Daily Thought for: 23rd January
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS
Exodus 20. 16; Colossians 3. 9-11
The Lord Jesus said of the devil, ‘he is a liar, and the father of it’, John 8. 44. In Eden, having already sown seeds of doubt, he proceeded to tell Eve a blatant lie, ‘Ye shall not surely die’. Those who follow his example ‘are of their father the devil’ and will share his doom, for ‘all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone’, Rev. 21.8. A lying tongue’ ranks among seven things that the Lord hates, Prov. 6. 16-19. That’s what makes it so serious!
Sometimes, lies are told for personal advantage. In attempting to preserve their lives, Abraham and Sarah conspired to deceive, Gen. 20. 10-13. One day, Sarah told a lie to cover her embarrassment, Gen. 18. 13-15. Gehazi told lies to enrich himself, and a further lie to cover up his actions; inevitably, one lie leads to another, 2 Kgs. 5. 20-27. Ananias and Sapphira lied, presumably to invite approval that they did not deserve, Acts 5. 1-11. These things still take place today! Lies are told for selfpreservation, or to save face, as the tools of greed, or to impress.
On other occasions, people tell lies to damage others, and this is the main focus of commandment nine. Joseph was a prisoner for years because he was slandered, Gen. 39. 7-20. Scurrilous remarks cost Mephibosheth his possessions, 2 Sam. 16. 4. Often, Paul was misquoted in deliberate attempts to discredit him, Rom. 3. 8. Such slander is appalling and it is worth observing that in the New Testament the word translated ‘slanderer’ or ‘false accuser’ is exactly the same word as is translated ‘devil’. A smear campaign is Satan’s work and thus Titus was told to instruct older women that they must not be false accusers, Titus 2. 3.
A lie can be dressed up as a half-truth, an exaggeration, or an insinuation, and thus we are instructed to put away ‘falsehood’, Eph. 4. 25, RV. Paul argues that since ‘we are members one of another’, it would be totally inappropriate to deceive each other. In the corresponding passage in Colossians, he shows that lying was a feature of ‘the old man’ that was put off at conversion, Col. 3. 9. Ideally, salvation has made the liar an honest man. Let that be true in reality.