Proverbs 20:17

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

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Lying may be fun – but not for long. Then the results of your folly come crashing down on your head. You may think your lie helped in some way, but it only made things worse. When will you learn the painful truth, Be sure your sin will find you out (Num 32:23)?

Proverbs are dark sayings, and here a metaphor about bread and gravel is used for the lie of lying. The bread of deceit is the choice to lie. Lying may be sweet in the beginning, like a sweet roll or cinnamon bun, but it will not be later. A mouth full of gravel is the latter result of lying. Far from sweet, it is painful, impossible to enjoy, and usually fatal.

Solomon used a similar metaphor about a whore seducing a man and the lying appeal of adultery, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Pr 9:17). To show her danger to his son, Solomon wrote about her victim, “But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell” (Pr 9:18). Gravel indeed!

Ponzi schemes illustrate sweet now – gravel later. Promising ridiculous returns, they pay interest from the investments of later investors. The early suckers that get an interest check promote the free lunch, and it explodes with cash inflows. But then the scam artist skips town with the money he has not paid out, and the lie is exposed. What started out sweet for early investors is afterwards gravel in the mouths of all the investor-suckers.

Sin lies! Even about lying! Sin never works in the long run, even with a little pleasure or success in it for a short while (Heb 11:25). But sin will never tell you this up front; you will only learn it later when it is too late. The devil and the world never tell you sin does not pay. They work together in perfect harmony to deceive you that sins can be sweet.

It is a lie to think that lying will help you. This is the nature of sin. It is deceitful itself, and when it deceives you to deceive others, you lie because you believed a lie. Sin is so deceitful that it can turn a believer against God, if he gives it room in his life (Heb 3:12-13). For this reason you need godly friends to help exhort you daily, like by this proverb.

Sin is perverse! It greatly exaggerates the pleasure of sin, and it never warns of the dire consequences. Eve thought the fruit looked good, would taste good, and could make her like God. She was shocked by guilt and shame when she ate it, and then she had to face God asking why she was hiding in the Garden, and then she had to suffer through a life of pain and submission, and then she had to die. Her sweet bread indeed became gravel!

Sin is perverse! It greatly exaggerates the pleasure of sin, and it never warns of the dire consequences. Amnon craved sex with his half sister Tamar. This fantasy consumed his thoughts and health. When he finally had to force her, its pleasure was for one second, and then he hated her, and then Absalom killed him. His sweet bread became gravel!

But this proverb is not about fruit in the Garden of Eden or sex with your half sister. It is about lying. Where do you lie? On your resume? In your marriage? To your parents? In your Christian profession? To the IRS? To your pastor? On your expense reports? About your age, health, or ability? To your children? About your co-worker? To your boss?

Your lie may seem sweet right now, but it will soon be gravel. Your trouble will soon be similar to that of Eve and Amnon. You cannot stop the results. Sin will lie to you again that another lie will cover or enhance the first lie, but that makes four lies. Before you know it, you are a liar, and the true God fans hell’s fires to receive you (Rev 21:8,27).

How bad is gravel in your mouth? Achan, his family, and all that he owned were stoned and burned for his deceit about stolen goods (Josh 7:1,20-26). Gehazi got Namaan’s leprosy for lying to his master Elisha about a little silver and some clothes (II Kgs 5:20-27). But the gravel in the mouths of these two is nothing compared to eternal torment.

Dishonesty and lying will ruin you – in this life and the next. Believe it. Make honesty and integrity permanent traits of your character. Solomon warned over and over about the importance of truth for your success (Pr 10:18; 12:19,22; 13:5; 14:5; 17:7; 19:9; 21:6; 26:24-26,28). Believe him! Reject any thoughts or worldly ideas that lying is acceptable.

You do not lie? It may be true. But what of hypocrisy? Do you live differently in private than in public? Different at home than at church? Different in your heart than with your mouth? This is also the bread of deceit. How long will your hypocrisy be sweet? Short! And only for a moment! The Bible says you will perish like your own dung (Job 20:4-9).

Repent of any deception in your life. Repent for allowing sin to deceive you into thinking you can get away with lying. Repent for ever deceiving anyone else in any way. Repent for ever minimizing the folly and perversity of sin in the sight of God. Reject any thought that justifies deception or lying or any sin. Run to the God of truth and beg His forgiveness. He can and will forgive any that sincerely repent and become lovers of truth.