“Speak the truth with one another.”—ZECH. 8:16.
1, 2. What device has had the worst possible effect on humankind, and who was responsible for it?
THE telephone, the electric light bulb, the automobile, and the refrigerator are just some of the inventions that have improved everyday life. Other innovations, though, have made life more dangerous—gunpowder, land mines, cigarettes, and the atomic bomb, to name a few. However, there is a device that predates all of them and that has had the worst possible effect on humankind. What is it? The lie! That is, saying something that one knows is not true in order to deceive someone else. And who devised the first lie? Jesus Christ identified “the Devil” as “the father of the lie.” (Read John 8:44.) When did he utter the first lie?
2 It happened thousands of years ago in the garden of Eden. The first human couple, Adam and Eve, were enjoying life in the Paradise that their Creator had provided for them. Then, the Devil entered the scene. He knew that God had commanded the couple not to eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad,” lest they die for their disobedience. Even so, through a serpent, Satan told Eve: “You certainly will not die [the first lie ever told]. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.”—Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-5.
3. Why can it be said that Satan’s lie was malicious, and what has resulted from it?
3 Satan’s lie was malicious because he knew full well that if Eve believed him and ate the fruit, she would die. Eve and Adam both disobeyed Jehovah’s command and eventually died. (Gen. 3:6; 5:5) More than that, through such sin, “death spread to all men.” In fact, “death ruled as king . . . , even over those who had not sinned in the same way that Adam transgressed.” (Rom. 5:12, 14) Now, instead of being able to enjoy perfect, endless life as God had originally intended, humans are doing well if they live “70 years, or 80 if one is especially strong.” Even then, life is often “filled with trouble and sorrow.” (Ps. 90:10) How tragic—all resulting from Satan’s lie!
4. (a) What questions do we need to be able to answer? (b) According to Psalm 15:1, 2, who only can be Jehovah’s friend?
4 In explaining the Devil’s actions, Jesus stated: “He did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” Truth is still not in Satan, for he continues “misleading the entire inhabited earth” with his lies. (Rev. 12:9) We do not want to be misled by the Devil. Let us, then, consider three questions: How is Satan misleading humans? Why do people commonly lie? And so that we never forfeit our friendship with Jehovah, as did Adam and Eve, how can we show that we are “speaking the truth” at all times?—Read Psalm 15:1, 2.
HOW SATAN IS MISLEADING HUMANS
5. How is Satan misleading mankind today?
5 The apostle Paul knew that we can avoid being “outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his intentions.” (2 Cor. 2:11; ftn.) We know that the whole world—including false religion, corrupt politics, and greedy commercialism—is under the Devil’s control. (1 John 5:19) We are not surprised, then, that Satan and his demons would influence men in powerful positions to “speak lies.” (1 Tim. 4:1, 2) That certainly is true of people in big business who promote harmful products and fraudulent schemes through false advertising.
6, 7. (a) Why are religious leaders who lie especially guilty? (b) What lies have you heard religious leaders tell?
6 Religious leaders who lie are especially guilty because they endanger the future life prospects of those who believe their lies. If an individual accepts a false teaching and practices something that is actually condemned by God, it can cost that person his eternal life. (Hos. 4:9) Jesus knew that the religious leaders in his day were guilty of such deception. He told them to their face: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him a subject for Gehenna [everlasting destruction] twice as much so as yourselves.” (Matt. 23:15; ftn.) Jesus condemned those false religious leaders in the strongest terms. They truly were ‘from their father the Devil, a murderer.’—John 8:44.
7 Whether called pastors, priests, rabbis, swamis, or by some other title, religious leaders abound in the world today. Like their first-century counterparts, they are “suppressing the truth” from God’s Word and have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie.” (Rom. 1:18, 25) They promote such false teachings as “once saved, always saved,” the immortality of the human soul, reincarnation, and the foolish idea that God would condone homosexual lifestyles and same-sex marriages.
8. What lie do we expect politicians to tell one day soon, but how should we react to it?
8 Politicians have used lies to mislead mankind. One of the biggest lies is yet to be heard when men proclaim that they have achieved “peace and security!” But “then sudden destruction is to be instantly on them.” May we not be taken in by their attempt to minimize how precarious this system of things really is! In truth, we “know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.”—1 Thess. 5:1-4.
WHY PEOPLE COMMONLY LIE
9, 10. (a) Why do people lie, and in what does that result? (b) What should we remember about Jehovah?
9 When a new invention or innovation becomes popular, it is eventually mass-produced. The same has happened with the lie. Spreading lies has become commonplace in today’s society, and influential people are not the only ones who deceive others. As stated in the article “Why We Lie” by Y. Bhattacharjee, “lying has come to be recognized as a deeply ingrained human trait.” People often resort to lying either to protect themselves or to promote themselves. They lie to cover up their mistakes and misdeeds or to gain economic and personal advantages. As the article states, there are people who “lie with ease, in ways big and small, to strangers, co-workers, friends, and loved ones.”
