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Tell the Truth
Scripture: Exodus 20:16
Track 9 of 10 in the Ten Commandments series
Running time: 36 minutes, 42 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, August 28, 2005
9th sermon in a 10 part series.
"Tell the Truth"
"Ten Words to Guide our Lives"
(Exodus 20:16)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

. . . . . .Coined a phrase, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." It was quoted to me just a few minutes ago out in the foyer and I said, "but, we're sure trying to take you by the neck and stick your nose in it." Well, if you're not tired of hearing about 40 Days by now, let me see if I can work at it just a little harder.

Mike said, ah, when he first started attending Bible school, "there were some who might have known a little less than him." When I started going to Bible school, there was nobody who knew less than me. I mean absolutely no one.

I wish I could figure out a way to say to you in some convincing fashion, you really need to commit yourself to a period of discipleship and this would be a great time for you to do it. Six weeks; either a Sunday morning discipleship class, (you just heard about one new one, you're going to hear about another new one), we have the existing classes. There will be information at Grand Central about all of those different classes starting next week; so, you can figure out which one you fit in, or a small group in the middle of the week, or both, if that's what you want to do, although we're certainly not suggesting you need to.

We want for you to come to know Jesus better, because we believe that's going to make a huge difference in your life. If we didn't believe that, we wouldn't be pushing so hard. So outside of just kind of getting on my knees and begging you to try this for six weeks, can I just stand here and say, "Would you try this for six weeks?" Just give it a shot to be here on Sunday morning, share in our worship, hear what the purpose of the week is, read a chapter a day. We've already ordered well over four-hundred books. We have well over a hundred books committed to people who can't afford one. If you want to pay for your books today, you can. You can give your money away out there. On September 11 when we distribute the books, there'll just be a long line. You can just go in and grab your book. You don't have to worry about paying for it. Nobody has to worry about paying for it at that point. Memorize a passage of Scripture and meet with some people and talk. And give God a chance to see if He can grow you into a disciple who looks like His Son. Six weeks! If it doesn't happen, if it doesn't help, if it doesn't make a difference in your life. . . . . Well, I don't even know what that would be because I think it will. So give it a shot, will you?

Pray with me.

Father, we want to look like Your Son and we're willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen. And so, lots of people are preparing lessons, they're working hard at understanding their role. They're praying. They're planning. They're believing that you want to make a difference in us. So Father, do whatever it takes to bring us to the place that we want to know you deeply. We pray this in Christ's name.


I was bewailing the system last week. I guess you probably know that. Said something about the fact that I thought it would be nice if there was a restitution system like in the Old Testament. Well, we got a letter from the local State's Attorney telling us that somebody who did some damage to our property is now obligated to pay restitution. I won't even begin to read all the people to whom this person has to pay restitution. It's an entire 8.5 by 11 sheet of people he has to pay restitution to. We're small potatoes compared to some of the several thousand of dollars he has to pay in restitution. And then down at the bottom there's a list of rather interesting obligations for this particular person. For example: submitting to random drug testing and wearing one of those ankle bracelets and several things. And I love the last line particularly. Need I remind you that this is a guy who is paying restitution of several thousands of dollars to well over a dozen different people or agencies and is a drug abuser and several other things here. And I put that in this context. Here is the tenth thing on the list. Testify truthfully in any co-defendant's case. And you're a skeptic aren't you? 'Cause if you're not, I am.

It's just an amazing thing to me that we live in a legal system whereby the entire process is dependant upon one fundamental thing. That you and I tell the truth. We go to court and the first thing that happens is somebody says, "Place your hand on this Bible and make this promise." "I swear to tell the truth." And then everything that happens in that court room is contingent upon the fact that the person DID, in fact, tell the truth. Except that you and I now live in a culture where there is no such thing. It's truth as I see it. It's truth as I perceive it. It's truth as it relates to me.

And so we've watched with great fascination over the last (oh, I don't know) five or ten years as major court case after major court case has passed through the public eye, the news, the media and you and I sit an make our judgments all based on what we hear people say is the truth. Even when the truth doesn't seem to quite connect.

That happened again this last week. It's a troublesome thing to me. I don't know why. I could honestly care less in the grand scheme of things, who wins the Tour de France. It has never been on my highest priority list. I do know who's won it the last seven years, but I've only seen him ride his bicycle like twice in seven year. I did go out of my way this year to see Lance Armstrong cross the finish line to win his seventh Tour de France. That's an amazing string of victories. Unbelievable! And of course now the French newspaper is accusing him of having won his first win illegally because he was all doped up on some kind of undetectable drug. And you know what he says, "I did not!" And you know what they say, "Yes, you did!" That sounds like an argument that I've heard at my house. I think it sounds like one I've had.

