Craig Groeschel - Lying
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I hope you sing that song during the week because it kind of gets stuck in your mind. Welcome to part three of the message series called My Big Fat Mouth. Next week we will conclude this teaching series, and then two weeks from now we're gonna do something that we called trending truth, it's our second year to do this. It's the perfect weekend to bring someone that doesn't normally come to church. I'm going to take incredibly popular viral videos and use them to illustrate teaching from the Bible. It's fun, it's memorable, it'll touch your heart. That's in two weeks. Today I want to continue our message series called My Big Fat Mouth. We've talked about complaining. We've talked about criticizing. I'm gonna tell you a story to introduce this week's theme.
I've been married to Amy now almost 27 years. If you're new to the church, we actually have six kids, a basketball team with a sub at our house. And sometimes when I tell people that they get a little, I don't know, they're just surprised that we have so many kids. And so whenever I go speak somewhere, I have a little routine that I'll occasionally use. It's kind of funny, it'll kind of soften a crowd that may not know much about me and it kind of helps me settle in, and if you've been here a while, you've probably heard me do something, kind of my little funny routine about having six kids. It was really, really funny in my 30's. It was probably marginally funny in my early 40's. Now that I am a grandfather, the season of my humor about having six kids has probably run its course. Amy said to me, "You can't do that ever again. You're too old, it's not funny anymore. It was funny for a while, you're never allowed to do it again".
If you've never heard it, I'd love to do it now for you. But I said a little bit of it last night, and I'm not allowed to do it again today. That's why Saturday is smart, you have all of Sunday alone and you get to hear my messages unfiltered. After Saturday you get the Craig you can't say this again, you can't say this again, you can't say this again. And so I won't tell you my little routine, but it had something to do with people saying, like, "Do you guys know what caused that"? And we said, "Yes, we do, and we're unwilling to give that up," it had something to do with that. And it had something to do, and I really won't go into all of it, but like Amy being attracted to me and not leaving me alone, which is obviously a joke and stuff, but I would say things to her like, "I just want to cuddle, I just want to hold you. But you know how women are," so it's funny, if you know the routine, but I'm not gonna do it today.
So just so you know. I went to speak at this conference and it was a pretty big leadership event, in a stadium, maybe 14,000 people or so, and Amy said, "You have to promise me you will not do the six kids routine at the conference". And I said, "I won't, I've already given you my word, I won't do that anymore". And so I went to the conference fully planning on keeping my word. The problem is I said something in the middle of the talk about six kids and it was like autopilot. I didn't mean to, but the next thing you know, it was just like I was saying it, and then I forgot about it and totally thought she would understand or whatever. Well, she called a couple hours after my talk and said, "How'd it go"? I said, "I thought it was a pretty effective talk". And she said, "You didn't do that thing about the six kids, did you"? And I had a split second to make a decision. And I'm embarrassed to tell you that I just simply said to her, "No, nnnnoo, no, no". She said, "Are you sure you didn't do the six kids routine"? I said, "Yeah, relatively sure I didn't say this". And she said, "How come my Twitter feed is blown up with people saying that I can't keep my hands off of you"? And that would introduce our theme today on lying that I want to talk directly with you about.
Let me get a show of hands, all of our different churches, I need somebody from Wellington, Florida, somebody from Albany, New York, somebody from Wichita, Kansas, somebody from South Tulsa, Oklahoma, how many of you would say that you've told a lie in the last 24 hours? Raise your hands, raise your hands. Leave 'em up, leave 'em up, leave 'em up. I want you to look at everybody's who does not have their hand up in the air and say, the odds are you're actually lying. That's the odds, I'm not saying for sure, but the odds are if you didn't say you told a lie you're actually probably lying, because studies show that the average person actually lies about four times a day, about four times a day. There's one study done by the University of Massachusetts that says that 60% of people cannot meet a new person and have a 10 minute conversation without telling at least one lie. You can't meet, 60% of us can't meet someone new and have a 10 minute conversation without telling a lie, which is exactly why this is going to be a nine minute message to make sure that I don't tell a lie in the middle of a message on lying.
