Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Power of Words, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Are you ever guilty of lying? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helps you answer that question.

Nancy: I break my word when I agree to be somewhere at a certain time or to meet a need and I fail to do it. You say, “Being late could be lying? Oh no! That’s really picky.” If I’ve said I’m going to do it, then I need to do it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for June 22, 2017.

Flattery, exaggeration, embellishment . . . these don’t sound too bad until you admit what they really are: lying. Today Nancy will give you some practical ways to find out if you’re lying. 

Nancy: We’ve been talking all this week about the power and the impact of our words. I’ve been encouraging you to memorize Proverbs 18:21. It says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We’ve seen that our words can wound, or they can heal. They can minister grace and blessing, or they can dishearten and discourage the people that we speak to.

Then we saw yesterday that our tongues are connected to our hearts and that the real issue is not the tongue or a speech or word issue. The real issue is a heart issue. And for those of us—which would be all of us—who have a heart issue, God has provided, through the cross and the blood of Christ, a solution.

It’s called confession, repentance, God’s grace, forgiveness. I know I can get onto this subject of the tongue—we’re looking all this week at what Proverbs has to say about the tongue—and I can start to feel very overwhelmed and discouraged about ever having victory in the matter of my speech. But that would be an instrument of the enemy to leave you feeling that way.

I want you to be encouraged and to know that by the power of God’s Spirit we can be overcomers in this area. He can give us new hearts, clean hearts, pure hearts, loving hearts that speak pure and loving and gracious words.

Over the next several sessions, we want to look in more detail in the book of Proverbs at some specific ways that we can use our tongue for good or for evil. The first of those is an area that God dealt with me a number of years ago and has become such an important part of God’s work in my life. It has to do with this whole matter of whether we use our tongues for deceit or for truthfulness.

Proverbs has a lot to say about lying, a lying tongue, and it talks about lying in different ways: deceit, false witness, beguilement. There are many different ways that we can deceive.

You may think that you don’t have a problem with lying. I’ll just tell you honestly, since we’re being honest here, that I had a huge problem with lying as a young woman in ministry. I’m sure it didn’t start then; it probably started earlier than that.

But it was in my twenties that the Lord first began to show me that I had a real habit in the area . . . I thought of it as exaggeration. But the Lord came to show me that it was lying and that I was motivated by a desire to make a better impression of myself than was honestly true.

That was a deeply rooted sin issue in my heart. Proverbs teaches us first the way that God views lying. If we want to have truthful hearts and tongues, we need to come to see lying the way that God sees it. Lying is no small matter to God.

If you turn to Proverbs chapter 6, beginning at verse 16, you come to that very familiar passage about the six things that the Lord hates, yes seven that are an abomination to Him. And in the list that follows . . .

These are things the Lord hates; that’s a strong word. These are things that are an abomination to the Lord. That’s another really strong word. If you knew that something was disgusting to God, that it was an abomination to Him, do you think you’d want to play with it, embrace it, toy with it?

As you look at that list, you discover that three of the things on that list of seven relate to the tongue; and two of those three items relate to lying specifically. You’d think if God only had seven things He could mention that He hates that they’d all be different. But two of them specifically relate to lying.

He says, after a proud heart, there is a lying tongue, and then a false witness who speaks lies, and then one who sows discord among the brethren. I don’t know any way to do that without the tongue. So there you have, out of that list of seven, three things that relate to the tongue and two that relate specifically to lying.

So how does God feel about lying? He hates it. And why does He hate it? Because He is truth, and lying is utterly contrary to the nature of God. There’s no shadow of turning with God, no shading of the truth. He’s perfect noonday. When we shade the truth, or in subtle ways even lie to defend ourselves or to make ourselves better, we’re going contrary to the nature of God.

Proverbs 12:22 tells us that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” God hates lying because it is so contrary to His character. In fact, as we look in other parts of the Scripture we discover that lying is actually devilish. It is satanic, and that’s why God abhors it. He detests it.

