Have you ever lied or withheld the truth?
Numbers 23:19 says,
God is not man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good? (NASB)
As I consider this verse, I wonder at the contrast between God and man. God is not man, that he should lie… man lies, God doesn’t. God has no need to lie. The Truth has nothing to cover, nothing to prove, nothing to defend.
The first lie recorded in the Bible was in Genesis, when the serpent contradicted the word of God, challenging the very goodness of God. I’m not sure why the serpent lied. I suppose it was in an effort to destroy the relationship Adam and Eve had with God – misery loves company.
But why do we lie?
When I was a child, I lied to avoid punishment – “I didn’t do it. I didn’t touch it. I wasn’t there.” But my lies did not deter punishment, they usually increased the severity of the consequences.
As a teen, I lied to gain the acceptance and approval of others. “I’ve done that. I’ve read that. I have one of those.” The approval I gained by lying was insecure at best and was exhausting to maintain.
As an adult, I am tempted to withhold the truth because I’m afraid of rejection and disapproval. When I give in to the temptation, those fears are heightened. Deceit, in fact, enslaves me. Until confessed or exposed, I live in fear, weighed down with shame and guilt.
Just as it was futile for Adam and Eve to hide in the Garden, it is futile for us to hide from God. He sees everything. He knows everything – our motives, our fears, our hearts.
But the second part of the verse is where our hope lies (excuse the use of the word). Nor the son of man, that he should repent. To repent means to change direction, to turn from something. We can repent. God, in Jesus Christ, has taken the rightful punishment for our lies upon himself, and has provided a way to be reconciled with him. If we are honest and humble ourselves, confessing our lies, the Bible says, “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NASB).
Because God loves us, he graciously forgives the repentant heart.
Jesus says, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37 NASB).
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8: 31-32 NASB).
Adam and Eve had the choice whether or not to believe the goodness and truthfulness of God. We have the same choice. But we have something they never had, we see the destructive consequences of deception. Won’t you choose truth with me today? Your freedom is at stake.