daily Broadcast

Declaring War on Deceit, Part 1

From the series God's Boundaries for Abundant Living

White lies, stretching the truth, bending the rules - we all do it, right? So why is lying such a big deal with God? Chip reveals why deceit causes so much damage and pain, and how to break the habit of telling lies.

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Message Transcript

The ninth command is God’s boundary for truth, justice, and trust.

It’s the primary application to this command although it gets broadened to personal integrity. Although it’s quickly broadened to you telling the truth and me telling the truth. The primary application of this command, when it was given, was it was Israel’s court system.  Notice as I read it. Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” And let me play out for you how it would happen.

Someone steals something from you. Or we find out that your fifteen year old daughter was raped. Or there was a fight and someone on the way back from this side of the camp to that side of the camp was brutally beat up. Some two guys out of the Tribe of Benjamin and you’re from the Tribe of Judah.  What do you do with that stuff? Here’s what happened.

First, the personal offense would occur. You would do the investigation and research and find out and you are a community of people. And you would discover, as best you could, finding some witnesses, this man or these people, or that woman did that event. She stole it.

And then you would have eyewitnesses come before a judge and if you look at, remember Exodus 18? It used to happen, Moses was trying to pull this off all by himself, Jethro said, “Hey, you’re going to wear yourself and the people out.”  And they developed a fairly complex system of judges over, you know, fifty and a hundred and ten and all the rest. And then the Supreme Court type stuff came to him.

And so, this offense would occur, someone would be charged with a crime, and then the entire judicial, social system was based on eyewitness testimony. I saw her go into your tent and steal that. I was behind the tree when those two men, from the Tribe of Benjamin, beat this man up.

And so they were called to be witnesses. Everything about justice and social order hinged on people obeying the ninth command: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Now, you ask yourself, you know, that sounds like a kind of shaky system if people lie a little bit, you could have some big problems. In Exodus 23:1 to 7, you might jot that down. And Deuteronomy 19 verses about 15 to 21. There were some warnings to witnesses. The first warning was is that if it was a capital offense and you were one of the witnesses, you would be one of the first people to be involved in the execution.

In other words, if you said, I saw those two kill that man, they would say, okay, you were one of the witnesses and they put the stone in your hand and you would be the one to actually initiate the execution. If, by chance, they find out that you were lying, whatever offense, later in Deuteronomy 19 about 15 to 21, whatever offense that you lied about, that was your punishment.

So, you know, the level of scrutiny was, you better tell the truth because if you don’t tell the truth, you’re going to find yourself culpable of murder and if you don’t tell the truth and anyone finds out about it, whatever crime the other person’s punished for, they’re going to turn around and punish you.

And so the first and foremost application of the ninth command was to bring about justice, truth, out of, you know, imagine, I don’t care how good the people are. Two or three million people. You had people lined up from morning to night with cases of judgment against one another.

As this command expands, Leviticus 19:11, Israel’s code of conduct, it’s not just in law suits or eyewitnesses. It says, “Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.”
And so the idea was more than just telling the truth in a formal court, but it was that you are to be truthful all the time with everyone. Today, the New Testament picks it up and expands it even further where we’re to have integrity in everything. The Apostle Paul, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 25 says, “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor for we are all members of one body.”

And to put off falsehood is not just in your speech. It’s your actions and your life. You are going to tell the truth in what you say and how you live, you’re not going to even leave false impressions by your silence.

And I think we would all agree, you know, I had one of those good grandmothers. She was from Scotland. And she had a number of little sayings and we weren’t Christians but we learned later that, you know, she was and she had one of those little sayings and most of you can quote it with me, right? “Honesty is the best policy.” Isn’t that great? The other one was, “Chip, if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Right?

You know, honesty is the best policy. The fabric of human relationships is based on that one issue. You realize that if people aren’t honest with you, if you’re not honest with each other in your marriage, if you’re not honest with your kids, if you’re not honest with a friendship, if you’re not honest in business deals, if you’re not honest in the church, if there’s not honesty there’s not trust.

If there’s not trust, there’s no relationship. It’s just pseudo relationship. The commodity of human relationships, just like economies are built on money, relationships are built on trust and under trust is what?  Once a person lies to you once, lies to you twice, what do you think about the next few things they say? “Hey, man, you know, I don’t know if I can, I don’t know whether this is for real or not,” right?

And so we all want. I don’t know about you, I want people to tell me the truth. In fact, as I get a little bit older, I even want people to tell me the truth that I don’t want to hear. Because what I’ve learned over the years is, the truth I don’t even want to hear, if I don’t hear it, if people don’t tell me, I’ll end up facing that truth, probably, more painfully later.

I’ve gotten to the point where if I’ve messed up, tell me. Show me. Help me. Because it’ll be more pain later than hearing it from you now.

And yet, even though we all want everyone to be honest with us, the research indicates that at least in America, we’re not doing too well here. Forty percent of all Americans admit that they lie on their résumés. And a research study done, sixty percent of American adults said they lied at least once last week.

In a book, When America Told the Truth, in impersonal interviews, ninety-one percent of Americans said they lie regularly about trivial issues. Thirty-six percent said they lie on important issues. Half of sales people, and don’t take this personally, I’m sure you’re one of the honest ones, say they lie to customers. And despite all of us wanting everyone to tell us the truth, the truth is a fairly rare commodity.

