FAMOUS LOST WORDS SERMON SERIES
SUNDAY, JUNE 11
It has been awhile since we have taken a straw poll. I am going to ask you a couple of questions. As I ask the questions would you please respond by lifting your hand. How many of you have ever been lied to before? How many of you have ever been lied to by a family member? No elbowing, please. How about someone at work? Wow. A coach or a teacher? You can see there is a lot of lying going on in our world today. How did you feel when you discovered that someone had deceived you? If you are like me, you got angry. You were mad. Because human beings hate lies. If you think we hate lies, you have not seen anything yet until you realize how much our God despises lies. He detests falsehood. God does not like it when we are dishonest.
Today, I am in the second segment of a four-part series entitled Famous Lost Words. Last week we talked about commitment. We said commitment is a famous lost word. This weekend we talk about honesty, and that is a lonely word, as we just heard from our singer, Chris Decker. Jesus said these words in John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” I am the way, the truth and the life. Truth is bound up in the very essence and nature of God. Have you ever wondered, where did truth come from? Where did it originate? Truth originated from God. If we had no God, there would be no truth. And one of the reasons God hates our lies is because He is a truthful God, a transparent God, a holy God, a pure God, a just God. So the next time you tell a white lie, or the next time you falsify something, or the next time you are dishonest, think about the essence and nature of God. Because if we really understood how much God hates lying, we would stop our lying as quickly as a snap of the fingers.
God also despises lies because He realizes the predicament that mankind is in today is the result of the telling and the believing of a lie. Go back to the book of Genesis, chapter 3. The Evil One comes on the scene and he begins to tempt Adam and Eve. He lies to Adam and Eve, they believe the lie, they act on the lie and because of the telling and because of the believing of the lie, that opened the floodgates of evil were opened up. From that moment on all of us have been suffering because of those original lies.
We are all natural born liars anyway. My son, EJ, is three years of age. A couple of weeks ago, LeeBeth, one of our daughters, came running up to us and she said, “Daddy, Daddy, EJ hit me, he hit me.” “EJ, did you hit LeeBeth.” “No, I didn’t hit her, I didn’t touch her.” And then, you see he is not quite old enough to process some things and I said, “EJ, where did you hit her?” He says, “On the arm, Daddy, I hit her right there.” Proverbs 12:13 “Lies will get any man into trouble but honesty is its own defense.” Proverbs 11:1 “The Lord hates cheating and delights in honesty.” John 8:44 “When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies.” It is sad to say but oftentimes we adopt Satan’s role. And if we were really honest with ourselves today, we know that honesty trips us up.
I am going to spend the lion’s share of my time today talking about two forms of dishonesty. First we are talking about lying. I want you to meet a family and this family has kind of a unique name, they are the Dishonesty family. The old Dishonesty family. And as I describe these personalities maybe, just maybe, you can see yourself in one of these individuals, because I have as I have studied for this message.
The first gentleman in this family, the Dishonesty family, is named Dave Dropper. You know Dave, don’t you? Dave is at a party and he drops names of important people he barely knows but he acts like he is really close and tight with these people. He will just kind of drop a name here and there and you go, “Whoa, Dave Dropper. Big time. What a stud.” He also will drop past accomplishments. “Hey, I was a two-year letterman in high school on the football team.” In reality, though, he rode the bench. Dave’s favorite song is Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days. Do we have any Droppers here? Surely we don’t, not in this crowd. None of us has ever, ever dropped a name or a past accomplishment have we? I mean, we are sly about it. Dave Dropper.
Another personality you might recognize is Connie Convenience. Connie is a sweet girl. She lies, though, when it is convenient. Like tomorrow maybe the sun will be out and it will be a great day for going to the pool and catching some rays and reading that new romance novel. So she calls in sick at the office. It is amazing, though, she has a miraculous healing in no time flat and she goes out and gets some sun and reads her book. Lies for convenience purposes. Or, maybe she works for someone and a gentleman calls in for him but he does not want to be disturbed. She tells the caller that he is out of the office. She also will write those sick notes for her kids when they are not sick. Do we have any Conveniences here?
Ron Revenge is another one. Old Ronny. You see when Ronny gets hurt he doesn’t like it. And Ronny can trump up a lie as quick as the National Enquirer writers. I mean just like that he can trump it up. And he will trump up a lie about you if you hurt him, and spread it all around to get back at you, to nail you.