10 What is the result of all this lying? Trust is lost and relationships can be ruined. Imagine how disheartening it is, for example, when a wife cheats on her faithful husband and lies to cover up the immoral affair. Or when an abusive man mistreats his wife and children in private but in public puts on the pretense of being a model family man. However, we should remember that such deceitful people cannot keep anything secret from Jehovah, for “all things are naked and openly exposed” to him.—Heb. 4:13.
11. What does the bad example of Ananias and Sapphira teach us? (See opening picture.)
11 As an example, the Bible tells of how “Satan emboldened” a Christian couple in the first century to lie to God. Ananias and Sapphira schemed in their hearts to deceive the apostles. They sold some property but brought only part of the proceeds of the sale to the apostles. The couple wanted to make themselves look good in the congregation, appearing to be more generous with their donation than they really were. Yet, Jehovah could see what they had done, and he punished them accordingly.—Acts 5:1-10.
12. Where are unrepentant, malicious liars heading, and why?
12 How does Jehovah feel about lying? Satan as well as all unrepentant, malicious liars who imitate him are heading for “the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:10; 21:8; Ps. 5:6) And why? Because Jehovah puts such liars in the same category as everyone else “whose practices are disgusting in God’s eyes.”—Rev. 22:15, ftn.
13. What do we know about Jehovah, and what does that knowledge motivate us to do?
13 We know that Jehovah “is not a mere man who tells lies.” In fact, “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18) “Jehovah hates . . . a lying tongue.” (Prov. 6:16, 17) To have his approval, we must live by his standard of truthfulness. That is why we “do not lie to one another.”—Col. 3:9.
WE “SPEAK THE TRUTH”
14. (a) How do we distinguish ourselves from members of false religions? (b) Explain the principle found at Luke 6:45.
14 What is one way that true Christians distinguish themselves from members of false religions? We “speak the truth.” (Read Zechariah 8:16, 17.) Paul explained: “We recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . . by truthful speech.” (2 Cor. 6:4, 7) Jesus said of man: “Out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) So when a good man speaks truth in his heart, truthful speech will come out of his mouth. He will tell the truth in ways big and small—to strangers, coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Consider some examples of how we can show that we are thus trying to be honest in all things.
15. (a) Why is it never wise to try to live a double life? (b) What can help youths to resist unwholesome peer pressure? (See footnote.)
15 What if you are a young person who wants to fit in with your peers? Make sure that you never do what some have done by leading a double life. They appear to be chaste when around their family and the congregation but are entirely different when around worldly youths and on social media. They may use bad language, wear immodest clothes, listen to debased music, abuse alcohol or drugs, date secretly, and worse. They are living a lie, playing false to their parents, to fellow worshippers, and to God. (Ps. 26:4, 5) Jehovah knows when we are only ‘honoring him with our lips, but our heart is far removed from him.’ (Mark 7:6) How much better it is to do as the proverb says: “Let your heart not envy sinners, but be in the fear of Jehovah all day long.”—Prov. 23:17.*
16. What does truthfulness have to do with applying for a special privilege of service?
16 Perhaps you wish to serve as a regular pioneer or in some feature of special full-time service, such as at Bethel. During the application process, it is important that you give honest and completely truthful answers to all the questions asked regarding your health, choices of entertainment, and morals. (Heb. 13:18) What if you have been involved in some type of unclean or questionable conduct that has not been addressed by the elders? Seek their help so that you will be able to serve with a clean conscience.—Rom. 9:1; Gal. 6:1.
17. What should we do when speaking to persecutors about our brothers?
17 What should you do, for example, if the authorities restrict the Kingdom activity in your land and you are called in for questioning about your brothers? Must you tell them everything you know? What did Jesus do when he was interrogated by the Roman governor? In line with the Scriptural principle that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak,” Jesus at times said nothing at all! (Eccl. 3:1, 7; Matt. 27:11-14) In such a setting, discretion is the better course, so that we do not put our brothers at risk.—Prov. 10:19; 11:12.
18. What responsibility do we have when speaking to the elders about our brothers?
18 What if a serious sin has been committed by someone in the congregation and you have knowledge of what occurred? The elders, who are responsible for keeping the congregation morally clean, may need to ask you what you know about the matter. What will you do, especially if a close friend or relative is involved? “The one who testifies faithfully will tell the truth.” (Prov. 12:17; 21:28) So you have a responsibility to tell the elders the whole truth, not just half of it, and you must not distort it. They have a right to know the facts so that they can determine the best way to help the wrongdoer restore his or her relationship with Jehovah.—Jas. 5:14, 15.
19. What can we look forward to learning in the next article?
19 The psalmist David prayed to Jehovah: “You find pleasure in truth in the inner person.” (Ps. 51:6) David knew that our being truthful comes from the inside, from our heart. In every aspect of life, true Christians “speak the truth with one another.” Another way that we can show that we are different as God’s ministers is to teach his truths to others in our ministry. How to do that is the focus of the next article.