“Speak the truth with one another.”—ZECHARIAH 8:16.
1, 2. What did the Devil use to hurt mankind the most?
SOME inventions, such as the telephone, the light bulb, the car, and the refrigerator, have made life better. Other inventions, such as gunpowder, land mines, cigarettes, and the atomic bomb, have made life more dangerous. But there is something that is older than all of these and has hurt mankind the most. What is it? The lie! Telling a lie is saying something that we know is not true in order to deceive, or trick, someone. Who told the first lie? The Devil! Jesus Christ called him “the father of the lie.” (Read John 8:44.) When did he tell the first lie?
2 He did so thousands of years ago in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were enjoying life in the beautiful Paradise that Jehovah had created for them. God had told them that if they ate from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad,” they would die. Even though Satan knew this, he used a snake to tell Eve: “You certainly will not die.” That was the very first lie. Satan also said: “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.”—Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-5.
3. Why was Satan’s lie malicious, and what happened because of that lie?
3 Satan’s lie was malicious because he knew that if Eve believed him and ate the fruit, she would die. And that is exactly what happened. Eve and later Adam disobeyed Jehovah’s command and eventually died. (Genesis 3:6; 5:5) More than that, because of Adam’s 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.” (Romans 5:12, 14) That is why we are not perfect and do not live forever as God intended. Instead, we live only about “70 years, or 80 if one is especially strong,” and our lives are “filled with trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 90:10) All of this has happened because of Satan’s lie!
4. (a) What questions must we be able to answer? (b) According to Psalm 15:1, 2, who only can be Jehovah’s friend?
4 Jesus said about Satan: “He did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” Satan has not changed. He is still “misleading the entire inhabited earth” with his lies. (Revelation 12:9) But we do not want Satan to mislead us. So we need to know the answers to three questions. How is Satan misleading people today? Why do people lie? And how can we speak the truth all the time so that we do not lose Jehovah’s friendship, as Adam and Eve did?—Read Psalm 15:1, 2.
HOW SATAN IS MISLEADING HUMANS
5. How is Satan misleading people today?
5 We can avoid being deceived by Satan. The apostle Paul said: “We are not ignorant of his intentions.” (2 Corinthians 2:11; footnote) We know that Satan controls the whole world, including false religion, corrupt governments, and greedy businesses. (1 John 5:19) So we are not surprised that Satan and his demons influence powerful people to “speak lies.” (1 Timothy 4:1, 2) For example, some business people tell lies in their advertisements to sell products that are harmful or to trick people and take their money.
6, 7. (a) Why is it especially bad when religious leaders tell lies? (b) What lies have you heard religious leaders tell?
6 It is especially bad when religious leaders tell lies. Why? Because if someone believes their false teachings and does things that God hates, that person may lose the opportunity to live forever. (Hosea 4:9) Jesus knew that the religious leaders in his day were deceiving the people. He boldly told them: “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,” that is, everlasting destruction. (Matthew 23:15; footnote) Jesus said that those false religious leaders were just like their father the Devil, who is “a murderer.”—John 8:44.
7 There are many religious leaders in our day too. They may be called pastors, priests, rabbis, swamis, or by other titles. Like the Pharisees, they do not teach the truth from God’s Word but have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie.” (Romans 1:18, 25) Some of their lies are “once saved, always saved,” humans have an immortal soul, the dead are reincarnated, and God accepts homosexual lifestyles and same-sex marriages.
8. What lie will political leaders soon tell, but how should we react to it?
8 Politicians too have used lies to deceive humans. One of the biggest lies they will soon tell is that they have brought “peace and security” to the world. But “then sudden destruction is to be instantly on them.” So we should not believe these political leaders who say that things are improving. The truth is that we “know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.”—1 Thessalonians 5:1-4.
WHY PEOPLE LIE
9, 10. (a) Why do people lie, and what are the consequences? (b) What should we remember about Jehovah?
9 Today, powerful people are not the only ones who lie. The article “Why We Lie,” by Y. Bhattacharjee, says that “lying has come to be recognized as a deeply ingrained human trait.” In other words, people think that it is natural and normal to lie. People often lie to protect themselves, perhaps to hide mistakes they have made or crimes they have committed. They also lie to make money or to benefit themselves in some other way. The article also says that some people have no problem lying “to strangers, co-workers, friends, and loved ones.”