Another Dishonesty family member is Ernie Escape. He escapes punishment. He dodges stuff and he is a really good liar. When he was a kid and his parents would confront him about something, he would just lie to escape punishment. Now he is older and he gets pulled over by a police officer going 70 in a 55 mph zone he will act in a similar fashion. “Officer my odometer and my speedometer and all the dashboard is malfunctioning. It is kind of like the Starship Enterprise when it hits warp speed or something. I don’t know what has happened.” And he lies to escape things. Do we have any escape artists here who lie? This is kind of a tough message, isn’t it?
I’m not through because this family, the Dishonesty family, they have two distant cousins. One of the cousins, you might know him, is another form, a subtle shade of lying, old Dan Distortion. Old Dan. Dan tells the truth but he conveniently leaves out part of the truth and kind of twists in false words and deeds with the truth. And so you get a distorted view of the situation. You know people like that? I know some who so distort everything and they have done it for so long, they don’t know the difference between fact and fantasy. And those people scare me. They freak me out. A good example of this would be the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here we have two groups of people, both are cults, and they have taken the truth, the Bible, and taken words out of context and mixed the truth with error and you have two entire religious systems based on something that is false. And the sad thing is most of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea what they really believe. And if you talk to them, they will use terms like Jesus Christ, the Bible. But here is how you deal with people like that. You stop and say, “OK, you are a Mormon?” “Yes.” “Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ to you?” And if you talk to a Mormon and the Mormon is honest with you he will say that Jesus Christ is the son of Lucifer, that Jesus Christ was on a planet having sex with other people. That is what the Mormons believe. And they use terms that sound so nice and so kind and so real to Christians. Get them to define it. They have distorted the Gospel. I am not slamming Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am just telling the truth. But if you are a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness, please seek the truth and read the word of God. The Bible says categorically, if you add or subtract, if you use another book and make it equal to the Bible, that is a cult. That is a false religion.
Another distant cousin of the Dishonesty family is old Ernie Embellishment. You know you are kind of telling a story, and I have to watch this, and the story is going OK but I want to really add some punch to it. So I may say, “Yeah, the guy jumped four feet and the crocodile bit his little toe off.” And I am thinking OK, you know the story was basically the same but I just added a little bit. A couple of weeks ago I said something similar, not that particular thing, and someone I am accountable to said, “Now, Ed, did that really happen that way.” And I had to admit that I had kind of added one little thing. It was a lie. But I go over every message and every story I use with some people I am accountable to and they hold me accountable. Because I do not want to do that. I have a tendency to lie. Don’t you?
I heard back there as I was kind of going over my notes, everyone laughing at the drama, laughter erupting. Why? Because we deal with this stuff daily. It trips us up. We love to embellish statistics, don’t we? And numbers and reports and golf scores and how much we can bench press. The list goes on and on and on.
I think it is about time we get serious about lying and say we are going to be a truth telling church. We are going to be truth telling individuals. And here are some suggestions that I try to put forth in my life concerning truth telling. The first is this. I challenge you to do a regular word check. Do a word check. As you are praying to God and as you are writing your prayers out, go through your conversations and ask yourself this question. “Lord, did I embellish anything today or exaggerate or lie for convenience purposes or leave something out or whatever? Did I do that?” And do not just go to the next subject in your prayers. Stop for a second because in many circumstances, He will kind of say, “Yeah, you did.” And here is the tough part. Here is where it takes, if you will excuse the language here, spiritual guts to do something. The Bible says when you have lied to someone you have got to go and lock eyes with that person and make it right. Whoa! That separates the tire kickers from the buyers in the Christian realm. And I have had to do that about three or four times in my life and after each episode I say to myself that lying is too costly. I challenge you to go make it right because let me tell you what will happen when you make it right. First, it will help you to really be a truth teller. And secondly, it will radically speak to the person’s life that you lied to. I have never walked up to a person and said, “Hey, you know yesterday I told you something that is not true.” I have never had that person say, “Well, yeah, you are a jerk, man, you make me sick.” I have never had that. What they do is they say, “Wow, I really appreciate that.” And talk to them about what Christ is doing in your life. If it is real, deal with it. Don’t just say you’ll ask God to forgive you. Go to the person and make it right. Are you doing the word check? I challenge you to do so.
