Robert Morris — The Principle of Honesty
We're in a series called, "Relationship Through God's Top Ten" and what I'm doing is I'm looking for the principle that's behind each of the Ten Commandments, the principle of relationship. I believe God gave us the Ten Commandments for a couple of reasons, but one of those reasons is for us to be able to have a better relationship with Him and a better relationship with others, all right? So, the ninth commandment is Exodus 20:16, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor". "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor".
Now, many times we shorten this to you shall not lie, and that's okay. That's the gist of it. But, I think we really need to look at what the actual commandment is and talk about it for a moment. And, I want to clarify something, that your neighbor, in Scripture, is not the person that lives beside you. It's any person you come in contact with, and here's how I know that, because Jesus said... they said, what's the most important commandment? And He said, "Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself", and they said, who is our neighbor? And He told the famous story of the good Samaritan, and it's basically whoever you come in contact with. A guy's just walking down the road and comes in contact with a person who needs help, and He says that's your neighbor. Okay? So, this is everyone.
Then I want you to notice about this. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor". I want you to remember that God was establishing a society, a civilized society. We're looking at the principles behind the commandments, but these Ten Commandments are the foundation for a civilized society. A civilized society is a society that is governed by moral laws. That's why, by the way, it's important what laws our government passes, whether they're moral or not. And you say, well, what is morality? And I don't want to get into a long thing on this, but morality is not subjective. It is not whatever you think is right. There has to be absolutes. There has to be an objective morality, and that morality is based on the Bible, on God's Word.
So, we have to have an absolute to base that morality on. But, this was a legal commandment. You have to know it. He's actually saying, when you go to court, don't perjure yourself. That's really what He's saying. Bear false witness. Bear means testify, or answer. When you're asked a question, answer. False means, of course, false or lying, and witness means testimony. Don't give... when you're asked a question, do not answer with a lying testimony. That's really what He's saying.
So, you need to understand that there was a moral code that God was trying to implement through the Ten Commandments. But as I've said on many commandments, I'm not that concerned that you are going to lie under oath and send someone to the electric chair. I'm not that concerned that some of you are going to murder people, or commit adultery, or set up wooden idols in your homes and bow down and worship them. But I'm concerned that all of us violate the principle that's behind the commandment. So, the ninth commandment, I believe, is the principle of honesty. I think God is trying to put in us to be honest.
When I was in my 20s, the first time I ever went through what we would call freedom ministry, they gave us a little booklet that kind of helped you repent. And it had questions in it like, is there anyone you need to forgive? And it just had beside it, yes or no. It didn't say, like one of the questions would be like, have you had impure sexual thoughts, yes or no? It did. You couldn't put sometimes, or once. You know, you couldn't... just yes or no.
And then, there was a question that I want to show you, and I love the way they phrased it, so I want to show it to you. Look at this question. It says, are you a liar? Be honest. Because I remember, as soon as I saw that, are you a liar, I was ready to say no, and then it said, be honest, and I couldn't put sometimes! Sometimes I have a tendency to exaggerate. Sometimes I tell stories that favor me a little more. Are you following me? I think we've got to come to the place with sin that we call sin, sin. And, that's what I think that the ninth commandment is about.
So, I want to give you three simple ways to develop honesty in your life to a greater degree, a greater level, than you have now. Here's number one. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself. Now, I told Debbie, when I was preparing this message, I think this might be one of the most difficult messages I preach, because dishonest people are dishonest. Now, what I mean by that is, I can be preaching on dishonesty, and they've convinced themselves that they're not dishonest. As a matter of fact, the hardest people to help are dishonest people, people who won't be honest with themself.
I've even told Debbie, I can't help that person because he won't be honest about himself. It's never his fault, can't pin him down, he's always got an excuse or a reason, and there's just no way to help him. I'll tell you something, too. God won't help you if you won't be honest about yourself. And here's the problem, though. What I've found is that some people are so hurt and so wounded by their past that they've not experienced the healing that God has for them yet, that they have to be dishonest almost about themselves, because they can't face the truth.
You've met people like this. You say to someone, you made a mistake on that report you turned in. And they say something like, yes, I know, I'm a terrible person. Now, I didn't say you were a terrible person. I said you made a mistake on a report you turned in. Have you ever dealt with someone like that? And, they're such a perfectionist that they can't admit fault. They can't admit when they've done something wrong, and I'm telling you, if you can't be honest about mistakes, you're never going to get free.
I told you a few weeks ago how I told Debbie, you know, I have a problem. When I was in my 20s, again trying to get so many things straightened out in my life, I said, I have a problem, you know, looking sometimes at women. I shouldn't look. You know, help me with this. You know, and she said, I will, you know, and she did. And so, but anyway, but on this I decided the same thing. I thought, I have a tendency to exaggerate. And so I said to her, I have a tendency to exaggerate. We like saying that better than lie. I'm a liar. But I said, I have a tendency to exaggerate, so will you help me? She said, yes, I'll help you.
