, and then bites or scratches you; a lying lottery, that promises a prize and gives a blank; a lying branch, that invites your foot to rest upon it, and then gives way and throws you to the ground. And God dislikes lying things too. This is the worst feature in it all — it is so dishonouring to God. This is seen in the way He speaks of it and punishes it.
4. It is a devilish thing. God is the "God of truth," the devil is the "father of lies," is a "liar," ay, and the father of liars. Lying is so vile a thing, and the word "lie" is so black, even to the world, even to the wicked, even to careless children, that they try to use it as little as possible, and it is spoken and thought lightly of, under another name — a "fib;" "it was only a fib" — a kind of harmless, innocent falsehood — a little lie — a softer name for a bad, black thing.
III. The DANGER of it.
1. It is a growing sin. By this I mean it is always increasing. One lie leads to and necessitates another, till no one knows where it will end. It is like a snowball, the further it is rolled the more it increases in size. Once or twice indulged, it soon becomes a habit.
2. It leads to and is linked with many other sins. You seldom find lying alone. It is something like drinking: it leads to almost every other sin, and all other sins seek its help, and hide themselves under it. I can hardly fancy a liar to be honest — either to fear God or regard man.
3. It degrades the whole character. When a habit of lying has been formed, we may well fear the worst. When truthfulness goes, the whole character goes along with it. There is an end to all confidence. For a young apprentice, or a young servant, there is nothing I fear so much as untruthfulness.
IV. The PUNISHMENT of it. This is two-fold.
1. Here — in the present world. There is the loss of character; the loss of all respect. There is degradation; misery; shame. No one can respect a liar. It carries its own punishment with it.
2. Hereafter — in the world to come. Remember, dear children I that sooner or later the lie will be discovered — every lie! If not here, at any rate hereafter.
V. Our DUTY regarding it. "Lie not: putting away lying — speak the truth."
1. Strive against it.
2. Watch against it. You must not leave the door open.
3. Pray against it.
4. Seek to love the truth.Get the heart filled with the love of Christ, and then you will love the truth, and of necessity hate lying. Every effort will strengthen you, and the more you seek after the truth, the stronger you will become in it. Rather be simple than deceitful; rather be the cheated than the cheater, for it is written, "The Lord preserveth the simple."
(J. H. Wilson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;