A Snowball’s Chance (The Way of Lying part 9)

“A lie is like a snowball; the longer it goes on, the bigger it gets.” Martin Luther

The earlier in life we learn to tell the truth, the better will our life be in the long run. Honesty and humility being the inroads to knowing the truth of any situation. Bereft of these things, life is bound to get more and more complicated.

We’re not meant to live a lie. Honestly, I don’t have the scientific data to back up my assertions here, but I’m sure neurology would agree with me (I don’t really care). When we choose to live a lie—an untruth; how ridiculous—I believe that something happens to us physiologically. There have been times in my life where I know that what I’m telling a person is not the most accurate way to represent the facts of what happened. I think to myself great, now I’m gonna have to remember this version. Jettison all of that. If you’ve got nothing nice (or true) to say, then say nothing. Yes, Jesus is the truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, but it’s only when we actively seek to know them through fellowship and interaction, do we begin to receive the authenticity that grows and branches out into the nodes that frondesce and effloresce and infructesce (pretty sure that’s a word) with the fragrance and fruit of truth. Forgive my embellishment.

“I said in my haste, all men are liars” (Psalm 116:11) Well said, Mr. Psalmist. Hasty or no, it’s true.

“yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” Men and women. Whatever. Guilty.

The truth is, we’re not that smart. We’re not smart enough to mentally manage however many different versions of the same thing—the same story. I think it boils down to how much we know ourselves (and God, obviously). Reason I say this is because when we’re at peace with who God says we are (warts and all), then we’re able to field the (mis)perceptions we get regarding the things we want to say and show. We won’t worry about embellishing something and making it look better than it actually is. We won’t even feel the need to voyeuristically reveal the details of our lives, because, let’s face it: We’re not that big a deal. Notice what Paul says here:

“Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.” (2 Corinthians 12:5-6)

Paul had no reason to lie. He implies here that were he to lift himself up, bragging on the things which God had shown and done for him, he’d be lying. Maybe this is why the psalmist would say “in my haste”. Because it’s not about us. It’s not about our achievements and the glory and distortion thereof. It’s about what Jesus did. If anyone deserves glory and accolades ad infinitum, it’s Him. Roll that around.

“Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6)

Whenever we brag, it should be on God. What He’s done, how He’s made us both inside and out. These are the things that will tell. These are the things that won’t smolder and burn out in the long run. The truth of God will resonate and the Holy Spirit will back up our words with His witness. That’s what He’s here for.

“I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the Land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10, emphasis mine)

Our Capacity for Veracity (The Way of Lying part 8)

When I say that it’s impossible for anyone to be inwardly truthful without Jesus, that’s exactly what I mean. Every time a statement of this type is leveled at the rest of the world by a Christian, the unbeliever usually responds with an appeal to not only every culture and individual who never heard the Gospel (both before and after Jesus’ arrival) but also to their own definition of what truth is.

And please understand that I mean no disrespect and am presenting this as winsomely as I can. “That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.” (2 Corinthians 10:9) Says Paul.

Anyone and everyone can be factual. All people have the ability to give the correct answer when asked a question. Most people will tell you the time if you asked. This might be truth, but it’s not the truth to which I am referring. I’m referring to the universal (there, I said it) bedrock on which existence stands. But any reference to the rightness or wrongness of something must include the way in which things are perceived. Forget adding “by the world at large” to the end of that sentence because appealing to a majority never solves anything. It’s illogical on the grounds which I have laid for this discussion. If we’re all agreed on the same thing but that same thing on which we all have agreed is incorrect, then we’re all wrong.

“Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth…” (Galatians 3:1)

“For such an high priest (referring to Jesus) became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;” (Hebrews 7:26, emphasis mine)

I find it interesting, when looking at the topic of truth from a neutral perspective, to see that there is this idea loose in the world, of Objective Truth. When I ask you the time and you pull out your phone, or you look at your wrist, and proceed to inform me that it’s “quarter to ten”, you’ve just been truthful with me. You’ve told me an honest answer to my query and we’re both the happier for it. Thanks, by the way. But! Human beings amidst and amongst human beings and their mores of interaction is what creates subjectivity. Each person with reference to the other.

A rhetorical question: Can objectivity arise out of subjectivity? Two actually: Can the very concept of objectivity arise out of subjectivity?

