In a world full of deceit and lies, you may find it increasingly difficult not to break the ninth commandment. Political figures, news reporters, financial agents, and many others twist and manipulate words to suit their needs. Consequently, it is common in our society to mislead children and lie to others to “protect” them.
The question we should be asking ourselves is: How does God feel about this? Surely God’s opinion of these sort of actions is expressed in His word. In our efforts to abstain from the evils of this modern word, we must look to the bible to understand what is bearing false witness against a neighbor.
Understanding the 9th Commandment
In Ex 20:16 and Deut. 5:20, we can find God’s commandment against lying.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Ex. 20:16)
God commands us not to to bear false witness against our neighbor. What does it mean to witness? To witness (a verb) is to know, to hear, and to provide evidence for something. In this case God says we are not to bear false witness. This means we are not to make claims and assertions of events with disingenuous evidence. Note that a witness is someone who testifies to the fact of something or against the fallacy of something. So a witness is to be honest and truthful.
To further understand the idea of bearing false witness we must look at other verses.
“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment… Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.” (Ex. 23:1-2,7)
Here we can see that we are expressly forbidden to participate in the circulation of false reports nor can we testify in a certain way that would cause people to pervert justice. We also are to refrain from matters that would cause us to deal falsely.
Notice what God says in Lev. 19:11-12:
“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.”
Notice there is a connection between stealing, dealing falsely, and lying. When a person steals, he typically covers up the theft by lying about his whereabouts then misleads the victim to believe that the theft could have been done by someone else. These commandments (and all others) are interconnected. This is why it is said if your break one commandment you break them all.
Take the time to read Deut. 19:15-20. In these verses, God gives laws of how to deal with a false witness and sets the guidelines for accusing any man of sin. Note that sin could not be establish by one witness. This was to prevent false witnessing.
After speaking of being the new man, Paul immediately says, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:25) This is the focus of the 9th commandment: every man speaking truth to his neighbor. It is in this practice a society of honesty and trust can be created. If people told the truth all the time, there would not be any breaking of the commandments that pertain to interactions of people.
“A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.’ (Prov. 14:5)
This verse is very straightforward. A false witness is a liar.
“The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.” (Prov. 19:22)
Solomon wrote this from the wisdom God had given him. So in God’s wisdom, a poor man is better than a liar. There’s a clear reason for this and it can be understood if we look at the context of this verse. There is a obvious connection between having kindness, being poor, and being a liar. A poor man is more likely to be humble and kind whereas a liar is not. Ask yourself this question: Is it kind to lie? Certainly not. This is the reason why this verse is written this way. This is God’s wisdom analyzing the character of a liar.
“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (Prov. 17:4)
A liar listens to an evil tongue. Once a person becomes a liar they are subject to listen things that they should not.
“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” (Prov. 10:18)
Hiding hatred is a a form of lying, but notice God calls the men who do these two actions are listed above as fools. A lair is a fool in the eyes of God. Additionally, someone who hides their feelings about someone else is likely to take actions against the person hated. Just consider what transpired between Julius Caesar and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
“His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.” (Ps. 10:7)
Someone who speaks with deceit and fraud are up to mischief and have a spiritually empty agenda. Generally speaking, when a man speaks with deceit he has probably done something wrong or he is planning to do wrong. We also should know this from personal experience. We must be prudent at analyzing ourselves the way God does so we can repent and change from our wicked ways.
While talking to the Jews, Jesus said the following:
“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.” (John 8:44 KJV)
Liars are consider the children of Satan. This is how God feels about those who bear false witness to mislead others from truth. God did not create mankind to deceive and harm each other with ill words and deceit. This is why He declared that we, “shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” in Lev. 19:18, Matt. 19:19, Mark 12:31, and many other verses.
God Will Punish All Liars
“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” (Prov. 19:5)
This verse is so important it is repeated in Prov. 19:9 just four verses later. God intends to punish those who bear false witness with lies. God does not like lies. Lies are an abomination to an honest God (Prov. 12.22).
Let’s look at two prophecies concerning the fate of liars.
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.” (Hos. 4:1-3)
Read verses 4 and 5 as well. Notice God says through the prophet Hosea there is no TRUTH in the land therefore God has a controversy with the people of Israel. The word controversy means a contest according to the Strong’s Concordance and a contest is a struggle, conflict, or dispute. The absence of truth, along with every other issue mentioned, will bring horrendous consequences because God will not tolerate dishonest conduct.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:7-8)
If you think lying is a small thing, this verse should make you reconsider that notion. Here, John records a list of characteristics and labels of people who will take part in the second death. Consequently, we either have to scratch this verse out of our bibles or take God’s warning seriously. Consider the fact that lying is typically a sin used to coverup other sins committed therefore it warrants the same punishment. God’s kingdom will not be filled with people who do not take bear false witness as seriously as He does.
If we strive to keep all our actions honest, there would be no need to tell any lies.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]” (I Peter 1:15)