God delights when truth reigns in our inmost being (Psalm 51:6).
But I don’t always delight in the truth. I most certainly should, but honestly I don’t. Sometimes I feel about seeking the truth like I feel about seeking the dentist. The truth might (or perhaps I already know will) expose some decay. Decay needs to be drilled out. And who wants that?
“We cannot really be true to ourselves until our selves derive their identity, purpose, and destiny from God.”
Well, if I’m wise, I should want that. But wisdom isn’t always the most persuasive voice in my head. Sometimes pride is. And my pride is anything but wise. When my pride is speaking to me, it encourages me to seek my selfish interests above God’s. More bluntly, my pride prefers a deceptive illusion of self-advancement or self-exaltation or self-protection to God’s exposing, humbling, but ultimately merciful and liberating truth — which is utter foolishness, because that’s preferring the destruction of my greatest joy over the pursuit of my greatest joy.
So, dishonesty is almost always a form of pride. Unless our aims are things like hiding Jews from the Gestapo, victims from human traffickers, or a child from an abuser, there’s no reason for us to be dishonest except to control and manipulate someone else’s perception for our own selfish interests.
Pride prefers deception to truth, and does not realize by doing so it prefers destruction. But God desires truth in our inmost being, because he knows that his truth will set us truly free (John 8:32).
God Loves Honesty
God is truth (John 14:6), so he loves honesty. That’s why he tells us (through David), “Blessed is the man . . . in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:2). David knew both the blessedness of honesty and the wretchedness of dishonesty. He wrote,
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:3–5)
When David was dishonest with God and men, it was like a wasting disease. When he came clean with God and men, it was health and refreshment to his soul.
This is what God wants us to have: health and refreshment to our souls. It is a great mercy when God rests his hand heavy upon us because we are living dishonestly. And the longer we walk with him, the more rigorously he demands we live truthfully before him. He wants truth to reign in every part of us because he wants us to enjoy full freedom — to increasingly know him. And we can never really know God until we are willing to be truthful with him and for him.
Honesty Is Just the Beginning
God loves honesty. But honesty is often just the beginning of living truthfully. Because being honest doesn’t necessarily mean we believe what is true. It merely means we speak and live consistently with what we do believe — however consistent or inconsistent what we believe is with reality.
“Pride tries to control and manipulate someone else’s perception of us for our own selfish interests.”
Honesty is being true to one’s actual convictions. But one’s actual convictions might not be true. It is possible for us to be honest and wrong at the same time.
In fact, the relief of finally being honest, even if what we are being honest about is wrong, can feel emancipating. We’ve all experienced or witnessed this. When someone who has been secretly struggling with homosexuality finally comes out and embraces it, it often feels wonderful and freeing. Or when someone who has professed faith in Christ secretly stops believing the reality of Christianity, it can be a great relief to finally admit it and stop pretending. Or when a spouse has secretly been committing adultery, it can feel liberating to bring it out into the open, even if they are not repentant. What each of these people experiences is a sense of being true to themselves, even if what they actually believe isn’t true and right.
We are made to live with integrity — where our inner beings align with our outer beings. That makes honesty the beginning of the real work. God does want us to be honest, even when what we really believe is not good. It’s better to be honest than deceptive. But that’s not the honesty God is after — to honestly believe something that’s false. That kind of honesty won’t set us free. Truth is what sets us free. God’s truth. The God who is the truth.
Honest to God
God delights when truth reigns in our inmost being (Psalm 51:6). And Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). It is Jesus — not our disordered and broken psyches, desires, bodies, and pasts — that determines who we are and how we should live. He is the truth and the way. We cannot really be true to ourselves until our selves derive their identity, purpose, and destiny from the Father through Jesus.
“What God is after in this truly honest surrender is to give us the greatest joy possible: himself.”
Being honest to God is openly admitting who we really are and no longer living out of the fear of man. But it is more than that. It is repenting of the pride that has fueled our deceptive ways of living, whatever that might mean. And it is laying down before our merciful King Jesus all our old, sinful, defective beliefs about what it means to be significant and worthy and “enough.” And it is embracing his truth, however difficult and painful that embrace might feel at first.
What God is after in this truly honest surrender is to give us the greatest joy possible: himself. He wants to align our inner beings and our outer beings with his being. And this alignment only happens when we lay aside our foolish pride and humble ourselves under his mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6), for he knows how and when to exalt us in ways that will blow our minds and increase our joy — in him.