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            A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement with the intention to deceive, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, or to avoid punishment. To lie is to state something one believes is false with the intention that it be taken for the truth by someone else. A liar is a person who is lying, who has lied, or who lies repeatedly.

            This morning, we are going to examine the ninth commandment which says, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. This commandment in essence protects the reputation and integrity of others, as well as, ourselves. In other words, God desires for His people to truthful. As I have stated earlier in the preaching of these Ten Commandments, they are a reflection of the character of God. And we know from Scripture that God does not tell lies. In fact, all through Scripture God is portrayed as a God of truth.

            In Exodus 34:6, as the Lord revealed Himself to Moses, He proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth." As David prayed after God made a covenant with him, he exclaimed, "Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth" (2 Sam. 7:28). David prayed and exhorted in Psalm 25:4-5, 10, "Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me... All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." In Psalm 31:5, he calls the Lord, the "God of truth," as does Isaiah in 65:16. Poetically, as David pondered the Lord's protection, he mused, "For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds" (57:10). Zechariah speaks of the Lord's restoration of His people in which the Lord declares, "I will be their God in truth and righteousness" (Zech. 8:8).

            In the New Testament, John tells us that Jesus is "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14); and that "the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (1:17). Because God is the God of truth, He can only be worshiped "in spirit and truth" (4:23-24). Jesus Himself is the truth, so that if we know the truth the truth will set us free (8:32). He told the religious people of His day, "I speak the truth" (8:45). Indeed He does, for He is "the way, the truth, and the life" (14:6).

            Further, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of truth" (14:17; 15:26; 16:13). He declared as He prayed to the Father, "Thy word is truth" (17:17). The revelation of God in the gospel is called "the truth of God" which men exchange for a lie (Rom. 1:18). The gospel is called "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:14). Paul declared that God "cannot lie," so His promises are faithful and true (Titus 1:1-3).

            As you can see in these verses that God is a God of truth and truthfulness reflects His nature. So God commands us to portray His nature to the world by being truthful. And when we lie, we offend the God of truth.

            Yet, our culture is full of lies. According to some surveys, it suggests that 91% of Americans lie on a regular basis. In fact, some people cannot even go a day without telling a lie. People tell lies for a number of reasons. I want to name just a few.

            One reason people tell lies is that people are jealous about other’s success and desire to be equal to them, if not better than them. Some people cannot stand for others to flourish while they lack behind these individuals in athletics, academics, business, reputation or prestige.

            Some people lie because they want to cover up a mistake or misdeed. King Saul did this in the Old Testament. After the Lord had given specific command to King Saul to "utterly destroy" the Amalekites and all that they had, Saul went into battle and met with great success. However, he did not obey the Lord's command. He kept the Amalekite king Agag alive, as well as "the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good" (1 Sam. 15:9). When the prophet Samuel came to meet him, Saul, knowing that he had not fully carried out the Lord's command, met Samuel with these words: "Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord" (15:13). Clearly, he sought to deceive Samuel by giving an answer before the question came concerning the Lord's command. "I have carried out the command of the Lord."

            But Samuel replied, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Saul continued to get deeper into the scheme of lying. "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed" (15:15). Did they really have the intention of offering sacrifice or instead, having a giant barbeque? Later, Saul puts the blame on the people, "the people took some of the spoil." In other words, it wasn't me. One lie led to another to another. The pattern of covering one's tracks, to impress others, and even attempt to impress the God who sees everything, shows the folly of lying. Who did Saul deceive with his lies? He certainly didn't deceive the Lord or the Lord's prophet. Saul deceived himself in thinking that he could prosper before the Lord by lying concerning his disobedience.

            Today, politicians, celebrities, religious icons, etc. have lied to cover up things that have been wrong in their lives.

            Some people lie to try impress others. Remember several years ago in the sports world when a coach was caught lying on his resume. A young coach applied for a job on the staff of Syracuse University. He was asked about his athletic background, so amidst the truth, he wrote in his own hand that he lettered three years in football at the University of New Hampshire. Twenty-one years later, this coach had been successful at an ACC head coaching job, and then was hired for his dream job: coaching Notre Dame football. A couple of days into the job, a reporter trying to write about the path that George O'Leary had taken to the one of the top coaching jobs in the country discovered that O'Leary never played football at the University of New Hampshire. In an effort to bolster his resume and impress an athletic director two decades earlier, his lie caught up with him. He lost his coaching job and reputation overnight. He wanted others to have a certain impression of him that was not true, so he lied.

