AGCC Sun. a.m. 7/15/2001
#2 (Proverbs Series - "7 Things God Hates")
TEXT: Prov. 6:16-17b; 12:22 Jer. 7:1-29
INTRO: Since the list of 7 things God hates seems to mention "lying" twice ... Prov. 6:17-19 "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" there must be some distinction between the two kinds of lies mentioned here.
The "lying tongue" involves unofficial lies ... the distortion of God's truth, the second about a "false witness pouring out lies" involves official lies to distort a brother or sister, to destroy a person.
God hates a "lying tongue" because it destroys God's truth. It is the lie that a man tells himself and others that allow him to avoid living for God properly. This is exactly what had happened to Judah in Jeremiah's day.
It doesn't take much "bending" to distort truth which alters the picture God has given us.
ILLUS:How terribly trick mirrors distort the countenance! The man who looks into one of them sees his hair disheveled, his forehead smudged, his nose blotched, his eyes out of line, and a dozen other imaginary mischiefs. Trick mirrors are like those morbid, melancholy dispositions which pervert everything into gloom, and compel the most lovely characters to write bitter things against themselves! They may also be likened to depraved judgments, which lead men to impute deformity to perfection, and to censure even innocence itself. It would be better if all these good-for-nothing mirrors could be smashed to atoms, and the truth-reflecting glass of the word of God hung up in their places. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
This makes our commitment to God's truth so critical, for if we fudge the truth of God's Word even a little bit the picture of God and His will for our lives becomes distorted, this can lead to a false view of living faith. Paul mentioned in Romans 1 that when mankind in antiquity knew God's truth they deliberately chose to believe a lie which then led to a distortion of everything good ... so much so that God finally gave them up to all kinds of lusts and shameful deeds. Obviously this is a long process, and that is why holding to truth is important for each generation in order to preserve future ones.
The mistake we often make about truth is that we feel we must always defend it, but sometimes we simply need to declare it, and live it! Truth is best defended when it is practiced.
ILLUS:A man can't always be defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it. -- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 11493.
PROP. SENT: The Bible declares the importance of TRUTH ... not only in God's Word, but from our tongue also. When we don't speak the truth we don't live the truth ... which leads to more and more brokenness with God. This is why God hates a "lying tongue."
I. TELLING LIES Jer. 7:1-4
A. Hype 7:1-2
1. Jeremiah is told by God to stand in the gate leading to the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
a. This would be the best place to speak to all the Jews who came to worship God, no one would be missed if he stood in the gate or entry.
b. They had learned to be religious without being godly!
c. While they came to God's house, they lived in sin and believed lies that distorted the true worship of God.
2. The nation of Judah like her sister Israel had started to believe distortions about God which gradually led them to live like the pagan nations around them -- yet all the while still being faithful to come to God's house.
a. Their lives in society were full of pagan ideas, sexual immorality was common, the worship of idols the norm, there were few of the 10 commandments that they held to, but they mystically thought that as long as they had God's house in their midst it was all ok.
b. They separated the house of God from the heart of God, the truth of God's covenant was exchanged for a bunch of lies, lies that said they could live like pagans but still enjoy God's blessings!
c. What about us today? Does much of our society today that claims to be so religious and even "born again" believers really live the truth of God's Word, or do we live one way during the week and another on Sunday?
d. This was a serious issue.
3. Their distortions of God's truth didn't happen overnight ... it was gradual.
a. We have a way of slowly changing the truth if we are not careful ... this is what a "lying tongue" is all about, the unofficial way we sometimes stretch the truth ... and when it happens with God's Word the results can be disastrous!
ILLUS:A fish seems to grow daily after the day it was caught. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).
b. This is why each generation and each believer must steadfastly adhere to God's Word so carefully, truth can be lost gradually!
4. We live in a world that likes to hype the truth, reinvent what is right by changing labels or renaming sin so that it sounds acceptable, but no matter what we call it, if God calls it sin it will always remain sin!