Number two. Establish some people in your life that can hold you accountable. Let me talk briefly to you about accountability. Accountability is not having a person who you don’t have a natural affinity with walk up to you and say, “Hey, I am going to hold you accountable.” That is not accountability. Biblical accountability stems from relationships where you have natural closeness, you have that personality click and once you form a trusted relationship, once you realize this person loves you for who you are, because you matter to God and are a Christ-follower, and your relationship is built on Jesus Christ, then as you test the waters you can have accountability happen. But don’t have it in just some haphazard, off the cuff relationship. You have got to know the person, pray for the person and then it will happen. And let this person walk in your life and tell them, “I want to be a truth teller. When you are around me, do I exaggerate, do I kind of lie for convenience purposes, do I change things around?”
Number three. Remember what your lies do to the heart of God. The very nature and essence of God is honesty. And also our lying has caused all these problems in the world for thousands and thousands of years because of the telling and believing of something that was dishonest. You see when the Holy Spirit comes inside your life He does some radical things if you are sensitive to Him. In John 16:13 the Bible says, “But when He, the spirit of truth, comes He will guide you into truth.” Is anyone kind of fuzzy about the Holy Spirit of God? You see when we receive Christ, He puts the person of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, three in one, one in three. And no one really grasps the true dynamics of the trinity because we are finite and God is infinite. The Holy Spirit will guide us into truth. Here is how He does it. You are in a conversation with someone and you are about to lie. You are about to say something that is not really true. And you will feel something like a tap on the shoulder. “Hey, hey, Ed, you are about to say something that is really stretching it. You are about to use a word like it’s the best or the greatest or this guy is this or that.” And when you are about to say that the Holy Spirit will warn you. And when you go through and tell the lie you will feel a conviction from the Holy Spirit and you need to go make that right. But, when we do it right, like when we are about to lie, and I am a fisherman which makes it extra tough, when we are about to say how big that fish was but instead tell the real truth, we feel that affirmation from the Holy Spirit of God and there is a cosmic celebration happening in heaven when we are honest. It starts in your conversations. I want you to do it. I really do. Because you’re talking about feeling free and getting rid of all that guilt, it’s great. When you tell one lie and another lie and another lie, if it’s a white lie, a gray lie, a black lie, a green lie, whatever kind of lie, lying is abhorrent in the eyes of God. That is the first aspect of dishonesty we are going to talk about today. I am through with lying right now.
Now let’s change gears. The second aspect of dishonesty, this will hurt, stealing. “But, Ed, stealing. Not me. You’ve got the wrong person. Maybe the person on the back row but not me. I am a good guy. I would never steal. Not me.” Now before you say that and before I say that is not a relevant topic just sit back and listen. The Bible is pretty direct on this one. Exodus 20:15. “You shall not steal.” Do you want me to explain that some more? You shall not steal. This verse means this. Don’t let that desire that we all have to get something for nothing get the best of us. Isn’t there something intriguing about getting something for nothing? We like that and it is called stealing. The Bible never says that we should not own things or have money. The Bible says there are some acceptable and good ways to get goods and acquire possessions. The first is obvious. Diligent labor. The Bible says we are to work and we are to be compensated for that work. We are to make money that way. That is an acceptable way of acquiring property. Another acceptable way of acquiring property is through investing. You invest in certain ventures and you have a return on your money and you can make money that way. That is good, the Bible talks about it. Also God gives us things through prayer. Sometimes if you pray for a specific item, even materialistically, God will grant you that item. And that is good. God blesses that way. But He says to those of us who work, don’t become workaholics. He said to those of us who invest our money, don’t get so involved in playing the market and in various ventures that you miss out on kingdom priorities. And don’t allow your prayers to become Santa Claus type shopping lists.
Unacceptable ways, though, are what I am driving at today. Those three ways are good ways, but let’s get into some unacceptable ways. The first unacceptable way of acquiring property is through taking something that is not yours. Flat out robbing someone. Jesus talked about the Good Samaritan. This guy was walking along one day. I was over in Israel a couple of months ago and we saw the path that they feel Jesus used in His illustration. The robbers jump out from behind rocks, give him an elbow drop, he is out. They rob him and Jesus said that that was a most blatant sin. We know that we don’t do that. How many of you have ever been robbed before, like at gun point or you have had your house broken into? Wow. That is really amazing.
Let’s talk about some areas of stealing that we don’t really call stealing, but are stealing. How about in the work force? You borrow stationary, pencils, pens. You make phone calls when the company has a policy of no long distance calls. Are you stealing? I think so. The Bible would say you are stealing.