            So you can see that people lie for various and multiple reasons. Yet, as I have stressed Christians obey the Ten Commandments because of what God has done for us in the work of Christ. We are not saved under the Law (because we have obeyed the commandments to earn or merit salvation, but we are under the Law (as a pattern for life and in response to what God has accomplished for us in His Son Jesus Christ). So the Law serves as a tutor, mirror, a signpost leading us to a Savior. Alec Motyer put it this way, “In Christ the law becomes a minister of life to those who set their feet in its path.”

            Lying takes on many shapes and comes in all sizes. Before we draw application for this commandment, I want to spend some time speaking to the possible context in which it was written. Again, I remind you that this commandment is broad in its nature. Phil Newton, pastor of Southwoods Baptist Church wrote, “As with the other commandments, this one takes the worst application as an example for the whole family of this sin. Just as murder is the apex of hatred and bitterness, adultery the apex of lust, and stealing the apex of coveting, bearing false witness against one's neighbor takes lying to its ultimate platform for evil in the community of relationships.”

            The literal reading of this verse is you shall not be a lying witness against your neighbor. Immediately when we read these verses our attention turns to the courtroom setting. When people testify today in court they must swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and not just part of the truth. We have the means to investigate truth that the ancient tribes of Israel did not have. We have investigators, DNA evidence, forensic scientists, tape recordings, video tapes, data files, and many other tools for determining a person's guilt in a particular accusation. But the ancient world differed greatly.

            The evidence presented in the courts of the ancient world mostly relied on the testimony of witnesses. In many ancient cultures, just one person witnessing against the accused would be enough for the death sentence to be delivered, and that without the accused having the right to explain or defend himself. As Douma observes, "So witnesses could hold decisive sway over life and death" [314].

            God's law provided for two or three witnesses to testify against the accused in the case of a capital crime. "On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness" (Deut. 17:6). And to make matters more telling, "the hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death" (Deut. 17:7). If a witness fabricated his story in order to do harm to another, then the same punishment that he sought for the accused would fall upon him (Deut. 19:16-19). A person's life rested upon the accusation of his neighbor and the testimony of others in the community.

            In the New Testament, Jesus demanded truthfulness among His followers. If you will turn in your Bibles to Matthew 5:33-37. "Again, you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is in the city of the great king. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’; any more is from the evil one."

            You see Jesus criticizing the Pharisees. They had developed a scheme in which they could swear by certain objects and fudge on telling the truth. For example, some would swear by heaven or by earth or by Jerusalem or by their own heads. As long as you swore by these things, you did not have to tell the whole truth. But the moment you swore by God, you better not break your vow.

            So what Jesus says is that you should not take any oaths at all. In other words, our speech is either going to reflect the Lordship of god on or lives or our speech is from another source the evil one. Our speech falls into one or two categories. As I stated earlier speech that reflects the Lord is truthful because there are no lies in God.

            Yet, it is a different story for those who consistently lie because they reflect the nature of another one who can never tell the truth-the devil. The Bible describes him as a liar and a father of lies. Listen to the words of Christ about the nature of Satan. Jesus was speaking to many Jews who claimed their father to be Abraham but was denying Christ and His works. So Jesus said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

            On of the clearest examples of Satan’s lies is found in the very first sin committed in the Garden of Eden. Remember, God had placed Adam and Eve in a pristine estate to enjoy all that He created, but He only made on demand of them and that was not to eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan slithered in one day and convinced Eve that God was basically holding back on her and Adam every good thing. He convinced her that she would not die if she ate of the fruit just like God said would happen. So ever since Satan has convinced many others to believe the same lie that God is holding certain good gifts from us.

            So false witnessing, like all the other sins are a matter of the heart. It is out of the heart false witnessing comes. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you" (Proverbs 4:23-24). Right at the point of instructing us to be careful with our heart—the attitudes, thoughts, ponderings, leanings, and ambitions—at just this point, he also counsels us to put a deceitful mouth and devious speech away. It starts in the heart, making sure that we are regularly drawing near to the Lord through the Word of God and prayer and worship. If we get careless with our heart—which goes right back to the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life—then lying will come easily.

            Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 6:10 that people who habitually do certain things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In Ephesians, we are told to put away falsehood and slander (4:25, 31). In Colossians 3:9, we read, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you put off the old self with its practices.” Peter says to put away all deceit (1 Peter 2:1). So lying is not to be a part of the life of a Christian.



            Now that we have got a general idea of what this command entails, I want to draw some application. As I said all the commandments are broader than the one example mentioned in the Ten Commandments. So if perjury was the only crime committed in this command most of us would be fine, but there is more to this command that just perjury. Alistair Begg gives some helpful insights to the application of this command. He said, “This commandment tackles the ebb and flow of life at home, in the community, and the church. It is here that we come face to face with our proneness to engage in false judgments and unfair criticism, to use flattery, and to join harmful whisperers’ society that trades in juicy rumors.”

            One sin that can apply to this command is slander. Slander is a false or malicious statement or report about someone. Remember the Pharisee who went to pray in the Temple along with a sinner and prayed, “I thank you that I am not like all other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). It is good discipline to test your speech by asking yourself when your speech concerns others: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Slander usually fails in all three counts but sometimes only on two. Just because a thing is true does not give us a right to report it.

            Begg wrote, “When we engage in slander, we defame others and seek to exalt ourselves. Those who indulge in the habit of running down their neighbors by making false statements or by enjoying lies and false reports are guilty of slander. Stirred by hatred or jealousy, the slanderer gathers little groups in the corner of the room. There are often under the pharisaical disguise of a matter of prayer, he passes on confidential tidbits of information that are calculated to destroy the reputation of those who are not there to defend themselves.

            Another form of lying is gossip. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” All of us has been hurt by gossip because we have had a friend report to us what another has said about us in our absence. Pascal wrote, “I lay it as a fact that if all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.” Solomon said, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8).

            We can only imagine how many friendships broken, reputations ruined, and homes destroyed because of gossip. So when you find yourself on the receiving end of gossip ask the person if you can quote him or her or simply state you are not interested in participating in untruthful talk.

            A close cousin to gossip is rumor. Chuck Swindoll pictures rumor as “a monstrous giant, capable of prying open more caskets, exposing more closet skeletons and stirring up more choking scandalous dust than any other tool on earth.”

            In 1887 the coffin of Abraham Lincoln was pried open to determine if it contained his body. What makes that act so remarkable is the fact that Lincoln’s body had rested in that coffin for 22 years. Yet, even more amazing is that 14 years later a rumor circulated again that Lincoln’s coffin was actually empty. The furor so gripped the land that the only way to silence it was to dig up the coffin—again. This was done and the rumor silenced when a handful of witnesses viewed the lifeless body of Abraham Lincoln.

            The final form of lying is flattery and exaggeration. If gossip is saying something behind a person’s back that we would not say to his face, then flattery is saying to a person’s face what we would never say behind his back. Proverbs says that a flatterer spreads a net for the feet of his unsuspecting victims. Psalm 12 tells us that the Lord will cut off all flattering lips.

Exaggeration is another way to distort the truth. We exaggerate to gain others favor such as telling a boss how great a speech he presented. We exaggerate to impress others. “It was so cold where we were,” said the Arctic explorer, “that the candle froze and we couldn’t blow it out.”

“That’s nothing,” said his rival. “Where we were, the words came out of our mouths in pieces of ice and we had to fry them to hear what we were talking about.”

I have already stated that lying is a matter of the heart. But there are basically two things that keep us breaking the ninth commandment: pride and fear. The only cure for this problem is the cross. Two great hymns speak to these two problems. When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride; what have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arm.

The good news is that all our lies and deceptions were laid upon Christ at the cross. When He died on the cross we became the beneficiaries of His obedience. Skip Ryan wrote, “All the merit of Christ, who perfectly kept the Law, perfectly obeyed the truth, is given to you. You give Him all the filthy rags of your lies. He who never lied hung on the cross as a liar. When God looks at you and me, he sees the perfect righteousness of Christ’s truth-keeping.”

It is my union with Christ that secures His love for me and should therefore change my attitude toward the duties that I perform. I cannot secure any more of God’s love by doing my duty, since that love is secured for me by the complete work of Christ. If my striving made God love me more, then there would be times that I would question or doubt God’s love for me because I have not strived enough. But because of Christ’s work on the cross and my union with Him, then I need never doubt that I am fully loved.

Folks, what I am saying is this salvation is impossible with men, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

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