How do you think, we gotta laugh about the humor behind it, but how do you think God feels about lying? Let me show you exactly how our God feels. Proverbs 12:22 tells us this, that the Lord what? Let's say it aloud, "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth". The Lord detests when we lie, but he rejoices or delights when we tell the truth. In fact, the Hebrew word that's translated as detests, the Lord detests lying, comes from the word tow' ebah, and it means something disgusting, it means an abhorrence or an abomination, it means something that makes one nauseous. When we lie, you could imply, that this literally makes God nauseous, he hates it, he detests lying lips. I like the richness of this text the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:21 and following, he says this. He says, "Since you heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead," he says, "let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy".
Now watch what Paul says. "So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we all parts of the same body". Throw off that old nature, since you know about Christ, let him renew your thoughts and your attitudes. Stop telling lies. I heard an old southern preacher one time say, "You may never be more like the devil then when you're telling lies". Pretty powerful, except when he said it it was much more old southern preacher talk. "You may never be more like the devil then when you're tellin' lies"! I wish I could do that, it would be so awesome, it would be so awesome, I'm just not that guy. You may never be more like the devil then when you're telling lies. Jesus apparently might agree with this statement. This is what he said in John's gospel, the 8th chapter, verse 44. He spoke of the devil and said that "The devil was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When the devil lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies".
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why God hates lying so much, because his spiritual enemy, our enemy, the prince of darkness, the great deceiver, his number one weapon is to lie, to deceive, to take us away. Jesus is the truth, the truth sets us free. The devil is a liar and he uses the lies to take us out of the freedom of God's truth. In fact, I want to show you briefly what I believe is our enemy's three point plan when it comes to lying. What is the devil's plan when he speaks his native language to coerce us away from the truth of Jesus using his great weapon, the lie? What does he want you to do? Three things, number one, I believe Satan wants to get you to lie. At it's foundation to just start you speaking his native language, speaking the language of our enemy by getting you to lie. It could be something as simple as exaggerating a story to make yourself look better. It could be cheating on a test. It could be lying about where you were.
Really, Mom, I was at my friend's house, or whatever. It could be making up something about someone that you don't like and figure it's kind of maybe partly true. It might be telling partial truths. You're not telling everything but you're just telling the story in the way that it makes you look better. It might be saying things like, and then I said to her, "You cannot talk to me that way, and I pulled her aside and I said, If you ever do that again, let me tell you what I'm gonna do to you". And then sometimes you just want to say, "Did you really say that"? And if they were honest, they'd say, "Well, I said it in my head, they're lucky I didn't say it, I was thinking it". But it's exaggerating. It's amazing how often because of our sinful nature we will choose to speak the devil's language and lie. I wish I could sit here and tell you that I never do this, but it's shocking to me on things that won't matter occasionally I'll find myself just telling a lie and speaking the devil's language.
I'll give you one of the most embarrassing ones, it's kind of funny, but it's really tragically sad. I served on a board for a while with a lot of my kind of leadership heroes. There was the guy that invented DSL on this board. There was the guy that created the credit card swipe. There was the guy who's written probably 15 or 20 books on organizational development and leadership. I read them all, brilliant guy. There is the most published author on leadership in the history of the world. This was a stacked board of some of the greatest business leaders, and I guess I was like the token preacher, you know, you gotta have one on this type of board, and so I was the token pastor. Well, we were having one of the board meetings and I couldn't make this meeting in California because of my schedule, so all the other board members were there in a room and I called in for the meeting.
Well, this meeting was long, after an hour, hour and a half, two hours, I decided just to quietly go out into my garage and grab a little workout while the board meeting was still going. Just grab a little workout, and so I was really careful to put the mute button on whenever I was doing lat pull down on my little home machine. So I hit mute, I go, and then I'd unmute and say, "Well, that's a really good thought, I think that's a good idea," mute, and then I'd do it again. Everything was working on plan, until evidently I forgot to hit the mute button. I pulled down, pulled down the second. About that time I heard the voices go silent on the other end, I looked down, my phone was not muted, I panicked, let the weights fall, and there was this loud crashing on the phone. All the other board members seemed disturbed and they said, "Pastor Craig, Pastor Craig, are you okay, are you hurt, what's going on, is everything fine"?
