“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
Proverbs 6:16-19, 19:22
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
John 8:44-46, 14:6
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. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my [David’s] house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my [David’s] eyes.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. Examine the two Exodus verses. What does the ninth Commandment mean by “bear false witness against your neighbor“? Is bearing false witness limited to an adjudicative scenario? What are some other ways to bear false witness against someone?
2. Is lying that does not involve a neighbor bearing false witness? (Ex: “I ate two cookies,” when you really ate three or “This car you’re considering buying has never been in an accident,” when it really has.) Is God OK with these kinds of lies since they aren’t specifically prohibited in the ninth Commandment? Why or why not?
3. Going back to the immediate context of the ninth Commandment, (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation), why would it have been important to civil and criminal law and order for Israelites not to bear false witness in court cases? How would this standard of truthfulness in legal matters have set Israel apart from the pagan nations surrounding them and have been a witness to those pagan nations of the one true God?
4. Study the Proverbs 6 and Revelation verses. How does God view lying? What are the two types of lying mentioned in verses 17 and 19? Consider the following words and phrases. How are each of these a form of lying: concealing facts, slander, libel, gossip, breaking promises, failure to tell the whole truth, deception, white lies, cheating, spinning or slanting the facts, embellishing, exaggerating? According to Revelation 21:8, what is the punishment for liars? Which liars?
5. Consider what the Numbers 23 and John 8 passages say about the nature of God and the nature of Satan. Whose nature is truth? Whose is lies? What are some ways God exemplifies truth and Satan exemplifies lies? Whose nature are God’s people to emulate? Why? Are we representing God well to others when we lie, break promises, or fail to be people of our word?
6. Examine Proverbs 30:5, John 17:17, and 2 Timothy 2:15. Why is the Bible called “the word of truth”? Has anyone ever been able to prove any part of God’s word to be untrue? Why is it crucial to mankind’s relationship with God that the Bible be true? How is truth foundational to trust? How does it malign God’s truthful nature when we don’t trust Him? Why is it important that Christians handle God’s word correctly and truthfully?
7. How would you restate the ninth Commandment as a positive (a “Thou shalt ____.” statement rather than “Thou shalt not ____.”)? What are some ways the Psalm, Colossians, and Ephesians verses indicate that God’s people should walk in truth? Can you think of other passages that exhort Christians to be truthful?
Are there any areas of your life in which you’ve failed to speak and live truthfully? Repent to God and to anyone you have deceived, lied about, or been dishonest with and tell the truth.
Ironically, sometimes the hardest truths to tell are God’s truths. Is there someone you’ve failed to share the truth of the gospel with? Have you been dishonest with others, yourself, or God about a sin in your life? Have you “softened” the gospel or any of God’s teachings about sin and difficult issues when speaking to others because you’re trying to be nice or keep the peace? Have you overlooked an issue that needs to be addressed with God’s truth because you’re afraid? Are there any parts of the Bible you refuse to submit to because you think they’re wrong? Ask God to reveal to you any situations in your life that need a healthy dose of biblical truth, and pray that He will give you courage and wisdom to “speak the truth in love.”