Truth-telling and the New Nature

Now that we are back in the saddle, let’s return to our series on “Ephesians and Your New Reality” in which we are examining how the new spiritual reality of our identity in Christ (Ephesians chapters 1-3) can become our physical reality; i.e. how can it become our daily experience (Ephesians chapters 4-6).  When we left the topic a few posts ago, the apostle Paul was just explaining how to leave our old self behind and put on the “new self, which in the likeness of God, has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:24).

The rest of the book of Ephesians is focused on the specifics of living into our new selves.  Paul lays this out by reviewing what righteous behavior looks like informed by our new nature.  He starts in the very next verse with honesty.

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph 4:25).  While life will send us plenty of twists, turns, in-your-face complications, as well as subtle temptations, let’s start with this straightforward admonition.

When you face a fork in the road, a decision between lying and telling the truth, choose truth.  When a lie may be useful to smooth out a challenging situation, choose truth.  When your sales numbers are down and your boss is calling you for an update, choose truth.

Is it that simple?  Just choose truth?  No and yes.  No, we have enemies within (the flesh) and without (Satan and the world system) that can make “laying falsehood aside” a difficult path.  But there is also a yes; our new nature – empowered by the Christ within – that energizes our obedience.  Remember, our goal here is not to win a theological argument.  It is to find the power – not our willpower, but God’s resurrection power displayed in our new self – to make a thousand righteous choices.

And a beautiful piece of these New Testament admonitions is that they almost always come with a motivation.  We are to tell the truth, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because of lying’s detrimental effect on ourself and others.

First, Paul uses the motive of “lay aside the bad stuff and put on the good stuff” over and over in his letters to describe how we live into our new nature.  And he does that here with the instruction to “lay falsehood aside”.  We are to tell the truth because it is in our new nature to do so.  Lying does not fit your new identity, your new self, and needs to be laid aside.

Second, telling the truth builds up the body of Christ.  “We are members of each other” (Eph 4:25).  We are not islands where our personal sin and righteousness have no effect on those around us.  Truth telling and lying have tremendous consequence for how we connect as a body of believers.

If you cannot be trusted to tell the truth, you are going down a path of cutting off your chance to connect deeply with the body.  If you cry “wolf” too many times, you will not be believed.  If you lie about your accomplishments, any success of yours will be second-guessed.  If you are found to be a liar, your chance to influence others will disappear.  In short, you have burned the bridge of opportunity to connect and love and be loved in the body.  Truth telling is critical to maintaining a healthy and united community of faith.

Jesus is changing you from the inside out.  Lying is feeling more foreign to you as you mature in Him.  It is starting to feel as uncomfortable as that high school shirt that used to be your favorite, but that you have long since outgrown.  Lying gives you an uneasy, convicted feeling that something is not right, because it is foreign to your new identity in Christ.

Clothe yourself in honesty; in telling the truth.  It is not just for your own reputation, but a boost to your community of believers as well.  And by the Christ’s power, presence, and authority, you can do it; you can honor the Lord with your honesty.