And I want to just take some time now and I want to walk through, why is it that we lie? I want to unearth, I want to do a little probing and, you know, I lie, you lie, we’re people. We lie. And then I want to ponder the consequences of what lying does to our relationships.

And then finally, I want to give you a game plan.  I want to give you a game plan for personal integrity in your speech, your thoughts, and your relationships. And if you’ve got that trusty pen that I’ve asked you to bring, why don’t you pull it out and I actually want you to jot these down. Because they’ll be helpful.

This is the kind of stuff that you’re going to have to get these notes out later and get a little place, maybe near the water or a park bench away from someone or maybe late at night turn on the lamp. And you need to have a private talk with the Lord because we’re going to probe pretty deeply. Let me give you at least, oh, six different reasons why we lie.

The first and most common reason we lie is fear. Fear. F-E-A-R.  We lie to cover up. The fear of consequences. The fear of getting caught. It’s a good short-term solution. I learned it as an early, as a kid. “Did you do that, Chip?” “No.” Well, why did I say that? Because I was going to get spanked if I said yes. You think I’m dumb? I’m not going to say, “Yes, I did that.” But what do you find out? It always gets you later.

And some of us are still doing the same thing. As the patrolman pulls you over, “Did you know the speed limit?”  “I didn’t know… I was unaware… My foot was locked on the gas pedal… This is a new car… These cruise controls, they never work the way you’re…” We just lie. When faced with something, the fear of the consequences, we can have an automatic response, short-term cover up, is to lie.

The second time we lie is when we’re hurt. The goal is payback or vengeance. Someone has wounded us. Someone has said something. Someone has taken something from us.

We’re angry and we’re bitter and we’re resentful.  And the lie, according to Scripture, that often comes out of this is what’s called slander or gossip. And so we attack or assassinate another person’s character. We pass on untested truth or we make up stuff about people.

And I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been guilty now and then. And even, even in our marriages, when you’ve been wounded and when you’ve been hurt, have you ever found yourself lying, you know, shading things about your mate’s behavior to make them feel really bad? Sure.

We lie because of fear, we lie for payback or vengeance. The third reason we lie is because of insecurity. Sometimes we just lie to impress. I remember being at a concert. Most of my kids are musicians. And I was at a concert, it was an outdoor concert, and my son was playing and doing something. And this, kind of, real cool guy, kind of, walks up. “Hey, man, how you doing?” “Doing okay.”

And he, kind of, threw some stuff at me and I was pretty naïve about the music world and he told me who he knew in this great worldwide band and he’d run the sound for them and this and that. And, you know, I said, “Wow, that’s really neat.”

And, you know, he kind of took me in. So he took me to the next level and told me this other set of stories. And then he told me, you know, Clint Eastwood had talked to him on the phone earlier that day and they were going to be getting together for something later.

And I’m thinking, I’m not sure. And then he said, “See that guy up there playing the drums?” And I said, “Yeah.”
And he didn’t know that I thought, well, I’m going to test this out. The drummer came to our church, I remember when he came to Christ, I remember when and why he decided to go back to Nashville to go back into music and what he was doing.

And he said, “Yeah, that guy. He and I, man, we are like this, man. I mean, we’re like this. You know why he’s going back to Nashville?” And since I did know, I thought I’d play dumb. I said, “No, tell me.” He said, “Signed a two million dollar contract to go back to Nashville to make music, man.”
And I just thought to myself, this dude is so out to lunch. He doesn’t even know me. Why is he doing this? He’s doing this for the same reason I have and you have. He wants to impress me. Have you ever exaggerated about something? I mean, I don’t want to be trite but everything from your golf game, to the size of a fish, to how many people showed up at a Bible study. I mean, isn’t is silly sometimes?

You know, you’re leaving the Bible study. How many people came? Oh, about twelve or fourteen. And there were eight. There were eight. I mean, does the person care whether there’s twelve or fourteen or eight? No. So what is it in you and what is it in me that tells them, “Oh, about twelve or fourteen. You know, yeah. Twelve or fourteen.”
And then if you’re married to someone like I’m married, you get off the phone and they say, “Who was that?” And you tell them. “Well, what were they asking?” And you tell them. And they, and my wife, loving, gentle Theresa goes, “So why did you lie?” I didn’t lie. There was around that many. “We counted at the end of the night. We only had eight glasses out.” “Yeah, we did, that’s right.”

Something in us wants to project something that’s better than who we really are. We lie about how much we know, we lie about who we know, we lie about how successful we are. And we do it in very subtle ways out of our insecurity. We exaggerate and we distort.

The fourth reason we lie is for greed. Selfish reasons. You know, people con you.

Hey, this car was driven by one elderly lady, only to church and back, in the last twenty-five years. That’s why it’s a 1956 and only has nine thousand miles. That and my mechanic in the back pulled back the odometer about ninety thousand miles and…

This product, I mean, it’s cutting edge. No one has ever seen, I mean, guaranteed. You are going to love this. I’m telling you. George W. Bush uses this. I mean his personal assistant. He uses this. Your company will…  And people just lie. We just lie. And we con for personal gain or greed.