On the contrary, He loves those who speak truthfully, because when we speak truthfully we’re speaking God’s language. So that’s how God views lying.

Now, the other important question is: How do godly people view lying? How should we view lying?

Proverbs 13:5 tells us that “a righteous man hates lying.” Who does that sound like? Who else hates lying? God hates lying. So if we’re righteous, if we have the character and the heart of God in us, we’re going to hate lying as God hates it. “But a wicked man,” the Scripture says, “is loathsome and comes to shame.”

So a person who is righteous loves what God loves and hates what God hates. And since God hates every form of falsehood, if we are right with God we will hate falsehood as well.

Proverbs 12:19 tells us “the truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Now, in real life that doesn’t always seem to be true. But Proverbs says that in the long run, in the light of how God views things and in the light of eternity, the effect of true words will be enduring, but those who deceive will not last. They’re only for a moment. That phrase there is literally “for the blinking of the eyes.”

They may seem to get ahead and to succeed better in life by deception, but in fact their time will be short and their lies will be exposed. Well, Proverbs 12:17—there are a number of verses here that talk about the matter of truthful witness.

Specifically here it is talking about a court setting. There are a number of references to court settings in the book of Proverbs, but by application this can have to do with any time we’re giving a report, any time we’re giving an account. “I saw this happen. I heard this happen.”

So Proverbs 12:17 says, “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness deceit.”

Proverbs 14:5: “The faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.” Of course, this is going back to the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Deut. 5:20). 

So as you think about the reports that you give of others, do you generally give true reports? Do you work hard at making sure that the details are accurate, that the way you’re retelling the story is the way that it happened?

You say, “That sounds so legalistic. You’ve got to just watch everything you say!” Well, that’s what the Scripture says. We will give account for every idle or carelessly spoken word.

But I want to tell you, when you begin to speak truth, as I discovered years ago when God began to set me free from exaggeration and deception and giving false reports, you find it’s a whole lot freer to be a person who speaks the truth.

It’s not always easy to speak the truth, and sometimes it seems like the consequences of speaking the truth are such that we’d rather just lie. But the consequences of lying are always in the long run more deadly than the consequences of speaking the truth. And even if you reap terrible consequences for speaking the truth, it’s better to speak the truth and, in the long run, have God’s blessing on your life.

Proverbs 19:5 tells us that “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape.” By the way, as you’re praying for your children—and it seems like most parents go through this season when their children discover lying—one of the things you can pray, as a mother, is that they get caught sooner rather than later. That’s the best thing that can happen to them, or to us, is that we get exposed, which will help us deal with this issue.

Proverbs promises that those who lie will not escape. They will reap consequences. Now, it’s easy to think, Well, I don’t really lie. One of the things I’ve tried to do over the years is to come to a greater understanding of some of the different ways that we can deceive.

Of course, there is outright lying, and we all know that’s wrong. But I want us to look in this session at several different ways that we can deceive. As I mention each of these ways, I won’t go into a lot of detail, but I want to ask you some questions that the Lord has asked me and that have been helpful to me in examining my own heart.

We’ll have these questions and these ten points available on our website so that you can go back and really take more time to work through this kind of spiritual exam that the Lord is giving us.

The first is exaggeration. That could come under the category of exaggerating past accomplishments. It may be overstating the truth—that’s a form of exaggeration—by using words like always and never. That’s a deadly one in marriage, isn’t it, or as a mom with your children? “You always . . .” “You never . . .” “Your room always looks like . . .”

If you’ve been on the receiving end of that, you know that you tend to react to the overstatement and lose the kernel of truth that you might have been more receptive to. Now, that’s not a justification for not taking counsel, but we’re foolish when we overstate the truth because we lose our credibility.

