|Volume 23 Number 6 June 2021
“Liar, liar, pants on fire!” is a familiar childhood refrain. Somewhere the other day, I stumbled on this catchphrase augmented with the suggestion that it would be more interesting if liars’ pants actually did ignite in fiery flames when they told lies. Just imagine such a spectacle. Where might one train his vision to witness that phenomenon?
I can envision it now. While watching the evening news broadcast, suddenly the anchorman’s trousers bursts into flames. Certainly, political speeches would be a lot more interesting if the politicians’ pants began smoking and then flamed whenever they lied; doubtlessly few would escape being singed. Surely, nearly every car salesman (and most other smooth-talking salespeople) would appear charred and emit a burnt aroma.
The religious arena wouldn’t be spared either; how many denominational pastors as well as some Gospel preachers would find themselves on fire when they spewed forth untruths instead of the unadulterated Word of God? The burning hot pulpits behind which those heralds stand to speak lies might combust and serve as kindling; how many church houses would evidence fire and smoke damage?
Telling lies has become so commonplace that one is almost naïve to believe at face value anything anyone says. For instance, the so-called good guys (e.g., police, leading characters) in family television programs tell lies all the time, as though that was normal and a right thing to do.
Friends, God takes a whole different viewpoint to telling lies. Lying is not a trivial matter, but rather, it is a serious threat to the spiritual wellbeing of everyone who tells lies. In both the Old Testament and in the New Testament, God forbids lying. “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Leviticus 19:11 NKJV). “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9). Everyone ought to be able to rely upon whatever a child of God – today, a Christian – says. God’s strong disdain for lying is prominent in a well-known biblical citation. “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19). Notice also Proverbs 12:22, which reads, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
Several additional Scriptures, likewise, provide the same exhortations against liars. Revelation 21:8 concisely demonstrates the weighty burden of the sin of lying as God views it. He places the liar in the same category of murderers, sexually immoral people and idolaters, whose end is the same – an eternal habitation in a devil’s hell. “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” So-called little white lies and lies of every other imaginable rationalization produce the same categorical result as “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Liar, liar pants on fire – maybe not literally now, but literally and eternally from Judgment Day onward. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Repentance and baptism for the non-Christian (Acts 2:38) or repentance and prayer for the Christian (Acts 8:22) can erase the guilt of all past sins, including telling lies.
I Can’t Believe I Did That!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Are there things in your life for which you have great regret? Almost certainly if any of us could go back and relive certain times in our lives, we would do things differently. Hindsight is 20/20! Most likely, we all can remember times when we acted in an undesirable way or said some words that were less than sweet. Sometimes when we think of such times, we think to ourselves, “I can’t believe I did that!” Sadly, those occasions often bring feelings of guilt and shame to the point that it affects our current thoughts and actions. In fact, sometimes these thoughts bring on depression, a sense of worthlessness, and sometimes even worse.
In the Spring of 1959, an Air Force major entered a Texas mental institution for the second time. He had tried to commit suicide twice, and he had been arrested for forgery and robbery. For years, he had been drinking heavily, and his marriage had disintegrated. Yet only 15 years before, he had been a model officer, headed for a promising career. One momentous event precipitated the major’s plunge; he flew the plane over Hiroshima when the first atom bomb was dropped. Shortly afterward, the major began to be haunted in his dreams by throngs of Japanese men, women and children. Then, his own life began to collapse. The psychiatrist who treated him said that the major was subconsciously trying to bring punishment from society to atone for the guilt he felt over Hiroshima. Unresolved guilt was destroying his life!
While many do not suffer from such extreme guilt and remorse, we all sometimes experience feelings of guilt and shame regarding our past. How are we to cope during such times? What should we do to combat these feelings and deep-seated emotions? What do I do when “I can’t believe I did that?”
Firstly, consider the blessings of guilt. The ability to blush and to feel shame is a God-given blessing. However, like all good things, the devil launches his fiery dart to twist the good and causes it to be anything but a blessing. Guilt is feeling sorry for something we have done, while shame is a result of not dealing properly with that guilt. When we sin, feeling guilty is a good thing, but allowing that guilt to turn into shame is not. When Paul indicted the church in Corinth for their sins, Christians felt guilt and repented. Paul, then, praised them. “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief…” (2 Corinthians 7:9 ESV). When Nathan scripturally pointed out the sins that David had committed, David felt guilt, and rightly so, because he was guilty of the charges. However, David handled that guilt properly, and later wrote, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). Blushing over our sins is a blessing (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12).
Secondly, consider the baggage of guilt. Sadly, when we fail to deal with guilt properly and scripturally, it often turns into shame and becomes heavy baggage we carry each day. Often when guilt becomes shame, we experience undue anxiety. When David was filled with shame due to unresolved sin in his life, he penned, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). Instead of basking in the daily new mercies of God (Lamentations 3:23), David was filled with misery and undue anxiety.
Frequently when guilt becomes shame, we experience annoyance. Shame is like a little dog constantly nipping at your heels. Everywhere you go, anything you do, that shame is always there. You see it in the mirror each morning, you remember it when you are at work or school, and it often even haunts your dreams at night. Shame is annoying!
When guilt becomes shame, we experience animosity. As Peter’s ordeal unfolded outside the palace where Jesus was being falsely tried, the crowds began to press Peter asking if he was a friend of Jesus (Matthew 27:69-72). However, as that pressing became more intense, Peter’s shame burst forth into animosity, “Then he began to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man…” (Matthew 27:74). Interestingly, people who carry around the baggage of shame every day usually are difficult to get along with. They are always ready to fight and are disagreeable with anyone and everyone who crosses their shame filled path.
Thirdly, how can we rid ourselves of guilt? Since we all experience guilt and since that guilt sometimes become shame, what can we do to butcher and slay this heavy weight we carry about? Firstly, we must accurately pinpoint why we feel guilty. While it is good to feel guilt over something we have done wrong, there are times when guilt occurs regarding situations over which we have little or nothing to do. Take ownership for wrongs done, but guard against owning sins that are not yours!
Secondly, we must ask for pardon for those things that we have done wrong. Ask God for pardon (1 John 1:8-10) and ask others for pardon for sins committed against them (James 5:16). Admitting our sins and asking for pardon from those involved is a great “load-lifter” of guilt and shame!
Thirdly, accept the power of forgiveness. Jesus came to earth, died, was buried and resurrected so that we may have a perfect plan for forgiveness! We are not perfect, but God’s plan is! His grace reaches us when we do what He commands! David’s guilt and shame were lifted when “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord: and thou forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Often getting rid of guilt and shame is simply accepting God’s wonderful and awesome forgiveness, which only He can give.
Were we given the opportunity, all of us would change some actions we have done in the past. While it is impossible to go back and redo, we can, thanks to God, go forward and rejoice! Praise Him, Praise Him for, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:10-13). No longer must we dwell upon, “I can’t believe I did that,” but now please God, help me to believe you did just that – forgave me!