So back then, remember, I traveled and preached revivals and things like that at churches. And so, we were leaving a church one time and she said, hey, you asked me to help you, you know, when you exaggerate, and I feel like you exaggerated in the message tonight. And I said, really? I said, well, what did I say? She said, well, you said that last week in the revival there were 200 people saved, and there were 7. Thank you. But it started helping me! I actually started underestimating crowds and decisions.
And please hear me. You can do this and people will be gracious if you'll say, when you catch yourself exaggerating, if you'll say, no, no, wait. I'm sorry, that's not right. Have you ever done that or you ever had someone do that? You don't get mad at them for that. You just say they're trying to be here. So, when you catch yourself doing it, be accountable to some other people. Be honest with yourself. If you catch yourself, just say, oh, I'm sorry, that's not right. But, we've got to learn to be honest in everything we say and everything we do, and it starts with being honest with yourself.
Here's point number two. Be honest with others. Be honest with others. Have you ever been talking to someone and the person say, well, to be honest with you? Doesn't that bother you? To be honest with you... what? Or, here's one. I'm going to be honest with you now. Now? What have you been? I'm going to be honest with you. Now, again, it's an expression, and some of you might have this expression. I'd change it if I were you. Because you don't want to say sometime, now I'm going to lie to you. I've been honest, but now I'm going to lie.
Let me show you how far God takes this being honest with other people. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another". "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed". Okay, why did He have to say that? I mean, why doesn't the Bible say confess your sins to God only, under your breath? Make sure no one hears, and make sure you don't have a microphone on at the time. Confess your sins only to God. Why would He say, "Confess your sins to one another"? Because of humility and accountability. It's called being honest with others so they can be honest with you.
Here's the other thing you do. You bring it out of the darkness into the light. It's one of the best things you can do, is to get honest with someone else. I told you a moment ago, I can't help people who are dishonest. And what I've found out is that some people are so wounded that they just cannot look at themselves honestly, but I've also learned some more.
Dr. Henry Cloud, who's been here, wrote a book called "Necessary Endings". If you're in any type of management or leadership, you ought to read the book, because he said any time you're dealing with people, or overseeing people, leading people, you need to know what kind of person you're dealing with. And he talks about three types of people that the Bible talks about - wise, foolish, and evil, and you need to decide which one that person is, wise, foolish, or evil.
Let me tell you, a wise person, you can correct. Correct the wise man and he'll be wiser still. You can correct the wise man. As a matter of fact, when you take the truth to a wise person, he will adapt himself to the truth. He'll say, this is the truth and I'm going to change to line up with the truth. And, he'll actually thank you. He'll thank you. But, not a foolish person. A foolish person will make excuses. A foolish person, many times, will turn it around on you. A foolish person will actually adapt the truth to himself. They'll say, well, now that's not actually the way it happened, and da-da-da. And, he won't receive it.
Proverbs 9:8 says, "Do not correct a scoffer", a foolish person, "lest he hate you. Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you". So, what I found out is that there are just some people, they're foolish. And by the way, here's what Henry says. You cannot correct them with words, you can only correct them with consequences. Well, I'm telling you, the bottom line is you have a dishonest person. He has something in his life that he cannot be honest about. And so, he can't be honest about himself. By the way, an evil person you reject after the second warning.
Titus 3:10 says, "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition". The word admonition means warning. So if you have a person who's just downright evil, you get rid of them. You can't work with a person like that. So, here's what I'm saying. Start getting honest with people. Please. This is a principle... you can't imagine the freedom that comes in your life. You don't have to be two people anymore. You can't imagine how many people are two people. They're one public, they're one private. That's a dishonest person. You don't have to be dishonest anymore, just be who you are. Let God help you. Let someone else help you.
When I talk about being two people, there was a pastor friend of mine one time that had an immoral failure. And so, I met with him to help him after this, and the Lord gave me, I feel, a revelation. And so I said to him, you know how we talk about two people, like one public, one private? And he said, yes. I said, well, I think the Lord showed me that it's like, three of you. Now, I'm not talking about multiple personality or anything like that. I'm just talking about... just listen to the analogy.
I said, there's like three of you. I said, one is a man who loves God and loves his family, and I've known that guy for years and years and years. And I know that he's there. He's in there, I know it. The other man is a man who fell and got caught in immorality, and wants to get free. But the third person is a liar and a deceiver. He's been lying to his wife, and he's been lying to me. He's been lying to his friends. And I said, I need you to understand something. I can help the first two. I can't help the third one. This one has to die. If you continue to lie to me, or if you continue to lie to your wife during this process, you'll never be restored. I can't restore you. That person has to die, but I can help the other two people. And by the way, great news. He was honest with me, honest with his wife, honest with an accountability group, and he's restored now and pastoring again. You have to get honest.
So, be honest with yourself, be honest with others, and here's number three - be honest with God. Can you imagine how God feels when you're dishonest with Him? I want you to think about this. Let's say that you blew it last week. Let's just say you blew it. But you've talked to God, like three or four times since then, but you've never mentioned it. Like He doesn't know? I mean, like have you ever had a child, you know, hold something behind his back, and you say, what do you have behind your back? Nothing. And you're thinking, you're five years old. I'm smarter than you, pal!
