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Bible verses about Falsehood
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Dishonesty is not confined to religion by any means. This whole world is based on a lie! Satan said to Mother Eve, "You will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4), and humanity has been deceiving and being deceived ever since!

Many of us in God's church, trying to live by the commandments, are simply unaware of the extent of dishonesty in our society. Recent research, however, shows that the average person tells a lie every eight minutes! That is seven lies per hour, 112 per 16-hour day, and 40,880 per year! At that rate, the average individual would lie over 2.8 million times over a seventy-year lifetime. Does mankind follow the way of "the father of lies" or not?

In its typical fashion, Hollywood recently made a mockery out of this scourge of society in the comedy Liar, Liar. In the film, a young boy wishes his father, a lawyer, had to tell the truth for one whole day, and his wish is granted. The rest of the story shows how frequently people resort to deceptions to smooth their road through life. For most, as the movie portrays, lying has become a matter of habit and an accepted practice.

In many areas, lying has become an art form. We can see this clearly in the financial world where numbers and statistics are manipulated with Machiavellian flair. We tend to trust numbers because we think, "Aren't they rational and quantifiable? Numbers don't lie." But they do, and in the hands of talented people, they can do tremendous harm.

One example of this occurs in the U.S. government's employment statistics. The President will take credit for a huge reduction of unemployed workers by saying jobless claims decreased by so many percent. The truth is that these numbers fail to distinguish what kind of jobs these people are taking. How many of these people were laid off from full-time, well-paying management positions, yet took minimum-wage jobs at the local fast food restaurant? Thus, the economy looks rosy, but in reality, personal income is falling. The government does similar things with other statistical reports, such as inflation, consumer spending, and foreign trade.

The medical and pharmaceutical professions do likewise. The American Cancer Society claims that a woman's risk of breast cancer is one in nine. In fact, there are many differing claims, most of them lower, including that a woman under 50 has a one-in-1,000 chance of suffering breast cancer. The truth is, writes Cynthia Crossen in her book Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in America,

the risk of breast cancer rises as a woman ages, so one in nine is the cumulative probability starting the day a girl is born and ending at an age so advanced—somewhere between 85 and 110, depending on whose figures you believe—that she'll probably already be dead of something else.

Of course, deceit begins at home. A national survey, conducted in 1984 for the IRS, reports that half of Americans have a "flexible" standard of honesty. For instance, they believe it acceptable to cheat large stores and insurance companies. They rationalize that since these big businesses make so much money—and are probably gouging the consumer anyway in prices and premiums—that they deserve a little back.

It does not end there. Sixty-three percent of the students at one Midwestern university admit they have cheated on exams. This not only includes peeking at the student's paper in the next row, but also buying stolen test keys and/or term papers.

The American Insurance Association estimates that one-fifth of insurance claims are fraudulent, most commonly in the form of the "disappearing deductible," where insureds raise the claim amount to cover their costs. The insurance company, in turn, raises its premiums to cover its losses due to fraud. Everyone loses.

In 1985 long-distance telephone companies reported losing 9% of their revenues to "fraudulent service switching," the practice of running up huge bills with one company and, without paying, jumping to another without fear of having their service disconnected. Now many companies require a 90-day agreement before switching service.

Not only are all these and many more examples of deceit and fraud costly to the nation's economy, they are also damaging to our moral and ethical foundations. Economies can rebound, but character at some point becomes set, and repentance becomes more difficult. With such an atmosphere of deception, our children grow up thinking such things are acceptable and even necessary for success. Trust in one another declines, and soon trust in God suffers greatly. This kind of environment breeds discontent, distrust, rebellion, and apostasy.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Deceptions of the End Time


 

Exodus 20:16

Speech is arguably man's greatest gift and at the same time his most dangerous ability. It is impossible to estimate the good it has done when great men and women have truthfully instructed and inspired others. By contrast, we cannot measure how much evil the tongue has perpetrated, for falsehoods disguised as truth have destroyed reputations and even nations.

God devotes two of the Ten Commandments to the evils of false witnessing, the third and the ninth. These seem to be broken with impunity—sometimes even by those who are aware of their application—because the drives that motivate people to break them are so powerful.

God commands, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," but liars and lying abound. Everybody knows that marketers lie about what products can do. Books, magazines, and movies feature liars of many different stripes. The media and the public have caught prominent government figures from presidents on down lying about important issues.

According to an article by Jan Mendenhall in the June/July 1997 issue of Aspire, college kids lie to their moms in 50% of conversations. Dating couples lie to each other a third of the time, and spouses deceive each other in about 10% of major conversations. Twelve percent of four million Americans lost their jobs for "misrepresentation." A November 1997 survey conducted by the publishers of Who's Who Among American High Schools Students reveals that 76% of the students listed in their publication (supposedly the elite achievers) admit having cheated. Two-thirds of these believe it is "no big deal" to cheat to get a good test grade—and 65% of their parents agree!

We use a large number of euphemisms to soften the act of lying. Some are: duplicity, fabrication, evasion, stringing someone along, inaccuracy, exaggeration, fudging, rationalization, falsehood, "whopper," deception, misrepresentation, dishonesty, putting someone on, putting up a front, and fibbing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:20

Talebearing usually involves slander, and slander feeds contention the same way wood feeds a fire. A slanderer uses falsehood to defame a reputation, which engenders conflict.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:22

Human nature greedily swallows gossip. God warns here that gossip is never superficial but that we thoroughly assimilate it to become part of us. Lies about others die hard because, in our vanity, we are so eager to elevate ourselves while mentally putting down another.

