Pastor David B. Curtis

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Speak the Truth, Unless…

Ephesians 4:25b

Delivered 06/29/2014

We are talking about the worthy walk in Ephesians chapter 4. The first half of this Epistle is exposition of what we believe, and the second half is exhortation to live a holy and godly life. I think that the division of this Epistle into doctrine (1-3) and duty (4-6) is substantiated by Paul's use of the imperative. He uses the imperative forty-one times in this book; but only once in the first three chapters (2:11) and then forty times in the last three chapters. Clearly, the first three chapters concentrate on doctrine, and the last three on practice.

Ruth Paxon said, "Ephesians chapter 1 through chapter 3 is how God sees us in Christ. And then in chapters 4 through 6, is how the world should see Christ in us." I like that. As believers we are called to walk in a way that honors Yahweh.

Isaiah predicted the walk of believers when he spoke of the New Covenant in:

Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3 NASB

The vision was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. This is speaking of the New Covenant that is inaugurated in the "last days"; referring to the "last days" of the nation Israel.

The word "walk" is the Hebrew word halak. The Christian life is a journey that we are to walk on His paths. The word Torah is usually translated as: "Law," but to the Hebrew it meant: "the journey." To a Hebrew "command" is the direction for the journey. "Righteous" is traveling on the path. And "wicked" is lost from the path. The Christian life is a journey that we are to walk. And we can only do this as we follow the directions:

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalms 119:105 NASB

Yahweh's word guides us on our journey. Adultery, fornication, abortion, homosexuality and lying are pervasive in our day among those who call themselves Christians. The Church has left the path of Yahweh, and it is costing us all. I believe that our nation is under judgment because Yahweh's people, the Church, have left the path.

When Christians walk in fellowship with Yahweh and begin to express their Christianity through their lifestyle, the society cannot help but be changed:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1 NASB

This verse is a topic sentence that governs the rest of this Epistle. Paul will spell out in detail how we can walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Last week we looked at one aspect of the worthy walk, which was always being truthful. We are not to lie:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25 NASB

We saw last week that what this verse is literally saying is, "Having put off the lie, speak truth with each other." The word "speak" here is a present active imperative indicating that they are to make a habit of speaking the truth. Then Paul gives the reason that we are to speak truth to our neighbors: "For we are members of one another." The Christian who lies is in reality hurting the body of which he is a part.

We saw from various Scriptures that Yahweh hates lying! Yahweh is a God of truth! Believers are dwelling in the New Jerusalem, the city of truth, with the God of truth. So we are to speak the truth.

S.L. Johnson writes, "As far as I can tell, the Bible does not ever justify lying, regardless of the circumstances." What do you think of that? Is it ever right to tell a lie? What if you could save a life by lying. Last week while we were having lunch after the service Cathy asked me, "So what about Rahab? She lied." I told her, "That's for next week." So we have to ask, "Is it ever right to lie?"

I asked several believers if they felt it was always wrong to lie. They responded quickly and confidently, "YES!" I then asked them if it was always wrong to kill, and they responded quickly and confidently, "NO!" They felt that there were times when killing was justified. So it's alright to kill under certain circumstances, but it's never right to lie?

We don't think it's always wrong to kill, because we believe we should execute murderers?:

"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. Genesis 9:6 NASB

The accountability to Yahweh for preserving human life is put into humanity's hands, thus instituting blood vengeance in the ancient world and capital punishment in modern societies. In Israelite society blood vengeance was in the hands of the family of the victim.

We know that it is wrong to kill, but there are times when it is justified. How about "self defense," can you kill someone if they're trying to take your life or the life of a loved one? I think so. How about the military, is it right for a Christian to be in the military? The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things, isn't it? In Luke chapter 3 the crowds were questioning Yeshua on various issues, and some soldiers asked him:

Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." Luke 3:14 NASB

Notice what He didn't say. He didn't say, "Get out of the military, believers shouldn't be killing people." So it's okay for a believer to be in the military. So there are times when it is justified to kill. I believe that same thing is true with respect to lying. Lying is wrong, but under certain circumstances, I believe it's permitted. Under what circumstances is it okay to lie? Let's look at some Scripture:

Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. Exodus 1:15-17 NASB

Being Hebrews they must have known that Yahweh had from the beginning declared murder as wrong, "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Therefore, they saved the male children whenever they were called on for assistance.

Verse 17 says,"....but let the boys live." The midwives clearly disobeyed the king, but look what they said:

So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?" The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them." Exodus 1:18-19 NASB

This was no doubt true in some cases, but not all, because verse 17 says they, "feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live." So they lied to the murderous king; they said they had nothing to do with it:

So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Exodus 1:20 NASB

Notice carefully what verse 20 says, "So God was good to the midwives..." God rewarded and blessed the midwives for their brave action of saving the children. If the midwives didn't do anything, why did God bless them?:

Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. Exodus 1:21 NASB

They clearly lied, but they did so to save lives. They lied to a murderous king who didn't deserve the truth. Yahweh blessed them, not because they lied, but because they feared Him and didn't obey the king.

