This week we will look into the Ninth Commandment, a commandment that would help us live together if only all would practice it. It is not a complicated commandment to read, but oh how much of life it covers! So, let’s get started.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” As the Bible tells us, we are all neighbors in one way or another, so we should be honest in our dealings with all. Why is that so difficult? Well, the fallout of this commandment is wide ranging, and it is the sinful nature of man that makes it such a challenge. So, what are some of the sins that this commandment prohibits?
> False accusations concerning others. (Luke 3:14)
> Unrighteous judgments; showing partiality in judgments. (Lev. 19:15)
> Being a false witness. (Prov. 19:5; Ex. 23:1)
> Inducing others to become false witnesses. (Acts 6:13)
> Pleading for an unjust cause. (Jer. 9:3)
> Promoting falsehood. (Ps. 12:2-4; Ps. 52:1-4)
> Giving or justifying unjust sentences. (Pr. 17:15; Isa. 5:23)
> Calling evil good, and good evil. (Isa. 5:20)
> Forgery. (1 Kings 21:8)
> Failing to testify of the truth when a crime is witnessed. We have an obligation to come forth as a witness to crime we have observed. (Lev.5:1)
> Concealing the truth. (Acts 5:3)
> Failing to promote justice and truth. (Isa. 59:4)
> Distorting truth or words to a wrong meaning. (Matt. 26:60-61; Ps. 56:5; Gen, 3:5)
> Conceiving and speaking lying words. (Isa. 59:13)
> Slandering. (Ps. 50:20)
> Backbiting. (Rom.1:30)
> Tale-bearing. (Lev. 19:16)
> Misconstruing words and intentions. (Rom. 3:8)
> Flattering. ((Ps. 12:2-3)
> Self-serving boasting; speaking too highly of yourself. (2 Tim. 3:2; Gal. 5:26; Like 18:11)
> Blaming others for your sin. (Gen. 3:12-13)
> Covering or hiding your sins. (Prov.28:13)
> Revealing harmful secrets of others. (Prov. 25:9)
> Failure to listen to a just defense. (Acts 7:57)
> Being envious of those who deserve credit and acting against them. (Matt. 21:15; Dan. 6:3-4)
> Scornful mocking. (Matt. 27:28-29)
While the Ninth Commandment entails numerous ancillary ‘don’ts’, it also includes some duties that are required of all followers of Christ. So, what are some of these ‘do’s’?
> Speaking and promoting truth with our neighbor and in society. (Eph. 4:25)
> Defending the truth, especially in regard to those less fortunate. (Prov. 31:8-9; Ps. 82:3)
> Speaking the truth from your heart in matters of faith, judgment, and justice. (Ps. 15:2; Acts 20:27; Lev. 19:15)
> Speaking out against sinful behavior in society. (Isa. 58:1)
> Thinking well of the brethren and rejoicing in their well-being. (Heb. 6:9; 3 John 4)
> Covering the sin of others. (Prov. 17:9)
> Thinking upon, studying, speaking, and practicing those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good report. (Phil. 4:8)
Another facet of the Ninth Commandment we might want to consider is that in it freedom of speech and truthfulness are affirmed. You might remember that this was one of the founding principles of this nation that was based upon religious Christian conviction. This commandment involves speech, in particular truthful speech. This truthful speech is the foundation of contracts, oaths, and vows…and is related to the Third Commandment in that a fear of God is the primary motivation for upholding oaths, vows, and contracts. So, what are some of the forms of speech that are not condoned by the Ninth Commandment?
> Lying is hateful and an abomination to God.
> We are not to carry a false rumor.
> Lying is part of the old nature which we are to put off.
> We are always to speak the truth to our neighbor.
> We are to speak the truth in our heart, i.e., conform to the truth inwardly.
> We are not to be talebearers revealing the secrets of others…there are many matters we are to conceal.
There are examples of when we must decide when the ‘less-than-truth’ is necessary. Rahab lied to protect the lives of two spies. James singled her out as an example of vital faith. The Hebrew midwives lied to protect life and “God was good to the midwives.” (Ex.1:20) Abraham and Isaac lied to avoid murder and rape. Scripture does not condemn them. Saul used the truth Doeg told him to attempt to do evil to David. We at times have choices that are not black and white. We cannot permit evil men to steal, kill, or rape because of our truth telling. No person has any right to knowledge from us which can be used to do evil. If we help those who are planning evil by telling them the truth, we are a party to evil and will be held accountable. We are under obligation to God to tell the truth at all times under normal situations. This does not mean we are to expose our privacy in a way that would bring us harm, but to bear true witness in relation to our neighbor. Such truth-telling does not apply in acts of war or in protection from thieves. The positive aspect of this command requires ‘the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man.’ We are to speak no idle words…useless, careless, inoperative, non-working words. We are to proclaim and sow the truth continually. We should give praise and encouragement to our neighbor…which includes family, friends, and those around us.
Next week we will ‘attack’ the Tenth Commandment. Ignoring this commandment has probably led to more domestic and international conflict than any one source. Many cannot be content with what they have but must have what someone else has. We will see how greed is a sin that Satan uses to destroy many lives.
“The courage to comply with God’s Word rather than obeying human leaders who make sinful decisions is one thing. Dishonoring those leaders is another. Daniel and David both chose to show honor while respectfully dissenting and disagreeing.” God and Government…Following the Wisdom of the Bible, Our Daily Bread Ministries.