To exaggerate may mean to make sweeping generalizations about people or situations—things that maybe are generally true, but we state them as if they’re always true. Or embellishing details to make a story more humorous or more interesting—exaggeration. That’s one way we deceive.

Here’s another way we deceive, and that’s with flattery. Psalms says, “Everyone lies to his neighbor. Their flattering lips speak with deception” (Ps. 12:2, NIV).

Flattery—complimenting someone else in order to enhance my own reputation in their eyes.

And then, we’ve talked about outright lying, under which comes this whole matter of slandering . . . spreading false reports with the intent to inflict hurt . . . falsifying time cards. People lie on employment applications.

In our ministry we’ve had people come back years after coming to serve in our ministry to say, “I lied on my application. I wanted the job so I lied about something on my record” or whatever.

We’ve seen people who’ve made it in the public eye because of not being careful enough to speak the truth. Expense reports, tax returns, falsifying these for personal benefit—that all comes under direct lying.

And then misleading, number four. This is a little bit more subtle. It’s leaving a false impression; even though the actual words I say may be true, but I know that I’m misleading by what I’m saying. Or communicating facts selectively in order to influence the outcome in a way that will be to my favor.

Number five, inaccuracy. That’s one where we may not intend to deceive, but sometimes carelessness with regard to the factual details of stories, or failing to verify the facts before we repeat a story.

And let me just say, the fact that you saw it on the Internet doesn’t mean that it’s true. So if you’re going to quote it, say, “I heard that . . .” or “I read that . . .” or “Someone said that . . .” But don’t say it as if it’s fact if you have not been able to verify that it is in fact true.

Number six is deception. This is where I tend to create a better impression of myself than is honestly true, or I leave or give the impression that I’m more spiritually mature or committed than is actually true.

That’s one of those things I struggle with in public ministry because I know that when I’m speaking, I’m saying things that are true. They’re from the Word of God, and they’ve been a blessing to me, and I hope they’ll be a blessing to you. But it can leave people with the impression, which is not true, that I don’t struggle with these very same issues, or that I’m living out these things in my own life.

I’m trying to, but I’ll just tell you, the things that I’m teaching, many times I’m teaching because of things I’m wrestling with myself. They’re coming out of my own walk and my struggle with the Lord. I don’t want to leave the impression that I am more spiritually mature than is actually true.

Hypocrisy is another kind of lying. We can do this if we speak kindly to another person, but in our hearts or when we speak to someone else about them, we’re harboring bitterness or hatred—praising another to his face while criticizing him behind his back.

Inconsistency is number eight. Flip-flopping on issues. We accuse politicians of doing this, but we all do it or have done it, I’m sure, depending on the audience. I was asked a question in a Q&A not too long ago that was about a controversial issue.

I knew my position on the issue. I know what I believe the Bible teaches about the issue, but I also knew that sitting in the front row was a woman who didn’t agree with my position. She was a really sweet woman, but I knew she was coming from a different place.

As the question got asked, I just had this fleeting thought, kind of this drive to answer the question in such a way that I wouldn’t offend the lady in the front row by stating the position.

God was so good to help me in that moment speak the truth. I tried to do it graciously and lovingly. I wasn’t trying to incite the woman in the front row. But it was important to not flip-flop in order to impress a different audience.

Number nine is the area of guile. The Scripture says, “Blessed is the man whose spirit there is no guile” (Ps. 32:2). I think guile has to do with having hidden agendas or ulterior motives when we’re dealing with people, or acting like what we want is this, but what we mean is that.

One of the ways that we can demonstrate guile—I’ve done this, and I’ve heard of others who have done it—is when we express interest in someone else and we act like we want to be a giver to them, we want to do something for them, but our hidden motive is that they will do something for us, that they will reciprocate.

So we say, “I love you. I want to do this for you. I want to take you out to eat.” Whatever. But what I’m really trying to do is satisfy my own needs. There’s guile in that, and I want to have a heart that is free from guile.