Remember last week I asked, "Why do people lie?" and I said, "For the most part it's to escape unwanted consequences, so basically, self preservation." This is not why the midwives lied, they actually risked their lives by lying. The king could have had them killed for lying to him. They lied to save lives.

The rabbinic schools within Judaism were always arguing about how to interpret the Torah, or determining what is the proper yoke; a yoke was how they interpreted the Torah. The debate always revolved around which is the greatest commandment. We see this in:

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Matthew 22:35-36 NASB

The Jews said that the commandments contradict each other by God's design, so they had to know which was greater. For example:

'Therefore you are to observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 'For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death. Exodus 31:14-15 NASB

That's clear enough, isn't it? You are not to work on the Sabbath. The Torah also taught:

"You shall not see your countryman's donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up. Deuteronomy 22:4 NASB

They were not to let animals suffer. If they saw an animal in trouble, they were to help raise it up. That's clear enough also. But what do they do if they see their neighbor's animal fallen down on the Sabbath? How do they keep one command without breaking the other? This is why they were always asking: "Which is the greatest commandment?" The greater one they must keep. What is greater: to not lie or to protect life? The Bible teaches that lying is wrong, but it also teaches that we are to protect life:

"If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. Exodus 21:29 NASB

Life is to be protected, and when it is not, there are consequences:

"When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it. Deuteronomy 22:8 NASB

Again, human life is valuable and to be protected:

Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. Psalms 82:4 NASB

Isn't this what the midwives did?:

Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. Proverbs 24:11 NASB

It is clear that life is precious to Yahweh and should be to us as well. Preliminary precautions as well as current defensive actions should be taken by each of us to preserve the lives of others.

So the Hebrew midwives lied to preserve life; so did Rahab. Turn with me to Joshua 2, and let's look at the historical account:

Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. Joshua 2:1 NASB

Joshua sends out two spies to search out the city of Jericho. These men would have to swim the Jordan River, get into the city, and assess it's strength. These men were the prototype of Navy SEALS. They got into the city and ended up in Rahab's house. They had no idea that there was a believer in that city, and even if they knew, how would they find her? Yahweh led them right to her house; they were exactly where Yahweh wanted them. But how many believers would have had a fit because they were associating with a woman who was known as a harlot?

Rahab had become a believer before those spies ever showed up. Notice what Rahab says:

and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. "When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Joshua 2:9-11 NASB

Notice she uses Yahweh's covenant name. Rahab had heard about Yahweh, and she believed. Notice Hebrews 11:31:

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:31 NASB

The word translated "disobedient" in the NASB, is the verb apeitheo. The leading Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, makes a very insightful comment about apeitheo. They write, "Since in the view of the early Christians, the supreme disobedience was a refusal to believe their Gospel, apeitheo may be restricted in some passages to the meaning: "disbelieve, be an unbeliever" (BAGD, p.82).

In Hebrews 11:31 apeitheo speaks of disbelief manifesting itself in disobedience. Why is it that Rahab believed, and nobody else did? Was she better or smarter than everybody else? Paul answers this question in:

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 1 Corinthians 4:7 NASB

Rahab could only glory in the grace of God. Yahweh had sovereignly called her:

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NASB

Did Rahab continue to be a harlot after she came to faith? I don't believe that she was a harlot at the time the men went to her house. As we will see, she had a strong faith, and you cannot have a strong faith and live in sin. Dead faith continues to live in sin, but not strong faith. Your faith can only be strong when you're walking in fellowship with Yahweh. Let's see just how strong her faith was:

It was told the king of Jericho, saying, "Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land." And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land." Joshua 2:2-3 NASB

The spies had been seen; they knew they were in Rahab's house-- "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house..." What would you do? Remember what we saw in:

and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. Joshua 2:9 NASB

She has only two choices; she could turn the men over, or what? What else could she do? She had hidden the spies on her roof:

But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. Joshua 2:6 NASB

Rahab answered the king's delegation by affirming that the Israelite men had come to her, but that she did not report them, because she didn't know where they had come from:

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. "It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them." Joshua 2:4-5 NASB

Did she know where they came from? Yes! Did the men go out the gate? No! Did she know where they were? Yes! What she told them was a bold-faced lie! Was Rahab justified in lying as she did? Her action of hiding the spies is commended as an act of faith; it's difficult to understand how the means by which that action was carried out, "namely lying," could be considered a sin.

In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? James 2:25 NASB

The term "justification" has two uses: 1) To declare and treat as righteous. 2) To vindicate, to show or demonstrate as righteous. Paul uses the first meaning, and James uses the second meaning. Rahab was justified by works, when? When she received and sent out the messengers. How did that demonstrate her faith; she lied to do that? Yes, she lied, but in doing so, she risked her life for the spies. She risked her life for them because she believed in Yahweh, and she believed that Yahweh had given them the land. She lied because of her faith, and she was rewarded by Yahweh for what she did:

They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21 NASB

The whole city was destroyed, but Rahab and her family were saved:

However, Rahab the harlot and her father's household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25 NASB

She was saved because she hid the messangers, and she did that by lying to the king.

