The False Word

The grand cadence of the first chapter of Genesis is driven by the simple phrase, “and God said…” When God speaks, creation comes into existence and alive. This is called divine fiat by theologians. All following divine “words” in Scripture is but a continuation of this creation power, whether it be proclamations of the prophets, or the unique incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who is the truth of God.

As with all other “motifs” in Scripture, this “word” motif has a dark side. At creation God saw fit to allow Satan to enter the pristine Garden through the “serpent.” It is not clear whether this creature was “craftier” than all other animals in its own right, or if it was made so by its possession by the evil spirit. Whatever, the subtleness, or opaqueness of the creature rendered it too sly to read, and is in direct contrast to the naked innocence of our first parents. It used words at first in a suggestive way (“So, God said …), then exaggeration (“you shall not eat of any tree …”), then finally flat contradiction (“You shall not surely die”). With these lying words Satan was allowed by God to undo paradise, and break the boundaries that held back chaos.

Lying is the chaos of pretending the simplicity and truth of paradise when in fact it is undoing God’s created order. Our ninth commandment is specifically focused on bringing a false word against someone in a legal setting, but certainly expands to any lying and untrue statements. God has given humans a tremendous power in language. Language is in some way analogous to the divine word spoken at creation, and therefore carries with it real power to either build up and create something beautiful, or to tear down and create chaos. True, words can be frivolous and ineffective, but even this is a perversion of speech and is chaotic.

It is not as easy as we might think to speak the truth. When Satan finish his work with Adam and Eve, they, who were once in naked innocence, now became naked and ashamed. They felt obligated to cover themselves, for somehow they became opaque and crafty like the snake, and could no longer trust each other as they once did. We might even say that Satan sowed his seed in their hearts, and ever since truth is something that is hard to come by. There has never been a time where we are bombarded by lies as we are now. We might think that we are unaffected by it all, but unless we are very intentional and are on our knees, the truth will escape us. It takes a whole lot of courage to speak the truth in a world benighted by the lying word.

On the bright side, speaking truth is powerful; more powerful than the lying word! This is because the true word builds up and affirms creation, while the lying word can only tear down. What power God has given us! By speaking the truth in love we become like God at creation! We go about casting truthful words about us like diamonds and rubies! Oh, how wonderful is God’s law! In fact, law is the very mind of God in word form! This ninth commandment allows us to participate in God’s recreated work in this world!

One Response to “The False Word”

  1. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit,” Prov. 18:21 NIV 1984.

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