The truth about lying (Ephesians 4:25)

Lies gain a competitive edge, but truth unifies us.

Read Ephesians 4:25.

Lying gives me a competitive advantage. With a lie, I manipulate people for the outcomes I want. “I didn’t do it” avoids punishment. “It’s a wonderful old car” rewards the seller. You show an idealized image on social media, where romantic relations begin.

But lies are murder for relationships. The first lie was a brother saying, “Let’s go out into the field” (Genesis 4:8). It wasn’t an outright lie; more a deception to destroy the competition. Cain felt unaccepted. He believed his lie: he’d be more acceptable if his brother wasn’t in the way.

Words open worlds.

Lies fabricate a world where no one lives. To enter a lie is to choose a wasteland of isolation, to become “a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:12).

Truth opens the door to authentic worlds, worlds we can share. But truth feels vulnerable. Truth risks rejection.

In the wasteland, far from political power, the crowds came to crown Jesus as king (John 6:15). Realizing their fabrication of his identity was a lie, Jesus risked rejection by telling them the truth of who he was (6:24-58). When they saw the truth, they didn’t like him anymore, abandoning him in droves. His pain is palpable as he asks the twelve, “You don’t want to walk away too, do you?” (6:67).

Why risk rejection? Why not let people keep their comforting lies?

Words open worlds. Leaving people with their lies leaves them exiled in the wasteland. Truth demolishes fabricated worlds. Truth is the only redemption.

Authenticity connects my spirit with yours, my life with yours. Jesus knew: “The words I have spoken to you, they are my spirit, my life” (6:63).

This is not how popular politics works. In the TV Series Deep State, Max Easton is a spy who lies to his wife about his “business” trips. He doesn’t trust his handlers at MI6: they tell him whatever “truth” will motivate him to carry out their missions. Spies live lies. That’s what lends credibility to the fiction.

Truth is a keyword in Ephesians. The truth is that the kingship belongs to God’s appointed ruler, not the existing rulers and the deceivers they serve:

  • The message of truth is the good news of God’s governance, the rescue of the nations into the reign of his anointed (1:13).
  • There’s no stealth in Christ’s kingship. The rulers who serve the deceptive powers discover God’s multi-faceted wisdom in the community that embodies the governance of his anointed (3:10-11).
  • Cunning and craftiness — deceitful scheming of this world’s powers — have no place in the Messiah’s people. We speak the truth [of Jesus’ kingship] in love; the truth that recreates the world (4:14-15).
  • The truth that is in Jesus creates the truth of divine justice and pure devotion in his realm. That’s why it’s so crucial to put off the lie and speak truth (4:20-25).
  • Competing powers are deception, empty words, darkness keeping people from the goodness justice and truth inherited in the kingdom of Christ and of God (5:5-8).
  • There’s a truth that holds everything together like a belt when we find ourselves in conflict with the rulers of this world and the powers behind them. That truth is Jesus’ kingship: all authority rests with God’s anointed (6:12-14).

The world’s “truth” is the rule of the powerful: Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Caesar, and so on. Might makes right. The fittest survive. The country with the biggest gun controls the world.

Scripture dispels those lies. Truth is, God rules. His decree gives the kingship to his anointed. His word recreates his world. This truth brings justice and equity to the people of earth who all belong in him.

Jesus was born to testify to the truth, namely God’s kingship in him (John 18:37). For this truth, we were born.

So, lose the lie and speak truth, each of you with your neighbour. We belong together, as part of each other. (Ephesians 4:25).

What others are saying

Billie Eilish, Everything I wanted:

I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
Not what you’d think
And if I’m being honest

It might’ve been a nightmare
To anyone who might care
Thought I could fly
So I stepped off the golden
Nobody cried
Nobody even noticed
I saw them standing right there
Kinda thought they might care

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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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