When people lie, they can deceive other humans, but they cannot deceive Jehovah
10 What is the result of all these lies? People no longer trust one another, and relationships are ruined. For example, imagine how devastated a faithful husband must be when he learns that his wife had an affair and then lied to him to hide what she did. Or imagine how terrible it is when a man mistreats his wife and children at home but pretends to be loving and caring to them when they are around others. Such people can deceive other humans, but we should remember that they cannot deceive Jehovah. The Bible says that “all things are naked and openly exposed” to him.—Hebrews 4:13.
11. What does the bad example of Ananias and Sapphira teach us? (See opening picture.)
11 In the Bible, there is an example of a Christian couple whom Satan influenced to lie to God. Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the apostles. They sold some of their property and then gave only part of the money to the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to impress others in the congregation, so they told the apostles that they had given all of the money. But Jehovah knew they were lying, and he punished them.—Acts 5:1-10.
12. What will happen to malicious liars who do not repent, and why?
12 How does Jehovah feel about people who lie? All people who tell malicious lies and who do not repent will end up in “the lake of fire,” just like Satan. In other words, they will be destroyed forever. (Revelation 20:10; 21:8; Psalm 5:6) Why? Because Jehovah views these liars the same way he views all others “whose practices are disgusting in God’s eyes.”—Revelation 22:15, footnote.
13. What do we know about Jehovah, and what does that motivate us to do?
13 We know that Jehovah “is not a mere man who tells lies” and that “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18) “Jehovah hates . . . a lying tongue.” (Proverbs 6:16, 17) If we want to please him, we must tell the truth. So we “do not lie to one another.”—Colossians 3:9.
WE “SPEAK THE TRUTH”
14. (a) What makes true Christians different from members of false religions? (b) Explain the principle found at Luke 6:45.
14 What is one way that true Christians are different from members of false religions? We “speak the truth.” (Read Zechariah 8:16, 17.) Paul said: “We recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . . by truthful speech.” (2 Corinthians 6:4, 7) And Jesus said that people speak “out of the heart’s abundance.” (Luke 6:45) This means that an honest person will tell the truth. He will tell the truth to strangers, coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Let us discuss some examples of how we can show that we are trying to be honest in all things.
15. (a) Why is it bad to live a double life? (b) What can help young people to resist peer pressure? (See footnote.)
15 If you are a young person, you may want your peers to accept you. Yet because of this desire, some young people are living a double life. They pretend to be morally clean when they are with their family and the congregation but are completely different when they are on social media or with people who do not serve Jehovah. They may use bad language, wear immodest clothes, listen to music with unclean lyrics, get drunk, use drugs, date secretly, or do other bad things. They are lying to their parents, to their brothers and sisters, and to Jehovah. (Psalm 26:4, 5) But Jehovah knows when we claim to honor him and then do things he hates. (Mark 7:6) It is so much better to do what the proverb says: “Let your heart not envy sinners, but be in the fear of Jehovah all day long.”—Proverbs 23:17.* (See footnote.)
16. How should we answer questions on an application for full-time service?
16 If you want to become a regular pioneer or begin special full-time service, for example at Bethel, you have to fill out an application. It is very important that you give honest answers to questions about your health, the type of entertainment you choose, and your morals. (Hebrews 13:18) But what if you have done something that Jehovah hates or something that bothers your conscience and you have not talked to the elders about it? Ask them for help so that you can serve Jehovah with a clean conscience.—Romans 9:1; Galatians 6:1.
17. What should we do when persecutors ask us questions about our brothers?
17 What should you do if our work is banned where you live and the authorities arrest you and ask you questions about your brothers? Should you tell them everything you know? What did Jesus do when a Roman governor questioned him? Jesus applied the Bible principle that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak,” and at times he did not say anything! (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7; Matthew 27:11-14) If we are in a similar situation, we need to be discreet and cautious so that we do not put our brothers in danger.—Proverbs 10:19; 11:12.
18. What is our responsibility if the elders ask us questions about our brothers?
18 What if a person in the congregation has committed a serious sin and you know about it? The elders have the responsibility to keep the congregation morally clean, so they may ask you about what you know. What will you do, especially if the person is a close friend or relative? The Bible says: “The one who testifies faithfully will tell the truth.” (Proverbs 12:17; 21:28) So you have the responsibility to tell the elders the whole truth without hiding any of the facts. The elders have a right to know the facts so that they can find the best way to help the person to repair his or her relationship with Jehovah.—James 5:14, 15.
19. What will we discuss in the next article?
19 David prayed to Jehovah: “You find pleasure in truth in the inner person.” (Psalm 51:6) David knew that what is important is what we are inside. At all times, true Christians “speak the truth with one another.” Another way to show that we are different from the members of false religions is to teach the truth from the Bible. In the next article, we will discuss how we can do that in our ministry.