Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered November 9, 2002 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Loving Your Reputation

Colossians 3:9-10

We're continuing on our series on the Ten Commandments. Today, we're in the Ninth Commandment. It's about loving your reputation. The Ninth Commandment is given to us by God as a protection. It says, "Don't lie."

I don't know about you, but I'm just thrilled that elections are over! You know, we sit there trying to listen to the news and up pops a series commercials. The first one says, "Senator X is a dirty scoundrel. You don't want to vote for him He is real bad. If your dog had a chance, he would bite that man. Therefore, for that reason you need to vote for Senator Q." Then up pops the next commercial. It"s another political ad paid for by friends of Senator X. "Senator Q is real bad. If your cat had a chance he would just scratch him bad. You need therefore to vote for Senator X, because he's real good."

You know, either all the politicians are bad or else someone is lying or grossly exaggerating the facts. Who do you believe? Each party claims their propaganda is the truth. With all the mudslinging, honestly, how does a voter know how to vote? I think that is half the reason we just stay at home. I voted, but I'm not sure I voted for the right one. It is so bad that we just stay at home. And how do you know when a politician is lying? Somebody said, "Well, if their lips are moving,.." And the Bible makes a statement in Proverbs. We"re going to look up a whole bunch of texts in the Bible. Proverbs 12:22. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. That s what they are.

What is a lie? A lie is when a person

Do you, yourself lie? I would expect most of us do lie at times.

We have a problem. They did a survey and they found out that ninety-one percent of Americans admitted that they told lies on a regular basis. - New York Times, June 7, 1996. It's the nine percent that I wonder about. They didn't admit it. God wants us to tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the unadulterated Truth. That's what God wants. Modern life is like a permanent Halloween where almost everybody wears a mask to

You could add about anything you want. That's what we do. It's pretty bad. No wonder we are a land of so many attorneys. Our word is no longer our bond.

We live in a day and age of distortion and half truths. Iraq says, "We would never have any weapons of mass destruction. We wouldn't do that." And America says, "Yes you do!" So, how do you know what to believe? Where is the truth? Isaiah 59:14 KJV says: Truth is fallen in the streets. It's pretty bad.

The problem is not new. In fact, it's a very old problem. No sin has greater antiquity than the sin of lying. Who is the father of all the liars in the world? It's the devil. That's what Jesus said in John 8:44. Even the devil told the first lie. Satan is the father of lies.

Millions of Americans are being bamboozled by some fast talking bureaucrats and by advertisers in television and magazines. As a result we are becoming cynical and find it hard to believe even honest people. We never know when we are hearing the truth. We never know who is honest and who is dishonest. Lying is so common that we even rely on lying for entertainment. We go down here to the grocery store and we see one of these tabloid papers and it says, "Mother gives birth to Elephant." We think, "Wow, I have to read that." And so we buy that. We use it for entertainment. Wild lying is acceptable. We see it on TV. We buy a lie and go home and enjoy reading it, we enjoy listening to it.

The problem is so bad. I guess God knew we had a problem with our tongue. telling the truth, that three of the Ten Commandments are about the human tongue. Did you know that? The one on swearing, the one about killing; Jesus said that if you are yelling at someone, you're killing them, Lying). Today we focus on the Ninth Commandment; Exodus 20:16 (KJV). Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. But if they're not your neighbor... Everybody is our neighbor.

Why is it so hard for us to tell the truth? I think, basically because of pride. Once upon a time, Pride and Memory had an argument. Memory said, "It happened thus and so!" Pride replied, "Oh, but it couldn't have been that bad!" So memory gave in and pride rewrote the data. Honesty is an uncommon commodity.

Fortunately, God has provided an answer to our problem, and what a wonderful answer in the Ninth Commandment. Back in the ancient eastern lands, most people were presumed guilty until proven innocent. all it took for you to be stoned to death was one witness, which could even be a false witness. I am told that this philosophy still survives in places in the Middle East. Deuteronomy 19:15 says: One witness is not enough to convict a man. That's Biblical. And they are innocent until they're proven guilty.

Fortunately America has adopted the idea that we are innocent until proven guilty. I think our justice system is founded on this commandment. And two or more witnesses are best. The bedrock of the Ninth Commandment is the Righteousness and Justice of God Himself. Jeremiah 4:2 The Lord liveth in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness.

I think the verbiage of the Ninth Commandment is basically the language of the courtroom not to bear false witness. A witness on the stand needs to be truthful. To lie under oath is to commit Perjury. This is exceedingly damaging, especially in a criminal court. Now, in a civil court like Court TV, you don't have to watch very long to see bold faced lies in civil courtrooms. The best actor wins the trial.

