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Bible verses about Ninth Commandment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:16

To make a bad witness through ignorance or weakness is one thing, but to know better and deliberately mislead surely compounds the transgression! Why do we lie? We lie to cover up; we fear that something we wish to hide will be exposed. We also lie to rise above our feelings of inadequacy or inferiority or to lower a third party in the eyes of others. This latter reason tends to elevate ourselves in our own eyes and, we hope, in the eyes of others.

Consider the use of cosmetics in this regard. Makeup is frequently used to hide, to cover up what we consider to be inadequacies of beauty. But by whose standard are we inadequate? Are we really being a true witness of ourselves?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:16

The ninth commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20), protects our relationship with God because by seeking and bearing true witness to the truth, we can have a relationship with God. God is truth (John 14:6), and he who speaks truth from the heart abides with God (Psalm 15:1-2). Speaking the truth also shows love toward our fellow man (Ephesians 4:15). Lies of any kind—bald-faced, white, or anywhere in between—cause separation and distrust, while truth, though sometimes hard to bear at first, produces unity and trust in the end.

Martin G. Collins
The Ninth Commandment


 

Exodus 20:16

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" has very far-reaching spiritual applications. Bear means "to spread, carry, render, or give." At first glance, the commandment appears to involve only lying in a court of law, and this might be true if the words in the commandment were to be taken only at face value. Jesus clearly shows that there is a "spirit," an intent, to God's laws in addition to the letter that carries their application far beyond mere face-value judgments.

Many scriptures show that the commandment covers lying under any circumstance, including hypocrisy and self-deception. That is, it covers any wrongful word or example that would tend to injure. The ninth commandment is in a similar position in man's relationship to other men as the third commandment is in man's relationship to God. This commandment directly involves faithfulness and loyalty in our speech and in our witness for God before men.

Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold." The Soncino Commentary remarks that a person's good reputation, his name, is his most valuable asset. Indeed, the Bible shows that God guards and protects His name very jealously. This is because His name represents what He is.

So it is with us. But why do so many lie, sowing the seeds for the destruction of their reputation? It is the desire for the approval of others that leads them to twist a story or to deliberately exaggerate or diminish their parts in it in the retelling.

When we hear a name, images of that person and what he or she is immediately spring to mind. What we are and how others perceive us has everything to do with what we believe and practice. So, is what we believe and practice true? If we want to have a good name (reputation) in the eyes of both God and man, we, too, have to recognize truth—wherever and whenever it arises in daily life—understand it, and submit to it. This process produces faithfulness.

This is where truth in a person's witness begins. If truth does not form the foundation of a person's life, he is already behind the eight-ball to some extent. The urge to lie must be met and overcome. At the base of this problem is a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) that continually lays traps to make lying an appealing course to follow. Besides lying before men, some of us keep lying to ourselves, and thus our name before God is not good. Faithlessness is the result. In order to have a good name, we, as God's children, must face up to our vanities and quit deceiving ourselves that God will just have to take us as we are.

We need to stop blaming our failures, problems, and shortcomings on others, which tendency provides us with justifications for what we are and what we do. Within the family, Mom and Dad are frequent targets of this. They are usually guilty to some extent, but God puts the pressure on us to change. Change will not occur in this way of life until we face up to the truth that we are responsible for what we are. We also bear much of the responsibility of becoming what we hope to be. Nobody can do this for us.

This is the day-to-day "stuff" on which trustworthiness and righteous reputations are formed. They are built on the witness of what we do before others. God wants our reputation before men to be built, first, on His truth and then on truth in general. Are we honestly doing this as well as we could be?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Deuteronomy 19:15-21

If enacted today, the Old Testament law—that a false witness would receive the same penalty that would have been given to the accused—would substantially reduce the number of lawsuits in our courts! People sue indiscriminately because they have no penalties to fear. God considers such things as abominations!

Martin G. Collins
The Ninth Commandment


 

Deuteronomy 32:5-6

Here, God's people have rejected following His example in order to practice and live by lies that bring only destruction and death.

Notice the contrast to us as shown by Jesus in the New Testament. Revelation 19:11 testifies of Him, "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war." Jesus says of Himself in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." This statement confirms the faithfulness of His nature: He is reliable, trustworthy, and of unwavering integrity.

