Honesty

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:1-2).

Paul the inspired apostle instructed us to pray for those in authority that we may live “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Notice that next to a God-like life (the life God would have us live) the inspired writer placed honesty. Honesty is a primary characteristic of the Christian, and should stand out to those who live round about us.

Almighty God has always dealt honestly with mankind. In the Bible He told the truth about individuals whom he loved. Though David was a man after God’s own heart, God revealed David’s terrible sins with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite (II Sam. 11, 12). God revealed the terrible sins in the church at Corinth and in the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation. When you read the above referenced accounts in Scripture you can see that God expected an honest confession and true repentance. God is eternal and He has not and does not change (James 1:17; Heb.13:8). So God has expected honesty from the beginning of the world in the garden of Eden right up to today’s time.

Now, the opposite of honesty is dishonesty, and dishonesty is often condemned in the Bible. In Revelation 21:8 John says, “all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimestome: which is the second death.” What about the “little white liars”? “All liars” will be in eternal hell. What about the occasional liar? The Scriptures say “all liars” shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimestone. Willful unrepented of sin will condemn one’s soul to hell (James 2:10, Heb. 10:26). So the number of lies told or the enormity of the consequences does not change the fact that one has lied, nor does it change the outcome of the liar. All justification of such actions rests with man and not with God, because God has spoken clearly and condemned “all” lying.

Sometimes false teachers are referred to as liars. And people in the church will get all excited about such a reference made and ask whom has he/she lied to? The Bible gives reference to this matter when Paul warned of the time coming when some would depart from the faith and give heed to false doctrines (I Tim. 4:1-2). Paul wrote that they would be “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron.” So the false teacher is lying to those who will listen to him and observe his practices. Please take note of our present time and the activities in the church. Some preachers who at one time taught clearly on fellowship and against the fellowship of false teachers can no longer address that issue. Why? Have they changed? Some, in fact many would likely answer that they haven’t changed in what they believe, yet they refuse to speak out clearly against the false teacher and the false practice (Eph. 5:11). Some preachers now allow most anything to go on in the congregations where they preach.There are some that can easily be proven to be of this stripe. They act as if they are standing strong, but their actions reveal something vastly different. They are in fact putting on an act (that is a hypocrite) and hypocrisy is a lie in action—pretending to be something one is not. So when you or I observe such inconsistent actions we may say the one practicing falsely is a liar. Paul warned the Colossian brethren about vain worship and being misled by “false humility” (Col. 2:18). False teachers are most often full of false humility. If you want proof, examine the actions of the accused false teacher. If he responds with book chapter and verse for his practices and teachings then maybe you should examine for yourself, but if he refuses to give an answer or sets out on a tirade of character assassination rather than answering the question, then you’ll see the genuine person and the false humility of the false teacher. This is an evaluation that all should make in the church for this day and time, because false teaching is rampant in the church of Christ today. Sometimes the assault on one’s personality will be more subtle and most often behind their back, so beware of false humility and a backstabber. They do go together. If one will lie in his/her teaching of God’s Word, they are apt to do anything.

Finally, remember the admonition of Paul on receiving accusations against an elder. Paul wrote, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses” (I Tim. 5:19). How does this connect with honesty? It is important in the proof of honesty. The office of an elder in the Lord’s church is a high office and very serious in work and responsibility. Often a troublemaker in the church will accuse an elder of lying, but such a charge must be proven. Can an elder lie? Yes, he can, but it is a most serious allegation which must be proven by solid evidence. It can even be the case that a faithful gospel preacher is accused of lying and he could in fact have lied, but there is a burden of proof which the accusation will not in itself satisfy. “Prove all things hold fast to that which is good,” (I Thess. 5:21).

Honesty is one of the beautiful attributes of a Christian. It is part of the “high calling” which is in Christ Jesus, and a great contributor to a “peaceable life.”

-David Hill

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