The fifth reason we lie is what I call misguided help or protection. This is the category of white lies. We want to protect others form the truth.

As a pastor, you get a lot of this at times and families mean well and usually these are people that have great motives but how they go about doing life really is not wise or good or Biblical.

And so Uncle Bob has cancer and Uncle Bob is going to die. And so Uncle Bob’s wife and one of Uncle Bob’s kids and the doctor get together and they decide, you know what? We’re not going to tell Uncle Bob. We want to, Uncle Bob, everything’s going to be okay. We really think you’re going to be, we want to protect Uncle Bob. It’ll be too devastating. It’ll be too hard for him to handle. We treat adults like children instead of realizing God gives grace, people can bear truth. If you were Uncle Bob and you knew you had a few weeks or a few months, would you want to know? I would like the privilege to determine how I would live out my last days and what I want to do.

And my mom, bless her heart, she died about twelve years ago. She was, like, the wonder woman of protection. And she always, I mean, no matter what happened, she died of a very rare blood disease and at one point, because the circulation went bad she got gangrene and they amputated part of her foot and it got more and more and more severe.

And you’d call her on the phone. She lived in Florida. “Mom, how you doing?” “Oh, I’m doing great, Chip. Everything is wonderful. Oh, you know, it’s just healing right up, you know?” And she was in one of those barium things with the oxygen. And, you know, I’d call one of my sisters, call my dad, call a neighbor.  And then, I mean, my mom’s story about her was this. And reality was about a hundred and eighty degrees.

You know, you can’t care for people and you can’t love people when they don’t tell you the truth. And, you know, we make white lies and my dad, earlier in his life, was an alcoholic. And our whole family system developed around hiding my dad’s dysfunction and the dysfunction of our family.

You know, stuff like, oh no. He couldn’t make it. He’d love to be here. He’s really tired.

Well, you know what, you are really tired when you down about thirty-six to forty beers on one Saturday.

Or how about the one, some of us, as adult kids, you know, my mom was, wanted to, she was the glue. She’s going to keep the family intact. Everyone’s going to love each other and if this kid doesn’t know this kid, she’s going to play the triangle game and bring them together and everything’s okay and everything’s okay here and I talked to your sister. Why don’t you call your sister?

You know, triangulating is not only stupid and unwise, it just doesn’t work. And so, I would get a phone call and she would say, “Oh yeah! It’s good to talk to you. Your dad is dying to talk to you.” And he’s, like, asleep on the couch. “Rep, Rep wake up.” “Oh, oh yeah.”  “Yeah, hey Chip! How you doing? Everything going okay? You know? Except the problem was she didn’t quite get when we were visiting and we would call one of my sisters and my dad was kind of out of it. She would say, “Your dad is dying to talk to you. Here, come on.”

You know? You know? And she was so badly wanting the relationship to work, what’s she doing? She’s lying.  And you know what happened? That robbed me of a, for a season, of a relationship with my dad. You know, if my dad doesn’t want to talk to me then maybe I need to say, “Hey dad. Maybe there’s something we need to get resolved and I don’t know what the issue is.”

But, you know what? To have someone tell white lies to protect and create this pseudo atmosphere like everything is okay, that is like a Christian disease. And it happens in churches.

How many times have you had, you know, a pastor falls to something immoral and the board, instead of coming clean, doing church discipline, letting him own his stuff, get before the church, humble himself, call what is what is, go through a healthy process, grieve, and pray that he can be restored if he’s really repentant.

You know what happens in the average church? He gets a call from God to go somewhere else.  Often, they don’t tell the next church what happened. And here’s what I can guarantee. Your sin will always find you out. So then, three months later, or three years later, some group in the church finds out what really happened, it always happens. Now guess who they’re mad at. They’re not mad at the pastor, are they?

Who are they mad at? They’re mad at the board. Because you know what? Number one. The board, often with the right motives, we wanted to protect the church from this disgrace of Christ and how bad it would look in our community. Sin is sin. The Bible is clear on how you deal with sin. And when dealt with in a correct and good way, church discipline is healthy, purging, and purifying.

But when people find out it wasn’t the truth, guess what? Now they don’t trust the leaders about the capital campaign. Now they don’t trust the leaders about the next pastor they hire. Now you’ve done unbelievable damage. Because remember, what’s the issue? The only commodity you have in a relationship is trust.

So, fear, payback or vengeance, insecurity, greed, misguided help. And one, it’s just laziness.

Have you ever had someone come up and say, “Hey, could you help us out with this?” And you say, “Oh, I’d really, really love to but I just can’t.” And, you know, and it’s just, I mean. It’s just lazy. You don’t want to go through the process of, my schedule is full, I’m not passionate about that, you and I aren’t very close, there’s nothing about that project that motivates me.  But what I do is I say, “Oh, I’d love to but I just can’t.”

No, the answer, the truth is, it doesn’t align with what God wants me to do in my life and I don’t want to do it. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I won’t. It’s that I want to let you know in a kind and loving, winsome way that there are boundaries because my gifts and my time and my energy and my resources aren’t mine. They’re God’s. So I need to put them where he wants me to put them.

