EXODUS 20:16 JUNE 12, 2016
“THE TRUTH IS SACRED”
A man went to his doctor for a thorough examination. After the examination, the patient asked the doctor, “Tell me, Doc, in plain language, what’s really the matter with me?” The doctor replied, “Do you want it straight? “Yes”, came the reply. “Well, there isn’t anything in the world wrong with you except that you’re just plain lazy!” The patient then replied, “Okay, now give me the medical term for it so I can tell my wife!” The psalmist declared in Psalm 50:19 (NIV) “19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.”
Some individuals have shortened the ninth commandment to “You shall not lie!” However, that is not an accurate rendering of the commandment. Exodus 20:16 (NIV) 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” The word for false means “untrue”. The dictionary first defines the meaning as contrary to truth. The second definition for false is marked by an intent to deceive. In the original context of Exodus God warns the Israelites to be truthful in being a witness in a trial setting.
From the earliest days of Israel God has been concerned with his people telling the truth. Exodus 23:1-3 (NIV) 1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. 2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.” Exodus 23:6-8 (NIV) 6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. 8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.” These verses underscore the fact that the truth is sacred to God.
On a few occasions, I have had to testify in court. I had to take an oath “To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!” I had to lay my left hand on the bible and raise my right hand and swear before God. It is my belief that many people no longer believe in God as they do not hesitate to lie. There is no fear that one day they will have to give an account for their lies. Hebrews 4:13 (NIV) “13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Why do people lie so easily? Ever since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden man has sought out his own interests, as did Satan when he deceived Eve. Jesus spoke of the Devil and of his nature which is filled with falsehood. John 8:43-44 (NIV) “43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” It is scary to realize that lying is a sign of belonging to the lineage of Satan. On the other hand, God is unable to lie. Paul described God in Titus 1:2 (NIV) “2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
People lie for a number of reasons: from pride to malice, to impress, to defraud, or out of fear. Both Jesus and Stephen were accused by false witnesses. Matthew 26:59 (NIV) “59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.” The Sanhedrin sought to stop Stephen from evangelizing. Acts 6:12-13 (NIV) “12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.”
What does God think of lying and telling a falsehood in any form? Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV) “16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Proverbs 19:5 (NIV) “5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.” Proverbs 12:17 (NIV) “17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.”
Those who lie habitually will not be allowed in heaven. Revelation 21:27 (NIV) “27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 22:14-15 (NIV) 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”There is a price to be paid for habitually lying!
Hopefully, we are beginning to understand how important it is for the people of God to be truthful. It is vital that Christians honor God by obeying his commands. In speaking the truth we show that we belong to our Lord Jesus, who is the Truth. Ephesians 6:12-14 (NIV) “12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”
A young father was invited by his employer to go to a car show. The employer was going to be late so he asked the employee to pick up the tickets and meet him there. When the boss did not show up he went ahead and went to the show. He was careful to place an X on the back of the boss’s ticket as they were going to have a drawing for a new car. The winning number was announced and it matched one of the stubs he held. He was so excited that he didn’t notice the little X that was on the back of the ticket. The next day he went to pick up the car. It was then that he noticed that it was the boss’s ticket and not his. He could have said nothing, but he could not do it. Much to the dismay of his wife and children he told his employer, who immediately claimed the prize. His truthfulness had a great impact on his children and that was worth more than a new car. They knew their father was a man of integrity and truthful in all his ways.
The Lord will reward his children for our faithfulness in obeying his commands. May others see our faithfulness in all things, and especially in speaking the truth. May we speak the truth in love and in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Let us pray.