An Interpreted Lie is Still a Lie

According to Webster, a lie is to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to create a false or misleading impression. The terms used in the New Testament carry the same idea. God is characterized by truth and cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and such is also true of Jesus (John 14:6). His word is truth (John 17:17), and those who follow Him are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Trust is destroyed and relationships on any level are impossible to maintain when lying becomes a way of life.

 What about reinterpreting a lie? For example, if someone is told to do something, and does not do it, then is confronted about it, what if one's response is, "Oh, well, I didn't think you meant anytime soon," or "Well, I decided to interpret what you said differently." If the person said he or she would do the assigned task, but never really intended to do it to begin with, does it change the fact one lied? Or is it simply a ploy to avoid the consequences of not fulfilling one's responsibility, of deciding to do what one wanted instead of what was expected?

 King Saul of Israel tried this tactic with Samuel. In 1 Samuel 15, the LORD had Samuel instruct Saul to do battle against the Amalekites and utterly destroy them, along with all their possessions. When Saul returned from the battle, however, he came back with spoils of war. "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly" (1Samuel 15:9). He told Samuel he had obeyed the command of the LORD (15:13). Samuel asked Saul, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" (15:14).

 Saul laid the blame at the insistence of the people who went with him for taking the spoils, trying to reinterpret the event to put it in an acceptable form for Samuel. He even insisted, "Yea, I have obeyed the voice of Jehovah, and have gone the way which Jehovah sent me..." (15:20). However, Samuel points out to Saul what God thought about his actions. "And Samuel said, 'Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (15:22-23).

 No matter the amount of interpreting, reinterpreting, or retelling of a lie, it still is a lie. Trying to avoid the outcome of being caught in such does not change the way God thinks about it. Scripture commends a better way for us, "Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:25). The eternal consequences for those who love and make lies is an eternity of judgment (Revelation 22:15). Why not repent, be made right with God through Christ, so one can speak and live by the truth, which needs no reinterpretation, offering the promise of eternal life? "Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, 'If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples: and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).

 Robert Johnson, Longview, TX