And so we say little lies but little lies grow to big lies. Could you help us with this, this, and this? Instead of, I’d love to and I can’t. You say, well, if, you know, here’s what I used to do. On my phone, for two years, because people ask pastors to do stuff a lot.

On my phone, I taped above it, “I’ll call you back in ten minutes.” You know why? Because I kept lying. I kept saying stuff I didn’t mean or signing up for stuff I didn’t want to do. “I’ll call you back in ten minutes.”

And then I’d pray about it and then I’d get clear on it. And then it got to where I got a reverse habit where people would ask me something and if I knew immediately, I said, “You know something? That sounds like an awesome ministry that God might really want done. I don’t feel called to that. But I’m glad you are. And I’m honored that you would invite me to join you. That’s not something I think God wants me to give my time to.”

Do you understand what can happen when we start speaking the truth and how much of this phoniness under the guise of being polite? You don’t have to hurt people’s feelings. You don’t have to be ruthless with the truth. But we gotta start speaking the truth. Speaking the truth in love.

The final reason, I think I said I’d give you six but this is, sort of, an outgrowth. Is the final reason, number seven, is habit. Once you start lying about little stuff, you know what? I have found myself, this is such an indictment. I’ve found myself talking on the phone with someone and they ask me a question and I hear something coming out of my mouth and I think to myself, “What’s that doing coming out of my mouth? That’s not true. That’s not true. Wait a second. What are you doing?”

And I’m just thinking. And it’s immaterial and it doesn’t matter.  But you know what? Unless you declare war on deceit, that’s what this message is about. We’re going to declare war on deceit. We’re going to be truth tellers. We’re going to be truth receivers.

We’re going to be people that are true from the inside out. Unless you declare war, you will have little patterns of lying and you can get to where, it’s just, I mean, it’s not even willful.

I had one son who became an expert. At one point in time, he could lie so convincingly, a couple days later, he was convinced of his own lie. And boy, we had a journey breaking that one. How about you?

We were all thieves this morning. I’m getting the sense that I’m among the brethren and sisters of the liarhood, right? You know, you do remember that the goal of these commands were not that anyone could ever keep them. The goal of these commands, never could you earn your salvation. The goal of these commands were to demonstrate the character of God and His heart and His holiness and they were to be boundaries for us for our benefit. And then, we know from New Testament, that they were to help us understand that no matter how hard you try, you will always fall short.

And each of these boundaries helps you know that you need to cry out to God for mercy. And there will come a day where they’ll be a Redeemer and a Savior who will make up the distance between where you fall short. And it’s the blood of Christ.

These Ten Commands are always to remind us that we’re desperate in need. I can’t be honest in my own power. I can’t not steal in my own power. I can’t not lust in my own power. I can’t have any other gods but God in my own power. So how are you doing in the area of lying? How you doing?

Well, let’s talk now about, what are the consequences? Why is it that lying damages relationships? And I’m going to give you three reasons here.

First, it destroys our relationship with God. You know, if you feel like, for about the next twelve, thirteen minutes that I am actually trying to convince you, like an attorney would try to convince a jury to stop lying, right down to the little thing, you will be very astute and very accurate, okay?

I mean, I’m coming after you. So, I mean, if you don’t want to stop lying. If you, like, want to keep lying for a number of years, you kind of need to, better get your, spiritual safety belt down and you better harness in and just, no matter what I say, I’m not going to listen to this. I’m not going to listen to this.

Because I’m going to produce, I believe, a very convincing case that will make you want to tell the truth like never before.  Let me give you three reasons why telling the truth is so important.  First, it destroys our relationship with, write the word, God.

It destroys. It doesn’t just damage. It destroys your relationship with God. Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him to all who call upon Him in,” circle the last word, “truth.” The Lord is near when people call and when they cry out. He is not near to you, He is not near to me, when I don’t call out in truth.

Psalm 51:5, David, after his sin with Bathsheba and after his murder, he says that what God wants in the innermost being is what? Know what it is? Truthfulness. Psalm 51:5.

Jesus, when He’s there with the woman at the well, John 4:24, He says, “There’s going to come a day, ma’am, that worship isn’t about location or geography. There’s going to come a day when the Father,” the word is, “actively pursues,” is running after and seeking out, and trying to find, “men and women and students who will be a special kind of worshipper. Those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

See, you can’t have a relationship with God unless you’re honest. It’ll destroy your relationship with God. Jesus said, why? “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Can I make it strong? God hates lying. He detests it. He bristles at even white lies. Why? Because He is truth. And truth is a prerequisite to trust. And lying destroys trust.

He wants you to be honest because He wants you to experience intimacy with Him. Power in your relationship with Him. And you know what this means? Don’t translate this into, I’ve got to be perfect. What it means is, you have to be honest. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re going to mess up. You know what it means is?

Instead of spending all your energy trying to hid your mess up, or rationalize your mess up, or blaming your parents, or your boss, or your mate, or your kids for your mess up, you get honest and you own your part of the mess up!

And you come before God and say, “I’m sorry.” 1 John 1:9. “I agree about my mess up and I confess it. And I’m asking you, on the basis of the work of Jesus on the cross, will you again cleanse me and forgive me?” And you know what God says? “Yes.” Why? “I love you.”