Many people have a problem with this, because they hold a position that assumes that lying is always wrong. I think Rahab was justified in lying to save the lives of the spies.

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:31 NASB

The inclusion of Rahab in this recital of heroic examples of faith is of particular interest. Here in this list of great men of faith; men like Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Moses, we find listed a Gentile woman who was a Harlot, a harlot who trusted Yahweh and saved herself and her family from judgment, and she did so by lying.

In 2 Samuel 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were sent to warn David of Absalom's plan to kill him:

Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, and a maidservant would go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David, for they could not be seen entering the city. But a lad did see them and told Absalom; so the two of them departed quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and they went down into it. 2 Samuel 17:17-18 NASB

They were spotted, and their errand was reported to Absalom:

And the woman took a covering and spread it over the well's mouth and scattered grain on it, so that nothing was known. 2 Samuel 17:19 NASB

So the woman hides the men:

Then Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house and said, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" And the woman said to them, "They have crossed the brook of water." And when they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 17:20 NASB

This woman lied, and by doing so, saved the young men's lives:

It came about after they had departed that they came up out of the well and went and told King David; and they said to David, "Arise and cross over the water quickly for thus Ahithophel has counseled against you." Then David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed the Jordan; and by dawn not even one remained who had not crossed the Jordan. 2 Samuel 17:21-22 NASB

The men warned David, and he escaped. The woman's lie saved David. I believe that she was justified in lying, because she did so to preserve life. Absalom's servants didn't deserve the truth.

Let me share with you another story where the purpose of lying is to destroy life, not save it. Ahab wants to go to battle against the king of Aram and re-capture Ramoth-gilead, so he asks King Jehoshaphat to go with him to battle. Jehoshaphat agrees, but tells him to inquire of Yahweh. So Ahab gathers together four hundred prophets. These were probably the prophets of Asherah or Venus, maintained by Jezebel. They tell Ahab to go; the Lord will give him victory. But Jehoshaphat asks for a prophet of Yahweh. Ahab says that there is one man, Micaiah, but "I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." So Micaiah comes and tells Ahab why all his prophets are telling him that he would have victory:

"The LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that. "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' "The LORD said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.' 1 Kings 22:20-22 NASB

Yahweh sends a lying spirit to Ahab, and Ahab is killed in battle. Ahab didn't want to hear the truth; he only wanted to hear what was pleasing to him:

"Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you." 1 Kings 22:23 NASB

So knowing from Yahweh that his prophets were deceiving him, Ahab goes to war anyway and is killed:

So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. 1 Kings 22:37 NASB

This wicked king believed the lying prophets and was killed. This story doesn't have much to do with our topic, but I think it's interesting. Anyway back to our question: Is it ever okay to lie? I think it is alright to lie to preserve life.

Let me share with you the story of a Dutch woman who endured five years of Nazi occupation during World War II. It was the policy of the Germans to arrest young Dutchmen and ship them off to camps or to work projects for the Nazi war effort. This woman hollowed out a hiding place beneath the floor-boards to hide her son. In this small cubicle she installed a ventilation fan and stored food provisions in the hiding place:

One day as the Nazis were searching the village for young men, the woman hid her son beneath the floor. Without knocking, the soldiers burst into the house armed with submachine guns. After searching the house, they returned to the living room and stood over the very spot where the son was hidden. A soldier said to the woman, "Are you hiding any boys here?"

What was her moral responsibility? Should she have said, "Yes, there is one under the floor"? I don't think so! She had a moral right to lie. The Nazis had no right to the truth. She replied, "No, there are no boys here." Then the soldiers began to shoot up the floor, all the while watching the mother's reaction for any hint of panic. She displayed no outward emotion, while inside she was in stark terror. Finally, the soldiers left. Panic-stricken, the mother rushed to the hiding place. Her son emerged unhurt. Her deception had saved him.

I think that the Scriptures are clear that believers are to tell the truth at all times, the only exception I see to this is to preserve life. We don't have too many opportunities where we have to lie to preserve someone's life. So for us the calling of Yahweh is that we be truthful in all our speech.

Truthfulness is important to God, because He is the God of truth who hates lying and falsehood. And He commands us to tell the truth:

Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25 NASB

The word "speak" here is a present active imperative indicating that they are to make a habit of speaking the truth. At all times and in all places we are to tell the truth.

In the movie Liar, Liar, Jim Carrey played the role of a slick, lying attorney who suddenly could not tell a lie for 24 hours because of a magic wish his son made on his birthday. Near the end of the movie, there was a serious note when the father confessed to his son: "Max, I can't do my job and tell the truth. Everybody lies."

This is just about the case, it seems like everybody lies, but believers are to be different; we have put on the New Man, and we are to be truth tellers.

Augustine observed (Confessions, Book X, chapter XXIII), "I have had experience of many who wished to deceive, but not one who wished to be deceived." If you don't want others to deceive you, then don't deceive others. Be known as a person of truth.

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