Salesmen learn how to do it. Politicians are masters at it. Students in school do it. Husbands do it, and so do wives. Even preachers get good at it. We learn to do it very early in life. ``I didn't lie to you,'' we say. ``You just didn't understand.''
``Did you do the dishes?'' Mom says.
``Yes,'' says Annie.
``But what are these pots?''
``Oh,'' says Annie. ``I didn't know you wanted me to do the pots. You said dishes.''
What does this have to do with theology?
In an irrational universe, there is no possibility of lying, because there would be no definition. When Adam named the animals he was seeing distinctions between them so that there could be communication. If a person does not know the difference between a pig and a cow he might try to milk the wrong one, with disastrous results.
Sentimentality is emotion without reason or definition. Without reason every object is of equal value and equal emotional content. The insane man weeps or laughs at inappropriate times, because he lacks the power of reason to distinguish. The immoral man does not want to make distinctions: he wants to love everyone's wife. He wants to use everyone's money. He wants to slay and call it kindness.
When reason is abandoned, the first casualty is truth, for there is no longer any possibility of knowing the truth, for only reason can define and distinguish between things. This defining power of reason is basic to the very essence of the universe, because it is basic to the very nature of God.
Simply stated, the law of contradiction means that something cannot both be itself and not itself. A cow cannot be both a cow and not a cow. If a person does not admit this principle he has abandoned all possibility of thought. He not only has made it impossible to lie, but also impossible to convey the truth.
``God is not a man, that He should lie...'' (Numbers 23:19) ``God, that cannot lie....'' (Titus 1:2) The reason why God cannot lie is because the law of contradiction is basic to His own nature. ``If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.'' (II Timothy 2:13).
This is the reason why God so carefully distinguishes Himself from all the idols of the heathen. He is the living God; they are dead. He speaks truth in righteousness; they are lying images. Knowing that He is God, He will never for a moment pretend that He is not God. He never uses words for manipulation, but to reveal to us His character, His love, and His will. He cannot deny Himself. He knows the difference between God and that which is not God.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Adam and Eve to think that God uses words in a lying way, to manipulate: ``God knows that good things will happen to you if you eat of the tree. He just doesn't want you to be like Him. You won't die if you eat.'' The temptation wasn't about diet, it was about words, lying, and obedience.
But because God cannot deny Himself, the world that He had created was a rational world, subject to law and meaning. It was the devil who lied. Sin, death, and misery came to mankind in terms of the words that God had said. He knows the difference between living and dying, because He knows Himself.
God has shown us the difference between good and evil; between righteousness and wickedness; between heaven and hell. Rationality is not something that existed prior to God, in some natural order in which God lives; rather, rationality is the expression of the very nature of God and is reflected in the universe that He made. We are called, as the images of God, to exercise ``judgment'' in our decisions, to reflect in our minds the rationality of God.
On the First Day of Creation, God distinguished between the light and darkness, between day and night. On the Second Day He distinguished between that which was above heaven, and that which was below. On the Third Day He distinguished between the Seas and the Earth and had the earth bring forth grass and herbs, ``after their kind.'' On the Fourth Day, He distinguished between the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, between seasons, and days, and years. The Sun was to rule the Day; the Moon was to rule the night--to divide the light from the darkness.
On the Fifth Day He distinguished between the fowl that moved in the air and the life in the seas. Each species was to bring forth ``after his kind.'' Then, on the Sixth Day, God distinguished between the species that move on the earth, so that each would bring forth ``after his kind.'' He then distinguished between the man created in His image, and the things that were put in subjection to the man. After he created Eve, He called her ``Woman,'' distinguishing her from the man.
Finally, God set the Seventh Day apart from all the rest, and sanctified it, and made it the day of rest. What more evidence is needed, besides the evidence of our own eyes as to the order and structure of the universe?
The liar will not accept any of this. His goal is to cloud the mind, to rub out distinctions, to corrupt the meaning of words, so that his lies are not discovered. He will blind the mind with emotion, with prejudice, with feigned words, and debased definitions. If this fails, he will attack reason itself, and carry his assault to the very throne of God. He will call it liberty, freedom from ``rigid and cold logic.'' He hates definition, because he denies the judgment of God.
It is all futile, of course. God cannot deny Himself. In the last day the final distinction will be made, for all that sleep in the dust shall come forth, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame. This day is called the ``Judgment'' and will affirm the rationality of God and the order of His Throne. God cannot deny Himself, and He cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Word who was made flesh.
``For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.'' (Isaiah 45:18)
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church (RCUS)
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918