The commandment against lying protects a society’s integrity, provides confidence in the marketplace and steadiness for the economy. The destructive consequences of lying reach into every corner of our nation and our personal lives.
Let’s understand how allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth would fix our country and our own lives.
We will look at sanity, loneliness, the lord of dung, shallow thinking, small mindedness, missing the real deal, Jesus’ family values, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, carelessness with the truth and the opposite of lying.
Is Sanity Overrated?
When Olympic athletes spend every waking hour training for gold, few people call them insane. When modern citizens spend an average twenty hours a week in front of a television, few people call them crazy. When people study obsessively and receive degrees with honors, people praise them. However, if we go to church, read our Bibles and talk about God, people say that we are out of our minds. Zeal, it seems is okay, unless it is for an unpopular cause. In Mark 3:20-35 Jesus was described as mad by his own family. If God does exist and if he wants to get to know his creation would that not be the most important activity on the planet for everyone? If that is insanity, then perhaps more of us ought to engage in this glorious madness. Is sanity overrated?
The Loneliness of Faith
A seminary professor once said that if your family thinks that you are either out of touch or crazy you might just be a pastor. All Christians who are sincere about their faith may occasionally suffer the loneliness of faith that Jesus also experienced (Mark 3:20-35). Depending on the translation, either his friends or his family thought that he had lost his senses at one point in time. The Greek phrase literally meansthose belonging to him, which is probably family, but could also be friends. Christians can sometimes feel totally alone, even in their own families, as they are ostracized, belittled or otherwise shown contempt. In a faithless world, it ought not be a surprise that the faithful are sometimes looked down upon. While we wait for natural family to come to God, we have a church family.
Lord of Dung
The Jews mocked Beelzebub (lord of the flies) with the name Beelzeboul (lord of dung), which is the original word used in Mark 3:20-35. Some Bibles mistranslated this as Beelzebub. Some experts also define Beelzeboul as lord of the temple. The author then explained how the Jews were using this term to mean the prince of demons and later Jesus made it quite clear that they meant Satan. Some scribes accused Jesus of casting out demons by Satanic rather than divine power. Jesus argued as to how unlikely Satan would be to cast out one of his own. He further argued that if he can enter a house belonging to a strong man to plunder it then he is stronger than the owner (Satan) and able to bind him. The unstated conclusion is that Jesus’ strength was from heaven.
Religious leaders who accused Jesus of having a demon were just an ancient example of small-minded religion. Christianity also has its examples. In theology we call it exclusivity, meaning that only those who have a certain exclusive opinion can be included. Everyone else is excluded. Reasons for exclusion seem endless. Clothing, tongues, alcohol, baptisms, days, music, authority and perhaps thousands of other nuances of doctrine are reasons given for doubting the work of the Holy Spirit among others. That was precisely the accusation leveled against Jesus in Mark 3:20-35. Because he did not fit the narrow criteria of mere men, his work was falsely accused of being of Satan. Yet, a third of humanity believes the teachings of Jesus. Dare we exclude those whom God has included? In so doing are we also dangerously close to the unpardonable sin?
Political campaigning is almost entirely about the failures of people. Even Christians who know the truth are tempted to take sides, painting one side as good and the other side as evil, when the truth is that all people are fatally flawed. This is Satan’s game and it enters Church politics too. We know that the Church is sometimes the Great Whore of Babylon and sometimes the Bride of Christ, yet we easily fall prey to Satan’s tactics. His game is to expose the weaknesses of human beings, pretending that doing so will protect God’s glory. This is the root of the accusation in Mark 3:20-35. There was a hasty conclusion that because Jesus taught different than accepted traditions his actions must be evil. Such shallow thinking can cause us to miss what Jesus is doing in the world.
Missing the Real Deal
How is it that trained religious leaders like the scribes could end up missing the real deal when they were confronted by Jesus (Mark 3:20-35)? How could Jewish religious training have missed such an important issue like the coming of Messiah? Could a Christian education also miss vital truths? Absolutely! Jesus summarized what he expected Christian education to cover in Matthew 28:19-20, teaching our disciples to obey all things that Jesus had commanded his original disciples. When religious education misses or minimizes that vital ingredient it is deficient and produces leaders of the church who are no better than the teachers of the law. Only when Jesus and the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are made central to our preaching and teaching will we have healthy Christianity. Only then will we not be missing the real deal.
Jesus' Family Values
Conservatives define family by a traditional picture. But, the Bible defines family in different manners. For instance, the whole image of a Christian is as an adopted child into God’s family. Anciently, an adopted child had just as many rights to inheritance as a natural born child. It is we who have made preserving historically recent family last names or the vanity of our genetic lineage an idol to be worshiped. And idolatry can hardly be defined as a conservative position. Jesus went one step further and if so-called conservatives really understood what he meant, they would decry him as an extreme liberal. The context of Mark 3:20-35 makes it most likely that Jesus own family were calling him crazy for his religious beliefs. Jesus retorted that those who do God’s will are his family. That's Jesus' family values!
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
When comedians make fun of the phrase Father, Son and Holy Spirit I will cringe. Why? Because blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the one unforgivable sin. Let’s read about the unforgivable sin in its context (Mark 3:20-35). First why did Jesus say this? We can easily answer that question, because it states clearly why. They were saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit, attributing the power of the Holy Spirit to that of the devil. Who were those who said this? They were scribes, teachers of religious law, who should have known better. And so they did not falsely confuse the Holy Spirit with the spirit of evil out of ignorance, but out of malice. We need to note that Jesus did not directly say that they had committed the unpardonable sin, but they certainly were in danger.
Careless with the Truth
When Jesus warned against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it was a warning to teachers of the law, who were careless with the truth (Mark 3:20-35). It is also a warning to us. We don’t always know all the facts, but are often dogmatic about our opinions. How many of us have held onto an opinion perhaps even for decades, only to find out in later life that we were dead wrong? How we wish we had been more careful about the truth. It takes guts and humility to admit that we don’t quite know all the facts. Dogmatism is often a symptom of ignorance not knowledge, because those who know more are not always so sure of their opinions. Are teachers of the law still rather hasty today and are teachers of grace more cautious with the truth?
The Opposite of Lying
Even the most intelligent people and the most highly educated on earth are tempted to lie due to emotional involvement. Science is hampered by tradition just as much as religion. Medicine is hampered by emotional attachment to established ideas just as much as politics. Ideas which challenge our founding institutions face their greatest obstacle, not in intelligence or education, but emotionally vested interests in earthly crowns. In Mark 3:20-35 Jesus faced this obstacle as well with the political-religious establishment around ancient Galilee. Their lie was not caused by lack of intelligence or education, but by the emotional investment in Jewish tradition. Is the truth often lost to Christianity because of our traditions? Are we more interested in protecting our interests than we are in learning from Jesus Christ? Will we lay down our crowns when confronted by the truth?
The spirit of lying is rampant in our society. It affects science, politics, medicine and even the church. Lying is insanity, and causes us to miss out on the real deal. In its extreme it can even lead to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Let us follow the way, and the truth, and the life, Jesus.