How about long term borrowing? You borrow a lawn mover or a rake or shoes or clothing or maybe even a car, and you have kept this item for so long, you think, well the person has forgotten about it and it is kind of mine now. And the Lord is bringing up things right now. Here is what I challenge you to do. Go home and take a quick walk through your garage, your apartment, your home and anything you see that you have borrowed, take it and return it to the individual. If the item is now destroyed or used up, write a check for it and don’t just say, “Here, I was wrong.” Say instead, “Here it is. I’m sorry, this was yours. Forgive me. I know Jesus Christ. He is helping me to be honest in every area.” You do that and you watch and see what happens.
Another way that we steal is through deception. And this is tough in the business realm. “Oh, you definitely need to buy this policy, because this policy can change your life. I wouldn’t live another day without this policy or this item.” “This car right here. Oh, it has never been scratched, no.” Even though you know that about three months ago it was hammered from behind. ” No, it is in mint showroom quality shape.” Deception. Here is what the word of God says about deception. Proverbs 20:23. “The Lord detests differing weights and dishonest scales do not please Him.”
Another way we steal is that we withhold something from someone that is rightfully theirs. Productivity from your employer. Long lunch breaks on company time. Personal errands on company time. We are taking something from someone that is rightfully theirs, folks, and the Bible says that that is stealing. That is a subtle shade of seizure.
Another example of withholding something that is rightfully someone else’s is through delayed mortgage payments, non-payment of child support or alimony or tithing. Tithing. Those of us who don’t tithe, we are withholding something from God that is rightfully His. You see the moment we give our lives to Jesus Christ we give Him the total package. Everything. And if Jesus is not number one in every area of our lives then he is not really number one. We have just sent up a smoke screen. We are just talking a bunch of trash. If He is number one He tells us one of the first things we need to start doing is to give to a local house of worship. If it is this church, praise God. If it is another church, praise God. Wherever it is, get involved and begin to give. And Christ says, as we begin to give, we will attain a deeper spiritual level. We will begin to mature in the Lord. How do you think, though, God feels when He sees His children withhold money that is rightfully His and we take this money and we spend it on vacations, VCRs, cellular phones, clothes, other little trinkets and toys? How does He feel when He sees His children doing that and He knows what price their redemption actually cost? And it cost Him the very life of His own Son. How does God feel? You can multiply how you felt when someone stole and robbed from you, multiply that feeling exponentially and you maybe just have a sliver of how God feels when we rob from Him. You see when you begin to sacrifice and you begin to become generous with your finances, some great things are going to happen. For a long while I have kind of tiptoed around the money issue. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I want to be sensitive to those people who are maybe seeking the Christian faith. And that is great and fine and good. But I cannot hold back truth from you. The greatest adventure in our lives, Lisa’s and mine, is the giving that we have done during the span of our relationship. You’re talking about having a blast, just have a ball. It happens when you start to give and get outside of yourself. Are you withholding something from someone, or maybe from God that is rightfully His?
I want to shut this message down by talking to you about four elements of truth that you must comprehend before this stuff is to happen. The first element of trust is this. The Bible says we are loved by God. And we are loved by God so much that he has a great purpose for your life and my life and that purpose is unique. That is the first great truth in the Bible. You are made the way you are, your personality, your laugh, your walk, your talk just for a dynamic purpose from God. That is the first transformational truth. The second is this. We have all sinned. We have all lied. We have all kind of stretched and embellished the truth. And the Bible calls this sin. And the Bible says that sin separates us from God, it causes a giant chasm between man and God. Man has tried to bridge that gap by being a nice guy, philosophical, by doing good works and being religious. And the Bible says all of our good works fall short. Even Billy Graham and Mother Teresa fall short. Except though, they have come to the third transformational truth and many of you have and some of you have not. God saw that gap, God saw that man could not bridge his relationship outside of God, so God being the great initiator sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, to die on the cross for our sins and to bridge the gap between man and God. And the fourth transformational truth is this. It is our choice. God has done this great act for us through Jesus Christ and now if we receive Him, if we come to the point in our lives where we turn from our sin, repent, open up the lid of our heart, kneel before Him and say Jesus, I want to give You my life. Come into my life, forgive me. The moment that happens you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a clear conscious, you know the truth and the truth will set you free and you will be on your way to becoming an honest man or woman. So I pray that honesty is not a lonely word in your life. I pray that honesty is a value, a virtue that everyone sees when they think about you and they see you in this life.