Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
(Ephesians 4:25 ESV)
In this section of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is listing five ways that children in God’s family should live that are different from the way the world lives. Since we are no longer citizens of the world but are now citizens of heaven [Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20], our Father commands us, rightfully so, to behave in a manner that brings Him honor.
The structure of each of these five admonishments is 1) a command to stop doing something, 2) a command to do something else instead, and 3) a rationale for this change of behavior.
The first way our behavior should change is we should put away all falsehood. We should not lie. Instead we should speak truth with [our] neighbor.
It is significant that God mentions lying first in this list of five behaviors. When we lie we have to adjust our lives in other ways – not good ways – to cover up or give credibility to the lie. Lying is a sin that leads to other sins.
God does not cover up the fact that people in the Bible lied. Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, David, and Peter all lied, to mention just a few. The fact that these people lied does not mean the Bible condones lying. Rather, we see all the problems that were caused by the lies these people told.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit cannot and do not lie [Titus 1:2, John 14:6-7]. God also hates it when we lie [Proverbs 12:22]. But Satan is the father of lies [John 8:44]. Whenever we lie we are aligning ourselves with Satan. Ouch.
Truthfulness is important to God because it is the basis for all healthy relationships, first and foremost of which is the father/child relationship He is trying to build with every human being. As such, God has revealed His truth to us in the Bible. While God has not revealed everything, what He has revealed is 100% true. No healthy relationship can be built on lies.
Which brings us to Paul’s rationale for telling the truth: we are members one of another. We – the believers to whom Paul is writing – are all part of God’s family. Earlier Paul used the analogy that we are one body. If parts of your body lied to each other, your body would be in big trouble. In fact, there are diseases (e.g. epilepsy) where wrong signals are sent to the brain. A body that experiences this is not healthy.
Likewise, human relationships cannot be healthy if we lie to each other. Lying is tolerated, and even justified, in the world around us. Telling the truth is often considered poor judgment. But God’s children should not accept this philosophy.
God wants His children to live differently than the world around us, as we learned yesterday. We are His ambassadors on this earth. As such, our behavior should represent Him and point others to Him so they can be saved from their sins too.
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