But when Jesus walks the earth and says that He is the truth (John 14:6) and that He loves us (in obeying His Father by living for us and dying for us—He proved it), a new idea has been introduced into the culture. And it grows and infects and spreads like wildfire. Suddenly we have an idea that people (call them Christians) are touting, bandying about like some new fad. Only, in the two-thousand plus year history of this idea, it’s only grown by leaps and bounds. But this doesn’t make the idea of “Objective Truth” any truer, does it? But spreading alongside, almost as a defense tactic, is the corollary that says that we are unable to perceive this truth on our own. This is one of the main reasons that Jesus came. And also to reiterate the fact that another invisible entity—one of evil—”the god of this world” as Paul identifies him. One who “hath blinded the minds of them which believe not…” (2 Corinthians 4:4, emphasis mine).

People are sensitive. I’m not talking about emotional instability, I’m talking about an ability to detect. Any vegetarian or vegan can tell if there is something in their food they’d rather not eat. The body of anyone who has food allergies will certainly speak up if any reaction-inducing substance is in their food. I heard a story once of a woman who knew the very moment she got pregnant. I assume that from that moment on, she felt her child growing inside of her. Beautiful. But these are all physical examples. If in any way you could bring yourself to believe that there are things in this world to which you are sensitive that have nothing to do with anything physical—corporeal, tangible, then please read on.

Tell me why you decide to be honest. Why did you tell me the correct time? Are you hiding something? Did you tell me it was “quarter to ten” because you were trying to hide the fact that you are dishonest? An honest question, no? No, you weird paranoiac. I told you it was quarter to ten because it was 9:44am and I wanted to round up. Make it easier on me. And you. Now get away from me. Fair enough. But you’ll never know if that person is more truthful than that. Nor, really, should you care. “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man (and woman) keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Proverbs 29:11) The reason someone might feel that something’s amiss in spite of the fact that they got the correct answer is that they’re either truly crazy—on something. Or they’re onto something. The reason why we desire truth and honesty and rightness has nothing to do with our physical heritage, it has to do with the fact that we are created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Because you have accepted Jesus, what happens–I’m just going to tell you–is that His light gets down to the very depth of your being. And you see yourself in a different way. You see yourself with reference to Him. This is what the Bible said would happen. You see truth as Jesus sees it. Truth becomes something with a capital “T”. “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” (1 John 4:3) No, it didn’t say that renewing your mind to His truth wouldn’t be a struggle. That part is excruciatingly* hard at times as now, you by your very (new) nature run counter to “the god of this world”. The father of lies. What you have now is a new nature based on the truth that Jesus loves you and you believe (and know) it. The moment you believe, God renews your sight to His truth. The god of this world has no choice but to spit you out.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Now! Now, your capacity for veracity has been expanded. Overhauled. Torn down and rebuilt. Now you can see the forest for the trees. You can see the sun behind every cloud (trust me, it’s there). You can see what John’s saying when he says “He (and she) that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life.” (1 John 5:12)

“And that, knowing the time, that it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)

*Excruciating, the root word of which is crucify.

Our Capacity for Mendacity (The Way of Lying part 7)

A dovetail from yesterday.

It’s not my intention to condemn. Convict, maybe. But then again, I’m not the Holy Spirit and even though Jesus says in John’s Gospel (20:23) “Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive), they are remitted unto them”, I’m not the one who can cleanse sin. Only Jesus can do that. He’s the one, through His shed blood, that can make us right before God the Father. He gives us the pure, white holiness needed to stand before Him without condemnation. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18) And not only can Jesus cleanse sin as in, forgive individual mistakes, He can remake us into something new. This is the good news of the Gospel.