God hates a lie. God loves the truth, and why is that? Because

Now, there are various types of lies.

1)-- Hypocricy Hypocrisy is a living lie. When silver- tongued tele-evangelists stands up and preaches about Jesus and later you read about their nefarious immoral behavior, you know that lying is superabundant.

2)-- Lying also includes Blame Shifting. We are afraid of the consequences so we shift the guilt onto someone else. Adam and Eve are classic examples of this type of lie. Adam said, "She made me do it." And she said, "The snake made me do it. And what did the snake say? I guess he just hissed at God. We always have to blame somebody else. Blaming, shifting the blame.

3)-- Faultfinding comes under the umbrella of lying. Are you one who looks for the faults of others? If so, you ar like a vulture who is floating over a beautiful landscape. What does he see? He doesn't see the beautiful landscape. Do you know what he sees? Only what he is looking for... the putrefying carcass of a dead animal, the road-kill.

4)-- Flattery is another form of lying. Flattery is like soft soap. And did you know, soft soap is ninety percent lye! Flattery can take place on a recommendation we fill out for someone. We say, "Oh, they're good. Get them out of here. You hire them." Ecclesiastes 5:2 says ...let your words be few.

5) - Let's avoid Talebearing and Rumor-mongering. Never repeat a juicy tale. It might even be a false tale. It might be just gossip. You don't know, maybe you're spreading a rumor. Each time a tale is repeated it is slightly changed and exaggerated and further from the truth. A quick way to figure out if a thing is a rumor is to ask: "May I quote you on this? What is your name?" "No, don't quote me!" If it is hearsay they will almost universally and unequivocally say NO Way! To possess stolen goods is just about as bad as stealing them. And so to listen to somebody you know is gossiping is about as bad as being the talebearer himself.

It is equally bad to circulate counterfeit money as it is to manufacture it. It is equally sinful to circulate a lie as it is to fabricate a lie. We need to be careful what we vocalize. Zephaniah 3:13 says, The remnant of Israel ....will speak no lies. And we are the remnant. We call our church the "Truth." Have you also joined the people of the truth? We should be truthful, shouldn't we. Of all the people, Seventh-day Adventists should be truthful.

Proverbs 11:13 (NLT) A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. Whenever you assume a tale is true and repeat it you are lying. Why do we quickly rush to judgment and blurt out our poisonous words?

6) - Even worse than gossiping and talebearing is Slandering. Slander is where you fabricate a malicious tale about somebody that is not true. Fabrication. Did you know the name Devil means "slanderer?" He's fabricating stories about you that aren't true. It's bad enough to tell the truth about us. Nothing destroys a reputation faster than a slandering lie. Psalm 101:5 KJV says, Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off. When you slander somebody, we call that "Tongue Murder," murder by tongue. What was the weapon? The boneless tongue.

The boneless tongue so weak and small, can crush and kill the most powerful of them all. The tongue destroys a greater horde than the sword. That's a dangerous thing. Jesus was hung on the cross by the power of false witness. Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death. I think we need to pray for our tongue will be the power of life and not the power of death, to be a fountain of blessing to others, to be a witness for God. In fact, David said in Psalm 71:24 KJV, My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long. No wonder David was such a great man.

Proverbs 12:19 (NIV), Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. I want truthful lips, don't you? Each of us has a tongue placed there to test the things we eat. However, the big test is our control of our tongue. The tongue is the thermometer of the heart. James 1:26 NLT. If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Does this mean that if you have a problem of Gossiping that you are lost? We are told to avoid poison, aren't we. "Don't go near poison." Our mothers all told us that. And yet we carry around, each of us, a large quantity of poison.

The brain probably outweighs the tongue a dozen times or more, yet most folk don't have the ability to control their tongue. Most tongues are wild and untamed. James 3:8, no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Our words can kill God's dignity, they can kill people, and they can kill our own reputation. Ron Mehl says- "Suppose a man comes into my office and tells me, 'I just don't love my wife anymore. She's not the same person I married.' I typically reply, 'If that is true, if this woman is less lovely to you today than when you were married, if she has changed in a negative way, then you have only to look as far as the words you've spoken to her in private. A Husband's words have the power to virtually shape the life of his wife.... A parent's words have the awesome capacity to shape the life of his or her child." Mehl, page 214 And we could say that of the wife. You've poisoned your husband. You parents can poison your children. If you keep bad-mouthing them you will think they are bad. Be careful.