You think the biggest mess up in your life, I don’t know what it is, you think God was surprised by that? You think that in all eternity, the mess up or that big mistake or that big lie, you think God went, “Oh man! I didn’t see that one coming.” How many of your sins were future when Jesus died on the cross? All of them. He wants you to be honest.

The second reason, it destroys our relationship with ourselves. Not only does the lack of honesty or truthfulness destroy our relationship with God, it destroys our relationship with ourselves.  Proverbs 10:9. “The man of integrity walks securely but he who takes a crooked path will be found out.”

One translation says, “He who walks in integrity walks securely but he who perverts his way…” It’s knowing what’s right to do, you come to a path and you ought to take the left fork instead of the right fork and you take the wrong one. He says, when we do that, you will be found out.

And it happens around religious stuff. Acts chapter 5. Isn’t this interesting? The very first sin recorded in the church is what? It’s lying.  And the lying is to what? Promote hypocrisy. The lack of authenticity. Ananias and Sapphira cut a deal in the back room. Barnabas, you know, he seems real generous. He’s getting a lot of strokes in, you know, the worship time. “Yay, Barnabas. Yay, Barnabas.” You know, he sold this big thing and gave it unto the feet of the apostles and he’s sharing.

So Ananias and Sapphira says, “You know, we’d kind of like to get our cake and eat it too. Why don’t we sell this piece of property but we’ll tell them we sold it for so much so we get all the, you know, accolades of people and we’ll hold this much back.”

And remember Ananias walks before Peter? And he says, “We’ve done this great noble thing.”  Lie.  And Peter says, “Wait a second. Ananias, is this what you actually paid for it?” “Yes.” Lie. He said, “Ananias, before you sold it, whose was it? It’s yours. After you sold it, whose was it? It’s yours. But God doesn’t make any demands for you to sell this property and give it. But what you have done you have,” remember the phrase? “you have lied to the Holy Spirit.” And do you remember the dramatic judgment of God on the very first sin in the church for lying? Bang. He’s dead.

Few hours later, his wife comes in. Admits to the same thing. And the men who picked up his body and took him out and buried him, picked up her. It destroyed his relationship. The duplicity. It destroyed his relationship with his God, with others, and himself.

Dishonesty is the father of self-hatred. And by the way, it’s the root of a lot of depression. Dishonesty is the father of self-hatred. And peace is impossible when integrity is breached. That unsettled feeling, that lack of connection in prayer, that lack of the sense of peace. Colossians 3:15, remember what that says? “Let the peace of Christ rule,” or literally, “act as an arbitrator or an umpire in your heart.”

See, when I lie and I move off the truth, I lose that sense of peace. When you lose that sense of connection and peace and it is well with your soul type sense, often it’s because we’ve lied. And you know what? God doesn’t want you to live that way. He wants you to live with the, “it is well with my soul no matter what” type experience.

I had two buddies that we decided that we were going to go to the next level, spiritually. And they were on staff, I knew one for, gosh, now over twenty years and the other for well over a decade. And we just had that chemistry within our staff and we worked very closely together. And we came together and we made a covenant. And we made a covenant that we were going to, I mean, deal with some issues in our life.

We really wanted to grow. Bar-nothing. I mean, this thing was growing and blowing and multiplying and we realized, you know, the great, the worse thing that could happen is if one of us went south morally. And whether it was in our integrity or our speech or our sexuality and we just said, you know what, let’s covenant together to be, like, honest like never before. Accountability.

And we each shared one area that we felt God really wanted us to develop and grow in. And so I shared mine with these couple guys. And mine was, I have this personality type, you let the experts figure it out. But I’m a people person. I get energized by people. Like, after tonight, honestly, if I wasn’t so tired I could sit and drink coffee, twenty-eight, thirty hours with people at fifteen minute increments and just hear about your life and it would just jazz me. I just love it. I just love being around people.

But I have this other part that is very task oriented. That’s like, hey, let’s get things done and there’s the goal and let’s make it happen. And so, around people and things like this, I’m real, like, people oriented. And when I get in meetings, like meetings, I want short, focused, bottom line, prepared, get it done. This is mine. I got mine done. I need to do this. I need this from you. What about you? What about you? What about you? Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Let’s go. You know? And so it’s kind of, I forget, someone says, “High-D” whatever that means.

And what would happen is is that I would get in a management team meeting and I would be this, Chip, hey having fun with everyone. Then we’d get in the meeting, we’d have the agenda, and we’d get it laid out, and I’d get this tone in my voice that was like, “Get with the program.” And I was unaware of how that was effecting a couple staff members in the group.

And so these two close brothers said, “You know that time when you said, we want to shoot it straight and really love one another and all that? Well, we now have a chance to practice this.” And I said, “Well, great. How are you two doing on it?” “No, it’s not with us, it’s with you.”

And they said, “You know, we understand you and we know. But people are getting a double message. They feel like you really care and love them. And then in those meetings, your intensity is so high that they just can’t quite get you. And that tone of voice? There’s an edge to it. And it makes people feel like they’ve messed up and there’s something wrong with them. And Chip, you need to change that.”

“Okay, thanks guys. I really, I’m going to, okay, man, we said covenant. Ooh hoo, yeah. Here, I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that.” So I go to a management team meeting about two days later and I have a doctor’s appointment, I blew out my knee and this guy was going to get it fixed up and I’m driving.