Morality’s easy to come by these days. The lines have been drawn between outward sin and perceived good behavior. No big deal. Just act correctly. Smile when needed, maybe hold the door for someone and you have what most of our culture might label as a “good” or “moral” individual. Consequently, when someone has addictive issues or their temper flares up a little too easily, then (smugly) we know what they are. Or do we? We don’t necessarily need God in order to act correctly. But then again, this wasn’t the mission statement of Jesus. He didn’t come just to tell us a bunch of stuff that we could have learned by trial and error. No, He came to reintroduce us to God the Father. And as “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), then God must be looking for something deeper. Something that maybe, just maybe we couldn’t have gotten ourselves, and that couldn’t have come from within. John makes an interesting statement in his first letter (chapter 1, verse 10). He says that “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar…” In other words, if we say that we’re the truth, we’re calling God a liar. Well, I suppose this wouldn’t even apply if you didn’t even believe in God’s existence. Jesus, maybe. But God? I don’t want to have to deal with a Being that is ever-present and sees my every innermost thought. I can live as a good person. I can follow the basic tenets of Jesus. But what about His disciples? The apostles, the ones that He ordained to hammer out the fine points of what He came to live out for us? Continuing on in the same vein, Paul says “let God be true and every man (and woman?) a liar”. That’s a pretty bold statement. One that I must reconcile with the rest of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The One who is “the express image of [God’s] person.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Before we go any further. Please remember that everything God does for us is based in and out of a motive of love. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, (Yay!) I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Moving forward: “Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts.” (Psalm 51:6) David says that this is what God wants. He wants truth in the very core of our being. And here’s the point I’m getting at: Without Jesus, we cannot be resonant with the heart of God the Father. There’s just no way. There’s no way that we can recreate our spirit that died when first we sinned. Any thought, any mental activity for better or for worse, that is not in keeping with the exacting holiness of God–is sin. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23) The only person who fulfilled the obligation is Jesus. And it wasn’t just His behavior that was perfect, it was his heart. His heart’s attitude pleased God so much that He resurrected His Son after He had been dead for three days. He spent time in hell, so we wouldn’t have to.

“And all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Here’s my other point. Lying, deceit, duplicity, dishonesty, guile, mendacity. It all comes naturally. It’s closer even than second nature. It’s who we are if we’re not connected to God via the Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose I’d be doing you a disservice if I put it any other way. And lest you think that I’m neglecting the “beam that is in [my] own eye” (Luke 6:41), please understand that this is who I was. It’s who God set me free from, recreating me. Forsaking all else, so to speak. And to make it even more poignant–at least to me, I didn’t appropriate the gift of God’s truth until much later in life. I had lived the way of lying until my late teens and even then, had to work through the backlog of bad habits I’d accrued from years of dishonesty. This is why I’m even bringing it up. Because I know what Jesus did for me. He healed the fissure of mendacity in myself. He’ll do the same for you. Take Him at His word.

Our Capacity for Perspicacity (The Way of Lying part 6)

As I’ve mentioned before, it is in humanity’s best interest to pursue truth. Resort to whatever etiology you want as to why, you still have to be able to sift through the input that you receive and decide what works, what doesn’t. What’s gonna play out in the long run (because it’s true) and what’s gonna peter out and let you down.

People from all walks of life delight in their inherent ability to tell whether or not someone’s lying. This is good, this is essential. But! Unless someone truly knows Jesus—who is Truth (see John 14:6)—then the whole paradigm will be askew. There are several levels of truth. The simple statement of “two plus two equals four” is solid. Truth (more of a fact, a law really). But when dealing with human beings who have a boundless capacity for deceit, facts and laws and rules mean nothing. And I think we know that. There’s an unpredictability that makes interaction with strangers a gamble at best, the mistake of your life at worst. If we don’t know how to tell truth from lies—not just facts and figures from their opposites—then we’ll be taken advantage of, strip-mined and quite possibly unable to fulfill our calling before the Lord. That’s disastrous. And scary when you realize how many people in society care nothing about honest interaction and transparency of motive.

1. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, emphasis mine)

2. “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5)

Tomes could be written on the first verse, I’m sure many have. The verse itself refers to the Bible, the Word of God. The Hebrews verse calls it a sword. With the second verse, we see that God is our shield. His word, our sword. God Himself, our shield. Remember this. Now turn over to Matthew’s gospel (10:16). Jesus says “Behold, I send you forth as sheep (pretty harmless, right?) in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Jesus is telling us here to know the tricks that people use. To know them inside and out. “For we are not ignorant of [satan’s] devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) But! He’s also saying that in no way do we use them in our defense. That’s God’s job. This is the first step to becoming wise to the ways of the world. The first step to cultivating perspicacity—discernment.

“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

God’s word is also a mirror. It shows us who we are and who we were. All of the mistakes and foibles of our old nature are laid bare. Sure the word convicts and cuts, (it tells me I’m going to hell without Jesus, for God’s sake) but it also heals and informs and inspires. The way to know truth is to know God through His word. This is how we align our sense of what truth is (what feels accurate) with the highest to which we can aspire. Namely Jesus. Because if you knew that everyone was lying to you (as actually happens, some days), without forgiveness, how would you be able to live in society? The two go hand in hand. Sheep? Wolf. Sword/Shield. Serpent/Dove. Discernment. Forgiveness.

