TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Being True

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Chapter 32  Part II

Being True

In order to do what is right in our relationships with others, we must be true – both faithful and truthful. It is important to remember that faithfulness and truth – with the trust that they generate – are absolutely essential for our relationships with others to work, for so many aspects of our relationships are dependent on them. Accordingly we must avoid deceitfulness and associated dishonest practices. Bear in mind that deceitfulness is arguably the prime characteristic of Satan and evil.


Be faithful

Prov 3:3-4  Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness. Tie them round your neck; write them on your heart. 4If you do this, both God and people will be pleased with you.  GNT

Matt 23:23  [Jesus:] Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others.  NET

Be trustworthy and reliable

1Tim 3:11  In the same way, women must be respected by others. They must not speak evil of others. They must be self-controlled and trustworthy in everything.  NCV™

2Tim 2:2  [Paul, to Timothy:] Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.  GNT

Stand by others . . .

Luke 22:28  [Jesus, to his disciples:] You are the ones who have always stood by me in my trials.  ISV

Ruth 1:15-17  So Naomi said, “Look, your sister–in–law is returning to her people and to her god. Follow your sister–in–law back home!” 16But Ruth replied, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. 17Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!”  NET

Ruth’s promise to stand by her bereaved mother-in-law is a superlative expression of loyalty and commitment.

. . . Do not desert others

Josh 22:3  [Joshua, to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh:] All this time, to this day, you have never deserted your relatives. You have carefully kept the commands of the Lord your God.  GW

Prov 27:10a  Never abandon your friend nor your father’s friend …  ISV

Do not betray others

Matt 27:4a  [Judas:] “I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death!”  GNT

Job 17:5  If a man denounces his friends for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail.  NET

If one betrays his friend for reward, such will be the consequences that even his children will “suffer for it” (GNT).

Consequences of unfaithfulness

Prov 11:3, 6  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the unfaithful destroys them. … 6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.  NET

 Questions for Section A


Be truthful . . .

Ps 51:6a  [David, to God:] Yet, you desire truth and sincerity.  GW

Zec 8:19b  You must love truth and peace.  GNT

. . . Speak the truth

Zec 8:16a  These are the things you must do: Speak the truth, each of you, to one another.  NET

Be honest

Eph 4:28  If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.  CEV

Luke 8:15  Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.  CEV

Be sincere

2Cor 1:12b  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world with pure motives and godly sincerity, without earthly wisdom but with God’s grace—and especially towards you.  ISV

Have integrity . . .

1Ki 9:4a  [God, to Solomon:] You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did.  NET

. . . Integrity brings security

Prov 10:9  The one who conducts himself in integrity will live securely, but the one who behaves perversely will be found out.  NET

 Questions for Section B


Do not deceive

Lev 19:11b  Never steal, lie, or deceive your neighbor.  GW

Do not lie

Col 3:9-10  [Paul, to the Colossian believers:] Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 10and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.  NET

Do not give false testimony

Ex 20:16  You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  NET

Do not use flattery

Ps 12:2-3  [David:] People lie to one another; they flatter and deceive. 3May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that boasts!  NET

Do not plot evil schemes

Zec 8:17a  Do not plan evil in your hearts against one another.  NET

Prov 12:20  Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.  NET

Avoid hypocrisy: Not acting in accordance with what you say; . . .

Matt 23:2-3  [Jesus:] The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.  NET

. . . and false external practices – doing things for show

Mark 12:40  [Jesus, referring to the teachers of the law:] They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. These men will receive a more severe punishment.  NET

Deceptive practices bring oneself harm

Prov 17:20  The one who has a perverse heart does not find good, and the one who is deceitful in speech falls into trouble.  NET

Prov 21:28  A lying witness will perish, but the one who reports accurately speaks forever.  NET

Deceptive practices ultimately bring God’s judgment

Ps 52:3-5  [David, as if speaking to a wicked man:] You love evil more than good, lies more than speaking the truth. (Selah) 4You love to use all the words that destroy, and the tongue that deceives. 5Yet God will make you a permanent heap of ruins. He will scoop you up and remove you from your home; he will uproot you from the land of the living. (Selah)  NET

Rev 21:8  But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.  NET

 Questions for Section C

Dishonest Gain

Note that because much of what can be described as “dishonest gain” involves deceitfulness, a good portion of this section is also relevant to the previous section, Deceitfulness.

Do not pursue dishonest gain

1Tim 3:8  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  ESV

Do not steal

Ex 20:15  You shall not steal.  NET

Do not defraud

Lev 19:13a  You shall not cheat your neighbor …  NKJV

Do not take excessive interest or extort money

Ezek 18:17-18  [Ezekiel, speaking of a righteous person:] He keeps his hand from doing wrong. He does not take too much interest or profit when he lends money. He obeys my laws and lives by my rules. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. 18But his father took other people’s money unfairly and robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. So he will die for his own sin.  NCV™

Do not accept bribes

Ex 23:8  Never take a bribe, because bribes blind those who can see and deny justice to those who are in the right.  GW

Ill-gotten gain does not last

Prov 13:11a  Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished …  NKJV

Ill-gotten gain has ill consequences

Prov 1:19  Such is the way of all those who seek illicit gain—it takes away the lives of those who possess it.  ISV

1Cor 6:10  … thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  NET

 Questions for Section D

Addendum: Oaths

The swearing of an oath has two main usages: to affirm the truthfulness of a statement; and to confirm the sincerity and binding nature of a pledge or agreement. The OT law stipulated that it was to be done in God’s name – as opposed to that of a false god – appealing to or invoking God as a witness to the integrity of what was said. It cannot be done falsely – or lightly (cf. Lev 5:4) – and cannot be broken (cf. Num 30:2; Josh 9:3-21).

The practice of swearing oaths, in God’s name – not to be done falsely

Deut 6:13  [Moses, to the Israelites:] You must revere the Lord your God, serve him, and take oaths using only his name.  NET

Lev 19:12  [God, to the Israelites:] You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.  NET

Swearing an oath to assert the truthfulness of a statement

2Cor 1:18  [Paul:] But as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.”  NET

By linking the truth of his words with the certainty of God being faithful, Paul to all intents and purposes swears an oath based on God’s faithfulness if not his name.

Swearing an oath to confirm a pledge . . .

Num 30:2  [Moses, to the Israelites:] If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised.  NET

. . . Such oaths are barred by NT teaching

Matt 5:33-37  [Jesus:] Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.  NET

Possibly in response to abuse of such oaths associated with pledges, Jesus taught that we should not swear them at all (v. 34a), but instead simply state our intention (v. 37).

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians