I told the men that I was with not to look up. I was fairly confident that a drug deal was about to go down, and I know it isn’t polite to stare at drug dealers when they’re selling their wares. We had just come from the apartment when two men pulled up in a car, and then went into the same address. Although we had randomly come to that residence that morning, I had learned a few things from the husband and wife that lived there. I knew the household had medical marijuana prescribed for the woman’s use, but it is apparent that many who have the prescription grow it and sell the surplus for extra cash. People who knew the couple report that they did sell marijuana to others. I have been grieved over the situation that many find themselves in – their poverty and access to “legal marijuana” has become a snare. A part of the game and deception is that they believe they can sell a little on the side, it won’t hurt anyone, and it will make them a little cash. The truth is they put themselves in a position of spiritual bondage. In order to keep this kind of behavior from being exposed many lies have to be told both to oneself and to others.

The truth can be liberating or it can be crushing and painful, stripping us of any self-deception that we use to mask our secrets. While we say we want the truth, the words of a motion picture character present the dilemma we often face, and we fear that we “…can’t handle the truth!” I am convinced that the truth—the first piece of the armor of God—is the key piece of armor. It is intentionally placed at the beginning of the listed pieces of armor since the truth is where our battles with the enemy begin. The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to select the words that accurately communicated His message, but in addition, the Spirit even guided in the sequence and order of the themes that were introduced. If you are ever to overcome an addiction or gain mastery over any sinful habit, here is where you must begin. You start with the truth, and it becomes the hub and centerpiece for everything else.

The word is introduced as a theme in Ephesians 1:13, and it is the first mention of “truth” in the book. There it states, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation . . . .” The truth of the gospel is in view, and it is the truth of the gospel that protects us. When Paul spoke about “having girded your waist with truth” in Ephesians 6:14, in part he was alluding to “the truth of the gospel.” In order to resist the enemy’s attacks, we must grasp and understand the implications of Christ’s death. We must be girded with the precious teaching of salvation through Christ. In Ephesians 1:13 the gospel is portrayed as the basis of our destiny and hope for the future, but it is our lens for keeping the present in perspective with eternity in view.

When we focus only on the here and now we play right into the enemy’s hands. Ecclesiastes 8:15 describes the kind of thinking that leaves God out of the picture. Many have used this kind of thinking to rationalize their sin. It states “. . . a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.” Without the gospel, a person is prone to be pessimistic and despondent about life, and his frustration will become a foothold for the enemy. A person in this state will drown his sorrows in booze, drugs, illicit sexual activity, gluttonous behavior, etc.

A second way that truth is used in Ephesians is presented in Ephesians 4:15 “. . . speaking the truth in love . . . .” Living the truth of the gospel undergirds us to proclaim the gospel. And the gospel message is unleashed when the life of the witness matches the truth of the message. In 2 Corinthians 4:2 we read, “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” It was the manifestation of the truth—”walking the talk”—that became the basis of appealing to the lost. Notice it wasn’t an appeal directed at the intellect alone, but it was an appeal to men’s consciences. I have found men may challenge words, but they hold their silence when they come face to face with a life that imitates Christ.

The third time truth is mentioned in Ephesians is found in Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” When he can, our enemy uses deception to bluff the followers of Christ. While deception is the enemy’s tool, as God’s servants, deception is not a part of our arsenal. Proverbs 13:5 sets forth what is to be the believer’s proper mindset toward sin: “A righteous man hates lying….” Since it is out of character for the believer, the believer must turn away from lying and be grieved any time he stumbles in this area. A person must forsake the deception that goes with a lifestyle that is addicted to booze, drug use, illicit sexual behavior, and even gluttony.

By quoting a prophet in Titus 1:12 the Apostle Paul impugned the people living in Crete in his day when he wrote: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” In the next verse (verse 13) he reaffirms his statement: “This testimony is true.” In our time it could be claimed that Americans are liars—modern day Cretans. This is our national vice. Researchers have discovered that lying is an epidemic in America. In Christianity Today Magazine Charles Coulson reported:

“In recent years, politicians and pundits, professors and even Pulitzer Prize–winners have been caught dealing in deceit. One of the nation’s most respected historians, Stephen Ambrose, plagiarized portions of other historians’ works and—notwithstanding his public apology—seemed hardly disturbed by the resulting controversy.” (Charles Coulson, “Post-Truth Society: The Recent Trend of Lying is No Accident.” Christianity Today Magazine, March 11, 2002, Vol. 46, No. 3, Page 112.)

Coulson continued: “Historian Joseph Ellis, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Founding Brothers, was caught inventing a Vietnam War record for himself. So was Tim Johnson, manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Ex-conservative writer David Brock admitted he’d made up sordid details about Anita Hill. Gloria Steinem’s claim about the number of women who die of eating disorders—supposedly 150,000 a year—turned out to be a huge feminist hoax.”(Charles Coulson, “Post-Truth Society.”)

Authors of the book The Day America Told the Truth estimated that 91 percent of the American people lie on a regular basis. Patterson and Kim wrote: “We lie and don’t even think about it.” If this assessment is accurate that means many Americans are caught in the practice of lying. If indeed 38 percent of the American population is born again as George Gallop claims it follows that a significant number of born again Christians lie on a regular basis. In 1997 Professor and researcher Bella DePaul had 147 people keep a diary of all the falsehoods that they told over a period of a week. Participants ranged in ages from 18 to 71 years of age. She found that her participants lied “. . . once or twice a day–almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one.” (Allison Kornet, “The truth about lying” Psychology Today , May/Jun 97.) But, this isn’t just a sinful behavior committed by Americans. It is obvious that lying is a universal problem, a part of the human condition, and corrupting influence in every culture.

Consider the damage we do to others, and the stress that we suffer when we lie. Even a skilled liar has to remember what he told and to whom. We don’t want someone to know about our drunkenness so we mask it with false explanations. I know of a young man who died recently because of his alcohol use. His drink of choice? Mouthwash. What lies did he tell himself and others? We may not be guilty of telling a bald faced lie each time, but we can leave false impressions. You may not know this, but, withholding information in a court of law is considered to be a form of lying. The adulterer has to tell lies to coworkers, friends and family. It goes on and on. A person who makes money under the table at work, lies on his taxes will ultimately short change himself. If he loses his job, his lying will keep him from receiving any unemployment benefits. These situations involve lying and result in all kinds of pressure and stress. If you are to gain victory over your addiction or sinful habit, it begins with resolving to tell the truth. You can soften the truth and tell only what needs to be known, but you must resolve to make it a point to tell the truth.

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