|Volume 17 Number 7 July 2015||
Did Abraham Lie?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Thanks for all your teaching. Please Sir, can you explain Genesis 20 to me. Did Abraham actually lie in this passage? ~ Bro. Nkereuwem from Nigeria.
A lie is a false statement told for the purpose to deceive. It is also lying intentionally to convey a false impression or purposely to present an inaccurate account (Dictionary.com). Both testaments of the Bible teach that it is sinful to tell a lie (Exodus 20:16; Revelation 21:8).
However, it is possible for a person to tell something that is inaccurate or not the truth without it being a lie. Someone may unknowingly say something that is not true without being aware that what he or she is saying is not accurate. The information would still be defective, but the one conveying it would be mistaken instead of purposely stating a falsehood. Of course, a person ought always to do his or her best to make sure that what he or she affirms is true.
Abraham, though, in Genesis 20 stated incomplete and inaccurate information for the purpose of deceiving people. Abraham lied. Abraham sinned. Furthermore, this was not the first time that Abraham told this particular lie (Genesis 12:11-20).
One of the marks of the authenticity of the Bible being from God and not being the product of human ingenuity is that the Bible even records the failings of the children of God. Human authors would not chronicle the less flattering characteristics of the Bible’s heroes of faith. For instance, King David was at one time an adulterer and a murderer over the matter of taking Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and having her husband killed (2 Samuel 12:9).
God does not simply overlook some of the sins of His most illustrious servants. God never approves of sin. Any sin, even lying, can keep a person from enjoying an eternity in heaven someday (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8). Hence, it is necessary for sinners of every sort to repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 8:22).
The sins of great Bible characters do not justify anyone today who commits sins. Instead, one can readily see that even great men (and women) of Bible faith sometimes falter in sin – for which they need to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. In the case of Abraham, God essentially rebuked Abraham through the kings to whom God revealed the lies of Abraham. Abraham was rebuffed and forced to admit his lies.
Preach Christ of Contention
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone inquires, “What does it mean to preach Christ of contention?” The question arises from the King James Version rendering of Philippians 1:16, which says, “The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds.” The New King James Version or translation reads, “The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains” (Philippians 1:16).
The context of Philippians 1:12-18 records the apostle Paul’s joy that Jesus Christ was being preached. However, he noted that the motives of some who were preaching Christ were improper. Nevertheless, Paul was pleased that at least Christ was being preached.
Unfortunately but evidently, even the apostle Paul had enemies within the Lord’s church. Christians with impure motives challenged the apostle Paul at other times and on other occasions, too (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). Regrettably, the same circumstance persists today within the Lord’s church when individual Christians seem to forget that the church belongs to Jesus Christ and that a local congregation does not belong to beastly and barbaric Christians who have determined to rule or ruin the heritage of our Lord (3 John 9-11).
The real reason that the apostle Paul was imprisoned was because he was a very influential Gospel preacher. Christianity was the reason he was jailed. Therefore, enemies of Paul sought to increase and further lengthen his stay by boldly preaching the Gospel, for which Paul had been imprisoned. They maybe even hoped that by accentuating the reason for which Paul had been taken captive that he would be executed sooner. Still, Paul was happy that the Gospel was being preached.
The commentator Adam Clarke supposed that the ones preaching Christ from impure motives were “Judaizing teachers” who sought to amplify the charges against the apostle. The word “contention” (KJV) can mean “faction,” and that is how it is translated in the American Standard Version of the Bible. Judaizing teachers comprised a faction within the Lord’s church, and there are factions within the Lord’s church today that actively try to harm other Christian brethren.
A lesson for us today is that we also ought to be pleased when Bible truths are taught, despite impure motives that may lie behind such teaching and in spite of additional false teaching that may also occur. A second lesson for us is that even within the Lord’s church there will be factious persons who harbor ill toward other Christians and have selfish ambitions. We must be happy for the good that occurs through such, as well as try to limit the evil effect of false teachers (Romans 16:17-18) and factious persons (Titus 3:10).
Adam Clarke’s Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.