Monday, May 14, 2007

Liars In The Church -- How A New Plague Of Lying Threatens American Christianity: In The Classroom Of James Hartline

In The Classroom Of James Hartline
- An Online Classroom For Radical Christians -
May 14, 2007

"Liars In The Church"
How A New Plague Of Simple Lying
Threatens American Christianity

"Do not lie to one another,
seeing that you have put off the old self
with its deceitful practices."
Colossians 3:9

Of all the many mandates in the Bible that we Christians have been given, there is none so important as the mandate of truth. Truth is at the core of every facet of Christianity. It is what distinguishes the Bible from all other religious texts and it is the very energy that is exhaled from the breath of God upon humanity. Truth is so important that God eternally encoded it in the ten commandments. In the ninth commandment, the Lord forbids us from lying about one another:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
Exodus 20:16

Satan also recognizes the great power that truth is and how it is the foundational component that connects man with his God. It is why Lucifer, given over to his own deluding falsehoods, was so driven to ensnare Eve in the Garden Eden. This beguiling serpent of deception so seduced Eve with lies about God and His word that she gave up everything to become humanity's first liar.

God demands that His people live in truth. We are to intellectually breed truth. And we are to be truthful with each other at all times. The Apostle John wrote of the intimate intertwining that truth has with any disciple of Jesus Christ. It is in this eternal love affair with God's truth that we become liberated from our unregenerated sinful nature:

Jesus said to the people who believed in Him,
"You are truly My disciples if you keep obeying My teachings.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31-32

Sadly, I see a darkness, unlike any I have seen before, that has creeped into the body of Christ. It is swirling about in our midst like a new plague. It is a real spiritual disease. Left unchecked, this plague will challenge the truthful foundations of the Christian Church, leaving it mortally wounded and terminally disabled. This growing epidemic of deceit is worse than a false theology, for it is germinating inside of the church and it is spreading by the words of our own lips. It is the plague I call "the simple lie". Those who engage in such actions are "simple liars".

Today, many church attendees have given way to this epidemic of simple lying. Yes, lying. Today, we so easily lie to each other, and we so easily give way to telling falsehoods, that many Christians are no longer even aware when they are lying.

Christians in the modern American Church have so lowered their standard of moral interactions with each other, that they don't even think twice about lying to one other. Over and over again, I have had fellow Christians, in a sort of lazy and careless fashion, lie to me. It is as if their conscience has become numb and their lying habitual. In a world where so many lie to get ahead, the church too, is exhibiting a growing familiarity with the unholy art of lying to get ahead.

How many times have you promised to have a fellow believer over for dinner and then failed to carry out that promise? I have had many fellow Christians, even church leaders, say to me, "Oh, James, we're going to have you over for dinner next week." Not only did they not have me over for dinner, but they never even bothered to tell me that they weren't having me over. In fact, I've never even seen the inside of the homes of most of those who promise to help me or have me over for dinner. It seems as if today's Christians have so reduced their obligations to each other, that the level of honesty in many churches is no different than that of secular corporations.

"Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine,
and learn from those who follow our example.
For I have told you often before, and I say it again
with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose
conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ."
Philippians 3:17-18

What does it mean, in a world that is getting more dark and more dangerous, if the Christian Church is being made into the image of this deceitful world? If our churches have become more consumed with building programs and sporting events than the saving of souls, what will our attitude be towards those in our midst who lie and break their promises?

As Christians, what are our obligations to each other? Does our level of truthfulness and loyalty reflect the depth of our professed Christianity? I have a friend who always helps me get to church and who really reflects a wonderful brotherly kindness. I have known this friend for only one year, but he is always there to help me. On the other hand, there are people in my church who live in my neighborhood, who have never once even offered to have a cup of coffee with me. Even though these folks have known me for over five years, they have never demonstrated one sign of Christian fellowship. Can you see the difference between these two examples? These two examples reflect the growing divide within churches in America between those who are demonstrating truth in Christianity and those who do not.

I believe it is a bleak sign in these last days that the spiritual watchmen and the pastors of modern Christianity have not sounded the alarm on this matter of lying. These leaders are responsible for correcting the false ideals and reproving the liars within our churches. Why are we allowing this pattern of lying to one another to fester and grow in our midst? Are we not giving birth to a new Judas generation where people tell lies now, but in the future they will turn into great betrayers of the cross?

Christians today are cleverly changing the terminology they use when addressing sin in the church. Instead of calling the act of lying a sin, they are now calling it a "mistake". Lying has always been a sin, yet many Christians today are more likely to resolve the issue as if they have been reading the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous rather then the Bible. The dangerous part in this erroneous approach, is that without an acknowledgement of sin, there can be no repentance. Without repentance, there can be no revival.

