During this pandemic I have been watching way too much television. One of the shows we have been watching as a family is the game show To Tell the Truth. This is a celebrity television game show based on the original show of the same name that ran from 1956 to 1978. The premise of the show is a panel of three celebrities meet three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent, job or achievement. One tells the truth while the other two try to deceive the celebrities. The panel of celebrities have a chance to question each participant before taking turns deciding who they think is telling the truth. In a nutshell it is a game about deception and deciphering the truth from lies.
I mention this because we are continuing our study on the Ten Commandments and we are nearing the finish line as I talk about commandment 9 “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Or as many have come to know this commandment as “Do not lie.” As we begin to delve into this commandment and passage I think it is important for us to know and understand that this commandment means more than just not lying. Bearing false witness goes deeper than lying, it is actually a judicial term because in ancient biblical times witnesses were important in the courtroom process. They did not have body cams, smart phones or other recording devices to verify ones claims. In court the defendant had to depend solely on witnesses and their creditability and corroborating evidence. A witness needed to be trustworthy and honest. So really this commandment deals more with loving your neighbor as yourself and integrity other than just being a person who tells the truth.
It is safe to say that telling the truth and telling lies are completely opposite of one another and the Bible has much to say about them both. We see from start to finish there is a battle between truth and deception and who/what are behind each one respectively. We know in the end truth wins, but that does not mean the battle will be easily won. My goal for today is to look at some passages pertaining to these contradictory terms and conclude how this commandment applies to us and how we can live honorable lives before God by rejecting deceit and embracing the truth. However, before we can fully understand this command, I believe it is important for us to begin with looking at truth.
“What is Truth?” This was the question Pilate asked Jesus in response to his claim, “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify of the truth” (John 18:37, 38). Interestingly the Apostle John does not write Jesus’ response to Pilate. Did he say anything? Did he give a dissertation on truth and John failed to write it down? Was what Jesus said kept from John? Was it not important? For some reason John does tell us. He does say that after Pilate’s encounter with Jesus that he declared Jesus innocent.
We often, and most correctly equate the truth to a word that means honesty, purity and integrity. But I would suggest the truth is more than a word, it is a person, the second person in the Trinity… Jesus Christ. We are told in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and with Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in John 17 :17 Jesus says, “Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth.”
In Ephesians 6:14 we are told, “Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist.” The belt or girt in Roman armor (which is probably the style of armor Paul is using for the example) was a vital piece of the armor. It was usually a 6-8” leather belt that every piece of armor was attached to and was used to tie loose flowing garments. Without the belt nothing would be secured, and the armor would eventually fall off or hinder the soldier. It was a foundational piece of the armor. The truth is foundational to the believer because Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except through me.” Thus, we rightly conclude that Jesus is the belt, He is the truth that holds everything together. Spiritual victory is hinged on the truth of Jesus and the Gospel... The truth. We are in a vigorous battle for truth and God wants us to tie up our garments and connect our armor to the belt of truth of the Gospel and to allow this truth to be the foundation of all we that are in Jesus.
So, we see the truth is the Word, the truth is God and the truth is Jesus and all are one in the same. Thus, we conclude that Jesus and all He does (his life, death, and resurrection) represents truth. So why is telling the truth so important? Because the truth is the very nature of God/Jesus and in order to reflect the true character and nature of God we must speak truth and make every effort to be truthful in our speech and actions.
Lies & Deception
So, if the nature of God/Jesus is truth then in contrast the nature of Satan/Devil is lying. Jesus says in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Deception and lying is Satan’s nature as Jesus says when he lies, he speaks from his own nature. Satan is liar and a deceiver… this is his job and it is what he does. He is a liar to the extent that Jesus call him the “father of lies.” What does this mean for you and me? It means that when you willfully and knowingly lie and deceive you also take on the nature of the devil. When you twist the truth, deceive, lie (even the “little white ones”) you are doing the work of the devil. I know this sounds harsh and maybe even condemning (or convicting) but the is what the Word of God says, and the Word of God does not lie.
The Face of False Witnesses?
If the truth looks like Jesus and lies and deception looks like Satan, then what does bearing false witness look like to us today? As I stated earlier in the message that commandment nine is not just about lying. It certainly includes lying, but it does go much deeper. I mentioned that this commandment deals more with the great commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself than it does to just being someone who does not lie.
Four Faces of Bearing False Witness – These are four ways or areas where we break commandment 9
The Bible has much to say about dishonesty, deceit, and lying lips and much about faithfulness, honesty, and integrity. Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are detestable to the LORD, but faithful people are his delight.” God hates when we lie but delights in us when we speak truth.
Proverbs 6:16 – 19 say, “The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.” Twice in these verses we are told that God hates lying. This is not redundancy for the sake of redundancy, it is there for a reason and I think we need to take note of this and see how this affects the way we talk to and treat others.
Honesty Is Such a Lonely Word
In the end, when all is said and done our words matter. We must be careful with how we talk to and about others. The damage we can do to a person’s reputation can be irreparable if we are careless, hateful and deceiving with our words. Sadly, I have found that it is much easier to convince someone to believe something negative about a person than it is to convince someone to believe something positive about them. I have also notice that when people embrace a lie, deception or falsehood about someone, it is hard to change, and in some cases impossible, their minds and convince them otherwise.
What is our takeaway for today? They are simple… If you are a Christian then use your words for God’s glory and edification of others. We should not embrace deception, division, gossip, or slander in our words or actions. As Christians we should speak well of and to one another. We must purpose in our hearts to be kind to each other by speaking the truth to and about one another.
Finally, our words must be truthful and trustworthy at all times… Why? Because we have a message of truth to proclaim and we need to be trustworthy if we want people to receive and hear the truth of Jesus Christ. Because why should people trust us as we speak about eternal things if we cannot be trustworthy in speaking about earthly things. This is a hard reality. We must always speak truth and embrace truth because Jesus is truth and we all need to cling to him and the trustworthy promises of His Word.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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