Have you ever had someone say that to you? Usually it is the opening gambit of someone who feels that their honesty has been challenged. Sometimes you are not even aware that you have suggested that someone has lied. You might be just talking about something, particularly something not clear or certain, and suddenly you are confronted with this question. It is difficult to respond, many times, because this isn't actually a question in most cases, it is an accusation. You have said, or implied, that someone - usually the one asking the question - is being less than honest and forthright. Suddenly the situation has become adversarial.
The situation is more common than you might realize. Just by being a Christian, you call into question the truths and the values of the world around you. Those who are not Christian similarly call your truths and your values into question. We can see it in the implicit animus towards faith and people of faith in the news and public policy and the sometimes overt hostility towards conservative Christianity that bubbles to the surface even here in America. For example, consider the plight of the young woman in the news the other day. She was escorted off the stage in the middle of her graduation ceremonies for speaking of her faith in Jesus Christ during her valedictorian address and her diploma was withheld for several days, until she wrote an apology for speaking of faith in the context of her personal remarks as valedictorian during public school ceremonies. They wanted her to apologize for what she had said, but, to her credit, she refused.
The Bible tells us clearly that the world - that would be the culture around us - is hostile to us, that it hates us, and it stands against what we believe. Values controversies over abortion and cloning and fetal stem cell research and homosexuality and over what properly constitutes marriage highlight the divide between modern American culture and the Christian faith. The energy present in the debate reflects the emotion behind each position.
The world wants to deny the hatred toward Christ and His people that Scripture speaks of, and would like to pretend that what we are seeing is merely a difference of opinion. Finally, though, when the world says 'Yes' to that to which the Bible says 'No', we must recognize that the world and its proponents are calling God's Word a lie, and, therefore, God a liar. By the same token, when we confess Christ and the truths of Scripture without equivocation, we are calling the contrary and competing truths of the world 'lies' and those who advocate them, therefore, "liars". In this context, it is clear what James was saying in chapter 5 when he wrote, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
Of course, even within the Church, some people call God a liar - whether they intend to do so or not. They do it by false doctrine. They do it by holding to values that are not in accord with what the Bible teaches. They do it by living lives which do not reflect the Gospel. Generally, people find it easier to ignore this uncomfortable truth, and pretend that it is all inconsequential. But pretending can only go so far. God will have a day of reckoning, and then all the little deceits will be uncovered and the truth will be told.
One way or another, you must call someone a liar, that is, you must put the lie to one position or another. Is there a heaven and a hell? Some say yes, and some say no. Both cannot be true - nor can both positions be false. Scriptures speak of heaven and hell as real places into which all of humanity throughout all time shall be sorted for eternity. Those who like to make jokes about how hell will be better for the company, and all of their friends will be in hell are calling the Bible false. So are those who live as though it matters not where one finally ends up. They might like to style their stand as just a difference of opinion, but the Bible presents itself as the very Word of God, and as absolute truth, so to hold a different opinion demands that the Bible be a lie in at least a couple of places and a number of ways.
We Americans like to live our lives without considering what our conduct says, but, as the old proverb goes, actions speak louder than words. What we do and how we live actually do say something about what we believe - and they call someone a liar, whether it is God or the prince of this world, also known as the father of lies. It is a form of self-deception to conduct one's self as though what we do has no value or meaning unless we want it to. Even the Islamic Terrorists that trouble the world understand that behavior communicates. Their rage at the West is founded upon what they understand our public - and even private -behavior to mean.
You don't have to advocate for abortion or publicly rant against pre-marital abstinence as a platform of birth control to call God a liar. You can do it by simply living contrary to your confession. Fear of death, for example, calls into question the truth of the promise of the resurrection. It is true that this fear is perfectly normal and natural, but we are sinners by nature. If we live in fear of death, we are denying the truth and power of the Gospel - or declaring by our conduct that we do not believe that it applies to us..
If we say we have no fear of death, but become greatly distressed or depressed by the news that our death may be quite immanent through sickness or danger, we actually may be calling ourselves liars. We call into question our confession of no fear, and, by our sorrow, anxiety, or depression, we take our stand with the world against the entire truthfulness of the Word of God. We cannot, of course, stop the intrusion of fear into our minds when we hear the news. It is not that the fear occurs to us that is the problem, but when we marinate in it and allow ourselves to dwell in fear or be crushed by near approach of sickness or death - when we confess the fear with our lives - that is a problem.