What does being trustworthy mean in practical application? Who does God show are the most important persons to the overall welfare of the community, state, or nation? It is not the doctors, lawyers, politicians, or businessmen but the preacher and the king because they should teach, administer, exemplify, and provide the values upon which the community will function. God expects those values to be His.

What does God consistently show in His Word? Notice the context in which these verses appear. In both Deuteronomy and Revelation, a new culture, a new nation, is either being established or about to be established. God is indicating that the preacher has a slight edge in importance.

When God established Israel as a nation, He first appointed and sent the preacher—the prophet Moses. In the New Testament, Christ came first as a rabbi, a preacher to teach the way of God. Upon His resurrection, He became our High Priest, a post that has both religious and administrative functions, and He will return as King to administer God's Kingdom. This is why God's Word places so much importance on these two community positions. The preacher should exemplify God's values and deliver instruction containing them, and the king should live them and administer them to the nation.

Without true values, civilization will soon descend into revolution and anarchy. God's doctrine is true and faithful. It will produce gently and without corruption, or as Moses puts it in Deuteronomy 32:2, it will "drop as the rain" and "distill as the dew," whereas a hard-driving rain destroys. Any society or family built on God's doctrines will prosper and become great.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Psalm 15:1-3

David describes a person in whom is no false way at all, no pretenses, deceit, gossip, guile, or hypocrisy. He neither makes hollow friendships nor speaks vain compliments. His heart, hand, and tongue are unified in believing and practicing truth. He is faithful, responsible, and trustworthy, a person of integrity because his heart is pure. Therefore, his speech and example witness of truth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Psalm 15:1-5

It was surprising to discover two new things in this passage. The first is that while Christians usually choose Psalm 23 as their favorite psalm, Jews often choose Psalm 15. The second is that the Hebrew of the phrase "who shall dwell" does not suggest "living in," but rather "visiting with"—that is, being acceptable to come into God's presence. In other words, the psalm has at least an equally strong present tense application as it does a future one.

It is essential, therefore, for us to consider whether God allows us to visit Him, and thus whether He hears our prayers. The person who has these qualifications most certainly will be heard. In him is no false way at all, no pretense, no deceit, no gossip, no guile, and no hypocrisy. He has no hollow friendships, nor does He give vain compliments. His heart, hand, and tongue are in unison in believing and doing truth. This is a model for all of us to strive to reach.

Proverbs 25:19 instructs us, "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint." Faithfulness always indicates a person who deals truthfully; he can be trusted. Yet, dealing with unfaithful people is usually painful because one never knows whether they will come through. Thus, our evaluation of ourselves comes down to this question: How can God trust us if we are not striving to be honest now?

II Corinthians 4:1-2 sets a standard:

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

Paul's proclamation fits right into the description of the acceptable person in Psalm 15. Our responsibility is to manifest truth. We must make honest and diligent use of God's gracious gifts without craftiness. Is our way Christ's way and therefore acceptable to God? Can we say that we have nothing to do with hidden and shameful methods?

Paul is not saying that we act with unscrupulous cleverness, but that we do not adulterate truth in any form at all. By making truth clear, whether in word or deed, we commend ourselves both to human conscience in the sight of God and please Him at the same time. We should be childlike and open, leaving as little room as possible for people to misinterpret our motives, misunderstand our actions, or twist our words out of their real meaning.

Does it make any difference what people think of us? Some take the approach that "I'm going to do what I want to do, and what others think doesn't matter." However, it matters very much to God. If it did not, He would not show such concern in His Word regarding being a good witness for Him. Nor would He warn us about protecting our reputation—or His—because much of our effectiveness in witnessing depends on our being trustworthy.

Keeping the ninth commandment begins with not letting our deceitful heart trick us into doing anything less than what is honest and true in God's sight, regardless of what we think men might discern from what we say or do. To do this, we may have to override strong internal drives to make ourselves look good, but doing what is right is something that must be done to remain pure and glorify God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 13:15

When a person consistently has a perception of what is true and lives it, he gains a force of beauty of character. In other words, faithfulness creates favorable impressions that open doors for him.

For example, to whom would we rather loan money, to a person with a record of steady work and payment of debts or to one who cannot keep a job and consistently defaults on his obligations? Which one is more likely to get the loan? A person of good character recognizes his responsibility to truth, understands it, and submits to it. This produces the witness that glorifies God.