ILLUS:Lincoln was trying to make a point. His hearer was unconvinced and stubborn. So Lincoln tried another tack. He said to the disputer, "Well, let's see now. How many legs does a cow have?" The disgusted reply came back "Four, of course." Lincoln agreed, "That's right. Now, suppose you call the cow's tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?" The opponent replied confidently, "Why, five, of course." Lincoln came back, "Now that's where you're wrong. Calling a cow's tail a leg doesn't make it a leg!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 483.
B. Hypocrisy 7:3-4
1. While the people of Judah lived an immoral lifestyle they still attended faithfully the house of God.
a. The Babylonians were threatening their security ... ironically they were worshipping the Babylonian gods and goddesses along with the God of Abraham ... just felt they needed to be pluralistic and open minded ... accepting lies!
b. Their confidence wasn't in the truth of God's Word which they violated, it was in the physical presence of the House of God ... they assumed falsely that God would never let his physical house be destroyed no matter how they lived! Notice their false security in these verses: Jer 7:3-4 "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!"
2. They thought they were even fooling God Himself ... that all they had to do to keep God on their side was show up for the Temple worship and maintain His house ... they were only fooling themselves, not God!
ILLUS:A school principal received a phone call. The voice said, "Thomas Bradley won't be in school today." The principal was a bit suspicious of the voice. He asked, "Who is speaking?" The voice came back, "My father." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 288.
3. Their attempts to fool God only made them look foolish!
4. What God wanted was their commitment to Him and His ways, to abandon the idolatrous life they were now living, to abandon the compromises that had destroyed truth.
II. TRUSTING LIES 7:5-15
A. Hollow 7:5-8
1. Their sense of security was hollow ... their hope for God's protection can't be based on the temple of God being in the city, it could only exist if God was in their hearts!
a. God wanted their lives to line up with HIS truth, not the pagan idols.
b. It wasn't satisfactory enough to embrace the temple of God and compromise with the temples of idols.
2. They were playing games with God by refusing to see the truth, they were trusting in their own lies ... that they could live anyway they felt like living and yet feel secure in God's house being in their midst as security.
ILLUS:A little girl had developed a bad habit. She was always lying. Once when she was given a St. Bernard dog for her birthday, she went out and told all the neighbors that she had been given a lion. The mother took her aside and said, "I told you not to lie. You go upstairs and tell God you are sorry. Promise God you will not lie again." The little girl went upstairs, said her prayers, then came down again. Her mother asked, "Did you tell God you are sorry?" The little girl replied, "Yes, I did. And God said sometimes He finds it hard to tell my dog from a lion, too." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 287.
3. Truth does us no good if we say we hold to it but don't live it out, that is a hollow confession of faith.
B. Hurtful 7:9-15
1. They were endangering not only their own lives, but their children's life through their hypocrisy.
a. The Babylonians would soon come and destroy them and take them all captive ... they already worshipped the gods of the Babylonians.
b. The false prophets among them were telling them it was ok to worship Babylonian gods and goddesses as long as they also revered the Lord and was faithful to His house ... and they were trusting in these lies.
2. The false prophets had them convinced that they should be more open minded and not so narrow minded, but this lie would prove to be their undoing!
ILLUS:A clergyman took a seat in a dining car on a train traveling along the Hudson River. Opposite him was an atheist who, seeing his clerical collar, started a discussion. "I see you are a clergyman." "Yes," came the reply. "I am a minister of the gospel." "I suppose you believe the Bible." The clergyman, orthodox in his views, responded, "I certainly do believe the Bible to be the Word of God." "But aren't there things in the Bible you can't explain?" With humility the minister answered, "Yes, there are places in the Bible too hard for me to understand." With an air of triumph as though he had cornered the preacher, the atheist asked, "Well, what do you do then?" Unruffled, the clergyman went on eating his dinner--which happened to be Hudson shad, a tasty fish but noted for its bony structure. Looking up, he said, "Sir, I do just the same as when eating this shad. When I come to the bones, I put them to the side of the plate and go on enjoying my lunch. I leave the bones for some fool to choke on. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 43.
