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Is False Witness Lying?


is fale witness lying?

A reader asked, “Is bearing false witness worse than other lies?”

Yes, it is and this becomes clear when you read all of the ninth Commandment:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Deuteronomy 5:20

The first 5 commandments deal with our relationship with God and His representatives, our parents. The second 5 with our relations with others.

Lying is simply saying something that is not true, an offense to the Lord Jesus who tells us He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Every lie is a sin, and even in those cases where it is not condemned it is still a sin, perhaps a lesser than an alternative, but a sin none the less.

Lying as a Lesser Sin

The first example we see of this is with the midwives who disobeyed Pharaoh’s commandment to kill every Hebrew male that was born:

But the midwives feared God and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied and waxed very mighty.
And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. – Exodus 1:18-21

The second example is of Rahab who hid the spies Joshua had sent to Jericho and told the king’s messengers:

There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. – Joshua 2:4-5

In return for her courage and fear of the LORD, Rahab’s entire family was saved when Jericho was destroyed. More wonderful still, she is included in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5 and gets 2 other commendations in the New Testament, one for her works James 2:25 and the other for her faith, Hebrews 11:31.

God Sees the Intent of the Heart

Obviously, God’s grace had touched these gentile women and inspired faith and the fear of God. The point of focus here is intent, which God sees:

the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

God wants us to love Him and our neighbor. Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments in two:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.– Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-39

The Ten Commandments were driven by love expressed in reverence to God and kindness to others. The second part of the 9th commandment links it to Jesus’ exposition. Behind the sin of false witness, lies the sin of malice, the desire to hurt someone else. (read more about Jesus in AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST)

False Witness Driven by Lust:

We see this as we look at some examples of false witnesses in the Bible. First, we have Potiphar’s wife who smeared Joseph by imputing her own lust on him and telling her husband lies:

And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. – Genesis 39:18-20

But this is not the end of the story.

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper. Genesis 39:21-23

Three years later, Joseph became ruler of Egypt, and Potiphar had a new boss. We are not told what happened to his wife, but we can imagine.

False Witness Driven by Covetousness:

Second, we have Jezebel who wanted to get a vineyard from a neighbor:

So, she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. – 1Kings 21:9-10

The plan was carried out and Naboth perished. But that was not the end of the story. Elijah confronted Ahab and pronounce God’s judgment that

In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, 1 Kings 21:21 &

God’s judgment did indeed come as He said, and both Jezebel and Ahab met a violent death, the dogs liking their blood in the very place they had murdered Naboth.

False Witness Driven by Envy:

Thirdly we have the false witness of Persian prince Haman who out of wounded pride and his personal hatred of Modecai wrote a letter to the king falsely saying the Jews were disloyal and paying for their annihilation.

But Queen Esther spoke truth to the king and thus it was that her people were spared, and Haman and his sons were executed:

False Witness Driven by Hatred:

We find other Old Testament examples in Nehemiah and Daniel, where enemies of those 2 men of God tried to destroy them by bearing false witness. Those enemies suffered the very fates they had planned for the men of God, thus bearing out God’s own instructions about punishment for false witnesses.

And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. – Deuteronomy 19:15-19

(read more about these Biblical characters in SPIRITUAL LIVES)

False Witness Driven by Hatred of the Gospel:

There are no examples of Christians bearing false witness against someone. Indeed, I find it hard to believe a Christian could be guilty of such a heinous sin. What we see in the New Testament and on down to our own times are false witnesses attacking the Lord Jesus and His people.

Jesus Himself was the first target:

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. – Matthew 26:59-61

God turned this hatred into redemptive love and the salvation of the world, but Dante extracts Deuteronomy’s punishment on CAIAPHAS and places him crucified himself in the Inferno:

Stephen was next, the first martyr in 34 A.D.:

Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: Acts 6:11-13

They stoned him and thought they had stricken a blow against the Gospel. Little did they know that Jesus Himself was at work on the heart of one of the men assenting to this crime, holding the coats of the stoners. Jesus met Saul and transformed him into the greatest missionary and church planter in history.

False Witnesses will Continue to Hate Jesus and His Gospel:

Thousands of Believers, millions perhaps, have been persecuted and delivered to death by false witnesses over the years, and some of us may join them. Jesus said it would be so:

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.Matthew 10:25-26

But what should we do when this happens? Rest in Him, and let Jesus govern:

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. – Luke 12:11-12

Let’s ask Jesus to so reign in our hearts that the Holy Ghost will teach us and speak through us out of that Love of the One who died for us will flow through us and turn false witness into redemption. How blessed we are to have His example and how wonderful He is to send us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us as we stand for Him.


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