Here is a good maxim to live by: Never believe anything bad about a person unless you know it to be absolutely true; never tell it unless it is absolutely necessary; and remember, fear God, for He is listening while you tell it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 29:12

This proverb is the first of a set of three that runs through verse 14. The general theme concerns the integrity of government, while the middle proverb, verse 13, deals with the obvious fact that both ruler and ruled are equal in the sight of God. There is also a progression among the three verses from negative to positive, passing through the neutrality of verse 13. One can also see that wicked officials who become oppressors of the poor meet their match in a ruler who leads with integrity and truth.

Our concern, however, is with verse 12 specifically. A little understanding of the way a royal court works—in fact, any seat of leadership—will help explain how this happens. If the ruler bends an ear to gossip, insinuations, misrepresentations, unfounded assertions, manufactured "facts," or any other kind of falsehood, his administration will be founded on sand. His advisors and officials will soon learn that the easiest way to influence and power in the government is by telling the ruler what he wants to hear rather than what is actually true. That is how the game is played. In a very short time, the whole government will be corrupt. In other words, the underlings adjust themselves to their leader, and thus the Roman saying, Qualis rex, talis grex (“like king, like people”).

The New King James translates this verse as a conditional statement: "If . . . [then]." However, the Hebrew makes a plain statement of fact, as the Contemporary English Version renders it: “A ruler who listens to lies will have corrupt officials.” Wherever they are found, hierarchies have this property: The whole governmental structure reflects that character—or lack thereof—of the leader at the top. As American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, "Every institution is but the lengthened shadow of some great man." This can be a wonderful asset when the man at the top possesses sterling character—and a terrible liability when he is corrupt, out of his depth, or a fool.

Parents need to be especially careful because of this fact of human nature. The children will not only reflect the attitudes, speech, and behaviors of their parents, but they will actively learn how to function under their parents' leadership and manipulate them to get what they want. And this happens much earlier in the children's lives than most parents realize; toddlers may not be able to articulate what they are doing, but they know when tears or smiles or some other trick will make mom or dad do their bidding. Many a mother has told a friend about an incident with her child, "The baby was just so cute that I had to give in!" The baby had won and learned how to make the mother dance to his/her tune.

The overall lesson is that a person in authority must lead by seeking the truth in all matters that come before him. It is foolish to decide a matter based on initial reports or only one side of a dispute, even if it sounds right. He should not act before taking the time and the effort to discover independently whether matters are as they have been presented. If a leader takes this prudent path, those under him will soon learn that it does not pay to tell falsehoods that will be found out, leading to their ouster. In an atmosphere of truth, corruption finds it much harder to gain a foothold, and everyone under such an administration of integrity has a greater opportunity to be satisfied.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

John 1:17

This does not mean that what was in the law was not true. John is merely saying that grace came and a complete telling, or revealing, of the truth was made through the Mediator—Jesus Christ our Savior. He finished it, put the capstone on it, and revealed it to us.

So whatever does not agree with the truth is false or unprofitable. Whatever is false will not lead to eternal life but to the second death—where we do not want to go! Once we see that "the light of truth" has illuminated something false, we drop it. We should get away from it as fast as we can. Do not linger over it.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

John 1:47

This verse is an interesting commentary on mankind regarding the sin of lying, which is so common that it seems to be "in the genes"! Jesus seems pleasantly surprised at Nathanael. He describes a person without deceit, a simple, innocent person without subtlety, candid, and sincere. Is this a compliment or mild sarcasm? Or is He saying, "Here is a genuine Israelite, one in whom is no falsehood?" If so, He means, "This is how an Israelite should be!"

Regardless, Nathanael's lack of guile impressed Jesus, indicating its rarity. Lying is such an integral part of our lives that we have coined such expressions of disbelief as "Is that so?" "Do you really mean it?" or "You don't say!" because so many tales we hear stretch credulity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

1 Corinthians 11:17-19

The phrase "must also be" has the sense of "it being necessary." Paul understands factions as God-ordained because he could see the pattern of them from Old Testament times, as well as the benefits derived from them.

The Corinthian congregation was a troubled group divided into factions by heresies (I Corinthians 1:10-13). This circumstance was not helping the already-calamitous situation, but Paul says that the calamity would eventually produce a good result. The true sons of God would be revealed by their reactions to the false teaching. They would not accept it, and thus would be witnesses to the weaker for the truth of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Paul gives Timothy a great deal to think about and to do. Notice, though, that he ends with a warning that false teachers and false gospels are inevitable. As time goes on, as he said earlier, things will get worse and worse.

We must be especially careful of this these days because Jesus tells us that, as the end approaches, it will get really bad! Those things will wax, not wane, as the end comes. And in our information society, not only have there been more bad things, but they are coming at us faster and faster. It is hard to keep up with all the false teachings, heresies, and strange ideas. And those are just what are in the church, and not what comes from Protestantism, Catholicism, New Age, or whatever!

The Internet has been a blessing and curse, just for that reason. It is wonderful for transmitting information—especially if it is the truth, but it is damnable for transmitting error. All "media" are. Any kind of media can be used wrongly. The two biggest users on the Internet are, on the one hand, pornographers, and on the other, churches. Is that not crazy? It shows how bad the times are, and how we have to be prepared to face these things, show the error of falsehood, and explain the truth. It is not easy in these times to be a true minister of God, because things are coming at us from right and left at 190 mph.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Revelation 2:3

Jesus actually commends the Ephesians quite a bit. They had stood up to the falsehood and to the false teachers of the mid- to late-first century. Of course, He is speaking of the "core" group, the ones who were truly converted who stuck it out. They had seen who was false, and they avoided them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Find more Bible verses about Falsehood:
Falsehood {Nave's}
 




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