The only way to avoid that, of course, is to marinate in something better - the Word of God. We need to be so grounded in the Word that we see things from the perspective of God's promises and not from the perspective of feelings and human fears. That Biblical perspective is natural to no one. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is imparted to those who dwell in the Word, reading, thinking, praying: what the Church used to call 'meditating' on the Word of God.
If we do that, we discover that the world around us is lying to us. It is not, for example, rude or undesirable to confess what one believes in word or deed. It is, in fact, unavoidable. The world and her adherents around us do it all of the time. When someone advocates for the use of those fertilized ova (called fetuses in the press) for cloning spare parts for ailing adults or stem cell tissues for scientific research, they are saying that human life and personhood begins somewhere and somewhen else than in the union of sperm and egg - or at conception. While the Bible does not address that question in a technical way, when God spoke to Jeremiah saying that He knew him before He formed him in the womb, it opens the possibility that from that moment of conception, there is a unique human being. King David wrote by inspiration about his mother conceiving him - not conceiving something that later became him.
The world confesses its faith all of the time. When children are forced in schools to learn the prayers of Islam, while those same schools call it illegal to allow Christians to pray together, citing separation of church and state principles, they are confessing something about a preference for Islam - perhaps for anything - over against the Christian faith. When homosexuality is publicly adjudged as normal and good and not to be discriminated against, the world is confessing that the Bible is false in its condemnation of homosexuality and the judgement that such conduct is perversion. When the annual 'this is what really happened at Christmas - or at Easter' stories are published in Time and Newsweek and the local Sunday editions of the newspapers, the world is confessing that they cannot and will not believe the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The world is then calling God a liar - and all who believe Him fools, or dupes. They confess by speaking against us and our faith, and by trying to silence our confession.
We can confess - and we should confess. To keep silent about our faith, or values, and the teachings of the Word of God is a confession of sorts, too. It calls God a liar when He promises to guide, guard and protect us. It calls His promise that He is there and watching over us for our blessing untrue. If we fail to speak and act on what we say we believe, we either confess God as not true, not worth the effort and risk, or we confess that we don't really believe what we say we do when we go to church.
There is a name for those who don't really believe what they confess they believe when they go to church. It is the word, "hypocrite". It originally meant 'actor'. They call God a liar by daring to pretend to be who they are not, one of God's people. They do not believe that God can see the truth of their condition, or that it matters to Him, or that they will face the judgment of Christ for their hypocrisy. God says that they are mistaken. I agree with God.
We have to stake our position in life. We take a stand internally even if we are not asked to do so publicly. Is God true, or is the world around us right? Christians often come to differing positions on the issues of our day. Because we each think independently, we can do that. Where we come down on an issue is less important than who you are calling a liar. If your stand is taken because it agrees with the Word of God - or what you see in the Word of God and what you come to understand it to mean after 'meditating' upon it - then you call the world a liar even if some church group or church authorities take the opposite position. If your stand is at odds with other believers who have Scriptural witness undergirding them, and all you can cite for support is the talking points of the advocacy group for this or that issue, then perhaps, you are calling God a liar.
Of course, it helps to be open to correction. None of us is perfect in our understanding. That is why it is important that our lives in Christ be in the context of the church - to be in conversation with fellow believers, talking with others, even those who might differ with us on this or that issue. We might learn, and we might also remember, if we keep talking to one another, that we are still brothers in Christ. Because that it what is central - Christ and the Gospel.
Christ died for us, and redeemed us, that He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Being Christ's is more important than being right about this issue or that. That is what the Bible means when it says, Romans 3:4, "let God be found true, though every man be found a liar."
The question, then, is, 'Who are you calling a liar?' Unbelief always calls God a liar. False doctrine always calls God a liar. Apathy always calls God a liar. This Gospel was worth God sending His only Son to die, and rise again. Faith always calls the world a liar. Hope in Christ calls the world a liar. Standing with and standing on the truth always calls the world a liar, for the world would have you believe that there is no absolute truth.
But the absolute truth is the love of God for you, the forgiveness of your sins for the sake of what Jesus Christ has done and suffered. We can be wrong on this issue and that, but God's Word is utterly clear about His will for you - it is that you trust in Him and live in Him and finally join Him for everlasting life through the free gift of salvation, purchased and won for you by Jesus Christ in life, on the cross, and in His resurrection.
Yours in the Lord,
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