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Let us begin our study on the ninth commandment by turning to Exodus 20:16.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy brother."
A falsehood includes any misrepresentation. We can tell a lie by our words, and even by the expression on our face. We can tell falsehoods by overstating the facts and by withholding the truth. We can break this commandment by participating in gossip and slander.
Jesus loves the beautiful life of always telling the truth.
He loves it would we do not misstate or misuse the facts so as to deceive.
He loves it when we are transparent.
He loves it when we refrain from speaking about someone with the intent to ruin their reputation.
Jesus hates any intention to mislead.
He hates any intention to deceive.
He hates any exaggerated impression.
He hates the suppression of truth.
He hates the misuse of facts so as to mislead.
He hates any intent to ruin another person's reputation.
He hates evil surmising that causes injury to others.
The ninth commandment falls within the last six commandments that deals with man's relationship with man.
The first three commandment on the second table of the Decalogue deal with human life in both its physical and moral aspects:
5th Honor father and mother
6th Thou shalt not kill
7th Thou shalt not commit adultery
The last three protects another's property
8th Thou shalt not steal
9th Thou shalt not bear false witness
10th Thou shalt not covet
Let us compare the ninth commandment, Thou shalt not bear false witness, with the command "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Matthew 22:39.
The command to love my neighbor as myself would logically forbid me from bearing any testimony by word or conduct that would injure my neighbor's reputation.
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." Proverbs 22:1
With a good name you can build a business, you can lead or work effectively in many areas. But if someone ruins your reputation it makes life very difficult. Therefore to steal someone's reputation would be worse than stealing some object from them.
Character is what you are-this is how God sees you.
Reputation is our neighbor's opinion of us and is therefore wholly in their keeping. When we ruin someone's reputation we affect how others look at him, even though it doesn't affect how God looks at him.
There are actually two commandments that deal with protecting another's reputation
3rd Not taking God's name in vain
9th Thou shalt not bear false witness
We are not to ruin God's reputation by misrepresenting God in word or conduct. And we are not to ruin our fellowman's reputation by bearing false witness.
Truth is eternal
Jesus is the Truth. John 14:6.
Jesus is "the faithful Witness" and "the faithful and true Witness." Revelation 1:5; 3:14.
Jesus came to our world to bear witness of the truth. John 18:37.
If we would belong to Jesus, we must align ourselves with truth.
Falsehood is temporal and is of the devil.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44.
So we had better know the truth and always speak the truth.
Perjury is the bearing of false witness while under oath to tell the truth.
Justice is based only on truth, and therefore, a false testimony brings about a miscarriage of justice. For this reason perjury is made a criminal offense.
False testimony can rob another's possessions, his reputation, his liberty, or even his life.
Judges who are bribed can condemn the innocent and let the guilty go free.
As a rule in a court of law, a man is innocent until he is proven guilty, and the proof that condemns him must be "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"All liars" and "whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" will be excluded from the heaven, and will "have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Revelation 21:8; 22:15. See also Proverbs 12:22; 19:5
Words represent what is in our heart. We shall be judged by our words because they represent what is truly in our hearts. See Matthew 15:19; 12:34-37.
What is the difference between an unconscious falsehood based on misinformation or lack of knowledge and deliberate lying? Does our lack of information or inadequate secondhand information give us a license to ruin another's reputation? No.
The Bible says, "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." Proverbs 6:16-19.
It would seem that it is as much a sin to circulate malicious lies as to manufacture them.
Slander is probably the worst form of bearing false witness, which is a falsehood deliberately invented and maliciously circulated.
The devil is the greatest slanderer, "the accuser of the brethren." "Devil" is the Greek name for "accuser" and "slanderer."
"He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool." Proverbs 10:18
Talebearing is the repeating of evil reports without ascertaining whether or not they are true. The circulation of any story that reflects on the reputation of another is a violation of the ninth commandment.
"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." Proverbs 26:20. See also Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 11:13; 18:8.
The one who spreads malicious gossip is a false witness, and those who listen to such gossip are also guilty. In the same way, he who knowingly buys stolen goods from a thief, is himself a thief.
Even silence under some circumstances, when you know the slander to be false and do not speak in defense of the person defamed, is false witnessing.
When you remain silent when it is in your power to defend, by failing to speak well of him that has been maligned, by encouraging talebearing with eager listening, we participate in ruining the reputation of another by our silence.
Satan questioned, "Doth Job fear God for nought?"
It is very difficult to removed seeds of doubt. This has always been one of the devil's most effective devices to malign.
If you are looking for faults in others, you will likely miss their good qualities, and only find the faults that you are looking for. Such people are like vultures, which while circling the sky looking for putrefying bodies, miss the beautiful landscape that surrounds them.
Flattery is always an exaggeration of the truth and is therefore a lie.
The tongue is a mighty power for good or ill, and it should therefore be kept under careful control.
In closing, it is vital that we tell the truth as it is in Jesus. He is the truth. John 14:6. It is truth that sanctifies. See John 17:17.
In the end, God will have a people who will follow Jesus wherever He goes. Revelation 14:4. They will follow Him who is the Truth. There will be no guile in their mouth. Revelation 14:5. There is no deceit in them. There is no desire to misrepresent the facts. No desire to mislead. They are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:5. They have been sanctified by the truth, and in them is no deception, for they are one with Christ Jesus, who is unto them life and sanctification.
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