By David Sanford, Crosswalk.com
I’ve greatly loved to lie, fib, and tease as entertainment, mostly for myself, mostly at my wife’s expense. However, after reading the Bible’s last book, Revelation, I told God how sorry I was. I told my wife, as well. She knew what I meant.
The book of Revelation isn’t against loving, good-hearted joking – that’s quickly obvious. Then again, it’s crystal-clear when it comes to outright lying and deceiving. Even if I’m “only” messing around. If it isn’t quickly obvious, then I’ve crossed the line. And if it’s untrue, all the worse.
The first chapter of Revelation emphasizes the Lord God’s infinite and eternal nature, glory, power, purposes, and double-edged sword of truthfulness (Revelation 1:16, 2:12, and 2:16 together with mirror bookends Revelation 19:15 and 19:21).
In addition, Revelation 1 foreshadows the severity of the Lord God’s full, complete, and final judgments. To my surprise, those judgments exclude “no liars” (once in Revelation 14:5) and specifically include “all liars” (three times in Revelation 21-22). More than any other Bible book, Revelation says God’s judgments on “all liars” are certain, focused, and severe.
Exactly who faces such terrible judgments?
Two Lists of Liars: Revelation 2-3
Horrible humans, mutant monsters, devilish demons, and the Devil himself all love to lie and deceive others. That’s what makes Revelation so frightening and so frighteningly real. Anyone and anything that loves to lie is directly and diametrically opposed to God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, Christianity, and Christians.
In Revelation, we find two lists describing “all liars.”
This first list of liars describes conditions around AD 90, not today. Then again, some see parallels. Most verses are quoted verbatim.
1. Apostate Apostles. Revelation 2:2 says, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.”
2. Lost Lovers. Revelation 2:4-5 says, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
3. “Free Love” Followers. Revelation 2:6 says, “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
In addition, Revelation 2:15-16 says, “Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
4. Jaded Jews. Revelation 2:9 says, “I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
In addition, Revelation 3:9 says, “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”
5. Wicked Worshipers. Revelation 2:13 says, “ I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.”
In addition, Revelation 2:24-25 says, “Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’”
6. Promiscuous Prophetess. Revelation 2:20-21 says, “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.”
What’s more, Revelation 2:22-23 adds, “So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”
7. Counterfeit Christians. Revelation 3:1-2 says, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.”
8. Lying Laodiceans. Infamous, indeed. After two millennia, “Laodicean” still is an adjective that means lukewarm or halfhearted. Revelation 3:15-16 says, “ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
What’s more, Revelation 3:17-18 adds, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
Then Revelation 3:19-21 concludes by saying, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
That wraps up our first list of liars from Revelation 2-3.
It pales compared to the list below...
Two Lists of Liars: Revelation 6-20
This second list of liars describes conditions near the very end of history, not today. Once again, some see parallels. Most verses will be referenced but not quoted.
1. Savage Slaughters. See Revelation 6:2, 6:4, and 6:8. The latter verse personifies Death and Hades, who in the end are both thrown into the lake of fire (20:13). The very sight of them strikes terrible fear.
2. Dreadful Demons. See Revelation 9:1-11. Their dreadful description and Devil-led destruction make it clear these are demons from the abyss.
3. The Devil Himself. The Devil is called Satan in Revelation 2:24, 3:9, 12:9, and 20:2-3. He is called Abaddon and Apollyon in Revelation 9:11. He is called the dragon or the great red dragon in Revelation 12:1-17, 13:1-4, 16:13, and 20:2-3. He is called the serpent of old in Revelation 12:9, 12:15, and 20:2-3, referring back to Genesis 3:1-15. He is called the deceiver in Revelation 12:9 and 20:9-10. He is called the accuser in Revelation 12:10.
4. Four Fallen Angels. If you think #2 was dreadful, see Revelation 9:14-21, which describes four especially terrible demons leading 200 million other demons to kill another third of humanity.
5. The Antichrist. After the Devil, the Antichrist is the worst liar in all of Revelation. See Revelation 11:7, 13:1-8, 14:9, 16:2, 16:10, 16:13, 17:8, 17:11-17, 19:20, 20:4, and 20:10.
6. The Antichrist’s False Prophet. Next up is another monster. See Revelation 13:11-18, 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10.
7. The Antichrist’s Image. This monster especially makes me shudder. See Revelation 13:14-15, 14:9, 16:2, and 19:20. The latter suggests the image itself, like an idol made of gold or silver, isn’t thrown into the lake of fire. Also see Revelation 20:4.
8. Demon-Frogs. These three monsters may be gigantic, things you would normally see only in horror movies and nightmares. See Revelation 16:13-4 and 16:16.
9. “Babylon the Great.” In essence, this represents two monstrous systems holding sway over the world until they fall. One may be a world religious system that proves apostate. Another is a world commercial system that collapses near the end of history. See back-to-back chapters Revelation 17 and Revelation 18, as well as Revelation 19:1-3.
God Will Judge All Liars
After all this, God says “these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5) and repeats these exact words a page later (Revelation 22:6). In between those identical and compelling affirmations, God declares three terrifying truths about liars.
1. God’s Judgment Is Certain
God doesn’t treat liars lightly. The Lord brings down His strong hand of judgment on all who lie and deceive. Proverbs 6:16-17 puts it bluntly: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue….” Here at the end of the Bible, God says He will judge “all liars” (Revelation 21:8).
2. God’s Judgment Is Focused
Liars habitually tell lies. It’s how they talk. Jesus puts it bluntly: “When he [the Devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Here at the end of the Bible, God says He will judge all who practice lying (Revelation 21:27).
3. God’s Judgment Is Severe
Goodbye, pick-and-choose “reality.” Proverbs 12:19 rightful states, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” After all is said and done, it’s either heaven or hell. The latter is described as a lake of fire and brimstone that burns forever (Revelation 19:20, 20:10, and 21:8). Here at the very end of the Bible, God says that includes all who love to practice lying (Revelation 22:15).
Making It Real
These three points stopped me in my tracks. As I said up front, I loved to lie, fib, and tease as entertainment, mostly for myself, mostly at my wife’s expense. I practiced lying frequently because I loved getting so good at lying, but I then read that God will judge all liars.
It was high time to go before God in prayer, dig into His Word, apologize to God and my wife, admit what outright lies I had told, come clean, and head in the other direction.
Don’t worry. My wife, Renee, and I still love teasing each other, but it’s quickly obvious what we’re doing. We never lie just for the fun of it. The latter may be good fun, we think, but it’s far too easy to cross the line, deceive our spouse (or close friends), and sin.
My days as a liar who practiced lying and who loved to practice lying are over. Well, mostly. When I start to cross the line, I tell God and my wife right away. In other words, I stop in my tracks and make things right as quickly as possible.
Do you lie? Do you practice lying? Do you love to practice lying? If so, Revelation calls you to a much different way of life. Go before God in prayer, dig into His Word, apologize to God and your spouse (or close friends), admit what outright lies you’ve told, come clean, and head in the other direction.
The benefits are great. You’ll feel clean, your spouse (and close friends) will trust you more, and best of all, God will richly bless you. What could be better?
Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock
David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Life Map Devotional for Men published concurrently with his wife Renee’s new book, Life Map Devotional for Women.