And as I’m driving I realize my peace is gone. I mean, I can’t remember, I don’t remember saying something bad, I can’t remember doing something wrong. But it’s just, the peace is gone. And, so you know, when you drive in the car, I like to pray or maybe sing some songs and it’s just like, I feel like I’m in this tin can alone and I’m in the car and God’s not and it’s like bummer.

So I’m thinking, you know, I’m getting real smart at this age. “Hey God, is there something wrong? You know, maybe somewhere, somehow, someway?

You know? Could you tell me, like, real gently?” And it’s like the Lord said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact.”

And it was like he pushed a little video tape. Tch, tch, tch, tch, tch, tch, tch. And it’s like I could watch myself in this meeting and in my mind, I mean, I felt great about everybody.

And I got to see the level of intensity and the couple of expressions. And, aw man. That’s what they were talking about. I did it again.

And on the way back from the doctor, you know, I just stopped and got on my phone and called both those guys and I said, “Hey guys. Was there any chance that what you asked me to correct that I did in this meeting? Because this is what happened and I think I offended so and so and so and so at that meeting during this part and that part.”

And they said, “Well, we were going to talk to you when you got back.” And I said, “Well, you don’t need to. One, will you forgive me?” And they said, “Yeah.” “And two, would you make sure those two people are available. I’ll be back in the office in about fifteen minutes. I need to apologize to them.”

Whew. I had another little trip that day. I just was singing in the car. Why? Integrity and honesty allow you to have a rich, intimate, deep relationship with God and allows you to be at peace with yourself. The lack of integrity, the lack of honesty with God, yourself, and others destroys your relationship with God. It will destroy your relationship with yourself. And finally, it destroys your relationship, can you write the word in? You know it, don’t you? With others. It destroys your relationship with others.

Proverbs 25:26 says, “Like a muddled spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” You know, a righteous man, a man like Abraham does what? He lies about his wife to a king and then he does what to the relationship with the king? He says, “Abraham! Man, what are you doing to me here? I can’t believe it. I could have, I could be in big trouble and you lied to me.” He alienates his relationship through a lie with the king and I don’t know about you, I don’t have a lot of record, I’m not sure Sarah’s real happy for at least a few months. You know? I think this “you’re my sister” stuff’s growing pretty old. Can you imagine going to bed one night in the harem and going, “Well, I guess, Abraham. Whatever you say.” You know? You know, like, where’s the real man in my life? Well, why did he do it? Because he was afraid. Because he was insecure.

Or, you know, remember Joshua 7? Talk about destroying relationship with others. Remember Achan and his lie? Did that have any impact on the people close to him? It’s lethal. See, you never sin in a vacuum. Sins are like pebbles or boulders, depending on the sin, the time, the place, and the impact. And they go into the water of life and then the ripples go out from them. And that’s why it’s so critical to be a man or a woman of integrity.

I love the word picture here. In the ancient Near East, a muddled spring or a polluted well. He’s giving us a word picture. A trampled spring, literally, is if you’ve ever been to Israel. I’ve only been once but I really want to go back.  But whatever the picture I had in my mind, it wasn’t like it when I went there. When I got there, it was like, a lot of it looks like desert. I mean, it’s like really dry. You can understand why Jesus used the metaphors about water. Where there’s water, there’s life. And if there’s not water. There’s death.

And so, what they would have is they would have an oasis or a spring and people would come from miles with their animals. And everyone knew, I mean, that’s life right there. That’s the spring. And so people were real careful with their animals and they would take turns. Well, if you were from out of town or far away, you didn’t care about that spring. And muddled spring, some people would drive their cattle or their camels through it.

And they would just go right through it and let the animals get in the water and the animals would defecate in it and urinate. Sorry to be a little graphic but, you know, it’s good Old Testament history I’m giving you here. And so, I mean, it would literally poison or ruin the water.

And so, people later that day would bring their cattle or camels to come find life and instead what? Death. And he says, that’s what it’s like when a woman of God or a man of God gives way before the wicked.

You are the greatest Christian someone knows. You’re the greatest church member someone knows. And they watch your life, and they watch your tongue, and they watch your time, and they watch your relationships.  And when they come to find life from you but because of a lack of integrity, instead of finding life they find death. Do you see how it impacts others?

This, for me, has been the most motivating passage for personal integrity in all of my life. I just realized, especially in what we all do but especially in what I do, people expect and should expect, not at all a perfect life because they’d be… My family could tell them, I mean, not even in the ballpark.

But a life that keeps short accounts where what you say, and how you say you live, line up closely, never perfectly this side of heaven, but closely. But it can’t be like this [moves hands apart]. Because people come to you and to me as believers to find life. And like a trampled spring or a well, same picture, that gets polluted, so is a righteous man or a righteous woman who gives way before the wicked. Our life, by word or deed, needs to reveal the righteousness of Christ.

