Exodus 20:16 – “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor”
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”
Instead of bearing a false testimony as believers we should be:
- Bearers of Freedom and Truth
So, what do you do if you struggle with lying lips, well the cure is found in Ephesians 4:25 “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” The antidote to lies is to tell the truth. This is what I call a Replacing principle. Our problem is that instead of applying the replacing principle we try to use the removing principle. We focus on removing lies instead of replacing them with truth. God’s Word focuses on replacing lies with the truth, why because when you do you displace the lies. When you find yourself lying replace it with the truth. If I had a bottle of water that was only half full of water and the other half was filled with air how would I remove the air? The most effective way would not be to try and squeeze the air out but to fill it up with water. When I do there is no room for the air. The same is true with our lives we need to fill them up with the truth of God’s Word so that there is no room for the lies. Are there any lies in your life that need to be replaced by the truth? Truth is not only designed to help us walk right in a crooked world, but it can also set free other broken people and restore broken relationships. When we have relational rifts God’s Word calls the two parties involved to sit down and work it out with truth prevailing, but truth that is designed to heal not hurt. Matthew 18 prescribes a Godly process for dealing with brokenness in an honest way that will bring glory to God and restoration to our relationships. Yet rather than deal with relational rifts many of us avoided conflict, why because conflict is not comfortable. And as Americans many of us value comfort more that we do obeying Christ. Now while some are conflict avoiders’ others are conflict creators, they don’t just love drama they live for drama. When there are broken relationships we are called to the uncomfortable work of restoration. How do we do that, well look with me at God’s prescription for people peace in Matthew 18:15-17:
- Talk in Private
Our problem is that we want to talk about people instead of talking to people. This is Face to face communication not Facebook comments. Are you being confidential or carless, because being reckless and running your mouth rarely results in restored relationships. If you want to restore relationship then make it personal, go to the person. Is there anyone you need to talk to instead of talking about?
- Take others along
But only if they refuse to respond rightly. And we need to be careful who we take with. What’s the goal, restoration that means we need to choose mature believers not just people who will agree with us. They are witnesses to truth not your warriors to twist their arm and defend your feelings. Mature believers base their decisions on the bible not on feelings.
- Tell it to the church
Go to the Pastor and Elders of your church. But only after you have followed the first steps. Do you see how important restoring relationships are?
- Treat them as an unbeliever
If they still refuse to repent, we are to exclude them. This step can seem callous and uncaring because it is countercultural. But how much of what Christ taught was countercultural? Why does this command of Christ feel wrong to us because in our culture we tend to value the individual above the group, but the Bible values the community above the personal. Albert Mohler makes a painful point when he writes: “No longer concerned with maintaining purity of confession or lifestyle, the contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members with minimal accountability to God, much less to each other.”Why would we treat them like an unbeliever, because they are acting like one, refusing not just to listen to truth but to live it. The idea is that exclusion will cause the believer to repentant, in the meantime we are to wait with open arms ready to receive them as soon as they repent. Are you pursing this Matthew 18 principle or are you following the worlds way? Because when we follow God’s Word and do it His way, we see the power of truth to:
Notice the goal is to win them back not to win. Win them back to what, your way of thinking? NO, Win them back to the truth. So often we make the goal based on our feelings not the Father. It’s not about what I want but what Jesus wants. Our flesh wants to make it about us winning but the Father wants to make it about truth winning. Because when truth wins people are transformed, but when we win someone has to lose. What do you value more being right or restoring relationship? Winning or wining back? Are you focused on the temporary feel good of winning or the transformation of people being won over? If we are not careful, we will make it about the justification of our feelings instead of the transformation power of truth. But to be won over and restored there has to be repentance. Our problem is that we want repentance without restoration. But that is a false gospel. God calls us to deal honestly with one another and when we do, we will see a transformation not only in the Church but in our culture. The 9th commandment calls us to honor God by honoring the truth in ways that build up and not tear down. The fabric of all healthy relationships is woven with truth. Lying tears this fabric apart and so destroys all trust and confidence in one another. My prayer is that through God help we will speak the truth in love and raise the banner of honesty to the level of “normal” again. So that as His people we will bear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help us God! What about you is your talk one of truth or is it truth mixed with trash?