And I tried to coverup my breathing from being out of breath from doing that and I said back to them, "I'm fine, are you okay? I heard something horrible, I'm worried about you all"! That really happened. At the next meeting face to face I said, "Guys, I just need to apologize and ask for your forgiveness because I lied to you. That whole noise thing, I was working out". And they all sat there and looked at me like, "Uh, yeah, we're all in the same room and the noise came from somewhere else. We knew you were lying. Pastor Craig". You know, we kind of laugh about that, but the tragedy is that we give in to Satan's schemes and end up speaking his native language. And we laugh about it and it's just kind of maybe four times a day on average we speak the devil's native language. What does he get us to do?
Number one, he gets us to lie. Number two, the devil, I believe, gets you to lie to yourself. He gets you to lie to yourself, not just to lie to others, but to lie to yourself, what do you do? You start rationalizing your lies. Occasionally, you might even double down on your lies. You start to tell another lie to cover up the previous lie, and then before long you start to believe the lies. There are some of you, you've lied so much to others you're starting to believe the lies, even to the point where you've rationalized out your own sinfulness. You say, "Well, I'm not that bad," and "It's not that big of a deal. I can quit at any time," and "I'm not hurting anybody," and "It's not my fault," and "I'm just a victim, it's everybody else's fault, it's not my fault". And what happens? You're not just lying to others, but now you're lying to yourself.
This is exactly what King David did in the Old Testament when he thought he was above the rules, he wasn't at war where he was supposed to be, he was up on a rooftop one night and he saw a woman naked, bathing, next to him. The Hebrew word is the word ra'u, and you pronounce it this way, it means to see, he saw her, ra'u, he went, "Ra ah ah ah ah ah ah ah". That how you pronounce it, that's what he did. He saw her and he said to his servant, "Go get her". He brought the woman to King David, David committed adultery with this woman, and then he started lying to cover up his sin and another lie and another lie and devised this plan basically to trick and to cover up his sin by bringing her husband back. When the husband didn't give in to his plan, he essentially put Uriah, the husband, out on the front lines to have him killed in battle.
Later on the prophet Nathan approached King David, and Nathan said to David, "Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a very rich and powerful man who had more wealth and herds and animals than you could imagine. And there was this very poor man who had only one little lamb, and his kids loved this lamb and it was like a little pet to this man. And one day when a hungry person came to the rich guy's house, instead of killing one of his own animals to feed the hungry man, he took the poor guy's only lamb, killed it, and fed it to this hungry guy". And David looked on and he was furious. He burned with anger and he said, "That's the worst thing I've ever heard. This rich man should be put to death. He must pay for this, this is a horrendous crime". And Nathan looked at David and said, "Atta ish," in Hebrew that means "you are the man".
Some of you today, let me warn you, the Holy Spirit may speak to you and say, "Atta ish," you are the man, or "Atta isha," you are the woman. You are the one who have been lying to others. Now you're lying to yourself. You've deceived yourself and you are living apart from God's truth. What does our enemy want to do? He wants us to speak his native language. He is the father of lies, there is no truth in him. If he can convince you of a lie, even in your own life, he can take you away from the truth of God's word. What does he want to do? Number one, get you to lie. Number two, get you to lie to yourself. And number three is his masterpiece, and this is when he gets you to live a lie, to live a lie. To claim one thing but to be something entirely different.
And let me just say, obviously, this is not all of you. But unquestionably this is some of you. Unquestionably, this is some of you. Living a lie. It could be you're mister Christian guy to most people that know you, but you're a raging porn addict when you're all alone. It could be that you show the perfect life on Instagram. Look at this, and here's my new kicks, and here's my vacation, but inside you battle with depression and feelings of meaningless every single day of your life. You might be Pinterest mom to everybody else. They match and everything's homemade and the house looks perfect and inside you feel lonely, you feel desperate, and you feel uncomfortably depressed. It might at Life Group, everyone thinks you have the perfect marriage. You guys act the part, look the part, and then you go home and you sleep in separate beds.