Okay. You feel beat up enough yet? They’re the Ten Commandments, like, that’s why they were made in stone, I guess. I mean, you know, it’s one thing to say, you know, I don’t lie. Boy, when you look at it like this. Are you ready to declare war, in your personal life, on deceit? I mean, even the white lies. Even when you’re silent and you let some people believe stuff that you know isn’t true. Are you ready, at this point, to say, you know something? Time out. From this day forward, from this moment, in this room, I will be a man, I will be a student, I will be a woman who progressively lives and tells and speaks the truth.

I will overcome my fear, I will overcome my insecurities, I will overcome the habit. I will overcome whatever causes me to not tell the truth. Because I’ve got to be a truth teller. And, if so, let me give you a game plan. Okay? Got that pen out? Good.  Let me give you five or six practical ways to become a truth teller.

Number one, consider the source of lies. This is theological but it really helps me. Consider the source of lies. Satan is the father of lies. When I lie, I am most like him.

You ever think about it that way? He’s a liar from the beginning. There’s no truth in him. Aren’t those the words of Jesus? When I lie, what is he? He is a deceiver.  When I lie, I’m never more like Satan than when I lie.

His whole strategy, this whole world system. This desire to wreck your life, and wreck your marriage, and wreck your future, and give you a distorted picture about you and God and others and this whole plan to divide people in Christian organizations and churches. There is one strategically behind it and his major weapon is lying. When I lie, I put on a jersey that has his number on the back. And when I think of it that way, it motivates me to tell the truth.

The second way is confession. Just admit it. God, I have a problem here. Just admit it. I have a problem. Confession. And by the way, this deal of verbalizing it to other people when you blow it is a purifying habit. It will really help you. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, God, I lied, I’m sorry.”
Now, you never go tell someone you lied if it will do further damage here or there. But when God makes it clear that there’s something to it that’s more than your personal private confession and he makes it really clear, you need to go ahead and fess up with another person in an appropriate way. And you can’t quite get peace until that keeps coming to you. Go do it. It will be so motivating for telling the truth in the future.

Third step is to meditate on how God feels about lying. I mean, sometimes I think, you know, it’s just the world that we get thinking like God is the Force. God is a person. God has feelings. The Scripture says, lying is an abomination to Him. He hates it. He hates it!

I mean, would you want to do something that your husband hates or that your wife hates or that you knew every time you did it, it just, it cringes and makes your kids hate it or your closest friend?
We need to mediate and realize, we’re not lying to an invisible timeless force who keeps the world spinning. God is a person. He has feelings.  In fact, He grieves. We said, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. You know what grief is? Grief is the feeling and emotion of pain and sorrow when someone has violated the relationship.

It helps me to remember, I don’t want to make God sad. I don’t want to make Jesus sad. I don’t want to break His heart.  See, it personalizes it. The Christian life isn’t this set of principles and doing right and doing good and staying moral and trying to be nice, read your Bible and pray and give some money and go to church and try and live a good life.

That is not the Christian life. The Christian life is a relationship with God, through Christ, that’s vital and living and loving and a lot of that, the overflow will be, you will want to read your Bible, and you’ll end up praying, and you want to be with the fellowship of people, and you want to share what He’s given. And it will change your morals. But you know what? It’s not fulfilling that list. It’s about your heart fulfilling a relationship.

Changes how you think of things.

The fourth way is to pray specifically. I’ve gone through seasons where I’ve prayed Psalm 141:3,  “Lord, put a guard over my lips.” And I’ve actually really seen him answer it. But pray specifically. “Lord, I realize I tell white lies. Lord Jesus, I want a covenant with You. Would You help me, today, to tell the truth? Lord, just before a lie comes out of my mouth today, would You put a guard over my lips?” And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation. Someone has said something and my response, it’s come directly to my mind. Mmm! It gets right below my teeth and I’m just ready to say it and God says, “That’s not true.”
And I go, “Mmm, yeah, but I want to say it. They’ll think it makes me look good, and it puts someone down, and they made me mad yesterday, and I didn’t realize it until right now, and I’d like to put them down, and I wanna…” Don’t say it!  And it gets caught right between my teeth. And I can’t help but believe that God just answered my prayer.

Now, you know what, sometimes it gets caught right between my teeth and I say it anyway. And then I gotta repent and I gotta go deal the deal. But I’m telling you, as you pray specifically about lying, God will give you a truthful lips and truthful heart.

And something that, very helpful, number five is consider putting it in print. In the personal life, because sometimes you lie in your motives. Sometimes things happen with people and it’s not appropriate. It’s just not appropriate to go talk to them. You would make a bigger issue talking to them than dealing with it privately. And so, you know, it’s not for everybody but I keep a journal. And when, you know, I write yesterday and I write, kind of, some general things about just yesterday in general, where I’m at.

But mine is a journal of the heart. I’m not trying to figure what I did yesterday or this or that. And then, you know, I’ll write “Thanksgiving” and I’ll think of some things I’m thankful for and then often I’ll have, I put little boxes so I can put checks through them.

“God, I’m trusting today, will you please…” and I’ll write down a few prayer requests. And then I’ll often put a big C for confession.  And then I’ll just put my pen down and say, “Lord, would you bring to my mind anything that, you know, would separate me from you? And I just want to be clean today.”

And this is one where God just, I think he delights to answer my prayers really quickly. And he’ll just bring real vividly, I’ll remember a conversation and I tell you what. This is really, really purifying.

