Proverbs 13:5–6 (NKJV)
5A righteous man hates lying, But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame. 6Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, But wickedness overthrows the sinner.
Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today we are instructed to hate lying.
We live in a morally confused age in which we are told that we must “reject hate.” But “hate” is not intrinsically evil as we see in our text today. Hate is a transitive verb. Hence, we can only determine if it is virtuous or vicious depending on the direct object. To hate God, to hate virtue, to hate righteousness – all these are vices. But to hate arrogance, to hate cruelty, and to hate wickedness – all these are virtues. As Proverbs 6 reminds us:
16These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. (Prov 6:16-19)
If these are things that our Lord hates, then they are things that we should likewise hate. We should embrace hate – and note that the tongue is mentioned twice in this list. The Lord hates “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies.” Thus, He groups liars amid a notorious collection of sinners in Revelation 21:
6… “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8But 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.” (21:6-8)
Liars are grouped among the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, etc. Hence, according to our text, the man who hates lying is righteous – pleasing to God and reflecting the character of our Lord Jesus. Jesus died and rose again because we are a fallen people, “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim 3:13). We lie to others and are lied to in turn. And this deceitfulness makes us loathsome and shameful, our text declares – a people who lie and deceive one another are a people never at peace. Hence, such wickedness overthrows the sinner – his life falls apart, he has no friends, because there is none upon whom he can rely nor who can rely upon him. Lies beget more lies and destruction comes in their wake. Thus, the one who loves lies hates his neighbor.
But the one who hates lying loves his neighbor. So Paul commands the Ephesians, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph 4:25). Why should we put away lying? Because we are members of one another and thus called to love one another. The one who loves his neighbor speaks truth to him. And this truthfulness begets more truthfulness. Such truthfulness proves to be a guard to him who practices it.
So what of you? Do you hate lying? Do you abhor all manner of deceit and treachery? Do you strive to speak truth always, to be careful with your words? Or do you regularly lie and deceive others? Do you boast of your accomplishments or do you assess yourself honestly? Do you say one thing and do another or do you shun hypocrisy of all sorts? Children, teens – do you hate lies and love the truth? When you are caught in sin, do you openly confess it or do you try to lie and deceive to escape the consequences of your actions?
Though we ought to be a people who hate lying, we often are tempted to lie and deceive. And God is speaking to us today and summoning us to repent – to love honesty and integrity. And the good news is that He is gracious and gives freely to those who thirst, who acknowledge their sin and thirst for righteousness. So today let us not hide our sin but let us confess it freely to the Lord. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able.