This Week's Focus Passage

Little White Lies?

Focus Passage: Psalm 5:6

‘Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies. ’

‘Is it not a little one?’ was the plea of Lot when he requested permission from the angels that were rescuing him from Sodom that, rather than following their counsel to flee to the mountain, he be allowed to dwell in a city of which he said, ‘behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one.’ Often there is an immediate relationship between taking the easy way out, and the act of lying. The city of which Lot spoke was ever after known as Zoar, i.e. ‘little.’ It appears that he imagined it was a little thing to set aside the counsel and guidance of these angels of God, in order to follow his own counsel and take the easy way. For this reason, he declares rather defensively, ‘Is it not a little one?’ We are very familiar with this line of argumentation as it is frequently employed by liars. They have their ‘little white lies,’ of which they presume license to make use of with impunity. But is there, in fact, any such thing as a little lie? Are there, indeed, such specimens of falsehood as ‘little white lies’?

Reformed confessions are conspicuously agreed regarding the intention of the ninth commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’ In answer to the inquiry, ‘What is required in the ninth commandment?’ Westminster responds, ‘The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbors good name, especially in witness-bearing.’ A second inquiry asks, ‘What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?’ In these catechisms, the contributors were concerned to look at both sides of every question, implying that there are two sides to every question. Have we not learned by experience the truth of that postulate? Our God, in His Word through the penman of the Proverbs avers this in 18:17, when he says, ‘He that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him out,’ implying the wise behavior of this neighbor who takes care to learn the ‘rest of the story,’ and that from both sides. Thus, what is forbidden in the ninth commandment is, according to Westminster, ‘The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.’ Again, carefully note the biblical wisdom here involved in the concern expressed, not only defensively for oneself, but with equal concern for the good of the names and reputations of others. Not surprisingly, this is better expressed in the Word of God; once again by Solomon in Proverbs 14:25, when God speaks through him, saying, ‘A true witness delivereth souls: but he that uttereth lies causeth deceit.’ Oh, how terrible a thing it is to be guilty of bringing strife and contention through slander and a false tongue! Let us pray with the Psalmist, ‘Deliver my soul, O Jehovah, from lying lips, And from a deceitful tongue.’—Psalm 120:2.

Our focus passage sets before us powerful warnings against those who would practice or countenance lying. Give a thought to the verses that form the surrounding context of our verse:

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: Evil shall not sojourn with thee. The arrogant shall not stand in thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies: Jehovah abhorreth the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Some fearful language here; it should cause us to fear falsehood with all of our hearts, all of our minds, all of our strength. David declares in this context that lying is wickedness; that it is an evil that our God will not sojourn with. The God whose most wonderful promise is that He will dwell, or sojourn, with His people will not dwell with wicked liars. These persons are arrogant and shall not stand in my sight, He has said through David. Lying is iniquity, and ‘Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.’ How can any intelligent creature of God begin to tolerate being hated by Him? Those that speak lies will be destroyed by their Creator, ‘Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies.’ But it is just a ‘little one.’ It’s a big deal to an absolutely holy God. While Scripture speaks of degrees of sin and punishment, God hates all sin, and all sin must be punished. We cannot view Christ hanging upon the cross, suffering and dying for our sin, and say to Him, ‘it was just a little one,’ can we? Liars are considered by God to be bloodthirsty and deceitful men that He abhors. Ii is a bloody thing to cast filth upon the name or reputation of another; those who do so are bloodthirsty men though they may have never done physical harm to any. Their deceit is a bloody sword that has thrust through the heart of another, and God will whet His sword against the man that has done this. Repentance is the only means given that will cause God to sheath that incredibly sharp sword.

The devil was a liar from the beginning. He it is that brought man down from paradise through his deceitful tongue. We should not wonder that God hates liars and lies. And not only so, but He will cast out all those who countenance lies. We read of this terrible scene in Revelation 22:15. Note well the company that liars are going to keep forever, apart from evangelical repentance. Observe this striking and awesome contrast between the righteous and the wicked; between those who repent and those who refuse to repent:

Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.

Joined hand in hand with those making a lie are those that go along with it; those that love it; those that put up with it; those that will not oppose it; those who let it proceed as the truth, until multitudes have believed a lie. If you hear propaganda, rumor, gossip, and permit its utterance in silence, countenance it in any way, you have embraced a lie and joined hand in hand with the falsehood. Oh, may we cry with the Psalmist, ‘Deliver my soul, O Jehovah, from lying lips.’

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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