“Dear God, I’m very sorry, I didn’t just exaggerate, I lied to so and so in the meeting. He asked me about this and this is what I told him.” And you know when you write it and you just see it in front of you, it’s like, that is so ugly.

But you know what I’ve found? I’ve found we usually gloss over that and we think, well, most Christians don’t tell the whole truth anyway and, you know, God probably grades on the curve and no one’s perfect and we continue to lie. Put it in print.

And then the last one here is invite ruthless accountability. Those couple guys, wherever I’ve gone, I’ve found some group somewhere with a level of chemistry, connection, and openness. Invite ruthless accountability. You gotta have a couple people in your life, of the same sex. And obviously you need this at huge levels in your marriage, those of you who are married. But you gotta find some people because there’s issues that men deal with that are different than women and there’s issues that women deal with that are different than men.

You need at least a couple people in your life where it is ruthless accountability. Where you, two things, where you can shoot is so straight and they can call you on the carpet in a New York minute and the relationship is never at risk. And the other is, you can admit it so straight and what you don’t get is condemnation and, “Oh, how could a Christian like you ever think that thought?”
I mean, I got enough of that going on inside my head. I need a couple guys that say, “Chip, I’m going to love you no matter what.” And as a couple of them have said, “And by the way, if you ever go down any of these paths,” and one of them is pretty big. “So help me, I will physically, I will just take you and you will wish you never did.” To which is, I don’t know if he’d really do that or not but I don’t think I’m ever going to test the waters on that one.

But you know what it is? He loves me. He just loves me and he wants me to know in, sort of his old ex-football coaching lingo, I will kick you from this side of the United States to the other if you ever do anything or violate this or don’t tell me the truth. You know what a comfort it is? I can go to that guy. In fact I was in California, we had a three hour breakfast. And in a three hour breakfast, I started from my personal life to my marriage to my work and I went, prrrrrrrr. Here’s where I’m at, man. And he did the same.

And I’ll tell you what. There’s not many gifts that are sweeter or better than that person or two in your life.  Find them. If you don’t have it, pray for them. Those are the kind of prayers God will answer. Ask God for those kind of people that you can say, would you covenant? I want to be a truth teller. And God will answer your prayer.

Well, God wants us to be truth tellers but God also wants to be, us to be truth receivers.

And this conclusion’s a little different. You can put your pen down. What I’m going to tell you will not be new. Just relax, take this old pen, watch this, stick it right in the pocket. For those of you that brought the highlighter, I brought my highlighter. In the pocket.

There’s four airtight truths you can’t afford to be deceived on. I got two minutes. Two minutes is all it’s going to take. I’m going to give you four airtight truths. God wants you to be a truth teller. But as we end the ninth commandment, he wants you to be a truth receiver.

Airtight truth number one He wants you to receive. He wants you to believe. Don’t be deceived. This is the truth.

God loves you and is pursuing an intimate relationship with you. Do you believe that? Can you receive that? God loves you. He loves you. He’s for you. He wants you. He wants to have a relationship with you. You matter. You’re important. You’re unique. You’re special. That’s the truth.

The lie is, you don’t matter. The lie is, you’re too far gone. The lie is, He doesn’t care. The lie, He cares about people that are smarter, more intellectual, more spiritual, more moral, more something. Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie.

Truth airtight number one: God loves you tonight. Right where you’re at, right as you are.

Airtight truth number two: you are a sinner. You have lied, you have stolen, you have lusted, and you have disqualified yourself by your sin to have a relationship with God.

I mean, we’re on command nine, if you haven’t got it by now, you’re in total denial. Alright? We’re all in this together. You’re a sinner. And sinner’s not like bad person. Sinner is a fall-short person. You know, God says, in the area of truth telling, you have to score a hundred. Never lie ever. If you don’t score a hundred, you fall short. You’re a sinner. You miss the mark.

God says, in the area of moral purity, you have to score a hundred. Never lust anytime, anyway, in your mind, thought, word, or deed. God says, in having no other gods before you, you always have to score a hundred. Not even a little idol, not even a partial bad day or a bad thought.

If you don’t score a hundred on all Ten Commands, all times, in your whole life, you are a sinner. And God is holy. And here’s what He says. Then you’re disqualified, by your sin, to have a relationship with a pure and holy God.

The lie is, you’re okay. The lie is that God will weigh your good deeds and your bad deeds. The lie is that someway, sometime, maybe later when you think about it, you’ll deal withth your sin problem. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Airtight truth number one, you are loved by God. Airtight truth number two, you are a sinner and you have disqualified yourself from a relationship with a holy God.

Airtight truth number three: Jesus is God’s one and only remedy for sin. He died to redeem and save your life from your sin now and forever.

Airtight truth number three. Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago. His blood was spilled to pay for your sin. All that you ever have committed, all that you ever will commit. To redeem, or literally buy you back so that you could have a relationship with God the Father based totally and completely on His work on the cross and resurrection.

Airtight truth number one, you are loved by God. Airtight truth number two, you are a sinner and you’ve disqualified yourself from a relationship with God. And airtight truth number three, Jesus loves you and died in your place to purchase salvation for you.

Airtight truth number four: how you respond to the top three truths will determine your eternity forever.