25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
Last week we noted that one of the distinctive features of biblical and Christian worship through the ages has been the confession of sins. In Scripture and in history, both privately and publicly, God’s people have routinely confessed their sin to the Lord. And it is this pattern of confession that our liturgy reflects week by week. Having entered the presence of the Lord in praise, having seen with Isaiah the Lord of glory, we are reminded of our frailty and sin.
However, because we live among a people of unclean lips and are often ignorant of our own sin, one of our practices is these exhortations which focus on particular ways in which we and/or our broader society transgressesses God’s law. In our prayer of confession for Lent, we are reminded from Psalm 5 that the “Lord destroys those who speaks lies”and abhors the“deceitful” man. And so we confess, “But O Lord, we are evildoers. We are boastful, deceitful and bloodthirsty.”
It is this sin of deceitfulness that Paul commands us to shun in our text today, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.” One of the deeds of the flesh, one of the tendencies of our sinful nature, which we are to put off is lying. But it is not enough to put off lying, we are to put on truth. We are to be known for our honesty and integrity. Our yes is to be yes and our no, no. Why? Because, Paul writes, “we are members of one another.” Lies, in other words, destroy trust, they destroy relationships, and, hence, lies destroy communities. Lies undermine unity and bring dissension in their wake. “Lying in a relationship is corrosive, and it is the kind of corrosive that will destroy the relationship” (Wilson).
So let us consider some examples. Just this week, President Biden reinforced his administration’s commitment to transgender ideology. This commitment was likewise on display in the refusal of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson to answer the simple question, “What is a woman?” Such a commitment to transgender ideology is a systemic commitment to deceit. If we indulge such fantasy, lying to a man and telling him that he can be a woman or lying to a woman and telling her that she can be a man, then we are not being loving – for love speaks the truth to another even when that truth is hard to hear.
But while we are no doubt upset about transgender lies, we often lie to one another in our homes and mimic this same deceitfulness. We need to speak truth to one another and to cultivate hearts that want to hear the truth. We ought not to lie in order to maintain peace – for we are members of one another. We are to strive for peace by speaking the truth in love.
So husbands, you have been commissioned by Christ to sanctify and cleanse your wife with the washing of water by the Word of God (Eph 5:26) – and the Word of God is truth (Jn 17:17). So when your wife goes astray, you are to speak the truth to her in love, to tell her that she is being petty or bitter or hopeless or fearful. And the wise wife will listen to her husband and turn to Christ for forgiveness and newness of life.
Similarly, wives, you are to imitate Lady Wisdom and to direct your husband “in the way of understanding” (Pr 9:6). So when your husband goes astray, you are to speak the truth to him in love, to tell him that he is being unjust or irresponsible or lustful or selfish. And the wise husband will listen to Lady Wisdom and increase in learning.
Likewise, children, you are to put away lying and speak the truth to your parents for you are members of one another. Lies will destroy your relationship with your parents. So, if you stole the cookies, speak the truth. If you hit your sister, speak the truth. If you were looking at naked pictures of others, speak the truth. If you lied to your parents earlier this week, go back to your parents today and speak the truth. Few things are more important in your relationship with your parents than truthfulness for truthfulness establishes trust.
So reminded that we are to put away lying and to speak truth to one another as members of one another, let us confess that we have unclean lips and that we dwell among a people of unclean lips, that we have been guilty of lying to one another and need the forgiving grace of God to empower us to speak the truth to one another. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able and beseech the Lord to forgive us. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.