Bearing False Witness - VIOLATIONS OF THE NINTH COMMANDMENT
From Sinai’s Summit, God spoke, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex.20:16; Deut.5:20). But was this simply a code of conduct for another people during a different dispensation? Were the Ten Commandments merely simpler rules for simpler times? Surely we don’t believe such. Even though we live under a different dispensation and law, surely we can appreciate the timeless truths contained in this command. Let us honestly reflect on this Ninth Commandment and appreciate the character God demands from those who are His children under a better covenant by which He offers a better hope.
Why should we “in Christ” live by this enduring command? Simply put…God expects that we be a people in Jesus Christ who promote justice, proclaim truth, and provide for things honorable in the sight of all.
“You shall not bear false witness.” If we take these words simply at their face value, they prohibit the crime of perjury or the giving of false testimony in a court of law. If the testimony given in the course of a trial were false, a just verdict would be threatened. If we should learn anything from this command, it is how seriously God takes the matter of justice and of anything or anyone who would seek to pervert such.
Much more is implied in this Ninth Command than is specifically stated. A false witness is any dishonest version of events or any untrue statement spoken in the presence of others. It might be gossip or slander against someone, or it may be untrue information about our self, given to impress others. Think about some of our more recent politicians, professional athletes, and public servants. Frederick William Robertson once said: “Truth lies in character.” How true, and yet how sad when men who ought to be respected can’t be trusted to tell the truth about themselves, others, or some event in question. God is a God of truth. This being so, how can we walk humbly before Him, bearing His name, while living a lie and speaking forth lies? “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD” (Prov.12:22). If we’re going to be imitators of God, then we must put away lying and speak only truth (Eph.4:25). In all areas of our lives, God demands honesty from His people.
PROVIDE FOR THINGS HONORABLE
The English Standard Version of (Rom.12:17) says it this way, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” As Christians, how can it be deemed honorable or morally good to slander someone or their name? All too often, the good name of someone has been called into question unnecessarily so by the bitterness or envy of another. Where’s the honor in creating strife and dissension among brethren? “Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor” (Prov.25:18). Can’t we see that by breaking the ninth commandment people get hurt, reputations are ruined, and churches are divided?
Let us remember such the next time we’re tempted to violate the Ninth Command, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rm.13:10).