There are those of you right now that if it is incredibly quiet because you feel uncomfortable, you probably should feel a little bit uncomfortable as the Holy Spirit works on you and says, atta ish, atta isha, this is actually you. The devil wants us to tell lies. The devil wants us to believe our own lies. The devil wants us ultimately to live a lie. This, quite honestly, and if it doesn't feel serious yet, this is where it might even feel more serious. This is one of my greatest fears. The devil is the deceiver, and what I'm really, really afraid of is that there are many of you at our different churches that are deceived into believing that you are a Christian when you may not be one at all. That you go to church every now and then and you're not a Muslim, you're not a Buddhist, so you must be a Christian, but when you really, really look at your life, there's no evidence of spiritual fruit or anything different from this world. And this is my, honestly, this keeps me awake at night, if there's anything as a pastor, like praying, dear God, don't let me shepherd people who don't recognize their need for Christ every single day.
This is what John said, First John 2:4 about lying. Here's what he said, he said, "Whoever says, I know him," whoever says, "I know God," "but doesn't do what he commands," there's no obedience, there's no life change, there's no fruit, we're not saved by our works, we're saved by grace, but grace leads to works. When we know God, suddenly we are different. If we say, "I know God," but we don't resemble Christ, we don't do what he commands, "this person is a liar and the truth is not in this person". And the reason I'm so aware of this is because this was me growing up. This was my family, we were in church, but we were not followers of Jesus. We called ourselves Christians because we weren't anything else because we were Americans, we must be Christians, that's kind of how I grew up. But we were not obedient, there was no spiritual fruit, we were deceived and we were lying to ourselves. And, honestly, that's my great fear. Are there those of you who say, "Hey, I'm not a bad person, I'm okay," but the truth is not in you? It's the devil's native language to get us to lie.
Why do we lie? For me, I like to try to get beneath the surface and try to get to the roots. In our Life Groups this week, this is one of the things we're gonna talk about is why we actually lie, because many of us, we lie for different reasons. For example, Amy, she'll lie to protect your feelings. Or she'll lie to make you feel better. Me, obviously, I'm more self-centered in my lies. I'm gonna lie to make myself look better. I'm not so worried about you, I'm trying to cover my own tracks, so we lie for different reasons. Why is it that you lie? When you recognize the root reason, then you can bring truth to the root and find healing. When I really thought about it in my prayer time this week, here's a statement that I actually believe is true for most of us. The root reason, if you're taking notes, the root reason most of us lie is because we don't completely trust God. The root reason most of us lie is because we don't completely trust God. We believe the lie that our lie will work better than the truth, what do we tend to think?
Well, the lie might keep me safe. If I tell a lie, then I won't get in trouble. But suddenly when we lie we're actually not safe because we're trying to build a life on lies, and that is much, much difficult than it is to build it on the truth. It may be that we think if I tell a lie you might like me better. The problem is then we have a relationship built on lies. We might think, if I tell a lie, it's gonna lead to avoiding conflict. But the truth is that sometimes the best relationships are on the other side of working through conflict. At its root we tend to believe that our lies work better than God's truth. The reason why many of us lie is because we ultimately don't trust God. Let's make it as simple as we can. Who is the devil? He is the father of lies. What is his native language? It is lying, his greatest tool is to deceive us away from truth. We believe truth is a person. He has a name, his name is Jesus. The truth, Jesus said, "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," John 8:32.
When you know the truth, the truth will set you free. Lies bring bondage, the truth brings freedom. Lies bring bondage, the truth brings freedom. And Satan wants us to tell a lie, to believe the lie, and ultimately to live the lie. Jesus wants us to walk in the truth, to experience the truth, and the truth will ultimately set us free. Satan has a plan, get you to lie, get you to believe the lie, get you to live a lie. God has a plan, it's simple, it's powerful, and it's freeing, what is his plan? Our plan is simply this, that we confess to God for forgiveness, and we confess to people for healing. This is what we do, we confess our sins, our lies, to God for forgiveness, and then we confess to people for healing. First John 1:9 says this, "If we confess our sins before God," what is he? "He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness".