Without forgiveness, the motive of which desires that the dishonest individual come to repentance and Jesus, we delight in our innate capacity for perspicacity which only ends in self-gratification and does nothing to help the other person. It’s simply selfish.

Look for the thread of Truth in your Bible. The gems of discernment hidden in Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Study out Job’s response to his “friends” (who certainly didn’t have Job’s best interests at heart). See how Joseph responded to his brothers who sold him into slavery and then lied about it. Ask with an exasperated Pontius Pilate “What is truth?” (John 18:38) The answers you’ll find may surprise you. And you just may gain a greater love and appreciation for others as you learn to forgive yourself. It isn’t about reigniting your faith in humanity. That’s a lost cause. It’s about seeing Jesus and truly knowing what He can do for a person. He will make us authentic.

“Go and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37)

Renunciation! (The Way of Lying part 5)

“Old things have passed away…” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is a very poignant and important topic with me. As human beings are multi-dimensional in complexity, the capacity for lies and deceit is boundless.

But Paul says that we can renounce those things: “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2, emphasis mine)

If you’ve read the first parts of this series, you know that I had great difficulty in being honest as a child and young man. It was the “sin that so easily beset [me]” (Hebrews 12:1). And even after I became aware (and convicted) that I wasn’t fooling God the way that I carried myself and interacted with others, it still took many years before I came around to feeling like an honest person—in spite of the fact that the mere content of what I said was accurate.

Honesty is indeed the best policy. But what’s cause for concern and consternation is the realization that, unless someone knows Jesus—who is the Truth (John 14:6)—they’re not going to know true honesty from the very depth of their being. And if this is alarming and unsettling, it’s supposed to be.

Going back to what Paul was saying about “the hidden things of dishonesty”, what might some of these hidden things be? How about motive? Making sure our motive is pure. What is your motive for revealing the things to others that you choose to reveal? And your motive for keeping things hidden? Granted, no one likes too much information. And even though James says to “confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16), it should be understood that you’ve already dealt with your sin before the Lord and your not just unloading your dirty laundry on an unsuspecting victim. Turn it around and look at it this way: I’m very hesitant to “confess my faults” when I don’t sense any heart resonance with the people who are in a position to hear. In other words, they don’t see Jesus fully as they should and as such would not be able to provide wisdom and solace. Here’s a good verse for reflection and direction. Pray this to God: “Lead me in Thy truth and teach me” (Psalm 25:5) Much like Psalm 119:29, this verse was integral to my coming out of the lying patterns that I’d established for myself growing up. And my motive to change was knowing that there was a source of truth that I’d been blind to for most of my life. It didn’t matter who I confessed to about my lying habit, I still felt that my motive was wrong and that my heart was too. It’s something Jesus had to heal. Psalm 58:3 speaks of those who “go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” This is how I felt.

Look again at Paul’s passage: “…as we have received mercy”. The only way that we can appropriate the honesty of God is to realize the mercy He has for us. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Psalm 16:6, emphasis mine) God’s mercy is extravagant. It’s “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). This fact is the basis for change. So if you have an issue with honesty, God extends to you his mercy to overcome anything that would keep you from being honest. With Him, with yourself, and with others.

I suppose another thing that led me to desire to change—and to eventually change—is the realization that God saw all of my innermost thoughts. As crafty and perceptive as I’d become, I knew I was nothing before God. God saw me coming a million miles away. And if God saw me, the devil knew what I was doing too. Don’t ask me how I knew that, I just did. But that didn’t so much concern me as the fact that I also knew there were other people out in the world who were more adept than I at playing these head games. I was effectively checkmated. But this, too, was God’s mercy.

There is consolation in this verse: Job says “With Him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are His.” (Job 12:16, emphasis mine) In other words, everyone who hasn’t renouced–or refuses to–the hidden things of dishonesty, are checkmated already. God sees all and knows all. And loves all.

But not the devil (I don’t think). “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)

THE HORROR! (The Way of Lying part 4)

Last night, I ran into an acquaintance. We talked about our Halloween costumes. I told him I’d be going as Clark Kent. I’d wear my Superman t-shirt and a white dress shirt and my Superman tie and some nerdy, horn-rimmed glasses and suspenders and…you get the idea. “So” said his son, very matter-of-factly “you’re gonna be Superman!”. What a kid. He saw right through my disguise. As children are wont to do.