If a person will not follow this process, he will not have the good character and the good name to go with it. If he recognizes and understands his problem but does not submit to the truth, he is deceiving himself.

This principle holds true in every area in which a name is built, including marriage, childrearing, and health issues. Many run from the truth about themselves. Hardly anything will destroy a reputation quicker than for others to know an individual is lying to himself about what or how much he eats, his failure to discipline his children properly, or his careless inattention to his spouse. Such faithlessness provides a strong foundation for hypocrisy.

The ninth commandment not only covers bearing false witness verbally, but also bearing false witness about one's relationship with God by displaying a spotty example of conduct, all the while claiming to be Christian. To make a bad witness in ignorance or weakness is one thing, but to know better and deliberately mislead is another matter altogether.

Why do we lie? Often, it is to cover up our irresponsibility. We fear that something about ourselves we wish to keep hidden will be exposed, so we lie to protect the image we want others to see. We also lie to rise above our feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. We also do it to lower a third party in the eyes of others, which, of course, has the effect of elevating ourselves in our own eyes and, we hope, in the eyes of others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 16:6

We overcome lying because God mercifully but forcefully brings it to our attention by revealing His truth. When we submit to His truth rather than our self-deceptions, we are beginning to overcome.

Commentators suggest an alternative translation of this verse: "By loyalty and faithfulness one escapes evil." The sense is that loyalty and faithfulness to God's truth are essential elements to escaping the second death. Obeying truth does not forgive sin, but it plays a part in cleaning our minds of the garbage of bad habits lodged in our character so that we are less likely to involve ourselves in sin. God's truth says we must not bear false witness, and that must be obeyed!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 16:6

If a person is ever going to change, he must confront his fault, since there is no magic bullet! The proverb's advice can be understood this way: By God's mercy and truth and by our recognition and use of truth, iniquity will be purged because we fear God and submit to Him. One commentator renders the last line of the proverb as, "By loyalty and faithfulness one escapes evil." Another translates it as, "By one's loyalty and faithfulness to God's truth one will escape evil." "Evil" implies the second death. Living the truth does not forgive sin, but it does help to purge the mind of its habitual focus on sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 26:18-19

These two verses begin a section largely devoted to illustrating the fruits of lying. They might be better translated as, "A man who deceives his neighbor and disguises his deception as a joke is as dangerous as a madman shooting arrows at a crowd. Someone will surely get hurt." Lying is never a joke, and someone always gets hurt, even though it may not be immediately apparent. Lying is sin and sin brings death. Do we believe this in the actual practice of life? Though the lie, when discovered, may cause laughter, a reputation has been stained and trust diminishes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 26:23

This verse to the end of the chapter speaks primarily of hypocrisy. Verse 23 describes a person who claims to be a friend yet deceitfully works against another through "clever" language. The lips "glitter," but the heart is false. Silver dross hides the reality of a clay pot just as clever words can hide a corrupt heart.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:24-25

This continues the thought in verses 22-23, but it focuses on friendly words concealing hatred until the person sees the chance to pull the other down. He may speak graciously, but be careful! This sounds similar to the way the media approaches public figures, who are fair game for every abominable accusation, though they are unsubstantiated.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:26

This verse is directly connected in thought to the previous ones, telling us in no uncertain terms that this sin has an obvious boomerang effect! The liar will fall into the pit he digs for others, and in the process, he will be exposed before others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Jeremiah 5:30-31

Every piece of information that we need regarding what was occurring in Judah is not supplied in Jeremiah 5, but the basic lie was religious. It was Baalism, to use a general term. It began when the priesthood deceived itself into allowing a bit of falseness to creep into their preaching, and they convinced themselves that a little bit would not hurt at all. It would be all right. What they did over time was to gradually severe their mooring to God's law and the restraints contained in it.

The implication in verses 30-31 is that even those who say that they are looking for truth really are not. When a society gets this corrupt, they have no idea what truth is anymore, and God says they had come to the point that people loved to be lied to.

