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Why liars are bad

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (John 1:1)

Something true of God

The Gospel of John begins by explaining something about the nature of God, that the Logos was in the beginning, and the Logos was with God and was God.  This simple sentence was written against an ancient cult of pagans called Gnostics.  For those not familiar with the Gnostics, two keys to understanding them were their teachings that God is ultimately unknowable and that what is known of him is gained by intermediaries who can never accurately represent him.  By saying that the Logos came from God and was God and was made flesh to dwell among us, John set a bound where there could never by any compromise between Christianity and Gnosticism.  In so doing, he took ecumenical respect by the scruff of the neck and dropped it feet first into the plastic shredder.

If we lift John’s statement from its anti-Gnostic context, something important to morality is still standing there with its hand raised and clearing its throat for attention. It’s the nature of God to express himself by sending forth a word that discloses or reveals the Godhead.  The word represents God in a way that is unique to the Godhead, however, because when this word goes forth, all the fulness of the Godhead is there and goes with it.  (Col 2:9)  Thus, Jesus described himself as “proceeding” from the Father (Jn 8:42), or that he “came out” from God and “went forth” from the Father. (Jn 16:27-28; 17:8)  He always described himself as having been sent from the Father and repeatedly disclaimed any sort of independence.  The Father, he said, actually performed the works through Jesus because the Father dwelled in him. (Jn 14:10)

So there was a complete harmony between the Logos and the Father who sent him.  Whatever the Father is and was, Jesus perfectly and fully represented that, leaving nothing out, adding nothing, distorting nothing.  This is one of the shades of meaning behind Jesus’ well-known statement, “I am the truth…”. (Jn 14:6)  Or as John says it in his opening chapter, “he has declared him.” (Jn 1:18)  Even when Jesus was working for his dad in the carpenter shop, he was a working, living, breathing, thinking, personal declaration of God, and he was God.

What is true of man?

Man is made in the image of God and therefore has a unique ability to express himself in words.  Yes, I know advanced animal researchers like this expert have taught dogs to bark Jingle Bells.  But I’m talking about something higher level in which man is capable of uncorking what’s inside and sending forth a logos divulging it.  By the use of God’s gift of language, a human being can disclose his innermost soul to another soul so that they know and understand each other.  People can pass long mundane information (e.g., the stop light is red) or elevate it to lofty things such as truths about God.

But what do we have when people corrupt the gift of language with lies?  We have the image of God practicing deceit, and whereas Jesus the divine Logos perfectly represented the Father, liars run the other way and pollute the whole picture by using their own logos to do evil.  Lying is of course bad because the person being lied to gets deceived.  But lying is bad also because the person doing the lying is profaning God’s image in a particularly outrageous way.  Our God is a “God of truth” (Dt 32:4), and men are created for the purpose of pleasing him by showing forth his glory. (Rev 4:11)  So what is left of man’s whole purpose for existing if he indulges a habit of lying?

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