Pants on Fire
Tony Cooke

Pants on FireI probably don’t need to explain the title since most people have heard the phrase, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” but if that snippet was actually true, there would be a lot of people these days with serious injuries to the lower half of their bodies.

I don’t want this article to be negative, but unfortunately, there is an abundance of misinformation in the world. I decided to go through the Spam file of my e-mails, and found the following “tremendous offers,” and these are just the ones from the last couple of days!

  • If I just click on a link, I’ll find the cures for diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
  • Another e-mail tells me that if I buy their adaptor, I’ll never pay another electric bill.
  • A new spray will make my hair come back in four days.
  • One simple trick restores eyesight perfectly.
  • Clicking on another link will teach me a CIA trick to defeat any attacker.
  • A self-proclaimed “miracle pill” will help me burn fat fast.
  • And of course, a wealthy, recently-deceased billionaire from Nigeria (whom I’ve never met or even heard of) randomly selected me to share his fortune with me.

How often do we hear of grossly distorted or entirely fabricated news stories, a politician who has been caught in a lie, an executive who padded his or her resume with false information, or someone posing as a war veteran who never served? What about Ponzi schemes that have run through congregations like a wildfire, leaving believers reeling from the disillusionment of having been deceived and essentially robbed by someone they trusted?

A tornado recently did some damage near Tulsa, and afterward warnings were issued about scammers who further victimize individuals by collecting money to do repairs and then disappear with the money. Human nature hasn’t changed since David said (Psalm 116:11 NLT), “In my anxiety I cried out to you, ‘these people are all liars!’”

I remember hearing a well-known preacher sharing a story of an experience he’d had (allegedly), but I had read the identical story—with all of the same details—in an a very old sermon illustration book. Maybe he did have the exact same experience, but it made me wonder if he was really telling the truth or had just decided to personalize someone else’s story. I also thought to myself, “If he did steal that story and is telling it as his own personal experience, I wonder what else he might be lying about.”

Lying used to be a slower process and more limited in scope. However, with social media, blogging, and Photoshop, the practice of deception has soared exponentially to new levels. Technology and the age of information have put dishonesty on steroids. Lies can now travel via internet faster to contaminate and infect more people than ever before. Some appear to take glee in creating hoaxes simply to spread disinformation

It is imperative for believers today to know the truth, to have sensitivity and discernment regarding what is true and what is not. People simply can’t afford to be gullible in this day and age.

Bible Facts:

  • Deception was a major factor in the fall of man. Eve said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). Paul confirmed this fact in 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:14.
  • One of the Ten Commandments is, “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
  • In Proverbs 6:19, one of the seven things God hates is “A false witness who speaks lies…”
  • Isaiah spoke of a people who were destined to perish, and they lived under a philosophy of, “…we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves” (Isaiah 28:15).
  • God spoke of so-called prophets, “…who prophesy lies in My name” and said that in reality, “…they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart” (Jeremiah 23:25-6).
  • Jesus spoke of the devil and said, “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
  • Jesus also indicated that it would not just be a few people who would be deceived. Rather, “…many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).
  • The Corinthians were warned about, “money-grubbing ‘preachers’” who Paul called “…a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core” (2 Corinthians 11:12-13 MSG).
  • The Ephesians were encouraged to embrace a maturity that would protect them from gullibility. Paul said, “We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth” (Ephesians 4:14 NLT).
  • Paul also gave this stern warning to the believers in Thessalonica: “The Anarchist’s coming is all Satan’s work. All his power and signs and miracles are fake, evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. And since they’re so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it—gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they’re banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 MSG).
  • Referring to happenings in the last days, Paul said, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
  • Liars are among those listed who, “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).

The tongue has always had great power to bless or to curse, to bring life or death (see Proverbs 18:21). The Apostle James described it this way: “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6 MSG).

Why am I writing these things? I don’t want believers to be gullible and easily deceived. Proverbs 14:15 says, “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” The Message Version renders this, “The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.”

Time and again Scripture warns us not to be deceived. I don’t want to be paranoid and never believe anyone, but neither do I want to be gullible. We all need to exercise discernment, good judgment, and common sense in evaluating what is true and what is not. Scripture tells me us, “…don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

I also want to remind us to be truthful, honest, and trustworthy people in all of our communications. God is a God of Truth, and if we are going to walk in fellowship with Him, we are going to have to be people of Truth as well. Psalm 101:7 says, “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.” Psalm 24:3-4 (NLT) says, “Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.”

As believers, we must also resolve to be people of truth and honesty, and to shun every form of dishonesty and falsehood. We need to be honest, straightforward, and trustworthy. We don’t want to be bogus, fake, or hypocritical. With God’s help, we must avoid any expression that exaggerates, misleads, or misinforms. May each of us say with David, “I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30).