How do you think God feels? But here's the amazing thing. He's already paid for it. He not only knows about it, but He knew you'd do it, and He's already paid for it in full! But, you won't tell Him about it. The problem is you learned to be dishonest with God. The other thing is you learned to be prideful, because you can deal with this without bringing Him into it. I can deal with this on my own. It's the exact opposite. If you want to get free from something, you've got to bring God into it. And He already knows.
I've told you this story before, but I think it bears repeating. Debbie said to me one time, she said, I'm concerned about something. I said, what? She said, I don't have a desire to read the Word like I used to. I said, you need to talk to the Lord about it. She said, I don't want to tell Him! I said, He might have heard you tell me right now. He already knows. Okay, so I asked you to turn to Psalm 32, so look at Psalm 32:1. Psalm 32:1, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered". Notice, present tense... is forgiven, is covered. Present tense, it is, and forgiven and covered, past tense. See, it's already been taken care of. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute inequity". We understand about the word impute here. "And in whose spirit there is no deceit".
Now, watch Verse 3. This is David talking. "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my inequity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord", and you forgave the inequity of my sin". Okay, here's what he's saying. Until I confessed it, I felt horrible. I had no vitality. I had no strength. I had no joy, no peace, until I confessed it.
And what he's saying is, what took me so long to confess? But let me show you what took him so long to confess, okay? Because we missed this one little phrase. Verse 2, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute inequity", now watch this, "and in whose spirit there is no deceit". Okay, now what I've been trying to tell you is that violating the commandments affects your body, your soul, and your spirit. In order to hate someone, or have an idol in your heart, or get involved in some sort of a sexual sin, you have to be deceitful. We talked about this. You have to be deceptive. This is what happens when you're dishonest. You're deceived in your spirit. There's deceit in your spirit. What I'm trying to say to you is, bring it out in the open. Get it out in the open. Be honest. Be fully transparent. Be vulnerable with God and with others.
I remember the first time I lied and got caught. There was some money on the counter of our kitchen, and I took the money. My parents were omniscient. They knew all, and saw all, were omnipresent. And so, my dad knew that I took it. And so he said, what happened to that money that I put on the counter? I don't know. So he said, well, I know it's here somewhere in the house, so we're going to look for it until we find it. Well, it was in my pocket, you know? So, we look and look, and I think, well, eventually he's going to give up. He said, now, we're not quitting until we find it, because it's here somewhere. He's hoping, you know, I'd confess.
So finally, I remember slipping it out of my pocket behind the living room chair. It wasn't a good plan, and I said, oh, I found it! It must have fallen out of your pocket, you know, or something, you know. So he said to me, you took it, didn't you? He said, I know you took it. I saw you take it. Okay, okay, I took it. So he takes me out of the room. He said, I'm going to spank you for stealing. So, he spanks me for stealing. Then he says, now I'm going to spank you for lying. And I got two spankings.
Now, my dad did a great job. He did the right thing. But, I realize now what happened in that moment. Satan put a thought in my mind. I didn't know then it was Satan, but here's the thought that came in my mind after that second spanking. I need to get better at lying. I'm going to have to work out the details of the story a little better. I'm going to have to go through this in my mind. And I got good at it. Now, I'm just asking. I'm trying to be real with you. Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to raise your hands. But, I'll bet some of you got good at it too. You learned how to lie. You learned how to turn the story where it favors you. You learned how to do it.
So the best thing for me was to really get honest, and I felt like the Lord told me two people that I had to get honest with - one, Pastor Olen Griffin, that's sitting on the front row here, that was my pastor, and Debbie. And at separate times I got with each of them. I'd written down on a piece of paper everything that I had ever done that no one knew. And I just thought, this is the best way for me to come clean. And I remember, with Debbie, it was seven years into our marriage. I was going through a restoration process, and I said to her, I need to tell you who you really married, and I want to tell you everything that I've ever done that no one knows... everything. And it took several hours. I told her everything.
We got down to the end and I said, that's it. That's everything that I can remember that I've ever done that no one knows. I'll never forget what she said. She said, Robert, I knew you were bad when I married you. I didn't know you were that bad, but I knew you were bad. But I loved you and I saw in you a person that wanted to deal with the sin he was involved in. And she said, I loved you then, but I love you more today because you've been honest with me. Do you know the hardest thing, when I work with couples that have had infidelity in their marriage, the hardest thing is not the immorality, but the dishonesty. God is saying, I want you to be honest. I want you to be honest with yourself. I want you to be honest with others. I want you to be honest with Me. This is one of the most freeing principles you'll ever allow into your life.
So, what do you do if you haven't been honest in an area of your life, and that's probably all of us. We've got to go to God and get honest with God first. We've got to get honest in our own hearts, and then we've got to get honest with someone else. And I want to encourage you, these are not just ten commandments, although they are the Ten Commandments. But, these are principles that, when we put these principles in place, we have a deeper relationship with God and a deeper relationship with others.