Well, I've copied a little piece of news ad that came off of the internet. This is a reporter by the name of Anne Killian. She says, "The line is drawn. The opposing sides are honing their arguments, preparing their defenses. Pro Lance: This is just another French witch hunt." I hadn't tried to say that out loud until just now. "Anti-Lance: This is more evidence of the obvious. He's a cheater. The polarization over Lance Armstrong is more passionate than in other doping controversies. The Pro Lance forces are more vast and committed than those of the average accused athlete. They aren't just arguing about the sanctity of records. They are arguing about the sanctity of a hero. The Anti-Lance forces can't believe that any suckers would be so dumb as to ignore what they believe as compelling patterns of evidence. So where do I fall? Somewhere in a very unsatisfactory gray area, fully convinced of neither side."

Well, a couple of paragraphs later. . . . . "As a human being, one who has lost a loved one to cancer, one who wept on a roadside in France after talking to cancer survivors who made a pilgrimage to see Armstrong race, I want to believe he is. . . honest."

The Ninth Commandment. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Exodus 20:16

In a long line of commands that start with God and make their way to us. Here is this command to be a truth teller. The unfortunate thing is, you and I are all used to lies. Aren't you? I am! I've gotten to the place that I just frankly expect it.

Sat in a restaurant a couple of summers ago in Phoenix, Arizona at the North American Christian Convention with my wife. It was a nice little breakfast restaurant and it was air-conditioned in the 110 degree heat, so it was a great place to go and sit.

We weren't concerned about them being particularly fast because we didn't want to go back outside anyway. We ordered our meal and the waiter came by a few minutes later and he asked us if we were okay. He refilled our water glasses and we sat, and we sat, and we sat, and we sat and thirty minutes went by and I think he finally realized that we were still sitting there drinking the same cup of water and he said, "your order will be out in just a minute." And I thought, "No it won't!" And we sat, and we sat, and we sat, and about five minutes later he came back and he said, "I was just in the kitchen. I checked on it. It's almost ready. We'll have it for you in just a second." And I thought, "No, you won't." About ten minutes later, this making a total of somewhere around 45 minutes from the time that we actually ordered the meal, he came back and he said, "By the way, we've lost your order. Would you like to re-order again?" I'm thinking, "how could you go to the kitchen, find out that my order is only seconds away from being prepared, when you don't even have my order." Now I didn't use the word, but I wanted to use the word - "LIAR"! See, we're just used to it. "The check's in the mail." We just know that's how life works. We've gotten so accustomed to the fact that people don't tell us the truth.

My friend Doris, whom I have told you about before. This wonderful lady from my first church, ever. . . . .when the phone would ring she would go in the bathroom, step into the tub, so her children could say, "My mother's not available; she's in the tub." If she thought it might be someone that she had used that argument on before, she would simply step outside the front door and they could say, "well, I'm sorry, she just left."

We're just used to it, ya know? We just live in a world where people have decided that there are ways to "fudge" around the truth and never quite be truth telling and yet, every one of us, I'm betting, every one of us in here learned that Aesop's fable back when we were in elementary school about that little boy that cried "wolf". "Wolf" "Wolf" and they ran out there to the hill and there was no wolf. "Wolf" "Wolf" and they ran out there and pretty soon, when there was a wolf and he cried "Wolf", they all just stayed home. 'Cause they couldn't believe him. He wasn't trustworthy.

Well, the context of this is really very important. It comes in the context of ten words from God. We've already looked at them.

The first one is, I'm God - there isn't anybody else like Me so don't have anybody try to compete with me.

The second one is really quite simple, don't try to put Me into a little box so that you can control Me. Don't make Me into an idol.

The third one is, take Me seriously. By the way, that has a lot to do with the Ninth one that we're talking about this morning. If God's name is to be taken seriously then truth telling is pretty important..

The fourth one is, Trust Me. Keep the Sabbath. Don't work every day of the week. Give yourself a little break. Let Me take care of things.

The fifth one is that transitional one, Honor your parents and when you honor your parents, you learn how to honor Me.

And then we make the transition into that rather important list of covenant connections.

Don't kill each other. Treat life as if it has value. Don't break the covenant marriage relationship by committing adultery. Don't destroy people's lives by being unfaithful to each other.

There is this thing about not taking what isn't yours.

And the one today is so simple. Tell the truth! It's not hard to figure out. Tell the truth! Now, it's a legal word. It started out as a court word. It literally means don't bear false witness. It's translated very well. It's a court issue. When you're brought into a legal system, make sure you tell the truth. Because in that Jewish society everything was contingent upon the voice of two or three witnesses. And whatever those two or three witnesses said, you were supposed to tell the truth. It was the justice system.

