9th Commandment: You Shall Not Give False Testimony Against Your Neighbor (Ex. 20:16)
This passage in Deuteronomy illustrates how seriously OT Israel was to take this commandment: Deuteronomy 19:15-21…the person accusing falsely was to bear the punishment of the one convicted. THE FIRST LIAR: Satan (Genesis 3)—when we lie in any way, we are aligning ourselves with the devil.
Why would a person give false testimony against their neighbor? There could be many possible motivations. Like most of the other commandments this sin is probably rooted in selfishness: bringing someone else down for my gain. Whether that is profiting through bolstering my image/status, actually monetary or physical gain, or just simply feeling better about myself, it is a selfish action. It is an attempt to put myself in God’s place, as if I actually know everything about a person’s actions and motives behind their actions. I may even be convinced in my own mind about someone, but it could still be a false perception. The Jews in Jesus’ time were convinced about their status as God’s children, but sought to justify themselves apart from Jesus—they were actually children of the devil! (John 8:42-47).
God is the only righteous judge—the one who has given the Law and set the standard (Psalms 7:11; James 4:11-12). This was ultimately realized in Jesus. (I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life—John 14:6).
This commandment can be broadened from the courtroom setting to everyday life—not even listening to rumors or gossip, or things that we are not certain are true. The truth that the LORD is God (Exodus 20:2) is what *should* rein in our tongue/speech (James 2:3). If we are undisciplined in what/how we speak, then we are perpetuating the way of death (James 2:4-8).
No human being can “tame the tongue” (James 2:8); therefore, all have broken this commandment and are under God’s wrath! But Christ fulfilled the Law (Matt. 5:17). By the power He gives, our tongues can be “tamed.” (John 8:31-38…have to have room for His word in our hearts!) In other words, we can subject ourselves to the truth of God—being made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17)—and in His love, speak what is really true. Love rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Ephesians 4:23-25 also speaks to this.
James 3:9…takes this a step further. If we truly are new creatures in Christ, able to tame our tongues, then why would we curse—or speak against—our brother?
Remember, it is not our place to judge people, but rather to love them out of the riches of wisdom in Christ (Matthew 7:1-5; Colossians 2:2-3).
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)—>this should be one of our foundational guiding principles as Christians. Everything we have is from God. His mercy; His love; His wisdom; revelation of His word; power of His Spirit.
Everything should be done to build up others in the faith, not tear them down. Ephesians 4:1-13 ; Jude 20-25. This may require speaking hard things to people, but how we do it is important. The reason should be to encourage, exhort, and build up. 1 Timothy 5:1-7 highlights how any teaching and correction in the body of Christ should be done with care, and in a personal way.
God’s Word, through the working of the Holy Spirit is what will convict people of sin and guide them into all truth as they seek Him. (Hebrews 12: ; John 16:13)
Therefore, we should leave judgment to God and simply speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
What if someone speaks falsely against us? Jesus cites Deuteronomy 19 in answering this question in Matthew 5:38-42, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
—We should even be seeking to build up those who are trying to tear us down! It is not possible for a person to have this outlook apart from the Love of Christ.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).
Jesus, help us!
How we live our lives should be a clear picture of the mercy of our Savior and everyone’s need for Him. —2 Corinthians 4:1-12.
Let’s get rid of secret ways which always seek selfish ambitions and distort the word of God.
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This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!