Day 17: Deception
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.
Children often lie for fear of discipline. My son once blamed his brother for drawing with chalk on the neighbor’s driveway, so I had to explain that his deception concerned me more than his colorful scribbles. “Tell me the truth,” I told him, “You won’t be disciplined for your artwork, but only if you lie to me.” Tearfully, my son confessed his sin and sought his brother’s forgiveness.
In biblical times . . .
. . . silver workers would heat the precious metal to a boil, then skim impurities from the surface. Merchants would recycle that dross as decorative glaze to coat their pottery. Those earthen vessels would sparkle and shine like silver, though possessing little value. So also are “fervent lips with an evil heart” (Prov. 26:23-26), for sparkling speech and flattering tongues can easily deceive. Thankfully, Dads, your children are often poor liars, so their deception is easily caught. The greater challenge, however, is to patiently instruct them afterward. Do not simply aim for changed behavior, but shepherd their hearts to stop telling lies and to start encouraging others (Eph. 4:25).
The first lie echoed loudly in a paradise designed by God. The Creator had spoken the universe into existence (Gen. 1:3), beauty into the garden, and wise counsel into the hearts of Adam and Eve: “I love you and will provide. I will give you good gifts” (see 2:16-17). Yet soon after, God’s voice was not alone as the serpent voiced the words of Satan: “God doesn’t love you. He’s keeping the best to himself. Observe that delicious fruit and imagine the wisdom you will gain. You will not surely die” (see 3:4-5). Adam and his wife were forced to choose between competing voices. Yet the war was not in the words, but deep within their hearts (v. 6; Prov. 12:20a). A lie is never just a lie, but an act of worship.
Dads, remember the life-or-death consequences of telling the truth: “A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity” (17:20; see 19:5). You may reach the ends of the earth by lying, but you will never get back. You may get away with deception in the moment, yet only truth builds lasting character (12:19). Deceitful practices are like chewing on a mouthful of gravel as the grit grinds against your conscience (20:17). Lies harm you personally, but will also harm those you love (18:21). They destroy relationships from within, ruin reputations, and break the hard-earned trust you have gained with others (3:32). Most crucially, deception grieves the Lord: “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight” (12:22; see 3:32). Dishonesty brings dishonor, for God loves truth and hates deception. He despises any distortion of his character (21:12; see 24:12), thus he will ultimately make all things right (Rom. 12:19).
Our world too often stops at moralism instead of continuing on to the gospel destination. They recognize the natural consequences that “deception harms both you and others,” but then they reason, “Harmless lies are fine. Little fibs will go unnoticed.” They fail to understand that we fight the battle for words on the soil of our hearts. They do not see that every lie disparages the God of truth, every deceit distorts the reflection of his glory, and just one falsehood before an infinitely holy God condemns a soul to hell for all eternity. The gospel, however, declares that we face judgment for denying the truth about God’s goodness and our need for a Savior. The gospel tells the truth about sin—that we have fallen short of God’s holy standard. The gospel exposes our former manner of life and corruption “through deceitful desires.” The gospel goes beyond behavioral modification, because the power to change is: “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph. 4:22-24). The only way for a liar to become a truth-teller is to receive a changed heart and the only path to a changed heart is the truth about Jesus fully displayed in the gospel.
You might say to your child, “I’m concerned that you’ve been telling lies, so let me remind you of the gospel. We worship a holy God who created us to truthfully reflect his glory. Yet sadly, sin entered the world and now corrupts our selfish desires. Even one tiny lie deserves the penalty of eternal judgment, so God sent his Son to pay that price upon the cross. We were unable to save ourselves, yet Jesus died to forgive our sin. Rejoice with me in Christ’s resurrection power over sin and death. Praise the Lord for redemptive change which turns liars into truth-tellers. Recall our adoption into God’s family, making us heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. This is the wonderful privilege of belonging to the church—the mystery of God which has now been revealed” (see Eph. 1-3).
Dads, daily impart these gospel truths, so that when you do address the problem of deception you have already prepared your children well. Teach them to lovingly speak the truth to fellow believers with whom we are united in Christ (4:25). Motivate them not by fear of punishment, fear of failure, or fear of man, but by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14-15). The gospel alone can change their hearts and lead to changed behavior. Anything less is silver glaze on an earthen vessel.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I constantly seek to hide my sin, deceiving you and others. So often, I forget the gospel truth that I am forgiven and pardoned from judgment. Teach me to speak edifying words to build up fellow Christians. Show me how to put away deception and honor you with honesty. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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