3. If they thought they were safe simply because they had the outward allegiance to God's house, or that God's house alone guaranteed their safety then they should look at what happened at Shiloh. 7:12-15
a. Though the tabernacle had been in Shiloh, when God's people had drifted away from God it did not protect them.
b. Shiloh had been destroyed because of Israel's unfaithfulness, and if Judah makes the same mistake of false confidence they would suffer the same fate.
4. It is not the building, it is the truth of God's Word we are to live by, not our feelings or what is politically correct.
5. Each compromise destroyed the truth they needed most!
ILLUS:When you add to the truth, you subtract from it. -- Talmud - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 11587.
6. The only guarantee of God's help is when we live by God's truth, anything else will prove hurtful.
III. TRAGIC LOSS 7:16-29
A. Horrible 7:16-20
1. They had strayed so far from the truth they wouldn't turn back anymore ... so God tells Jeremiah to stop praying for them!
a. Prayer can't do much if there is a stubborn refusal to see the truth!
b. What a tragic loss ... to basically give up on a generation here!
c. God would have to wait for another generation to cry out to Him and embrace His truth ... and ironically a future one would that didn't even have a Temple, for they would cry out to God from captivity.
2. We can be so accommodating with everything that we no longer feel strongly about the real truth!
a. "Tolerance" of lies is so pervasive in our culture today that it seems so narrow minded anymore to believe in absolute truths.
ILLUS:If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it. -- Thomas Carlyle, quoted by D.A. Wilson in Carlyle at His Zenith. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 13.
b. Of course the danger of embracing "everything" is that you don't believe anything anymore with conviction!
3. Their embracing of any belief system could be seen in everyday life, all Jeremiah had to do was look around him, to see what the children did, how the parents made sacrifices to Ishtar, called here the "Queen of heaven" ... a reference to the goddess of Babylonian's pantheon of gods.
a. Their everyday life gave proof of their lapse of God's truth, the compromises with the pagan culture around them could be seen in everyday life.
b. Their felt they could embrace it all and still be safe with God.
c. How wrong they are ... truth is truth, and must not be compromised.
4. God states here that it was not a matter of them provoking God to anger, they were harming and hurting themselves ... to their own shame! (7:19)
5. They were beyond seeing the truth anymore ... so involved with lies and what the false prophets were saying that they were comfortable with lies now.
B. Hopeless 7:21-29
1. Sarcastically, God tells them that they may as well go ahead and eat the meat sacrificed to idols and enjoy it, the idols won't!
a. God states that He attempted over and over again to send them prophets who would speak the truth to them, time and time again He tried to get through to them but they kept refusing.
b. Their stiff-necked approach would be costly.
2. Tragically, when the truth is finally seen in the end, when the Babylonians began breaking down their protective walls and killing them and taking them captive then they will cry out for God and He won't respond right off.
a. Truth cannot just be something convenient, it requires absolute commitment.
b. God says that "Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips." 7:28
3. Then God tells Jeremiah "for the Lord has abandoned this generation that is under His wrath."
a. They had strayed far enough and long enough from the truth that recovery was not possible at this time.
b. This is the last stages of a "lying tongue."
c. God clearly told them that all this could have been avoided ... if they had kept their tongues from lies.
4. All of this was no doubt a long process, slowly degrading of the truth of God in order to accommodate pagan thinking, and the more of them that believed the lies the easier it was for them to stick to them.
ILLUS:The truth of a matter is not determined by how many people believe it. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).
5. Truth could have saved them, whenever the Word of God is compromised you can be sure that distortion of all truth won't be far behind.
a. We must be a committed people to God's Truth ... not bending it to satisfy how we feel or how society feels.
b. God's power and blessings don't rest on us because we identify ourselves as Christians, only as we live as Christians, only as we adhere to truth, God's truth!
CONCLUSION: Telling a lie is itself sin, but a "lying tongue" is a way of lying or living a lie ... one that has built his or her life around lies. Satan is the father of all lies and he wants us to swallow his distortions on truth and God. God who hates a "lying tongue" does so because it is harmful and destructive when we abandon the truth. Our world is slowly accepting lies from Hell, do you practice and believe the truth?