Thou shalt not bear false witness. — Exodus 20:16
I try to come up with a different roll call question every time I take attendance in my class. Today, my question was: If you could be paid $100 per lie that you tell, and could be paid for up to 10 lies per day, would you become a liar for $365,000 a year? It was about an even split. Half said “yes,” and half said “no.”
At first, I was gasping inside my heart. Then I thought about how as a 7th grader or an 8th grader, I lied for free, so of course I would lie for $365,000 a year…I wouldn’t even have to change. Then, I thought about how even as a Christian I’ve done some pretty dishonest things. When I have to take classes for re-certification every 5 years, it is so tempting to find other people’s work who have already taken the class, and turn it in as my own…bearing false witness. Though it is tempting, I like to think I’m at a point now in my life where I’d rather be right with God and fail, than take any kind of “easy way” and not be right with Him. It really does expose the fact that there really is a broad way that leads to destruction, and a narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
Now, here is what I learned through asking this question. I can not change one of the hearts of my students about this matter. I can tell them it is wrong. Some of the students said they would not choose the life of a liar because it is “in the Bible” and “God says it is wrong.” Unfortunately, simply knowing this information does not change the heart of any sinner. I remember Tonya and I being on one of our Anniversary cruises. There was a comedian on the ship who had people raise their hands if they were married, raise their hands if they were single, and finally to raise their hands if they were “shacking up” with someone they were not married to. When several people raised their hands for this last one, he said “look children…sinners!” Everyone laughed. I couldn’t help but think that everyone laughed because they knew in their hearts it was wrong…just didn’t really care that it was wrong. Knowing that it is wrong to “shack up” and knowing that it is wrong to lie does not keep us from going ahead and doing it anyway. Yet, what many Christians and many churches do is point out sin and make judgments about people who sin instead of praying for hearts to change. This, in turn, drives sinners further and further away from the things of God because the whole “Christian life” seems impossible.
Here is the bottom line: God must change each person’s heart, or that heart will remain wicked. Upon asking Him into your life, I am convinced that the worst thing you can do is try really hard to change. On your own, you can’t stop lying, stop cheating, stop sleeping around, stop…well, sinning. The truth is, if you don’t really WANT to stop, you are certainly not going to stop because you HAVE to stop or because some preacher is in a pulpit badgering you with ought to’s and ought not‘s.
The person who has asked Jesus to forgive them has had the stink of sin removed from their lives. I believe this stink removal is His primary purpose for you and for me. You go from smelling repugnant to smelling like a rose. He can now spend time with you. Not only can He spend time with you, He wants to spend time with you. In fact, He wants to indwell you. Because of the atoning blood of Jesus, He literally places His Spirit inside of you. The only thing that you really have control of is the amount of time you spend cultivating your relationship with Him. Simply be still and know that He is God on a regular basis. You will not have to change yourself because over time He will change you. This change is the only way that I know for sure that I have truly been saved. The ways of my sinful nature have decreased, and the fruits of the Spirit have increased. In no way does this mean that I have “arrived” and can put it on cruise control until I enter Heaven. I am just now beginning to realize that this kind of heart change truly comes from God. I want so bad to want His Presence in and on my life more than I want anything else that this world has to offer. I don’t want to bear false witness and simply say I’m a Christian as I did for many years after my initial conversion.
I want to really be one.
Lord, help me be one!