A few years ago the whole nation watched the Senate hearings concerning Oliver North and Iran Contra. It was interesting, in terms of this sermon, because Oliver North admitted that, in the national interest, he lied to a Congressional committee. That was his justification: It was in the national interest to lie. Oliver North came out of those hearings a hero. The people loved it because of his persona. He "looks" so nice, so clean. He was so dynamic and sharp. Yet, he was a liar! And the people loved it.

This is actually not unusual because we have reached the state in American culture where lying is taken for granted in the political arena, in the relationships that we have with other nations. It is part of the game. Everybody knows that everyone else is lying in their national interest. Nobody trusts anyone else.

President Eisenhower lied to the whole nation when Gary Powers was shot down in a spy plane over Russia (the U2 incident). So, in a report to America, he lied. Did President Nixon lie to us? Of course he did. And who knows how many other lies are said for the sake of politicians' careers!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 1)


 

Matthew 5:34-37

Jesus advises us not to swear at all, but to say simply, "Yes" or "No" (verse 37). If we are honest, we have no need to take an oath. He goes so far as to say that anything more than "Yes" or "No" has its source in the father of lies (John 8:44)!

There are several aspects to these verses. The overall statement Jesus makes is that we do not need to swear by anything to confirm that our statements are true. A Christian's word should be his bond, as the old saying goes. We should be so bound by the ninth commandment that nothing else is necessary.

The not-so-obvious meaning of these verses is that we should not lightly give an oath or make a vow to God to acquire something. We have many desires, and some might take it upon themselves to ask God for them, promising to perform a certain deed if He gives it to them. Jesus warns that once we get what we want, we may forget what we promised to perform. Numbers 30 shows that God does not take reneging on our promises lightly.

Should Christians make vows today? God tells us the best course to take in Matthew 5:34, "But I say to you, do not swear at all." James writes that it is best not to make them so we do not "fall into judgment" (James 5:12).

Though God advises us not to vow, we can still make vows if we so choose. In making one, however, we should consider the examples of Hanna and Jephthah. We should seriously contemplate what we are requesting and what we are promising, always asking ourselves, "Can I make good on what I've promised?"

We are a special people to God. He has called us, and has great love for us. He hears our prayers as we obey and love Him. We should give a great deal of thought to whether we need to make a vow when we have such instant and open access to the very throne of God. He does indeed hear our prayers, and He answers them according to what He sees is good for us. Why should we make vows when we know that He will give us or deny us what is best for us?

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Should We Make Vows Today?


 

John 1:47

This verse is an interesting commentary on mankind regarding the sin of lying, which is so common that it seems to be "in the genes"! Jesus seems pleasantly surprised at Nathanael. He describes a person without deceit, a simple, innocent person without subtlety, candid, and sincere. Is this a compliment or mild sarcasm? Or is He saying, "Here is a genuine Israelite, one in whom is no falsehood?" If so, He means, "This is how an Israelite should be!"

Regardless, Nathanael's lack of guile impressed Jesus, indicating its rarity. Lying is such an integral part of our lives that we have coined such expressions of disbelief as "Is that so?" "Do you really mean it?" or "You don't say!" because so many tales we hear stretch credulity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

John 8:44

A quick look at this world reveals that its loyalty is to Satan, who influences and rules it. He lies from the very depths of his character. In contrast, God does not and cannot lie, for truth is a primary attribute of His character (Hebrews 6:17-18; Numbers 23:19).

Martin G. Collins
The Ninth Commandment


 

Galatians 6:7-8

God cannot be fooled, and liars seem to forget His awareness. While they mind, or side with, the things of the flesh, they put themselves in jeopardy of reaping what they have allied with - death. We cannot treat His law with disrespect or contempt and get away with it. Just as gravity cannot be tricked, neither can God's law. We are accountable to it whether we wish to be or not.

What we do in life, life does back to us. We cannot escape it! If we sow to death, we will reap death. If we sow to life - eternal life - we will reap life. Jesus asked, "Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?" (Matthew 7:16). A hypocrite cannot fool God's laws, only others and himself - for a while.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

James 1:26

Putting a bridle on our tongue is absolutely essential because a liar is not merely deceived. Each additional lie gets him in deeper and deeper until he loses track and believes his own lies. He tells them or lives them so often that, like an alcoholic, he loses his grip on reality. Each lie adds to the difficulty of changing for the better. If it continues, the person becomes addicted to it as a way of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

 




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