We must have correction on this matter or we are dooming the American Church to a second-class Christianity where demonic forces will dominate us -- and will eventually destroy us. When we gave our lives to Christ, we made an eternal oath to the living God. To renege on our commitment to Christ by refusing to end our soft approach to the sin of lying, is to make a complete mockery of the Gospel.

"When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
For He has no pleasure in fools.
Pay what you have vowed --
Better not to vow than to vow and not pay."
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

When we make promises to God or to each other, we should not delay in following through with our oaths, for God takes no pleasure in us when we do not keep our commitments. Ecclesiastes 5:6 warns us not to let our mouth cause our flesh to sin. Furthermore, the writer in Ecclesiastes tells us not to call it a mistake when we refuse to fulfill our vows:

"Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the
messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry
with your excuse and destroy the work of your hands."
Ecclesiastes 5:6

In fact, the writer in Ecclesiastes goes as far as to warn us that we could end up destroying the very church we are trying to build up when we make excuses for our sinful refusal to keep our vows. There could be no greater warning for Christians who refuse to stop lying to their fellow Christian brethren.

Refusal To Challenge The Liars In Our Midst:
Biblical Consequences For The Body Of Christ

The psalmist details his great distresses in the 120th psalm. The psalmist cries out for deliverance from the deceitful tongue and lying lips. It is the deceitful tongue and lying lips which have become the greatest of burdens for this man of God. Look what he writes:

"Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips
And from a deceitful tongue
What shall be given to you,
Or what shall be done to you,
You false tongue?"
Psalm 120:2-3

If the psalmist is pleading so sincerely to God to deliver him from the lying tongue, what should our opinion be of those in our own churches who promise to help us or give to us, but then they just abandon us? To make a promise and then fail to keep one's word: this is lying. It is a sin. Yet, so readily, believers do not keep their word and they don't even say anything about the sin of such actions. Rarely do they even apologize when committing this great sin against their fellow brethren.

The Book of Proverbs repeatedly speaks on the issue of lying. In this great book of wisdom, the lie is presented as one of the great troublemakers. In fact, Proverbs, Chapter 29 presents the lie as a plague which can destroy an entire government:

"If a ruler pays attention to falsehood,
All ministers become wicked."
Proverbs 29:12

It is a critical play being scripted in churches throughout America, where members of the body of Christ are becoming more and more dishonest with each other. There are more Christians getting divorced than the non-christians. There are leading pastors like Ted Haggard, who get in the pulpit on Sunday while have sexually sinful affairs on the side. The lie comes in many forms and fashions, but it all begins with small, seemingly insignificant half-truths.

As I stated earlier, I have had Christians who have said to me, "James, I'm having you over for dinner next week." Not only did they not have me over, but they never even called to cancel. It was simply a lie. These types of lies are told everyday in churches throughout America. This lack of honesty, this lack of forthrightness, is creating a corporate atmosphere of dishonesty in American Christianity.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote of the deceptive mentality of ancient Jerusalem's leaders. He stated that these Jewish leaders had made a covenant with hell and the hallmark of that dark contract was the lie:

"For we have made lies our refuge,
And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."
Isaiah 28:15

Many Christians, in their drive to be "liked" by everyone, will constantly make careless commitments that they really have no intention of keeping. These personal campaigns for acceptance run counter to Christ's teachings where He instructs us to become servants and not pursuers of worldly gain and popularity. The Book of Proverbs reminds us that the pursuit of earthly gain by the use of a lying tongue will only result in death:

"Getting treasures by a lying tongue
is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death."
Proverbs 21:6

The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesians to watch over the words that come out of our mouth:

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,
but what is good for necessary edification,
that it may impart grace to the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

Paul further instructs us to confront those in the church who are deceiving or lying to us. We are not to tolerate false Christians in our church who are lying and deceiving:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words,
for because of these things the wrath of God
comes upon the sons of disobedience."
Ephesians 5:6

Clearly, God is moving within our midst to clean out the leaven in His body of believers. A line is being drawn which separates those who are seeking to be truthful and righteous from those who want to continue living lives of dishonesty and deception. Those that are seeking for truth will live out lives that reflect holiness. We, the bearers of God's truth, will grow morally brighter and brighter in these last days. Those who come into our churches seeking to gain some advangtage in this perishing world will become more and more obvious.

In these last days, we must remind ourselves of the words of Jesus from the last chapter of the Book of Revelation:

"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still:
and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still;
And he that is righteous, let him be righteous still:
And he that is holy, let him be holy still."
Revelation 22:11

In closing this Bible study let us remember that Jesus declared to John that there would be a clear distinction between the ungodly and the godly in these last days based upon our life choices. Let us renew our commitment to being truthful and honest in every area of our Christian walk. Let all of us be known for the godly condition of our character and the truthfulness of our daily deeds.

Thank You For Spending Time In The Classroom Of James Hartline

"Preparing For My Depature:
But Running My Race
Until I Leave."

James Hartline
Servant Of The Lord
In These Last Days

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