12 “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ 13 “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the LORD. 14 “But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.”
We’ve grown to accept lying as part of our culture in society. While we don’t like it, we don’t work very hard to not do it. We have put mechanisms in our legal system to prevent lying on a grand scale, but we have become accustomed to white lies, not telling the whole truth, and swindling our way through life. We even tell “white lies” which supposedly don’t hurt anybody. In Acts 5, Luke records a situation that highlights the seriousness of lying to God, even if it is over something foolish:
1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
God takes lying very seriously. Quite frankly, lying to God is one of the most foolish things we can do because He knows the truth anyway. Is there anything more maddening and hurtful in a relationship than someone who lies to your face when you know the truth? This damages the relationship on both sides. The one being lied to cannot trust the liar and the liar now has to continually work to keep the lie looking like it is the truth.
We’ve already looked at God’s kingship over us and how disrespectful (and pointless, really) it is to offer halfhearted offerings to Him and grow weary of worshipping Him in our laziness. We defile the altar of our hearts when we grow faint in worshipping God with all we are. In Romans 12 Paul says:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
He is encouraging us to worship God with all we have and all we are. By doing this, we are being transformed and refusing to conform to the pattern of this world which is lying, cheating, stealing, and being lazy. God would prefer us to be 100% honest with Him than give Him fake worship. By being honest with Him we grow in our relationship with Him and He will strengthen us in our weakness. When we are too tired to honor Him, He will give us what we need to do so. When we don’t have the words to say, He will fill our mouths with words of praise and worship. When we are honest with God, we will learn how to be honest with others and will not be afraid of the truth. In John 8, Jesus is teaching his followers about the ultimate truth and the freedom of remaining in it. He teaches us that if we hold fast to His teaching, we will live in the truth and we will be free as a result:
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus came to set us free. He didn’t just come as a sacrifice to give us a ticket to heaven. He came so that we would have life and have it abundantly. He came so that aside from cleansing the eternal ramifications of our sinfulness, we could also live free from it today. Sins bind us to this world; His redemption sets us free to not sin any longer. Don’t you want to live in that freedom?