By Femi Aribisala
When we come into a place, do we change the atmosphere? That is the prerogative of a man of integrity. The Bible says that Mary took a jar of costly perfume, used it to anoint the feet of Jesus, and the house was filled with the fragrance. (John 12:3).
Is a place divinely enriched by our presence? If it is not, then we are not kingdom citizens. People should talk differently because a believer is around. They should be uncomfortable behaving in a certain manner or talking in a certain way because we are there.
Jesus says: “Let me tell you why you are here. You are here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how ill people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (Matthew 5:13).
Then there is the question of our word. Do we do what we tell people we are going to do? Do we tell people that we are coming when we are going?
Saying what we do not mean is common practice even among Christians. We tell people we will pray for them when we know we will not and do not. We promise to help when we have no intention of doing so. We say: “I love you” when we do not. We promise marriage when we have no such intention.
These transgressions seem to be minor. But they are grievous in the sight of God. The propensity to tell lies is one of the distinguishing elements of the kingdom of darkness. The Jews were convinced they were the seed of Abraham and therefore appointed to salvation.
But Jesus gave them a shocking revelation: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44).
Lying is demonic. Of the seven things that God hates, three pertain to telling lies. (Proverbs 6:16-19). Lying is natural to “Adamic” man. Observe that Abraham was a liar; his son Isaac was a liar, and his grandson Jacob was a liar as well.
These patriarchs can be forgiven; they were born of women but not of the Spirit. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. (Psalms 58:3).
Lying is an indelible part of the “old man,” but it is anathema to the new creation:
“Do not tell lies to each other; it was your old life with all its wickedness that did that sort of thing; now it is dead and gone. You are living a brand-new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.” (Colossians 3:9-10).
We often tell lies in the bid to get out of trouble. But this reasoning comes from a great deception. It is the truth that gets one out of trouble. Jesus promises that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. (John 8:32). Lies, however, just complicate the situation.
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” (Isaiah 30:1).
A beloved Christian sister was working in a bank. I do not know what prompted her to do it, but she started lending money from people’s accounts to traders without the knowledge of the bank.
The process soon became complicated. It required her to keep close tabs on the affected accounts so that, in case of any demand for the funds by the legitimate owners, she could move funds from other accounts to cover them.
But one day she became pregnant. Then as God would have it, the pregnancy developed some complications and she had to be hospitalised. While in hospital, the fraud was discovered by the bank.
It took the grace of God to keep her from going to jail. But her appointment with the bank was summarily terminated. She was blacklisted, so she can never work in a bank again. She was also required to repay all the money she had lent out to her private customers.
When I saw her, I expressed shock and disappointment that a “Sunday school teacher” of longstanding would do such a thing. But there was something she told me that made a big impression on me. She said: “I am very glad I was caught. I had become tired of the lies upon lies. It had become too exhausting trying to cover one track after the other.”
Like the biblical Jews before us, Christians today do not seem to appreciate the gravity of our everyday habit of telling lies. I was standing beside an engineer in front of my office, and he had to take a telephone call from a client. I heard him tell the man on the other line that he was speaking from a different part of town.
“How can you stand here and tell such a blatant lie?” I asked.
“Oh, that is not a lie,” he insisted. “That’s just business.”
Christians do not seem to appreciate that people who tell lies will not inherit the kingdom of God: “The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
“Mummy, Mrs. Williams would like to speak to you on the phone.”
“Tell her I am not in.”
Mummy is not only a liar; she has caused somebody else to tell lies. This is grievous. The Bible repeatedly warns against those who, like Jeroboam, not only sin but cause others to sin. (1 Kings 15:34).
Jesus says: “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7).
“Why are you hiding from Mrs. Williams, in any case?”
“I happen to owe her some money.”
“If you owe her some money; pay it back.”
“Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others- never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all his requirements.” (Romans 13:8).
The Bible declares that God is a God of integrity. God’s word is His bond. His word is so dear to Him that he has exalted it above everything else, including His name. (Psalms 138:2). Therefore, the people of God should also be known for their integrity. We should be like father-like sons. Our “yes” should be “yes” and our “no” should be “no.”
Do we have to swear before we can be believed? Then we cannot be true witnesses of Jesus Christ.
“Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.” (Matthew 5:37).