Society is working hard to redefine right and wrong and to negate any standard of absolute morality as mandated by the creator of the universe. Regardless of prevalent unrighteousness and the pseudo-intellectual approach to morality, God has a moral law by which the world will be judged.
A God of Truth
Sin was not only defined and exposed through the Mosaic Law but was written in the heart of mankind at creation, so that the conscience would bear witness to the natural law of God. Honesty and truthfulness are fundamental ingredients to the moral framework designed by God. Dishonesty of any kind (lying, cheating, stealing) is completely contrary to the plan and requirements of God for Christian living.
God is holy, pure, honest, and “a God of truth and without iniquity” (Deuteronomy 32:4). It is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Dishonesty is contrary to the very essence of His nature, for He is perfect and the epitome of truth.
Origin of Dishonesty
Lying and cheating are common practices. According to Christ, Satan is the father of this moral corruption and degradation. “Ye are of your father the devil….there is no truth in him…. for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). All lying and dishonesty is of the devil. Jeremiah 9:5-6 speaks of those who turned away from God, deceived their neighbors, and “taught their tongue to speak lies.” It is the impure heart and the power of the flesh under the influence of Satan that causes one to tell an untruth.
Commands Against Lying
A lying tongue is one of the six things that God hates as stated in Proverbs 6:16. There is no justification for a Christian to tell a lie, no matter how insignificant. “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Psalm 101:7). No degree of theological understanding, doctrinal purity, or good works will excuse dishonesty, for “to do justice…is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).
Old Testament commands are clear: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another…. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour” (Leviticus 19:11-13). Similarly, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9). Lying—intentionally saying something that is not true with the intent to deceive—is the fruit of sin. The child of God is to no longer walk or speak with a deceitful heart or tongue.
Speak the Truth
One of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16). Telling things about someone that are not true is breaking a basic command of God. It is a moral violation. The actions and words of a Christian are to be truthful and honest. “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psalm 34:13). Paul told the Ephesians to put away lying and to speak truth (Ephesians 4:25).
Swear Not, Promise Not
Many people use the expressions, “I swear that….” or “I promise that….” If Christians do not swear or promise, does that mean that they are not sincere or that what they state may not be truthful? The Scripture instructs the saints to “swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth…but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay” (James 5:12). Jesus taught the people to “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37). Restated, a Christian need not and should not swear or promise something. If a Christian says something, it should be true, honest, and without deceit. Making a promise minimizes the truthfulness of those things which are said but not promised.
It is incumbent upon a Christian to deal honestly with everyone, regardless of age or status. “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men”
(2 Corinthians 8:21). Paul spoke of the saints in
2 Corinthians 4:2 as having “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness.” It is not just actions and words but the very intent and purpose that should be truthful. Christ left an example that we are to follow. There was no guile or deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:21-22). He was honest, truthful, and sincere. Every Christian should exercise themselves as did Paul, to have a “conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).
Honest Before God and Oneself
It is also of utmost importance to be honest with God and with oneself. David asked a question of God, “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” One of the answers: He that “speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalms 15:1-3). Some people lie to themselves so much they start believing their own lies and live in an alternate reality. It is not only unhealthy but also wrong. A Christian should meditate and think upon those things that are true, honest, and of good report (Philippians 4:8-9). Furthermore, 1 John 1:6 states, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” God hates hypocrisy of any kind, and everyone should be intellectually and spiritually honest with themselves. Honesty with oneself and with God is the only way to grow spiritually and to be prepared for the judgment.
Honesty in Leaders
As honesty is a requirement for a Christian, it is an absolute qualification for those who are leaders in the church. The leaders chosen of Israel were to be “men of truth” (Exodus 18:21), and the deacons that were chosen in Acts 6:3 were to be “men of honest report.”
Christians are to be honest in all things; this includes at home, school, work, in business dealings, with governmental requirements, etc. Cheating is where stealing and lying merge. Jeremiah spoke about the one who built his house by unrighteousness and did not pay the laborers for their help (Jeremiah 22:13). “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). True Christians will pay their debts, do their own work, be honest in every business dealing, and will never intentionally cheat anyone by much or little. In living an honest life, a saint will report and pay all taxes to the government that are due (Romans 13:7-8). When Christians say something, it should be regarded as true and right, and their actions should follow it up. Anything intentionally less than honesty is sin.
Costs of Honesty
There will be occasions that will cost time and money to maintain honesty, but it is pleasing to God. Psalm 15:4 speaks of the one that “sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not.” When you say you will do something, even if it hurts, follow through. The world changes and backtracks, but the child of God walks with integrity. It is better to have a little with righteousness (Proverbs 16:8) and have the blessings of God.
Rewards of Honesty
Honesty and truthfulness are liberating for “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Lies come and go but truth is established (Proverbs 12:19), and the honest one never needs to fear getting caught in a lie. Those who speak the truth are respected and honored (Proverbs 16:13). Good days come to those who speak without falsehood and deceit (1 Peter 3:10). Most importantly, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that…call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
Consequences of Dishonesty
Nothing that happens or is said in this life will remain hidden, even if people are deceived for a while. All things will be revealed (Luke 12:2), and no false witness or liar shall escape the judgment of God (Proverbs 19:5). Honesty is not an option for a child of God, it is an absolute requirement. Those who tell lies will have the same punishment as the unbelievers and the murderers. “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
Let us live, think, speak, and act with honesty as commanded by the Word of God, without any type of lying, deceitfulness, or dishonesty.