[Exodus 20: 16]
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 10th session on the Ten Commandments, and I will talk to you about the 9th commandment saying, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Some of our members or even among worldly people there are some who confidently say they do not lie, but actually even those people do tell small and big lies.
Dirt cannot be easily seen in the darkness, but when bright light shines, even a little bit of dirt and stain will be revealed. In the same way, in view of God, who is the truth itself, most people are telling lies.
Therefore, I urge you to check yourself through this message as to whether or not you have any falsehood.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be acknowledged as children of light who do not have any falsehood before God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, false witness means, firstly, to say something that is not true by saying you did not do something you did, and you did something you did not do.
In a court trial, we can see very clearly how bad false witnessing is.
In the court, the words of a witness directly affect the verdict and immediately affect the outcome as a result. Because of a false witness, an innocent person may be condemned, and even the life or death of that person can be decided.
That is why God says both the witness and the judge who is listening to the witness must be very careful.
Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.
It tells us that we must not listen to only one witness but many people and understand the situation correctly.
Also, following verses, 16 to 20, tell us the punishment for bearing false witnesses. It says, “. . .then you shall do to him (namely the false witness) just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. “The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.”
It tells us to punish the false witness with the punishment that the wrongfully accused could have received.
But this commandment about false witness is not only about these official things. Holy children of God should cast off all kinds of lies in their lives, even very trivial ones.
Although those lies do not cause any damage to others, they are still untruth.
Sometimes, even though they do not directly tell a lie, if they keep quiet when they have to tell the truth, this is also a deed of falsehood.
For example, when you see somebody else is wrongfully accused for your wrongdoing and if you keep quiet about it, you cannot boldly say, “I did not tell a lie.”
Or, there can be the following case: when you buy some commodities, the shopkeeper may give you extra change by mistake, and if you just take the change with your greed knowing about it, you cannot be a truthful person. God does not just want us not to tell a lie but He wants our heart itself to be true so that all our words and deeds will be truthful.
And there are things that people sometimes call ‘white lies’.
It is not a lie that you tell for your greed or to cause harm to others but rather for the benefit of others you tell a lie.
For example, in Korea, when somebody asks around meal time whether they already ate, some people say they already ate though they did not actually eat.
They do so considering the other person, so that the other person is not put through extra work for them.
We can see this kind of case in the Bible, too. For example, when Saul was trying to kill David for no reason, some others around David had to lie to Saul in order to save David. In 1 Samuel chapter 20, Jonathan, the son of Saul, hid David in the field. But he didn’t tell the truth to his father, Saul, but he said David had gone to meet his brothers.
Because Saul was intent on killing David immediately, and the life of David was in great danger, Jonathan was in a position where he could not tell the truth.
Of course, this is not something perfect.
But in Jonathan’s position, he still did the best he could to save David, whose life was in danger.
And when you do not seek your own but tell a lie with truly good intention from heart, God does not unconditionally condemn you for that lie you told.
But if you enter into a higher level of goodness, this kind of situation is not made at all in the first place. Without having to tell a ‘white lie’ you can move the heart of the other person and God works in such a way that you will avoid such a situation.
But some people tell a lie seeking after their own benefit, but after that they say they told that lie with good intention and for another person.
But you cannot cheat God who is looking at your inner heart.
I hope you will have truthful hearts and receive wisdom from above so that you can always speak virtuous and gracious words.
Brothers and sisters, secondly, the term ‘false witness’ includes adding or omitting something when you deliver a message.
You do not deliver the word of another person as it was spoken, but you add or omit something with your own thoughts and feelings. As a result you deliver a different message.
If you try to deliver it in a good way, that is better, but if you deliver it in a bad way and cause misunderstandings, that is a problem.
Even if you deliver exactly the same words, according to the intonation and accent you may impose, the meanings can be different.
For example, saying “Why is that?”, with a tone of concern for the other, “Why is that?” and with an angry tone, “Why is that?” have completely different meanings.
Of course, it is very difficult to deliver somebody else’s message exactly the same way as he said, like an audio recorder. But you still have to try to deliver the original intention of the one who said those words as precise as possible.
Also, even if you can deliver the intention correctly, if it is not gracious or edifying and is not truth, you should not deliver it.
Even though you are delivering the message with good intention, the listener’s heart will be broken, and this results in alienating people from each other. Matthew 12:36-37 says “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I hope you will not speak any words lacking benefit, words that alienate one from another, or words that cause pain to others, but only gracious and edifying words so that you will be called righteous before God.
Thirdly, if you speak words that judge and criticize somebody without really knowing his heart, it is also false witness.
When people see others’ faces and actions, or they hear their words, they do not accept them as they are spoken. They more often judge the heart and intention of others with their own thoughts and feelings,.
They think that particular person said something because he had a particular kind of mind, or that person acted that way with a certain intentions in mind. For example, suppose a situation where a junior or subordinate does not stay very close to a senior because he feels not very easy to talk to his senior. The senior may misunderstand this person.
This senior may think, “He is acting like that because he has some resentment against me because I rebuked him before.”