Some people never take off their mask nor shed their disguise.

According to Martha Stout, author of the book, The Sociopath Next Door, 1 in 25 people–4% of the population–can do anything at all with no remorse. This is horrifying to me because as Christians, we profess to know the Truth. And if 1 out of every 25 people must necessarily lie in order to integrate with society, how does that reflect on the church as an influentially integral part of society? And how does that affect the other 96%? The innocent, honest people–Christian or non–who wouldn’t dream of doing anything to emotionally, physically or spiritually abuse anyone?

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Sociopaths, by their very nature, wear a mask all the time. At home. At work. Everywhere. Dr. Stout draws a fine distinction between sociopath and psychopath. They are not synonymous. Whereas the psychopath is more outwardly focused on causing harm and pain, the sociopath doesn’t let on with easily discernible actions what’s truly going on in the void that is their soul. She goes on to describe the sociopathic individual. She says that they’re smart enough to know how to manipulate and emotionally control others. But it’s something deeper and more sinister (and aware) that keeps them from seeking psychiatric help. In other words, they know they need help but refuse to get it. Of course, secular psychology is powerless to resurrect someone’s dead conscience. She admits as much and essentially leaves it at that. She believes through her practice and observation over the years that these people are born without a conscience. And this is where God comes in, because her prognosis for these people is grim. Whatever neurological deformity afflicts the conscienceless individual is not beyond God’s healing power. Whether they don’t have one or through neglect and lifelong wrong decision making, as Paul says “having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2), God can and will forgive them and heal any breach. Only He could do such a thing. “For charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

“He restoreth my soul.” (Psalm 23:3)

The truth is, nobody likes a liar. Let alone loves them. Whenever someone gets that gut feeling that they can’t trust the other person–for whatever reason–then they (should) shut themselves off from the untrustworthy individual. And this is good. But as Christians, we have an obligation before the Lord to forgive and pray for that person. They may be a lost cause, working feverishly to endear themselves to anyone they meet. But God has already accepted them and made it possible through Jesus for them to receive healing and wholeness for their soul. Can you imagine the tortured existence someone would have to endure (I can) if they had to continually present themselves as honest and forthright, knowing full well at their very core, they were as deceitful as the day is long? The sociopath, says Dr. Stout, doesn’t care for such things. God has mercy and compassion for these broken people in spite of the havoc they wreak on strangers and family members alike.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

One thing I feel needs to be emphasized through all of this is the importance of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit when interacting with people who are sociopathic. If you feel the person in question is trying to manipulate you, by all means, don’t let them. Turning the other cheek, as Jesus said in Luke’s gospel (6:29), doesn’t mean that you let yourself be stepped on and strip-mined without your knowledge. The Holy Spirit in you will let you know if someone can or cannot be trusted. “Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove”.

Dr. Stout closes with a message of encouragement for the honest reader. She says to take heart in the knowledge that you, yourself, are honest and feeling. But as Christians, it doesn’t stop there. If you perceive something unspeakable about someone, then pray for them and hold them up before the Lord. Imagine yourself in their place. Intercede for them–but don’t let them in.

Happy Halloween, er, I mean All Saints Day.

Guileless Nathanael (The Way of Lying part 3)

When Jesus called His disciples, culling them from the most unlikely corners of Jewish society, He fulfilled rabbinic tradition but did it in a most unconventional way. The twelve men that He chose would have been considered outcasts by the rest of society and certainly not fit for the esteemed position of pharisaic disciple. But again, Jesus looks on the heart. He sees past façade to what is really going on in a person. Keep this in mind as we analyze His choice in Nathanael as disciple.

By the way, Nathanael is a name with Hebrew origins meaning “given of God”.

The first chapter of John’s Gospel jumps right in to the mission of Jesus. Laying a brief but universal background, it opens on John the Baptist and then proceeds to profile Peter. Toward the end, it introduces a man named Nathanael. Jesus exclaims immediately upon seeing Him, “here is an israelite indeed in whom is no guile” (John 1:47). What a remarkable statement! Made even more so, in my opinion, because of the response of Nathanael to Philip’s news that they had found the Messiah. He tells Nathanael that the Messiah is from Nazareth. Nathanael responds to this life-changing, world shattering news with what looks like sarcasm tinged with resignation and cynicism: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply responds “come and see.”

