Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 20:16
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16
We are now on the ninth commandment which we see above in our focus verse.
This commandment forbids any type of lying or deception which can or will be at the detriment of our neighbor. And by our neighbor is meant any person. This can be lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor. This can take the form of either lying to the person or lying about them. This idea of bearing false witness is mentioned many times in the bible, and pretty much exclusively as a negative idea. In the book of proverbs it says, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:” Proverbs 6:16. In these seven things God hates, you will find at least two that are intended in this ninth commandment. “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” Proverbs 6:17-19. God himself considers these as an abomination to Him.
Now this does not include playing jokes on someone, such as telling them their favorite football team, like the Seattle Seahawks lost when they actually won, you forgot to pick up their shirt at the cleaners when it is sitting in your car, or that you like a certain food that you really do not. These are harmless words that have no real negative impact. The types of deception intended here is what can cause problems to them.
The idea of bearing a false witness is one who stands up and swears before others that something untrue is true, especially with the intention of hurting someone else or ruining his or her reputation. David experienced this and he prays that his adversaries do not get their desired objective. “Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.” Psalm 27:12. and the Jewish leadership searched for false witnesses against Jesus but were not successful. “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.” Matthew 26:61.
Another example of bearing a false witness is to tell a person to perform an action that will benefit them which actually has a negative outcome. I remember being invited to a presentation where several men were offering income to people who would give them 100 leads, they could pursue for selling a service, and after all these leads were used up, then they could begin earning money themselves. After asking a few questions, I realized this was a scam and the intention was to exhaust their benefit entirely from their family and friends. Once they determined I had figured this out, several men asked me to follow them, and they proceeded to make me leave. One of the clues that led me to question it was they locked the door with a key from the inside.
The lies told by a false witness come from the sinful human heart. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:19-20. Their only intention is to benefit in some way from another’s demise. This shows no love for anyone else but themselves, working solely for their own benefit. This is not what God has called us to. We are to do good to everyone over and above our own self. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.