The False Witness

If you do not have adequate connections, people in powerful places, lying on the witness stand in a court of law can land you in a heap of trouble. And rightly so. The truth is important. God established that long ago.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
– Exodus 20:16, ESV

God’s statement on truthfulness is succinct and clear. The context of this commandment is certainly not the court of law described above. I do not need to be in a court of law to construct and spread a slanderous untruth about my neighbor. Consider that we are currently moving into yet another of the seemingly endless political seasons. Heave a heavy sigh now, because the barrage of lies is about to begin.

You shall not bear false witness against your opponent. If we were to do a Damon paraphrase of this commandment, it might read something like this:

“Do not intentionally speak or write with the intent of injuring another or deceiving others by constructing or repeating a false and damaging report.”

God has much to say about speaking truthfully.

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.
– Exodus 23:1-3, ESV

You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
– Exodus 23:6-8, ESV

Are you getting the idea that truth matters to God? I hope so, because it does. Leviticus 6 describes it as a breach of faith against Yahweh to lie to one’s neighbor.

As I write this, the current outrage among the believing community is directed at the abhorrent activities of “Pride Month.” I share that revulsion, but I caution against being consumed with disgust for the gross perversion of human sexuality while having little disregard for untruth, for God does not turn a blind eye to it.

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
– Proverbs 12:22, ESV

Furthermore, I am persuaded that “bearing false witness” extends well beyond speaking ill or untruthfully of a neighbor. Bearing false witness can (and I believe does) include speaking untruthfully of oneself – representing myself to be someone or something I am not.

Pretense. Duplicity. Hypocrisy.

Consider the conclusion of this excerpt from Ephesians 4:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
– Ephesians 4:22-25, NIV-1983

One of the greatest honors ever paid me was intended to be an insult. “Well, with Damon, what you see is pretty much what you get.” The unspoken jab she intended with that was, “and that ain’t much.”

What she meant as a slap-down, I wear as a badge of honor because it speaks of one who wears no masks, who bears no pretense. What you see is what you get.

When we engage in falsehood, we align ourselves to one with whom we ought not be aligned.

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 does not stand in the truth, because there is no 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, ESV

The very concept of lying originated with Satan – the “father” of lies. When we engage in this devilish practice, it will not just slide with God as though it never happened.

A false witness will not go unpunished,
     and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

– Proverbs 19:5, ESV

A false witness will not go unpunished,
     and he who breathes out lies will perish.

– Proverbs 19:9, ESV

Any time a scriptural concept is emphasized through redundancy, we need to pay heed. Even flattery is called out in scripture – those times we speak untruthfully in order to charm someone, perhaps to gain their favor.

Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
     with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the LORD
cut off all flattering lips,
     the tongue that makes great boasts,

– Psalm 12:2-3, ESV

A deceptive refusal is also considered ungodly behavior.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
     when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
     tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

– Proverbs 3:27-28, ESV

For the Christ-follower, the message is really simple: Speak truthfully. Shun duplicity, flattery, and hypocrisy. Let your “yes” be a yes and your “no” be a no.

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon
Twitter – @DamonJGray
Facebook Author Page
YouTube Channel

Posted in

Damon J. Gray

By commenting, you agree to the Long-View Living Comment Policy.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.