"Put away from you a deceitful mouth. And put devious speech far from you." Proverbs 4:24
The truth need not be a victim of a lie. The casusalties only mount up when words stop meaning what they once meant. Liars are shameless posers who use the same vocabulary other people use, but they change the meaning of the words to fit their own purpose. They have learned to be influence people by using their own private dictionary. They change the meanings to fit the occasion.
For a liar to be a very effective, they must first lie to themselves. This kind of deceitful and devious behavior is nothing new. Proverbs warns about deceitful lips of salesmen, strange women, and self-delusion. Listening to a lie and buying into it always exacts a high price from the consumer. Putting away a deceitful mouth and devious speech starts in one's own heart. The greatest protection a believer can have is the guard placed on his own mouth. Speaking the truth to oneself helps a believer identify when someone else is lying to them.
Recently I returned to my college notes from an upper level religion course taken at Baylor University in the Fall of 1971. The course was entitled: "American Cults and Sects." There were several comparative religion textbooks used for the course and the syllabus was a detailed outline of the various religious groups that have sprung up in the United States in the 19th and 20th Century. Mormonism was a major emphasis of this course of study.
The professor, Dr. Wood, was well prepared, non-judgmental and throughly professional in his presentations. Dr. Wood offered wise counsel to us. He told us we did not thoroughly understand what someone believed until our description of what they believed was agreed upon by them. I have found this to be great advice over the past 40 years. I have also found it extremely difficult to achieve. There is often a theological slight of hand that takes place in the arena of ideas. When people keep moving the pea under the cup, it is hard to pin them down of the differences between the defining issues.
My notes reflected that the original followers of Joseph Smith flirted with the same qualities associated with less accepted cults. They also revealed similarities with groups known as "Sectarian Judaism." Neither of these two positions made them embraceable by mainstream Protestantism in the 19th Century. Simply put, they used the same vocabulary, but they had a different dictionary. This is what makes what they really believe so difficult to describe to a post-modern culture in the 21st Century. Secularism has become the unwitting friend of Mormonism by expunging Christian beliefs from the public square for almost 100 years. Today when Evangelical Christians try to express what they believe in contrast to Mormons they are labled as intolerant bigots by the professional and social media. Even more disturbing is the fact that they are criticized by those who claim to hold mainstream Protestant beliefs.
Recent remarks by two pastors, one from Dallas and one in Houston, on the differences between Mormons and Christianity have gone viral. One simply stated what was taught 40 years ago, without venom or angst, at the largest Baptist University in the world. He was vilified as the new poster boy of intolerance. The other embraced Mormons into the mainstream of Christianity. He was deified as the new and improved Rodney King. In other words, "Can't we just all get along."
Mormons believe some things that I cannot bring myself to believe. That is why I am not a follower of their teachings. I take no offense at what they believe. I take offense only when they want me to believe that we believe the same thing. I would like to suggest that what a person believes says alot about them.
For someone to say that they do not care what a person believes as long as they do what they want them to do makes some kind of sense. For instance, a person who is a fine Christian and a lousy mechanic is going to be a huge disappointment to someone needing their car repaired. The better mechanic may not know the Good Book, but if he is Mister Good Wrench, the consumer leaves satisfied with the job that was done. He may also leave overcharged for the work that was done, because the mechanic has no value system that would stop him from doing unnecessary work and charging double for it.
Deceitful lips and devious speech have been around for a long time. The best protection from deception the believer has is the Word of God. It is the source of truth, and the well spring of God's wisdom. Read His Word, and liars stand out like microbes under a magnifying glass. The first level of exposure is in our own hearts. When we lie to ourselves, we do the most damage to ourselves. When we read God's Word we find how far we have drifted from Him. My father wrote in the fly leaf of a Bible he gave to me on my 12th birthday, "Sin will keep you from this book or this book will keep you from sin." Great advice.
We have very little control over the problem of deceitful and devious speech coming at us from the lips of others. They say it. We hear it, and something once said cannot ever really be unsaid. The best way to recognize it for what it is still comes from reading God's Word. Martin Luther once said, "I can't stop the birds from flying over my head, but I don't have to let them build a nest in my hair." Great perspective.
I am praying for two pastors today, one in Dallas and one in Houston. For the first one, I am praying for courage. For the second one I am praying for clarity. Oswald Chambers observed, "Discernment is given for intercession, never faultfinding." I think it is time for me to pray for them. They need it, and I need the practice. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!