A person may have a bad eyesight or may be pre-occupied thinking of something else, and he just passed by an acquaintance without seeing him. But the other person may misunderstand thinking, “He ignored me.” Or, “Does he have some bad feelings towards me?”
Also, looking at a person suffering from severe pain, one may think, “He is exaggerating.”
He says that he has suffered from the same disease, and the pain was not that great.
But even in the same situation, the feelings and thoughts are different from person to person, and even in the same kind of difficulty, different people have different strengths to overcome them. Also, even though you have quick wits and you are very close to somebody, it is difficult to understand that person’s whole heart.
Even between a husband and a wife who have lived together for decades, there may be misunderstandings. And there are many people who misunderstand, judge, and have ill-feelings against, and slander and criticize others only according to their own standards.
The other person actually do not think like that at all, but those who misunderstand also believe firmly that they are right, so they spread something that is not true, and consequently, this becomes false witness.
When you spread something that is not true, there are also some people who agree to that statement and participate in judging and spreading bad things about others. This is also the foolish act of participating in false witness.
Brothers and sisters, those who judge and slander others according to their own standards should realize that their condemnation is actually being applied to themselves. Most men of flesh show some kind of evil action in a certain situation, and they think that when others are in the same kind of situation, they will show the same kind of evil action.
In other words, because they have deceitful minds, they also doubt others thinking that they are deceitful as well, and if they have some kind of bad thoughts seeing something, they also think others will have the same kind of bad thoughts looking at the same thing.
Because they themselves look down on others, they misunderstand other person’s behavior and say, “He is ignoring me and looking down on me.”
If you have any experience of being misunderstood by others, you would understand how painful and difficult it is to be condemned and judged wrongfully.
Therefore, I urge you not to judge or condemn anybody according to your thoughts and standards.
Matthew 7:12 says, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:1-5 says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
If you are talking about other people’s misdeeds and criticizing them, you should realize that you have greater evil than they have. You can discern the wrongdoings of other people only when you cast off your evil and become sanctified.
But in fact, if you cast off all evil from your heart, you wouldn’t want to see the faults of others. Rather, you want to see only good things, and even if others have made some mistakes, you only want to keep them to yourself and not reveal them to others.
James 4:11 says, “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.”
It tells us that judging and condemning brothers is a great evil. It is trying to become like God who is the only judge.
I urge in the name of the Lord that none of you commit this kind of great evil act.
One more thing you should remember here is that you should not judge God’s word with your thoughts. With God’s power, God can do even the things that are absolutely impossible within the limits of men.
Therefore, I urge you in the name of the Lord that using your thoughts you will never say something is wrong, in contradiction, or in error with the word of God.
Brothers and sisters, even though they do not have evil intentions, people many times tell trivial lies.
For example, in their thoughts, people exaggerate or diminish some things about a particular matter.
If somebody says, “I’ve eaten a lot of them,” they say to another person, “He said that he has eaten them all.” If somebody says, “There’s a little left,” they repeat it to another person saying, “[He said that] there is next to nothing remaining.”
Or, you may hear from a couple of people giving same opinion about some matter, and you say to another person, “Everybody has the same opinion about this.”
Or when you spread some news to others, you say something different according to your own thoughts about the matter.
Once, at a meal table where I was eating with many people, I said, “The table looks a little meager.”
I didn’t refer to the number of dishes we had, but I meant the amount of food in each dish was not enough.
Because many people were eating together, I was hoping there would be enough food so that each person’s plate would have enough on it because each plate didn’t seem to have enough food.
But somebody heard me say this, and said to another person, “Senior Pastor said that there is no meat on the dinner table.”
When I said that the table looked a bit meager, he interpreted that I meant there was no meat dish. So, even though he was saying something I had never said, he didn’t realize he was telling a lie.
Of course, these things may seem trivial. They don’t do it to harm others. They are not telling evil lies or trying to judge others with evil. Nevertheless, if you are adding or subtracting things like these in your words, you should realize the more fundamental problem that is in you.
If your heart is filled only with truth, you won’t add or omit anything, even very small things.
Even in a case where the listener wants to hear more and you don’t have much more to tell, you only tell what you know. You don’t add your feelings and thoughts and say it is like the truth.
You only accept the truth as it is and you deliver it as it is.
Therefore, if you lack truthfulness in your words, even though they are small things, you should realize that your heart is not filled with truth and you still have nature of falsehood in you. If you haven’t cast off the root of that falsehood, in a very desperate situation, you may also tell a lie that causes harm to others.
I hope you will not just ignore even small things but as you find anything, please cast it off completely, so that you will change into perfection.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, I talked to you about the ninth commandment telling us, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Other than these kinds of lies that people usually think of as being forms of false witness, adding or omitting something and judging, condemning, and criticizing another person’ heart are all false witnesses before God.
I hope all you members will have clean heart that has nothing to do with falsehood and lies even about small things as children of God who is light.
Therefore, as said in Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly,” I pray in the name of the Lord that God will shine your ways, become a shield in your difficulties, and pour down good things abundantly in your lives of walking in the truthfulness.