I love this, when we confess to God, what does he do? He cleanses us, he forgives us, he separates our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He doesn't hold them against anymore. He cleanses us and purifies us from all unrighteousness. Somebody may want to give him a little bit of praise today for a good God who because of his Son Jesus washes over our sins. We confess to God not so much for his sake, for our sake. He already knows we've sinned. We confess to him saying, "I need your forgiveness" and we receive his grace. But that's only a portion of the life transforming power of confession, and this is where many people stop and this is why so many people don't find the freedom and the healing that God's word teaches us that we can have. What do we do? We confess to God for forgiveness, but then there's a second layer of confession, and this is why we do life together in community in small groups. We don't just confess to God for forgiveness, but then we confess to people for healing.
And this is what James said. James says we confess our sins to one another, and we pray for each other, watch, that we what? That we may be healed. We confess to God for forgiveness, but we confess to people for healing. And that's where the healing power begins. In fact, I want to tell you a story that I've never, ever told publicly before in the history of doing ministry. And I tell this with full permission from the people that are involved. And I hope it means as much to you as it does to me. I've had a workout partner now for about 25 years. Who knows his name, you know his name? Paco, if you've been here for a while, you've heard me talk about Paco. Paco's not his real name, his real name's John, but anytime dudes get together, if you're really good friends, you've gotta have a nickname. His name is Paco, my name is Paco. I know that's weird, but that's just the way we roll. Okay, that's just the way we roll.
Paco, none of you would know this, was actually our very first youth pastor. 21 years ago when we started the church, Paco was our volunteer youth pastor. And the guy was an amazing youth pastor. He had never done it before, but he loved students and he loved teaching the word and he was fantastic at what he did. Well, before Paco came to Christ, he and his girlfriend were not Christians and so they had no standards for sexual purity, so they did what you would expect a non-Christian couple to do when they were dating. Well, then they both became Christians and he recognized we're not gonna do that anymore and we're gonna honor God with purity and if we get married the party's on again, but until then we're not gonna do this anymore. And so John's the youth pastor, he's living pure, and one day, evidently, he crossed a line with his girlfriend. And if you've ever done something like this and you take righteousness seriously, you know how this weighs on you. And you know what goes on in your mind. It's something like, well, maybe if I don't tell anybody. But then what happens is the guilt just kind of presses down on you.
Well, John knew enough to know that he needed not just only to confess this to God, but he wanted to confess it to me. And so he told me later on, he said, "I knew that whenever I told you this I was gonna lose my job". He said, "I was afraid that I might lose my friendship with you" because he said he let me down. So we went to a little drive-in restaurant and we were sitting in his car and he looked over and said, "I have something to tell you and this really hurts me to tell you". And I watched a man more repentant than I think anybody that I'd ever seen before. And he just told me, "I know I can't be the youth pastor anymore and I hope this doesn't rob us of our friendship, and I'm sorry".
And he was totally and completely broken. And I made a decision in that moment, I don't know what I'd do today, but in that moment I stand by this decision. I said, "First of all, I forgive you and God forgives you. And you said you can't be the youth pastor anymore". And he said, "Obviously, I can't be the youth pastor anymore". I said, "I'll tell you what, I need you to promise you won't do that again". He said, "No, I won't," and he didn't, they never did, until they got married and now, evidently, I'm assuming they probably do, haven't asked. Actually, maybe we have, because we're guys, we talk about those things, I just lied in a lying sermon. But I told the truth. And I said, "John, I need you to get a message ready for the students on Wednesday night". He said, "How can you let me do that"? And I said, "I don't think I've known anybody more ready to minister the grace of God than you are right now. I need you to go be a great youth pastor".