A tenth area where we can be deceptive is in the matter of broken promises. I think one common area there is where we promise to pray for someone, or someone says, “Will you pray for me?” and we say yes, but then we go our way and forget to do it.

I have found a really helpful solution to that. I think I could say truthfully that rarely does anyone come and ask me to pray for them that, if I’m going to agree to pray, I’ll say, “Let’s pray right now.” Because I may forget later, and I don’t want to break my word; I want to keep my word. I want to be truthful. So, “Let’s just stop and pray about that right now.”

I break my word when I agree to be somewhere at a certain time or to meet a need and I fail to do it. You say, “Being late could be lying? Oh no! That’s really picky.” If I’ve said I’m going to do it, then I need to do it.

Well, we’ve looked at a lot of areas of truthfulness. We’ve moved quickly through them, but I wonder if there’s one that has particularly lodged in your heart. I can still remember when God first began to deal with me about this matter of deception.

I was in my twenties, and I was miserable. I was under such conviction about specific situations that the Lord had brought to mind that I knew I needed to go back and speak the truth. That conviction was so intense. I can remember it as being—it seemed to be unbearable at the time. But how I thank the Lord for that!

You may be experiencing a similar kind of conviction. Now, if God’s not doing that, that’s fine. Maybe you have come further in this area and have learned to speak the truth.

But if God is speaking to you about an area that you’ve not been honest—in your marriage, past issues that you’ve covered, you’ve lied to your mate—you’ll never be able to be the one flesh to the extent that God intended you to be if there are issues where you’ve not been truthful with your mate.

Now, I’m not suggesting you leave this room and go pick up the phone and call your husband and say, “I lied to you about these things in our past.” Ask God to show you when and how to speak the truth. It may be that this is an issue that is so serious that you need to get a godly third party involved to help you and your mate walk through this issue.

But I’m just saying, there’s a freedom that comes when you walk into the light and you say, “God, I want to speak truth. I want to live truth. I want to walk truthfully. I want to deal truthfully.” The Scripture says that that kind of person is a delight to God.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been getting at the heart of lying and truthfulness. She’ll be right back.

If God is speaking to your heart about this issue, don’t just move on. Ask Him to work deep change in your life. And would you follow up by developing some new habits in the way you use your words? Here’s Nancy to tell you how.

Nancy: Years ago I heard it takes thirty days to set a habit. And I’ve often used that principle—trying something for thirty days to develop new, healthy habits. I’m inviting you to do that now.

Beginning just over a week from now, July 1, we're going to join together to take a thirty-day challenge to practice using our tongues to speak life-giving, encouraging words and to avoid using words to criticise or complain? To help you in this thirty-day period, Revive Our Hearts will send you an email each day with a devotional thought about our words from me or from my good friend Mary Kassian. Mary’s the author of a book called Conversation Peace. Anyone who signs up for this thirty-day challenge will also have the chance to win some giveaways of Mary's book.

You’ll get more out of this challenge when you sign up with a friend or perhaps do it as a family or a small group at church. You’ll be able to discuss the daily devotional together and encourage each other in that challenge.

Now, we're going to start that challenge together on July 1. In order to sign up to receive those daily emails for thirty days, you'll need to sign up at ReviveOurHearts.com by June 30. Don't miss out on this opportunity. Let us know that you'd like to be a part of this special 30-Day Power of Words Challenge during the month of July. 

Leslie: On tomorrow’s program find out why people at one church yell this in the parking lot: “I don’t want to hear it!” Now, Nancy’s back to help us reflect on what we’ve learned today.

Nancy: I just want to ask us to bow our hearts before the Lord. You ask the Lord, “Is there something in the area of lying or deception that I need to repent of? Scripture says that those who deal truthfully are His delight.

Lord, we want to delight Your heart. So I pray that You’ll set us free from lying lips. May we have a passion for the truth, a truthful heart that expresses itself in truthful words. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries . . . and that's the truth.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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