God gave us 10 commands that if obeyed can make life a lot more pleasant to live and make us more pleasing to God. I’d like to talk about the ninth commandment.
You shall not bear false witness.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Honesty must always characterize our speech and conduct. To bear false witness against our neighbor is an affront to a holy God Who is Himself “the truth and the life”
Being honest, however, means more than just not telling a falsehood for there are many ways to lie.
A person lies when they tell something they know to be false, but they can also be lying by not telling ALL the facts of a matter if done with the intent to mislead. This is why when you swear an oath in court and promise to tell the truth, you are instructed to say… “I swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth”.
A person can lie without intent to deceive, we call this a ‘white lie’, a lie told to spare someone’s feelings. Most people believe this kind of lie is not really bad. After all, it was done with good motives, so as to not hurt someone. While it is true that society could not function if everyone was completely honest all the time (many of us would be fired on the spot or in divorce court) it is important to remember that using white lies to avoid confrontation can lead to even bigger confrontations. We should check our motive with this type of lie, are we telling it to spare feelings, or to mislead, or just to avoid confrontation?
Another type of lie is a broken promise. We all have had to break a promise at one time or another. It is just a fact of life that things can happen that cause us to have to change our plans. But it is lying to make a promise with no intention whatsoever of keeping it.
One type of lying most people do not consider lying is the spreading of rumors and gossip about another person. We often speak these things as if we know they are true when in reality we’ve not bothered to go to the person concerned and ask. I think it is safe to say if we gossip and spread rumors that are not true, it is lying and God will hold us accountable.
Exaggeration is also lying. It is mixing truth with falsehood, and if the person you’re talking to does not know you are doing the mixing of truth and lie and believes it all to be fact, then you have lied to him. Tall tales are different, tall tales are told to an audience who understands there is exaggeration going on and done for entertainment.
Deception, pretending to be something you are not. Even if it is self-depreciating it is still a lie.
Bold-faced lying, the deliberate lie, the telling of what we know to be false as if it were true, that is told to deceive another, is probably what most of us think of when we think of the ninth commandment or bearing false witness.
If you stop and think about this passage in scripture all of those things God says he hates… involve some sort of lying.
I think it is safe to say that lying or being dishonest is hurtful not only to ourselves but to others, most importantly to God who has revealed himself to us as The Truth. Satan, the adversary of our souls is said to also be the father of lies, and it was his lies in the garden that caused our separation from our Creator, which cause our Lord and Savior to suffer and die in our place. Lying has severe consequences.
John 8:44 – Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
We see a lot of lying in our society, amongst friends and family, in the workplace, in politics, and even in the news which is supposed to be where we go to get the facts. Lies are told often to promote an agenda. Lies are also told to cover up crimes and corruption. It is important for Christians to be able to discern truth from lies and to speak the truth in all things.
Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips [are] abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly [are] his delight.