But the whole point was the community existed on truth telling. You couldn't have a culture. You couldn't have a society. You couldn't have a community if you couldn't trust each other to tell the truth.

Want you to think about that in light of what Paul says to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 4. That comes right over into our New Testament Communities of Faith that we call the church. Ephesians 4:25 Paul says this. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Huh? Tell the truth. Why? Because we're all members of the same body. I don't know if you've had this experience. I know some of you have. I've had this experience. My body lied to me. It said it was fine. It said you're healthy. And the whole time it was harboring cancer. Now that's a lie you can't live with. And, fortunately somebody found it. But that's exactly what lying does to a community of people. It's a cancer in the system. If we're not able and willing to tell each other the truth. And so Paul says, "speak truthfully." Get rid of falsehoods. Speak truthfully because we are all members of one another. We need honesty within the community.

See, God has this really keen attitude on being a truth teller. For example in Proverbs 6 he says there are seven things that God hates, one of them being a lying tongue.

There is this rather interesting passage in Leviticus 19 and in Deuteronomy 19 where you get this really precise statement about justice in the Old Testament.

Let's just assume that I have been accused of, oh I don't know. Let's make it really bad. I stole somebody's left arm and Mark comes to court and he says, "that right." "I saw him steal that left arm." Except that it wasn't true. I really didn't steal anybody's left arm and the court figures out that I didn't steal the left arm. Guess what happens to Mark as a false witness? He loses his left arm. The justice system was whatever you testified against another person falsely, happened to you. So if it was a murder case and you were testifying that somebody committed murder and they really didn't commit murder and they got capital punishment, so did you as a false witness. That was God's attitude about truth telling.

I think it's because of God's character. Remember Commandment # 3 - Take me Seriously. Here's what it says about God. You can find it in Numbers 23 and Titus 1. You can . . . . . . . . . . . .God cannot lie. It's against his character. God does not know how to lie. It is impossible in fact. That's the way it's worded in Hebrews. It is impossible for God to lie. He can't do it. It is not within His human capability. . . .human. . . . .well, whatever not human is. He is not capable of doing that. He can't! And so, if I begin to adopt His character, then I can't lie. So if that's true, then where do lies come from? If they aren't from God, then where are they from?

You know the answer to this question. You can sit there silently like my students do in class, if you want, but you know the answer to this question. Thank you! I knew somebody would get it right. It started clear back in the Garden. God said you can have anything in this Garden you want. Eat from all of these trees except that one over there and Satan came out and started telling lies. Did God really say. . . . . God didn't say.. . . . . . God didn't mean what he said. . . . . .

Do you know what John records Jesus calling Satan? He is the 'father' of lies. John 8:44. So if you lie, all you are doing is imitating your 'father'. Sorry! That was a little harsh. Let me restate that. If you lie, you're imitating your 'father'. That didn't come out any better the second time than it did the first. Do you know where Satan ends up on the other side of eternity? Revelation 20:10 he is thrown into the lake of fire which burns forever. It was prepared for him and his angels. In fact, they are the only ones that are supposed to be there.

One of the earliest verses I learned as a Christian (I'm not sure why it was pointed out to me. I'm just not going to go there.) Was Revelation 21:8 in which it says, these are the folks that end up with Satan in Hell and in that rather lengthy list is liars. Imitate your 'father', you're not only just like him but you also inherit his destiny.

God takes truth telling very seriously. So the application of this whole message is really quite simple. You didn't even really need to come to church to hear it. But I'm glad you did. Tell the truth.

Mark Twain said, "He who doesn't tell the truth has to have a very good memory."

Colossians 3:9 says, Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Would you listen to that. Make sure you hear that. Stop telling lies. Start telling the truth. Why? Because you have taken off the old person and you have put on a new person who is being renewed in the image of your Creator. Now what did the Bible say about our Creator? It is impossible for Him to lie.

So if you are taking upon yourself the character of God in the form of Jesus, it ought to become impossible for you to lie. So the application is simple. Tell the truth!

Now what about those times when there is some ethical dilemma? Is it ever right to not tell the truth? I don't know. Can I think of some potential situations when it could be a problem? Sure! Germany 1942 or 1943. Hiding Jews in your attic and the gestapo comes and says, "Do you have Jews in your house?" I think God would allow you to say, "NO". I think! It may be the lesser of two evils rather than the greater of two goods. But I really think it's probably appropriate, in fact, it's Biblical. That's what Rahab did when they came looking for the spies who were in Jericho.