And that's where the healing took place. There was healing. We confess to God for forgiveness. We confess to each other for healing. What's amazing now about John is he's one of three men that are my go-to guys. Anytime that I'm tempted to walk the wrong way, anytime I do something and need someone to confess to, he's one of three men that for over a couple of decades I'm able to go to, and guess what we find? We find healing, we find healing. There are some of you right now, you are carrying a lie. You may be living a lie, you're believing a lie. How's that feel, man? It's like the worst thing ever, the oppression, the guilt, the fear. Well, what would it be like to wake up and say, I've got no secrets, I'm completely free. I've been completely forgiven. Listen, the devil is a liar. When you lie, you speak his native language. He wants to get you to lie, to believe the lie, and ultimately to live a lie. But when you confess to God, he forgives you. When you confess to people, you find healing. The devil wants you to lie, which leads to bondage. Jesus wants you to experience truth, which leads to freedom. Bondage or freedom, bondage or freedom. Lies or truth, when you know the truth, the truth will set you free.
So, Father, today I pray that by the power of your Holy Spirit, God, that you would unleash truth in our souls, that we would have the courage, God, to confess and admit when we've lied, when we've sinned, when we've strayed against you. And God, we thank you that you will forgive us and we thank you that one step beyond we find healing in your family as we confess to one another. I cannot wait to see, God, what you do this week through life groups as there's true and appropriate confession in the right context, God, to bring healing because of your grace.
All of our churches, as you reflect in prayer today, those of you who would say, yes, I recognize because of my sinful nature I don't always tell the truth, but I want to be a truth teller, I want the truth to dwell in me, I want to be a person of truth. I hope that's all of you, would you lift up your hands right now and say, yes, that's me.
Father, I thank you today that your Holy Spirit is working. God, I thank you that the truth sets us free. I pray, God, every single time that we're tempted to tell a lie, God, we're tempted to exaggerate, tempted to tell the story in a way that makes us look better and makes us feel better that we would pause and just remember we're not speaking our enemy's language. We want truth, God, lead us in truth. Renew our minds with truth, help us walk in truth. Help us to represent your truth, God. Help us to experience your truth, because when we know the truth, the truth will set us free. God, for those who may be living a lie, I pray that you would lead them to the appropriate people in the right context, to the appropriate people in the right context, God, to open up, to come clean, and to find healing in your Son Jesus. Give them the courage, God, for those who may be on the receiving end of a confession, I pray, God, that there would be grace as we have been forgiven, God, as we have been forgiven, so help us to show that same grace to others.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, there may be some of you, you're gonna become aware of just what I was, I called myself a Christian but I was not, the truth was not in me. There was no real evidence. I had some head knowledge about who Jesus was, but my heart had never been transformed by his grace. There are others of you, other people look at you, they say, "Yep, you're not a Christian at all". But there's something happening today, there's something that's drawing you toward the things of God, you may not even be sure what that is, let me tell you what it is. It's the truth of the love of God and it's his loving Holy Spirit that's reaching out to you, drawing you, pulling you, luring you toward him to come just as you are.
So often we think, well, I gotta clean up my life first. I gotta kind of get better first. No, you come to Jesus exactly as you are. Jesus is the truth, he is the Son of God who was born without sin, never, ever sinned, lived a perfect life. He became sin for us on the cross. Died in our place for the forgiveness of our sins. Rose again, why? So that anyone, and this includes you, who would call on his name would be saved. Every sin you've committed forgiven by our God. New, the old is gone and everything becomes new. At all of our churches there are those of you, you recognize you need his grace. You're not here by accident, you're not watching by accident, you need the grace of Jesus. Maybe you thought you were a Christian, you realize I am not, I'm not gonna live in the lie. Maybe you look like you're far from God, but no one knows, you're actually one step away from the grace of Jesus and that's why you're here today.
All of our churches, you need him. You're turning from your sin, you're turning toward Jesus. You sway, I call on him, I need his salvation today. At this moment I give my life to him. If that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now. All of our churches say yes, that's me. Right here in this section, praise God for you. Right back over here in this section as well. Others of you lift up your hands high. Right back over here, bless you. Others say yes, Jesus, I surrender to you. I trust my life to you. Back here in this middle section as well. God bless you guys. Church online, you click right below me. Would you all join your voices together with those around you, pray aloud.
Heavenly Father, I give you my life. Forgive me of my sins. Jesus, make me new. Fill me with your Spirit so I could know you and follow you and live for you. Help me to walk in truth, to speak your truth, to show your truth. My life is not my own, today I give it to you. Thank you for new life, now you have mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.