Just about the time we think our wild tongue is finally tamed, it lashes out again.

I read a story about a man who had a tiger. Do you like tigers? he had this tiger as a little tiger cub, and raised it. He fed it from a bottle and raised it until it became a huge full-grown tiger. It was just as docile, it was a wonderful tame animal. Nobody was afraid of that tiger that knew it. One day he was sitting there on the couch and the tiger was licking his hand, the back of his hand. You know, as tiger's tongue is like sand paper. The tongue of any cat or a liar is like sandpaper, too. This tiger was licking the back of his hand and it started to lick through the skin. And the tiger started to taste blood. About that time the man realized what was happening, and withdrew his hand. But the tiger growled, and started licking again. The man knew he had a problem. The tiger was reverting instantly to the wild animal that he really was. So the man got up, keeping his hand out for the tiger to lick and slowly walked over to the gun cabinet and got a high caliber pistol and saved his life. You can't tame the tongue, but I'll tell you somebody Who can.

Only God by His Divine power can tame the tongue. Psalm 141:3, This ought to be our prayer. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Praise God, Jesus can keep the door under control. Tigers belong behind bars and so do poisonous tongues. And God can keep them under control.

God does not do it by external manipulation. You think about this. What if, every time someone tells a lie, a big blue bolt of lightening came down from heaven and evaporated them? We humans might actually think twice before putting our tongue in gear, he'd put his mind in gear? I think we would. In the old days back in Siam, when they found a proven liar, they would sew his lips together. I suppose that would stop a lot of lying! You know, If that were done today, America would sure be a quieter place. Would bolts of Lightening or needling really help us to tell the truth? Does eating onions or washing out the mouth with soap cure lying? No.

7)-- So how do we stop lying?

I think we talk too much, don't you?

You have heard it said: we need to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You've heard that, haven't you? I disagree with that, except in a courtroom. I don't think that we should hardly ever tell the whole truth. Somebody comes up to you and says, "What do you think of my new dress?" You tell them the truth, and you could easily lose a friend. We should seldom tell the truth. Ninety-nine percent of the time we need to hold back. Should you blurt out your attitude towards somebody? When aunt Matilda gives you a new necktie for Christmas should you tell her what you think of it? Or, if some new mother comes up to you and "Isn't my baby beautiful?" And the slobber is coming out. You should be courteous. Maybe you should say, "You know, new life is beautiful, isn't it."

Just like we should not bare it all, we should not tell it all most of the time. If you tell how you really feel and tell it all, you will probably lose all your friends and possibly even your spouse.

Imagine that your genetic code were changed and the only thing you could ever tell was the whole truth? Whatever your mind truthfully thinks your mouth will automatically say and you can't stop it. Wouldn't that be neat? You walk down the sidewalk and see someone... "Your ears stick out too far." or, "My you look fat." I don't think we would have much social interaction. We might have a bunch of black and blue people. I think silence or nebulousness is sometimes the best choice if telling the truth would harm somebody else. You are not obligated to communicate all your thoughts. I like the way the New Living Translation puts Proverbs 10:19. Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow! Turn off the flow! The flow is just flowing...Turn it off! Too many words.

Do you really think all truth should be voiced? In a person's obituary, do we tell all the truth? We try to bury a lot of it, don't we. We need to be careful. Proverbs 20:19 says, A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. They're talking all the time. They're probably talking too much.

Invite Jesus to take control of your life.

In conclusion: Psalm 141:3 - David Prayed: Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Folk who do a lot of kneeling don't do much lying! The golden rule says: Do unto others as you would that they would do to you. May we say: Speak of others as you wish they would speak of you.

Let's dedicate our lips to God's glory! And speak well of one another.

Sources: 
The Ten Commandments, by Taylor G. Bunch, Review and
Herald Publishing, 1944

God's Finger wrote Freedom, by James J. Londis, Review
and Herald Publishing, 1978

The Ten Commandments, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Cliff
Street Publishing, 1998

The Tender Commandments, by Ron Mehl, Multnomah
Publishers, 1998.

The Bible Amplifier, by Jon L. Dybdahl, Pacific Press
Publishing Association, 1994

Ten Words that will Change a Nation, by Rob Schenck,
Albury Publishing, 1999

The Voice From Sinai, by H. M. Tippett, Southern
Publishing, 1964

The Secret Of Happiness, by Robert H. Pierson, Southern
Publishing, 1958

Hymn of Praise: #2, All Creatures of our Lord and King
Scripture: Colossians 3:9,10
Hymn of Response: #570, Not I, but Christ

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