On the other hand, if it's to save your own neck, that's another matter. That's the Cassie Barnall situation in Columbine High School. Are you a believer? "Yes I am." And it cost her her life. If I can save your life, I might be justified in not being quite as honest as I might otherwise be. But if all I'm doing is protecting myself, tell the truth. Take your lumps. It's called "Life". It's what happens to us. Tell the truth.

Now. . . . .it also, by the way, in Ephesians is very clear. You should tell the truth in love. Ah, I love the commercial. Don't you love the commercial on TV where the guy is enwrapped in his newspaper. I mean he's just reading up a storm and his wife comes out and says, "does this make me look fat?" And he says, "sure does". Ahhhhh there are times when you don't have to tell the WHOLE truth.

I have a good friend who is a preacher, which used to mean you used to get pies and stuff all the time. We've kind of forgotten that old relic. We could revive it but we've kind of forgotten it. If you need to know what kind of pie, let me know. But, what do you do when somebody brings one that just really isn't all that good? And then you run into them at church the next week. And his standard response was, "Pie like that doesn't last long at our house." You're left to interpret it the way you'd like. (Lots of laughing. . . .. .ha-ha-ha)

I want to read for you a fascinating passage. It's in Isaiah 59, if you want to either read it now or later. Isaiah 59 starts out this way. Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.

Then you come down a little bit later after Isaiah has made this very clear statement.

I want you to listen to Israel's response. . . .Our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities; rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

Do you hear the confession? Not only is the application of this sermon to tell the truth. The application of this sermon is that if you have lied, repent and confess it. Take care of it. Don't try to live with it. It will only haunt you forever.

Every week we've tried to come to this place. How did Jesus live out this particular command? I think it's a pretty simple one. For example; when He was confronted, "Are you the Messiah?" He said, "Yes, I am." When it came time to speak in love, He seemed to always have a word that fit and He handled his disciples with such grace, while at the same time telling them the truth. Handling it with grace. In fact, one of the most condemning passages in all of the New Testament is Matthew 23, when He calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers. I mean like for six verses He calls them snakes. Doesn't sound particularly truth in love does it? But it depends on how you read it. Because the very next verse is O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how long have I wanted you. How often have I looked at you like a hen would like to gather her chicks, I would like you to come home. That's a weak paraphrase. Even when He told the truth He did it in the context that "I want you to come home." "I want you to be mine."

How did He tell us the truth. Well, He told us about God. That's how He told us the truth. He explained God to us.

So what we gonna do today? Well, obviously the invitation is to tell the truth. Become a truth teller. Just make it a part of your nature, part of your character to be honest. Yeah, sometimes it's painful, sometimes you'd rather not, but tell the truth. You'd certainly rather people were truthful with you. Even when it hurts, you'd rather have the truth. So become a truth teller.

But the most important application is, make sure you're a truth teller with God. Make sure He knows what's in your heart. That if there's a place for repentance in you, then you take care of it between you and God. If there's a need for Christ in your life, then you take care of it between you and God, because that's the nature of this whole thing.

I was doing some looking this week about the Cassie Barnall thing because I just wanted to go back and review cause I knew I wanted to say something about her willingness to tell the truth.

I ran into a web site. A Bruce Monson. . . .I don't know who he is. He writes for an organization called Free Thought Fire Fighters. Don't know what that means either. Except that he's writing in response to a preacher who made this statement about the Wedgewood Baptist Church massacre a few years ago that it was God trying to get their attention.

This is Monson's response. "Yes, of course, this was all part of God's "higher good," just as Columbine here in Colorado was part of some "higher good" so Christians could make a martyr myth about Cassie Barnall that NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED! Jesus takes the lives of innocent people in dramatic, seemingly horrific, ways "so that others might be inspired by it and be saved!"

(You can hear the sarcasm in his voice.)

Well, if Jesus is willing to perform "miracles" that might require people to be murdered as part of his "master plan," then I would like to ask just one question, "why He will not (or cannot) perform like-minded "miracles" in the form of "resurrecting the dead" (just one!) In order that others "might be inspired by it and be saved?" Honestly, if the murder of innocent people in a church during Sunday services is enough to "bring thousands" to belief, then how many millions would be "inspired" and "brought to salvation" if, say, just one of those people killed in that massacre were to be suddenly resurrected from the dead?"

I have an answer for that question. NONE! 'Cause He's already done it.

He's already done it. He not only raised Lazarus from the dead, He raised Himself, or God raised Him from the dead and if His resurrection is not enough to convince you that you need Jesus, then having Him come in here and have Him resurrect somebody in front of you would not change your mind.

He came. He died and He was raised so that you could come into His presence and tell Him the truth. I am a sinner in need of help. Help me. That's the truth we're inviting you to tell Him today. That you're a sinner in need of help.

Let's stand.