Do you also find you speak without thinking? I’m certain we all do. We hear or see something and without thinking it through we might respond with a comment. Speaking without thinking! Have you ever passed comments about a person or people without hearing the other side of the story or without doing proper investigation to determine whether the story you heard was in fact true? Speaking without thinking! Have you noticed how the news media and politicians tend to do just that … and it seems they have enmity. Remember … every person other than yourself is your neighbor … that means, before we speak we need to consider how to protect and preserve our neighbor’s reputation. The Ninth Commandment says:
Ex 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Within the desert culture Israel lived in, all crimes were capital crimes meaning that even false testimony was equivalent to murder! If anyone thinks they are a step ahead of God when it comes to giving a testimony against another:
Deuteronomy 17:7 “The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death”.
To prevent giving false testimony, should the accused be found guilty, the speaker (witness) needed be the first in line to execute the death penalty. Maybe this sounds severe in the day we live in but for the Israelites as they travelled through the desert they needed to be a people who stood together in unity, truth and purpose. Speaking badly against another, if it was untrue, would affect the loving, caring relationship God required for His people. God prohibited any form of damaging another person’s image and name because of jealousy, inferiority, superiority or greed.
1) The purpose of the tongue. Always remember, all of mankind are created in the image of God even though this image is hugely marred. Because of the “image”, defaming someone is defaming God.
Jas 3:9 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”
Before we consider anything else, the organ known as the tongue was given by God to be used to firstly worship (praise) Him. This includes singing and praying but it also refers to the way we speak about God and for God. Sadly this organ’s use has deteriorated into one of unrighteousness, spreading hatred because of anger and selfishness. You need to see the flow of how this Commandment works …
2) Truth comes from the tongue of God. The Bible teaches that there is One, True, Living God. He presents Himself in three persons, so when Jesus speaks it is God speaking
Jn 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
He says He is the Truth … God is Truth and from Him all Truth arises. God speaks through His Word and this is what we find regarding the Word of God:
Joh 17:17 “your word is truth.”
Yet there is the opposite to truth.
Joh 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The staggering reality is that every time we tell lies or give false testimony, we are agents of the devil promoting his cause and purpose! Shocking? Reality!
3) Some applicatory issues relating to this Commandment.
(a) Speaking the gospel badly. Here I am not referring to being a bad witness through living sinfully. I am speaking about sharing the gospel and the recipient rejects what you say and you respond badly, aggressively or abusively. Our duty is to speak the gospel and leave the results to God the Holy Spirit.
(b) Slandering people. Look at what surrounds slander
1Pe 2:1 rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
It’s horrifying to see what goes before “slander”. Sin generates slander and remember, those slandered are also made in the image of God!
(c) Being a false witness.
(i) The writer of Proverbs 12v22 speaks of lying lips. People who tell lies might feel great when they pull the wool over someone’s eyes. They might feel they pulled off a great act but God feels differently
Pr 12:22 “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”
(ii) Consider the seriousness of telling lies to church leaders and the congregation.
Ac 5:3 ‘Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.’
There are many ways people lie to the church. It could be shaped in actions and words, especially portraying themselves to be what they are not.
(iii) False witnessing. Lying about another person is almost like a death sentence. You damage their image, character, reputation and name.
Pr 25:18 “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.”
(iv) False Oaths. Taking an “oath” or “swearing on oath” does not only happen in a court of law. It could be signing a document such as an affidavit. It could be at a bank, Departments of Home Affairs and Revenue Services … declaring you have given the correct information.
Zec 8:17 “do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.
(d) Lying to yourself. There are two problems when you lie. Because you know you are lying, you are lying to yourself.
(i) When you lie you forget what you say. It’s easy to remember the truth because it is truth. You forget your lies and this is what catches you out. Consider any cross examining attorney in action. They thrive on catching liars out.
(ii) There are times when you repeat a lie so often that you actually believe the lie you crafted to be the truth. This is dangerous and brings you into the sphere of pathological! Now … God is Truth and He requires we His people be people of Truth. Consider the areas where this daily Notes has hit home in your heart and pray through those issues seeking our Lord and Master’s help and healing.
Dear God of Truth and Justice, mercifully forgive me for each time I have broken this Commandment. Grant me a pure tongue to honour Your precious Name. Amen.