Jesus tells Nathanael that He “saw him under the fig tree”. Nathanael was waiting for the Messiah. Sure, he might look resigned and bored, his statement certainly points to that. But notice what Jesus said: “an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile.” Nathanael hadn’t succumbed to the prevalent national attitude of complacency and apathy that I’m reading between these lines. And this is why so remarkable a statement would have been the first thing to come out of Jesus’ mouth upon seeing him. Jesus wanted to encourage and cultivate the honesty of Nathanael’s heart by calling attention to it for others to see and hopefully emulate. When Nathanael saw Jesus, he knew who He was: “The Son of God, the King of Israel” (John 1:49). The transparency of his heart enabled him to see Jesus as He was and is. Jesus said that “the pure in heart shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). This is the secret. Remain open, honest, transparent before the Lord. Not opaque. Nothing less than complete honesty with the depths of our selves that God has revealed to us. And after that, He’ll show you how to interact with those who don’t see to the depth of you as does He.

“Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto Him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee.”  (John 1:48)

See, Jesus knew Nathanael. “The Lord knows them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19), says Paul. The state of his heart was such that God could look in. He was pleased with what He saw.

An Israelite indeed in whom is no guile? May the same be said for Christians.

Eliding the Lie (The Way of Lying part 2)

“…and grant me Thy law graciously.” (Psalms 119:29b)

It didn’t happen overnight (see Luke 21:19). I still remember the day, in my late teens, that I realized just how far from God I felt by having chosen, at a young age, to be dishonest with Him, myself and other people (it’s God’s grace that let’s you see how bad things are, by the way). It seemed like it would take an eternity to become what I knew I could have been a long time ago. I may have been young when I accepted the Lord and became a Christian, but God saw that my faith was real so He honored my decision and declaration. But sin is sin. And lies are lies, black or white. I won’t get in to the specifics of influence that led me to hide but I know that my will and my misused faith were strong enough to produce the wrong effects that became clear later in life.

The second part of Psalms 119:29 provides the antidote to a baseless and ultimately godless life. David asks God to give him, to grant him His law. David (whomever it is, I vote David), it seems, is saying, “God, I want Your truth. I’ve discovered, in Your light, that the truth is not in me, (remember, light reveals darkness–see Psalms 63:9) so I need you to grant it to me.” Better late than never.

Make an effort to renew your mind to God’s standard of truth (see Romans 12:1-2) and you will find not only your thinking clear up—”thy thoughts shall be established”, as it says in Proverbs (16:3)—but your true character shine through. You are a “new creation”, as it says in 1 Corinthians 5:17.

If any of the above resonates with you, pray Psalm 119:29 to God. He’ll take you by the hand (see Isaiah 41:13) and lead you back through the tangled forest of your bad decisions, teaching you every step of the way, “precept upon precept” (Isaiah 28:10). This is what He did for me.

And don’t forget to tell Him you love Him.

Eluding the Lie (The Way of Lying part 1)

I know of no better way to open a discussion on lying than to talk about Jesus, who said that He is the “Truth” (and the “way”, and the life, John 14:6). Such an assertive statement was bound to draw the ire of anyone listening. And its effects continue to resonate down through the millennia. The current opinion on truth is that we make our own, that it’s subjective. When, in our society, the individual does whatever he or she feels is right–for that reason alone, whether they’re Christian or not–they really are like driftwood in an open sea. Without the appeal to, or at least acknowledgement of, a superior standard of Truth, said individual has no basis for defending their position (…don’t rely on your own insight, in all your ways acknowledge God. see Proverbs 3:5-6). And this–The Way of Lying, if I may–is the default state of every human being who’s ever lived. Except one: Jesus Christ.

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

Now, all this theology and pontification aside, I would like to say that the point of Jesus’ first visit to this earth was not to condemn anyone and not to present Himself as some unattainable moral standard. Jesus came to remove from us the Way of Lying that was part of humanity’s curse and replace this inherent deadness with His Spirit, The Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth (see John 14:17 and 1 John 5:6).

Growing up, even as a Christian, I never really felt that my…comportment–the way I interacted with the world–was genuine, honest, forthright. I’d grown up telling little white lies and hiding things and lying by omission. But as I grew older, into young adulthood, I began to see my childish, childhood decisions bear fruit. I realized, much to my hopeless horror that I’d invested my life in lies and lying.

Things began to change with a simple prayer. I don’t remember how long it took for God to show me this answer: “Remove from me the way of lying…” (Psalm 119:29)