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Bible verses about False Witness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:16

Speech is arguably man's greatest gift and at the same time his most dangerous ability. It is impossible to estimate the good it has done when great men and women have truthfully instructed and inspired others. By contrast, we cannot measure how much evil the tongue has perpetrated, for falsehoods disguised as truth have destroyed reputations and even nations.

God devotes two of the Ten Commandments to the evils of false witnessing, the third and the ninth. These seem to be broken with impunity—sometimes even by those who are aware of their application—because the drives that motivate people to break them are so powerful.

God commands, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," but liars and lying abound. Everybody knows that marketers lie about what products can do. Books, magazines, and movies feature liars of many different stripes. The media and the public have caught prominent government figures from presidents on down lying about important issues.

According to an article by Jan Mendenhall in the June/July 1997 issue of Aspire, college kids lie to their moms in 50% of conversations. Dating couples lie to each other a third of the time, and spouses deceive each other in about 10% of major conversations. Twelve percent of four million Americans lost their jobs for "misrepresentation." A November 1997 survey conducted by the publishers of Who's Who Among American High Schools Students reveals that 76% of the students listed in their publication (supposedly the elite achievers) admit having cheated. Two-thirds of these believe it is "no big deal" to cheat to get a good test grade—and 65% of their parents agree!

We use a large number of euphemisms to soften the act of lying. Some are: duplicity, fabrication, evasion, stringing someone along, inaccuracy, exaggeration, fudging, rationalization, falsehood, "whopper," deception, misrepresentation, dishonesty, putting someone on, putting up a front, and fibbing.

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


 

Proverbs 12:15

One who perceives the truth has a force, a beauty of character, which creates a favorable impression that opens doors and accomplishes things. Would we not rather loan money to a person we know works hard and pays his debts than a person with poor work habits who defaults on his obligations?

A wise person is one who recognizes truth, understands that he must meet his obligations and submits to it. This process produces a good witness whether the obligation to truth is met verbally or behaviorally. If a person will not do this, he deceives himself that he can somehow "get away with it," and his witness and name will demonstrate his poor character.

This principle holds true in every area of life upon which a name is built, whether in marriage, child training, employment, or health. Many run from the truth about themselves. Nothing destroys a reputation quicker and more permanently than for a person to be known as a liar or a hypocrite.

Therefore, the ninth commandment covers not only making a false witness about another or an event with the tongue, but also not bearing false witness about God by our conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:22

Human nature greedily swallows gossip. God warns here that gossip is never superficial but that we thoroughly assimilate it to become part of us. Lies about others die hard because, in our vanity, we are so eager to elevate ourselves while mentally putting down another.

Here is a good maxim to live by: Never believe anything bad about a person unless you know it to be absolutely true; never tell it unless it is absolutely necessary; and remember, fear God, for He is listening while you tell it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Amos 5:12-13

Again, Amos describes injustice in the legal system. The rich and powerful hired false witnesses, just as was done against Jesus (Matthew 26:59-60) and Stephen (Acts 6:11). The poor, without the financial ability to hire high-powered lawyers to handle their cases, were helpless before them.

What was the effect of this? "Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time" (verse 13). The poor could only wait quietly for the judgment of God, since they were powerless to appeal to the judgment of men through the civil authorities.

Today, many people are afraid to help the police because they fear that, if they go to court and testify, the accused felon or his friends will take some kind of retribution against them or their families. For just this reason, we have rampant problems with inner-city gangs and organized crime.

Our criminal justice system is so lax and unjust that the odds are good that an accused criminal will be acquitted through a technicality or receive a very short sentence. In our nation today, crime does pay! No wonder witnesses are afraid!

We find in America a very large but timid group that the media call "the silent majority." Though predominantly conservative and moral, these people allow themselves to be led by a vocal minority that espouses radically liberal views. Though they privately denounce high taxes, homosexuality, rising crime, illegal aliens, gangs, corrupt government, and so on, "the silent majority" publicly "keep silent."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 7:10-13

In Amaziah's accusations against him, Amos was tested in several ways. The accusations were very pointed, designed to raise his anger and hatred so that he would respond in a way that would "show his true colors." In reality, Amos' true colors did surface—that he was a true man of God!

Amaziah misrepresented him as disloyal, often the first accusation made against a true servant of God. The Jews accused Christ of rebellion against the Roman government, a totally unfounded accusation. In Amos' case the accusation was equally unfounded.

The priest accused Amos of saying that Jeroboam would die in battle (Amos 7:11). He was really tricky. To prove that Amos had said this, he quoted something the prophet really did say: "Israel shall surely be led away captive" (Amos 5:27; 6:7). In reality, the prophecy made no mention specifically of Jeroboam. Amaziah's false accusation was supported with something that was true.

The Jews tried this with Christ too. They used, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19), as proof that He would destroy the Temple (Mark 14:58). They misrepresented what He said because He did not refer to the physical Temple. This is one of Satan's frequent ploys.

A second way that Amos was tested is in his motivation for serving God. Amaziah charges Amos with preaching for selfish reasons, for money, represented by, "Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread" (Amos 7:12). Amos, a Jew, was preaching in Israel. To paraphrase, Amaziah said, "If you go back to Judah and tell them what you have preached against Israel, they will love you. They like hearing bad things about Israel! They will fill your basket with big offerings, and you'll be rich!" If Amos were not a true man of God, he might have swallowed this enticement.

Third, Amos was tested in his personal security. A threat implied that if he did not leave Israel, he would get hurt: "Never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is the royal residence" (verse 13). This test evaluated Amos' ability to confront authority. In referring to "the king's sanctuary, and . . . the royal residence," Amaziah warns him: "This is the national cathedral! What you say shouldn't be uttered in a hallowed, sacred place like this. It is dedicated to the welfare of Israel. In saying such things, you are challenging the king's authority." His ploy failed, though, since Jeroboam seems to have taken no action against Amos.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

John 17:17

The Greek word translated "truth" is aletheia, which most closely resembles our English word "reality." It means "the manifested, unconcealed essence of a matter." A living, saving faith depends upon the premise by man that God is true in His being and character. The truth forms the basis for a person's conversion.

Consider this: There is a Personal, Living, Almighty God whose ways and laws are reality in spite of the way things may appear to our senses (II Corinthians 5:7). They are intrinsically right and true. Therefore a person who is honest, who is willing to speak the truth, who will acknowledge and submit to it when he sees it, will eventually be converted to be like God.

We are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). God, as Creator, is making us kings and priests to administer and teach a way of life based upon revealed truth. Because He desires to share and perpetuate what He is with an entire Family of children bearing His characteristics, He cannot have anybody in His Family who does not embody truth as Jesus did.

"You shall not bear false witness" thus has far-reaching spiritual applications. It is not a commandment that we can carelessly ignore as being insignificant compared to other "more important" ones. The word "bear" indicates "spread", "carry", "render," and "give." At first, it seems to involve only perjury or gossip, but other Scriptures show it covers giving a false witness, example, or impression under any circumstance, including hypocrisy and self-deception. It includes the giving of testimony (verbally or by example) in any case that tends to produce injury. The ninth commandment regulates man's relationship to other men much as the third commandment does in man's relationship to God. This commandment directly involves faithfulness and loyalty in our mouth and example for God before men.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

 




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